Leadership Development

Just 1 Question

Updated 3/26/12

I still remember it like it was yesterday… but it happened nearly 15 years ago.

I was a senior in college, and out to lunch with my campus pastor, just days before I was to interview for my first campus ministry position.

We had spent some time catching up on our spring break experiences and were waiting for our food to arrive when his questions turned to my upcoming interview:

“So, are you ready for this interview?”

“I guess,” I said, “I’ve never had a phone interview before… so how hard could it be?”

“Well, if it were me, I would just have one question for you…”

I stared back at him.

“Seriously,” I said, “just one?”

“Yep, just one question…”

“OK,” I said, “I’ll bite… what’s your one question?”

“If it were me, if I was the one interviewing you, I would want to know:

How can we be sure you’re going to keep your hands off our girls?”

I was totally unprepared for his question.

I thought for sure it would have been some theologically oriented question that would prove me academically qualified, or something more praxis-oriented that would speak to my ability to translate what I’ve learned in the classroom to this new ministry context… but it wasn’t (or at least I didn’t think so in that moment).

This question led us into a long conversation about how men in ministry often fail in this area.

He shared with me how he had seen men in ministry abuse their power and influence for personal gain, fulfillment and to have their sexual needs met.

As you might imagine, for a wide-eyed, near-graduate who was preparing to live out the call God had placed on my life, I was floored. (I’ll spend some time reflecting on the ripple effects this one question has had on my 15 years of college ministry in a future post).

One of the major remarks that has stuck with me from that infamous lunch-time conversation was when he said:

It takes a lifetime to build a ministry (and reputation) but only a moment to lose it.

I am thankful for my former campus pastor — his words of challenge, encouragement, example and to this day friendship.

  • What one question has served to shape your approach to ministry?
  • What temptation/s do you face as a leader?
  • If this is the temptation of most men, what is it for women?

I’d love to know what you think! Share your stories below.