rules for preachers circa 1888, rule 3

Rule 3 Converse yourself sparingly, and conduct yourself prudently with women.

There are two parts to this that line up. To, “converse yourself sparingly” means to be humble and not overly obnoxious or self-promoting.  In other words, in conversation, Jesus should come out of you more than yourself.  Then there is this rule to, “conduct yourself prudently with women.”  In 1888, there were only men ordained to preach in the Methodist Episcopal Church, so this manual is written manly to men. These are great rules for any preacher.

The Bible talks about all kinds of temptations and it talks about them in terms of “resisting.”  However, when it talks about sexual temptation it says, “run.”  I think that sexual sin is so seductive that the biblical writers knew that if someone didn’t put physical distance between themselves and the temptation then they would become overwhelmed by it.

Over and over we have seen Christian leaders fall from grace. When I was a kid we went to a church where the pastor had an affair and we left, along with many others.  My parents had to make a decision and they decided that we could have stronger values outside of the church.  While I disagree, I see their point.  I think a lot of people logically reach that conclusion whenever a Christian leader falls from Grace.

The pulpit is an interesting place; I try to talk about how great my wife is and how much I screw up when I use personal examples.  Pastors tend to create the illusion that they have it all together.  Pastors that make it sound like they have it all together might make themselves look attractive.  I think this is what the Methodist Discipline is talking about when it says to “converse sparingly.”

So if you are a pastor, I think the questions are these:

-When you preach does more of Jesus come out than you?

-In conversation, who shines, you or Jesus?

-Do you have healthy boundaries with members of the opposite sex?

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