Sadly, stories of teachers, male and female who have inappropriate relationships with their students, are too frequent. For every story that breaks on the news, there are probably a dozen that do not due to teachers quietly quitting and moving on.
Teacher are not the only ones. Coaches from college level programs to professional programs have also been in the news for inappropriate relationships with players, interns or other staff.
Youth Pastors, we should be taking note of our influence and taking steps to protect students in our ministry and, in process, the integrity of our own lives. I ran across this article from a women who details her high school crush on a teacher. It was a sobering read as I quickly put it in the context of a student and a youth pastor.
This is a quote from a much longer article,
“Young girls are desperate for validation. We crave recognition so badly from older male figures that sometimes we mistake innocent need for emotional desire. That impulse is misguided, sure, but we are children. We are young and pubescent and desperate for someone, anyone, to see us and say everything will be alright. That we are alright. And it’s easy to misconstrue love when you have access to bits of culture that romanticize those relationships, imbuing sensuality within the hush of forbidden love.”
– by Jessica L. Pavia, The Teacher Crush: What happens when a teenager develops a risky infatuation? February 21, 2023, LongerReads.com
Whether you’re male or female, take a moment to recognize that you are the adult and your teens are students who are unable to discern love and lust.
The last three paragraphs are worth checking out the article.
A reminder to be the example
I know you know this, but I want to remind you of a few things that will protect students, save your reputation and your ministry.
- never be in a car or room with person of the opposite sex where no where else is around
- never be in closed door room with any student. Meet openly, in public spaces.
- never entertain texts or dm’s from students, especially late at night.
- watch your pride
- don’t allow compliments or false praise to lead you to make unwise choices
- do not favor (with time or attention) students of the opposite sex so the wrong message will not be sent.
We all have egos that can get bruised and we must be careful to watch what and who builds it back up.
The Bible is filled with warnings and admonition on these things, but allow me to leave you with two,
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. I Peter 2:16
“Guard your heart … for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT
Whether you are 22 or 42, be the adult in room. Be the example, not of what’s cool but of what’s godly and not only will you avoid the folly of ego but you will send the message that you take the lives of your students seriously. Being the adult is a kindness to students, even if it breaks their heart.