How should a pastor approach shepherding women in the church?

Posted on May 23, 2011Brian Croft  

 There are commonly two extremes that accompany this question.  The first, represents a pastor who carelessly sees his role to pastor women as no different than men.  A pastor who thinks spending time alone with women in the church should look no different than with the men.  A pastor who thinks the same blunt conversations he has with men in the church can take place with women in the same way.  This mentality has led to many pastors, several I have personally known, to lose their marriages and ministries because they foolishly placed themselves in compromising positions with women in their church…in the name of caring for them. 

There is, however, another side that is a growing extreme among younger pastors, especially.  It is the pastor who so fears the foolishness of the first extreme that he completely neglects the pastoral care of women in general in his church.  Motivated by fear or unwilling to make the extra effort to understand a certain kind of woman different than his wife, some pastors deceive themselves in the name of being “above reproach” that God will not still hold them accountable for the souls of these women entrusted to their care. 

Because of these two extremes, the first thing to establish in a pastor wisely thinking through caring for women in the church is the need for balance.  Wise, thoughtful, discerning, and balanced parameters needs to be the heart of every pastor’s approach.  So then, here are a few suggestions I have found helpful over the years in avoiding these extremes as I personally try to care for women in the church, yet being very wise and aware  of the biblical call to be above reproach:

Old enough to be your grandmother rule.  I feel a freedom to visit an elderly widow in her home or the hospital alone if there is a sizable gap in age, verses going to visit a needy, flirtatious, recently divorced woman who is my age, which I NEVER do alone!  Be wise not to compromise this rule.  Remember, the rule is “grandmother” not “mother.” 

Copy the woman’s husband and your wife in emails.  I do think it is perfectly acceptable to communicate through email with women in the church.  Many email exchanges are solely administration issues (would you please put our women’s event in the bulletin type emails).  However, if you intend to send any email to a woman in the church, or receive one that involves anything of a personal nature, a pastor’s wife and the woman’s husband should always be copied in it.  It should be in the (cc) section so all corresponding can see the spouse’s involvement.  This may seem tedious, but a necessary accountability. 

Counsel with the woman’s husband or someone else present. I NEVER counsel a woman alone.  I know, that sounds extreme to some of you.  Even if there is glass between us and the church secretary, I will not meet alone with another woman.  I will, however, meet to counsel a woman with her husband present.  This has born good fruit as the husband learns how to better care for his wife as he sits and listens.  Besides, many times the husband is part of the problem!  If I am trying to care for a single lady, my wife is always my preferred choice of counseling companion, but I am open to allowing another leader or trusted friend of the single lady to be present.  I’m flexible, but will not counsel alone.

Pass off long-term discipleship and counseling to other capable women.  Pastors need to deal with pastoral matters with everyone in the church.  However, long-term issues that will require years of care and discipleship should be eventually handed to mature, godly, and capable women in the church who would then report to the pastors on their progress, which still allows some kind of pastoral oversight and soul care.

Alright, there is my attempt at balance.

Pastors, any wise counsel you have to add that helps capture this balance??

Penn said something in this video that moved me to my core.  Especially since he is an atheist.  Here is his quote:

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’… how much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?” 

I think that this is a question that as Christians we need to ask ourselves when we are worried about sharing Jesus with people.  Ask yourself: “How much do I love this person?”  If you do you will share Jesus  with them even if it means that they will no longer be your friend.  That is what real friends do.  God bless you and Maranatha!!!

Godly Dating - Session 2 - Waxer Tipton (One Love Ministries)

Abominations Before Our Eyes… Pope Francis Suggests Gay Civil Unions May Be Tolerable By Church …

In Interview With Italian Paper Corriere Della Sera

Posted: 03/05/2014 10:28 am EST Updated: 03/05/2014 2:59 pm EST
Pope Francis has signalled that he could see the Catholic church tolerating some forms of same-sex civil unions — though not marriage — when it comes to situations such as medical care and property for gay couples.

In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the pope said that “matrimony is between a man and a woman,” but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care,” according to a translation by Catholic News Service.

"It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety," Francis said.

While the remarks were far from endorsing same-sex marriage, something Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI have spoken out against, they represent the latest in what many Catholics and church observers have read as a more gay-friendly tone of the church under the pope, who was elected nearly a year ago.

In an interview over the summer, the pope famously said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis’ call for the church to focus more broadly on positive messages about Jesus Christ and love as opposed to focusing narrowly on gay marriage, abortion and contraception, has also been widely reported.

The latest interview was not the first time the pope has spoken favorably of civil unions. While he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010 and Argentina was on the brink of legalizing gay marriage, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio support legalizing civil unions as a compromise. He also called same-sex marriage “an attempt to destroy God’s plan” and said gay adoption was a kind of discrimination against children. LGBT rights organizations and gay Catholics have hailed Francis’ for making more positive statements on gay people during his papacy.

In the new Italian report, the pope also spoke of the church’s teachings on contraception. The interviewer asked the pope if he thought teachings on medical and sexual ethics were “non-negotiable values,” a phrase that Benedict XVI had used. Francis said he “never understood the expression ‘non-negotiable values.’”

"Values are values, period," the pope said. "I cannot say that, among the fingers of a hand, there is one less useful than another. That is why I cannot understand in what sense there could be negotiable values."

But Francis had positive words for the church’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which came out under Pope Paul VI and banned contraception in the church.

Francis said Paul’s “genius was prophetic, he had the courage to side against the majority, defend moral discipline, put a brake on the culture, oppose neo-Malthusianism, present and future.” But Paul had told Catholics to interpret the “Humanae Vitae” with “much mercy, attention to concrete situations,” Francis said.

"The question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do," the current pope added.

Aside from sexual and marriage issues, Francis also elaborated on his views of the church’s response to sex abuse by priests and the broader public’s image of his papacy thus far.

"The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No-one else has done more," Francis said of sex abuse. "Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked."

The pope, who has become somewhat of a celebrity icon during his short papacy for his statements on LGBT issues, church and pastoral humility and his media-friendly personality, added that he was not a fan of the “mythology” of him as more than human.

"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said.

Godly Dating Session #3

Godly Dating Session #2

Godly Dating Session #1

Asker Portrait
Anonymous asked:I try to help people when they are struggling. Sometimes they blame God for their depression or suicidal thoughts. I tell them that God was the One who helped me overcome my suicidal thoughts, but sometimes they say that turning to God won't work for them, or that He ignores them. I try to say that He cares a lot about them, but they sometimes don't listen. What should I say to them, especially when they blame God?

Tell them that there is no one better to help them then the one who made them.  

Many of us have had friends in a state of depression. Many of us have been there ourselves. In either case, we can sometimes feel completely inept. Depression, whether clinically diagnosable or simply a period of feeling down in the dumps, is a difficult state to deal with. There are so many questions about what is or isn’t the right thing to do with someone who is hurting.

If someone you love is experiencing depression, she may feel that life is pointless, that she has no capacity to handle what used to be the daily things of life, that no one understands or cares, that all is dark. She may imagine that she is in a swamp of quicksand, unable to move. Nothing is pleasurable anymore. Ultimately, she may believe that life is a lot of work that may not be worth it.

To you, she may seem moody and down all the time. She may not be the fun companion she once was. She may seem indecisive and lethargic. She might take offense easily. She might complain about life or seem unable to comprehend anything positive. She might be withdrawn and uninterested.

Being with people who are depressed is not the most appealing experience. So what are we supposed to do when a friend shows signs of depression? Should we abandon the friendship until she’s better? Leave her alone since that’s what she wants anyway? Or should we try to get her out and invite her to do things? Should we be happy all the time? Should we be happy around her at all? Should we just listen and never share what’s going on in our lives for fear that it might upset her more? How can we avoid falling into depression ourselves while still walking with her through this valley?

All good questions. I wish I knew the answers.

The truth is there are no hard-and-fast rules for how to behave around a person struggling with depression. But, from having lived through mild depression myself, hearing others’ experiences, learning about counseling, and looking at what the Bible has to say, I can offer a few suggestions that might be helpful. Please note that because I am female and most of my experience with depression has been with other females, these tips will be coming from that perspective.

Keep the friendship strong. It may not seem like much, but just being there can remind a person that she is worth something, that her life is at least valuable to you.

Encourage her, but don’t try to solve all her problems. After establishing a trust relationship, trained counselors are allowed to challenge clients and say things that could potentially be hurtful. They can help clients learn to solve their own problems. People go to counselors expecting this type of treatment. Your job as a friend is to love—not to be a counselor. Friends are allowed to challenge and make suggestions too, but it works best when both friends are in a healthy state and such interaction has been invited. This is not the case when one is experiencing depression.

