Many of us hurt so much with people who are hurting. I know I do! When someone comes to us with their relationship problems or spiritual problems, we want to help. We want to see them feel better ASAP. We want to comfort them, sympathize, and be a good friend.
It is may not a big deal if we have a short, godly conversation with a guy – but what if it turns into many conversations, or daily conversations?
This situation can get dicey really quickly, my precious sisters. How carefully we must guard our hearts! Especially if the guy is married to someone else or he is not a believer in Christ.
Honestly, there are many times when it is probably wise for a woman not to attempt to give much counsel to men about spiritual and emotional things – unless there is just a general discussion happening in a group or class setting, perhaps. If we do have conversations like this with other men, especially men to whom we are not available for a romantic relationship, it may be wise to think through some healthy boundaries first.
I happen to have a lot of experience with this issue because of my online ministry where I hear from men every day. And I am glad to share anything I have learned that may be helpful to my sisters. I seek to respectfully avoid creating close friendships and relationships with men online and in person. In “real life,” I usually speak to my brothers in Christ in the context of a group setting with their wives there or where other people are there. I try to keep my interaction with men very brief and very public in person and online.
If a guy – who is available to you as a believing woman – comes to you for advice, it may be wise to check to be sure that he genuinely desires to have a relationship with Christ on his own even without your influence before considering dating him. Step back and be sure you are seeing growth and the fruit of the Spirit in his life and that he is not just using this topic to try to get close to you without any real interest in God.
Have I seen men be blessed by reading things I have shared or by conversations I have had with them? Sure! It brings joy to my heart whenever God might use me to be a blessing to any of my brothers or sisters. So – I am not saying we should never interact with our brothers and never ever share helpful insights or resources. But we must use great discernment and listen to the Spirit.
Our first calling is to bring glory to God in all that we do. Let’s watch our own motives for anything that would not honor God and let’s be willing to obey Him in absolutely everything. As we desire total obedience to God and seek Him far above all else, He can and will empower us to be faithful to Himself. 🙂
SOME THINGS I HAVE LEARNED OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS IN MINISTRY ONLINE THAT MAY BE A BLESSING:
– If a man truly wants to be closer to Jesus, he will be willing to speak to a godly man about his problems, not just me. If he refuses to speak to a godly man and only wants to talk with me, it is possible that he is more interested in being close to me than he is interested in being close to God.
– If a guy wants to go into a lot of detail about his wife’s sin with me or into a lot of explicit sexual detail or he asks me to share many intimate details about my myself – I need to extract myself from that situation ASAP. No explanation required, in my view.
– We as women tend to bond emotionally and this kind of intimate sharing often opens us up to feelings of attraction. I don’t want to ever feed attraction with a man to whom I am unavailable.
– One-on-one praying, to me, is the most intimate kind of connection there is. I don’t pray with men who are not available to me alone or privately online. I need to guard my heart!
– Sharing personal insights and what God has taught us, as well as suggestions may be best rather than giving directives and telling a guy what to do if we believe we can share appropriately in a God-honoring way.
– I must humbly remember that I am not the only source of godly counsel and wisdom. Thankfully, there are other Bible teachers, too. People need God not me. I have to remember this and not allow pride to puff me up to think that I am so very necessary to other people – men or women. I’m not. I am one little cell in the whole body of Christ. It is all about Jesus!
– If a man acts inappropriate in any way, I need to ask him to stop and/or immediately drop all contact.
– It is best, in my view, to aim to completely avoid private conversations and private meetings with married men, and unbelieving men. I personally copy my husband on any emails or correspondence with men online. I also try to keep my correspondence with other men to a minimum. And I try to avoid being alone with another man whenever possible.
– If a man tries to convince me to believe unbiblical teachings, I need to get away. I don’t need to give my time to a false teacher. I can share godly resources if possible and appropriate, and then trust God to reach him and pray for him. I don’t need to get involved in long, drawn out arguments, debates, or discussions if he is unwilling to listen to sound doctrine.
– I find it is often best to point men (and women, too) to resources (posts/books/articles/specific scriptures) for them to dig into their own walk with Christ rather than for me to give specific advice about what they should do in various situations. They need to learn to depend on God’s voice, not mine. God’s wisdom is so much higher than mine.
– If I realize I am picturing what it would be like to be married to this other guy who is off limits to me, I need to back away and refocus on Christ and appropriate relationships.
– My personal wisdom or opinions can be harmful to any brother or sister in Christ even if my intentions are good. God’s wisdom and the power of His Spirit are what we all need most every moment.
– If a man is feeling disrespected by his wife and is starving for respect, and he sees that I treat him with honor and respect, that can be a big issue. I don’t want to put a stumbling block in a hurting brother’s path or in my own path.
– No one needs my counsel so much that I should put my heart or my obedience to God at risk. I also never want to risk another believer’s marriage.
– If anyone comes to me and claims to want godly counsel but they are not willing to invest their own time in their walk with Christ or they are not willing to seek to obey God, repent of any sin in their own life, and allow Him to change them, I don’t need to invest much time in helping that person. I can’t make people change. If they are not open to God and not willing to obey Him, that is a big red flag to me that I need to back way off.
– If a man (or anyone) is dealing with really severe issues like drug addictions, uncontrolled mental illness, unrepentant adultery, or abuse, they probably need help from an experienced godly counselor, and, depending on the situation, possibly even medical, legal, or police help, as well.
– If I am feeling super overwhelmed by someone else’s problems, that can also a sign that I am not actually helping, that I am trying to help in my own strength, or that I might be in over my head. I have to be sure I am laying the weight of the problems on God. I can’t carry the weight of other people’s problems on my own shoulders.
– With another man (and women, too), I need to watch how much time I am spending trying to help them. If I am neglecting my own walk with Christ, my man, my job, etc… that can also be a signal to me that I am getting myself in a dangerous spot.
IF I NEED SPIRITUAL ADVICE OR RELATIONSHIP ADVICE, HERE ARE THE PLACES I GO:
– God first!
– The Bible
– Solid Bible-teachers online (books, podcasts, sermons, blog posts)
– A godly, Spirit-filled mentoring wife.
I don’t personally believe it is wise for me to go to a man privately for advice about spiritual or marriage issues. There could be some exceptions where I may want to speak with my pastor, but it is wise for me to have another godly woman there with me even then.
FOR MORE INFO – on this topic, including biblical references for boundaries we are to have with men, please check out this post.