Something that I have learned over the years is that when it comes to policies regarding drinking alcohol different denominations, regions, Pastors, and even congregants have strong & differing opinions on the subject. There are some who believe there should be total abstention, others who believe the opposite, and then there the many opinions that fall between. Occasionally. Regularly, in moderation. Certain types are ok, others are not. It’s a pretty wide cavern to cross.
Today, instead of getting into the debate of if and when, let’s talk about why this matters.
Why Does Avoiding Drunkenness Matter?
Something worth noting is that drunkenness can directly affect all of the characteristics of godly leadership we’ve already covered, and the ones still to come. If you are drunk, how can you be above reproach… if you can’t remember the events of the evening? How many times have we heard of an affair or one night stand blamed on a night of heavy drinking? What about losing our temper or losing self control due to being drunk? How can we teach a good example or a lesson when were are intoxicated? Domestic abuse has plenty of connection to being drunk, argumentativeness too. Money has been wasted on a night out drinking, or keeping the cabinet stocked full. A drunk is not respected by others, including their spouse and children. A drunk will often have a bad reputation and may fall into disgrace often, blaming alcohol for their poor judgement.
In other words, if you are intoxicated to the point of drunkenness… how can you meet these standards of leadership? Whether you stand the side of absolute abstinence or will allow for occasional or moderated consumption, we should all be able to agree that drunkenness isn’t good for anyone. Leaders being held to higher standards, as we set the bar and expectation, even more so should avoid drunkenness.
Some will assert that the best way to avoid being drunk is to avoid consuming alcohol entirely, “lest we be tempted”. Yet, Scripture will point to wine being consumed regularly and at special events/occasions. Jesus made wine from water. The Bible says that we simply shouldn’t drink too much, right? The argument can go in circles. However there are some things you need to consider, as a leader.
What Does Your Denomination/Church Say on the Topic?
If you are a leader in a denomination or church which believes in total abstinence, as a leader you are expected to adhere to that rule. When you agree to step into leadership at a particular church, you are also agreeing to abide by their rules for leaders. