Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leaders and Covenant Agreement...Public Examples, Grace, Hard Conversations

We ask our student leaders to commit to a covenant agreement which in part asks them to not use alcohol and illegal drugs during their time of service. There are a variety of reasons for that. Regardless of different good arguments about what scripture says about alcohol, we have found it to be the number one problem on campus. In our setting we have also seen it be a huge barrier when non-Christians see Christians use alcohol.

But, what do you do about "enforcing" this commitment? A friend and colleague and I had a good discussion about it today. Where is the line between holding people accountable and snooping into people's personal lives? I don't believe you actively seek or check on people. I trust that Chrisitan leaders will honor commitments. I have had students come to me and indicate they had violated their commitment and apologize. If it becomes an issue that one of our leaders is violating this commitment, then I will have a conversation with them. If they tell me it is not true, I take them at their word. If they indicate that it is, we discuss where we go from there. If they continue that behavior, they cannot continue to serve. If they tell me it is true, but they realize they made a mistake, we talk about what happened and why. If they commit to honor their commitment from that point on, they continue in their leadership role. I have never had to have a second discussion with one of our leaders in this area who continued in their leadership role.

Recently, someone interpreted a vague Facebook message as possibly meaning that someone had violated their commitment in regard to alcohol, and I was asked if I would speak to that person. My answer was no. We cannot control or even know all that others say about us. I'm serious about working with students and teaching them to honor commitments. But, I never want my students to feel I don't trust them and am always looking over their shoulders.

It's a tough line to walk...teaching students to honor their roles as public faces of faith along with forgiveness and grace. How do you handle it?

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