A depressive state can sometimes cause hyper-sensitivity. Sufferers already feel weak or guilty for having depression. Hearing your suggestions to just go for daily walks, or get in the sun, or eat better, or start a thankfulness journal, will likely add to feelings of worthlessness and self-judgment. Though these are great ideas that do help with depression, they can come across as shallow. The friend who thinks the troubles of depression will be solved by a 15-minute walk is not really hearing the heart and the pain. A counselor who mentions using this for symptom reduction while also addressing the deeper issues, on the other hand, has a better chance of positive reception.

Be willing to listen. The story of Job is used to discuss a variety of topics in the Christian life. One is depression. Job’s friends did well for the first seven days. They entered into Job’s despair. Then they started trying to figure out why Job’s life had become so difficult, and made many less-than-helpful suggestions. We probably tend to be a little hard on Job’s friends. Finding explanations and fixing problems are our natural instincts. But listening is really a gift.

When Jesus interacted with people, He spoke truth in love, but He also listened. James has a lot to say about controlling the tongue. He says to be “quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19). Proverbs 18:13 says, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” The verse immediately after (Proverbs 18:14) is: “A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” Sometimes our words can crush another’s spirit, especially if we have not first accurately listened.

So listen to your friend, even if she is not making sense or telling you what seems to be the same complaint over and over. Hear her. Take time to understand her. Let her know that you recognize and acknowledge what she is going through. Sometimes that’s really all we need, isn’t it? Just for someone to hear us and say, “Yes, it hurts.”

Talk about your life too. It’s okay to tell your friend about what is going on in your life. It’s even okay to tell her about happy things. Depression can feel like an immovable cloud. To the depressed person, it can seem that they are alone under this cloud, and if they could just solve the problem and get out the funk, they could be “normal” like everyone else.

If you withhold yourself and your life, you leave your friend under the cloud by herself. But when you share about your life, it communicates that you still value the person enough to include her. You still want her to know you. Sometimes your happiness may even make her smile. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Your joyful heart may not always be received as good medicine, but it could help her crushed spirit.

Now, I want to put forth a caution with this tip. Please be aware that it is unlikely you will be able to have deep relationship with your friend while she is depressed. She’s trying to survive and doesn’t have much to give back to you. So your sharing may need to be somewhat abbreviated, and you may not get the feedback you normally would from this friend. Test it out. Depending on the day and the topic, some things may go over better than others. Be open to share but with the intention of extending love and care to your friend, not for personal benefit. If she is unreceptive, be willing to simply listen.

Keep inviting your friend to things. Don’t pester her or try to coerce her into doing things, but don’t exclude her simply because she isn’t fun to be around. She might say no often. And you might need to do some social things without inviting her. But she is still your friend and a semblance of social normalcy can be helpful.
Encourage your friend in small ways. Send her a text. Write her a quick email letting her know you’re thinking of her. Mail her a note telling her she is valuable to you. Leave her small gifts—a piece of chocolate, flowers, a funny comic strip, a packet of hot chocolate or flavored coffee, a tube of scented lotion. Ask if you can help her with errands while you’re running your own. Give her a hug or a pat on the shoulder. These are reminders of her worth to you (and to God). They are glimpses of what makes life worth living. They are reasons to keep battling the darkness.

Be quick to forgive. All of us say things we don’t mean at times and treat others poorly. People experiencing depression may be so overwhelmed by their emotional state that they lose some of their prior social graces. They might burst out in unwarranted anger at something you said. They might stand you up. It can be difficult to take. But recognize that these behaviors are probably not out of true malice. They are from a hurt heart that doesn’t know how to interact with the world.

Pray for your friend and for yourself. You might feel frustrated with her, burdened for her, angry at her, saddened by her pain. These are all things that God wants to bear with you (1 Peter 5:7). He loves your friend more deeply than you ever can. He wants to hear your heart for her. He also wants to guide you in how you can best love her through this time.

Be cognizant of emotional contagion. Sometimes when we are around depressed people we become so understanding of their emotions that we begin to experience them ourselves. Your friend needs someone willing to sit in the pain with her, but she doesn’t need you to stay stuck there. Make sure that you have life-giving friendships and a good support group. Share your burdens with God and with others (while keeping your friend’s privacy). Do things you enjoy. Take care of yourself. Remember that your friend’s experience is not your own. You might find yourself questioning God and His goodness. Engage with that. Search the Scripture on suffering. Ask mentors for their thoughts. Stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and seek His strength.

In the end, the best way to be a friend to someone who is depressed is to love them. First Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

You might even offer to go to the doctor with your friend to have a blood work up. Sometimes there is chemical imbalance in the body which can be corrected easily with medication. I hope this helps you. God bless you!!! :):)

Asker Portrait
Anonymous asked:How can I be a godly wife?

To be a godly wife, we must first consider what the word godly means. In 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul uses the word in conjunction with being “peaceful,” “quiet,” and “dignified.” The Bible says the Spirit, who is in every believer, produces visible and invisible acts of godliness, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22). The decisive definition of godliness would be “Christlikeness.” Godliness involves a genuine striving to imitate Christ, to be like Him in thought and action as the apostle Paul strived to be (1 Corinthians 11:1). These characteristics of a godly disposition apply to every believer, whether male or female. Fortunately, the Bible gives more specific qualifications as to what a godly woman—particularly, a godly wife—looks like.

In the book of Proverbs, there is a beautiful word picture painted of a godly wife. The virtues of a godly wife have not changed, even over thousands of years. A godly wife is one who has the complete trust of her husband. He doesn’t have to worry she will be tempted by the wiles of another man, overcharge the credit cards, or spend all day watching soap operas. He knows she is dignified, wise, and devoted (Proverbs 31:11, 12, 25, 26). He is confident of her support and sincere love because she is not vindictive or critical. Her husband has a good reputation in the community, and his wife never speaks ill of him, never gossips about him. Rather, she is always lifting him up and giving him praise. She maintains the household thoroughly and is well respected herself (Proverbs 30:12, 21, 23).

A godly wife spends less time in front of the mirror than in sharing her goods with the poor and needy because she is selfless and benevolent (Proverbs 31:20, 30). But she doesn’t neglect herself; she keeps her body and spirit strong and in good health. Although she works hard and keeps long hours, she is not haggard; she cares about beautiful things to enhance herself and her family (Proverbs 31:17, 21, 22).

Contrary to what many believe a biblical portrait of a godly wife to be, Proverbs 31 reveals she is enterprising and ambitious. The Proverbs 31 wife is a small business owner—she makes and sells garments. She makes her own business decisions independently, and she alone decides what to do with her earnings (Proverbs 31:16, 24). Notice, however, her earnings do not go toward shoes or bags, but to buy a field where she can plant a vineyard—something that will benefit the whole family.

Through all of her endeavors, service, and hard work, the godly wife maintains joy. She can discern all she is doing is profitable, which spurs her on to a sense of gratification (Proverbs 31:18). A godly wife doesn’t worry about what the future may bring. She smiles at the future because she knows her Lord is in control of everything (Proverbs 31:30). Verse 30 is the key to the entire passage because a woman cannot be a godly wife without first fearing the Lord. It is her pursuit of Jesus and her abiding in Him which bring the fruit of godliness to manifest in the life of a godly woman (see John 15:4).

Finally, a godly wife should be submissive to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). What does a submissive wife look like? Not what you might think. The Bible teaches that Jesus submits to His Father (John 5:19). Yet Jesus is equal to the Father (John 10:30). Therefore, a submissive wife is not less valuable as a human being; her role is not less important—but it is different. Christians know that Christ is every bit as divine as the Father (and the Holy Spirit), but each plays a different role in redemption. In the same way, men and women each play a different part in marriage. So, for a wife to be submissive to her husband as Christ is submissive to the Father means she willingly allows her husband to lead. Jesus went willingly, although not without distress (Matthew 26:39). Christ knew the Father’s way was best. A godly wife may find the path of submissiveness painful at times, but following God will always result in spiritual rewards that last for all eternity (1 Timothy 4:7–8).

The Bible equates submissiveness to one’s husband to submissiveness to God (Ephesians 5:22). In other words, if a wife cannot submit to her husband, it may be a reflection of her struggle to be submissive to Christ. Submission does not imply weakness; a submissive wife is not “unintelligent” or “unimportant.” Submission requires strength, dignity, and devotion, as we learn from the Proverbs 31 woman.

Proverbs 31 presents the ideal. A woman can be a godly wife without being perfect (we know there is no such thing as human perfection). But as a wife grows more intimate in her relationship with Christ, she will grow increasingly godly in her marriage. Godliness goes in complete opposition of what secular society says a woman should aspire to. However, as women of God our first concern must always be what pleases God.  God bless you!!! :):)

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