My story on cross gender mentoring/counseling

My story on cross gender mentoring/counseling
I have a long personal history of encouraging and affirming women as leaders and ministers.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the bible college context.  I used to spend a lot of time alone with women.  Looking back I recognize I had some mixed motives for doing this but part of what motivated was a sincere desire to see people fulfilled and encouraged.  I have always had a heart for those who are shut out our unfairly disadvantaged.  I am very sure that I’ve done all I could on many occasions to encourage women as leaders in the church.

A few years ago when I returned to bible college I continued to relate with and encourage as many people as I could.  Men and women.  Before the end of the year some people misinterpreted my actions.  Rumours started.  I was pulled in by the student life department and was told that a large group of women were uncomfortable around me.  I was completely and absolutely devastated.  I voluntarily sought out the people to find out what the issues were and I apologized to the entire school.   Since that point I have been extremely cautious.  Why?  Because there was whole group of people that ripped my life apart and put me through the shredder even though I was doing my best to help.  I felt betrayed and dishonoured.  I honestly don’t believe I’ve fully recovered from the situation.

So when I read Jordon’s response to the comments on his post I lost it. I completely and totally understand what those commenters were talking about.  Any leader, whether or male or female should be cautious about getting too involved with someone of the opposite gender.  If they don’t they can get totally screwed over. 

I believe that people are reading what I wrote in the context of some other posts which I am not.  I am not responding to what Jenny Baker said or all the issues surrounding men and women interrelating.  I am saying that it is fair for leaders to refuse to enter in to emotionally intimate relationships with people of the opposite genderThat is all.  If you don’t think it is fair for leaders to do this than it is very clear you have very little understanding of the relationship dynamics of church leadership.

  1. #1 by Darryl on January 29, 2004 - 11:50 am

    Thanks, LT. Sane words here.

    Too bad that issues of sexuality and role are getting mixed up in this conversation. I hope we can realize the sexuality issue will be around long after we settle the role question.

  2. #2 by robbymac on January 29, 2004 - 3:04 pm

    While in general I agree with your conclusion (and explanation), when you write:

    “If you don’t think it is fair for leaders to do this than it is very clear you have very little understanding of the relationship dynamics of church leadership.”

    This is an example of the kind of “if you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid” statements that cause some people to accuse you of being harsh.

    I know it’s not your heart to be harsh at all, but be careful of your word choices, eh?

  3. #3 by LT on January 29, 2004 - 3:20 pm


    I am being harsh but I’m also being honest. The strength of my words is intended.

  4. #4 by robbymac on January 29, 2004 - 3:46 pm

    Great! Word things strongly! State your convictions with conviction!

    But don’t tell people they have “very little understanding” if they don’t agree with you. A sure-fire dialogue-killer, everytime.

  5. #5 by Tim Bednar on January 29, 2004 - 3:49 pm

    As one who has also suffered at the hands of Bible college gossip, I understand what you experienced. (I was maligned–black listed if you will–because of a mistaken association with an underground/subversive newsletter. I was even accosted in a hallway and told that I was a false prophet. Anyway.)

    I can understand you reticence.

    Except, the immaturity of others should NOT dictate building the Kingdom (which is what you were engaged in and they mistook). But I understand that it does. I hate it when the immaturity of those in the church keep us from doing the right thing or being who we are!

    It is a shame.

    My wife is a therapist. She meets with lots of men, in a closed room. They have a code of ethics–but she discusses sex, etc. She at times felt uncomfortable with men. But she has also felt uncomfortable with lesbian clients.

    It is part of the territory. I would hate to think that the church would judge her of being promiscuous or ‘loose’.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I hear your stance on the subject, but it is disappointing that there is not a third way. And I hate it that maturity is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator because there are some in the church just can not handle it.

    This is not what Paul had in mind when he asked us not to allow our freedom to cause others to stumble. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).


  6. #6 by PMac on January 29, 2004 - 5:58 pm

    Good dialogue here. I was unfortunately faced with the same sort of situation this summer. Only I was in the “position of authority” as camp director looking at relationships between a male senior staff member and a couple junior girl staff members and even a couple girl campers. I don’t doubt LT that he had some good motives for building such relationships, nevertheless I had to address the issue. It is rarely possible for guys and girls to have an intimate relationship without one of them wanting more at some point in the relationship. Other staff members recognized this danger and I had to deal with this before a parent complained..I don’t think that LT’s situation or my staff members position is even comparable to that of a professional counselor who has clients of both genders. LT, I think the administration did a poor job of handling your situation. I tried to help my staff member as gently as possible, but when continue to neglect the boys in his cabin while giving attention to the girls, I eventually decided to give him a week off to let him know that I was serious about him making some changes. All I told the staff was that I wanted “Biff” to make a couple changes and that I was looking forward to having him back the next week.

    On the other hand, there is another extreme and I need to make sure that I do an adequit job caring for the girl staff members.

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