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    Is It Appropriate to Minister to People of the Opposite Sex?

    I grew up with brothers. Because of this, I always had close friendships with boys. Growing up in church, of course, I called these friends my “extra brothers,” especially the ones I wanted to keep from having any feelings for me other than friendship. If I put them in the “brother” category, it was far more serious than just the friend zone.

    That was, until high school. Throughout my youth group years, we always separated out for ministry time. Guys prayed with guys, girls prayed with girls. There was this one guy, one I felt like I could talk to about anything. We would hang out after youth group and I would pour out my heart about my family life, my friendships and my struggles. He was a great listener, and more than that, he prayed for me passionately. It was easy to let my sisterly feelings for my “brother” slip into feelings that this boy was the one for me. Of course, it ended with me being embarrassed and him being aloof.

    The heart is a tricky place to navigate. So how can we, as women, guard our hearts while remaining a fully active part of the body of Christ?

     

    Maturity

    The story above happened when I was just starting high school. Let’s admit it, ladies: At this age, our hormones are coming on a little strong. It’s easy to confuse a good friend praying for us with someone who will be our knight in shining armor. I know it’s hard to hear, but it’s true.

     

    Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… (Ephesians 4:15, ESV)

     

    Growing up is not just about age, but about becoming more like Jesus. We need to look at ourselves, hard truths and all, and in love, lean more into Him to make us more of who we ought to be. When we are growing in Christ, we can approach ministering to the opposite sex in a more mature way.

     

    Context

    There were many times throughout the Bible where Jesus ministered directly to women. In each of these situations, the context was important. Most of the time, Jesus was either in public or with a group of disciples (which included women, although not named). He set the precedent for what ministry between men and women should generally look like. In a situation like this, no one can come with allegations of scandal.

    Jesus was also about the spirit of the law, not the law itself. His interaction with the woman at the well has Jesus making an exception. Jesus was alone with this woman, at least as far as we can see from reading the story, yet he approaches her in a way that was culturally acceptable, asking for a drink before delving into her life and speaking truth to her heart.

     

    Boundaries

    In all ministry situations, especially with the opposite sex, we should use boundaries to guard our own hearts as well as the heart of the person receiving ministry. If you’re unsure what good boundaries look like, ask a trusted mentor or leader at your church. Setting up guidelines like where to meet, times of day to meet and what kinds of things you will share will help keep you safe from blurred lines in ministry.

    Good boundaries come from learning lessons on our own or following the good examples of others. These actions build us into mature Christian women, able to build up the whole body of Christ.

     

    How do you feel about ministering to the opposite? What has been your experience?

    Kate Hilderbrandt
    I am addicted to potential. I live in Atlanta, GA, where I work as Innovation Manager for The Mission Society, and spend a great deal of time drinking coffee and asking questions that move people toward their dreams. I am a certified professional coach who loves working with female entrepreneurs, discovering life-giving rhythms together to craft a life that works. Twitter: https://twitter.com/seekatebe IG: https://instagram.com/seekatebe

    3 COMMENTS

    1. At this one camp i went ti, one of my friends who was a guy, accepted Christ. We were all very happy. We had a group hug and sorta a group heart mto heart talk, but our leaders thought us girls were getting to close witht his boy. It hurt, because we just meant it as friends but they thought we needed to stop hanging out with boys. Most of my best friends are guys amd i had to disagree with my keadersbecause they protect me amd they listen just as well as girls do. Nobody meant any harm but now i get paranoid about what guys i hang out with amd when i hang out with them. Our leaders actually forbid us to sit by them in chapel. I was hurt, but i have forgiven. But i believe that ministering to the opposite sex is okay, because God loves us all equally dont be afraid to be yourself, around everyone. Not just girls or guys!

      • I understand, though I am not friends with a lot of guys. I have always felt that guys and girls should be able to encourage one another in their faith. That was exactly what you are doing encouraging the young man who excepted faith. Though I understand why leaders would be cautious, it sounds like they are overboard.

    2. i thought the title was really misleading, and kinda read it in spite, but I actually enjoyed this. I had a very similar experience, except I realized where my feelings for this boy were coming from before I did anything about it. I think guys can be much better friends than girls at times, but it’s really hard not to let it become more. Ministering to the opposite sex and opening up to a guy with all your problems are two completely different things though. Also I feel like that verse was pretty out of context.

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