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You mentioned in a previous podcast if it was suitable to separate from sinners. You referenced a woman who wanted to know if it was right for a woman to attend a baby shower of another woman who conceived her child out of wedlock. But what if someone who claims to be a Christian is living with someone who is an unbeliever, goes against all counsel, and marries this person? Currently, she’s a part-time small group leader in our church. Does the same apply to this situation? She leads others in spiritual growth but has not submitted to God in this critical area.
I realize we all have sin issues that we’re dealing with, but surely someone leading a group should not be living in rebellious sin. I’m curious to know what you think about this, as I agree we should not separate from people based on their sinful actions, but I’m not sure it would be fitting to attend a small group where this person is one of the leaders. I’m pretty disappointed that the other leaders permit this, but I’m not sure I can do much about this without stirring up much trouble. Maybe I’m being too harsh? –Mable
Examine Yourself: Mable may have wrong motives and ideas about what’s happening. See Matthew 7:5-7. She wants high-level awareness of her heart, which she is doing in her last statement by suggesting you might be too harsh. She also talks about the ubiquitous nature of sin, admitting we all have problems—a humble acknowledgment. We all have presuppositional influences on how we see things.
Talk to Someone: What does her husband say if she is married? Her decision and actions will impact her spouse; he knows her and has insight into a path forward. If Mable is not married, she needs to address this matter with a confidant she trusts who is competent to speak about it.
Search the Bible: God’s Word guides us; we want to know what it says about the big and small decisions and conflicts in our lives.
Speak to a Pastor: Shepherds must lead, but they are not omniscient. If there are problems in the sheepfold, the shepherd must know. If she proceeds because she cannot let it go, she wants her pastor to shepherd her with joy, which may mean bringing him up to speed with what’s happening. See Hebrews 13:17.
Your Conscience: What is her inner voice saying? I’m not saying her conscience is correct, but she cannot sin against it. Perhaps her conscience needs recalibrating to the Bible, but she can’t sin against it now. See 1 Corinthians 8.
Leaders: James discussed how a leader is held to a higher standard in James 3:1, similar to Hebrews 13:17. There is a concept here: leaders have followers, implying the potential for harming others or leading them astray. All leaders can lead well or poorly, e.g., small group leaders, the band on Sunday morning. See also Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 11:1.
The Template: An outline of what a leader should be is in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. I realize this template is about pastors, but the question you want to ask is, “Shouldn’t we all be this way, except for a teaching gift or possibly married?” This leadership pattern gives you an idea of what to look for from folks leading us.
Character: As you gain a more pixelated understanding of this person, what do you see in their character? Some of those pixels will reveal such things as integrity, affection, morality, self-control, goodness, gentleness, patience, motives, kindness, love, purity, passion, joy, faithfulness, honesty, and maturity. It’s easier never to promote a person than to elevate them only to find out later they have a flawed character. It’s much messier and more difficult to remove them in such cases.
Pattern or Episode: Is this a one-time sin decision that she made in her past, or is there a pattern of deception, stubbornness, and arrogance in her current life? If there are ongoing sin patterns, you must intervene and stay involved until she changes.
Repentance: You want to investigate—starting with her—to get the real story. You do not want to get others involved—at first—because if this is a past sin, you don’t want to advertise what God has forgiven and does not bring up as reminders.
Key: If she has repented, implying she has worked through it and is a leader of quality character, she will want to lead you by helping you work through your struggle.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).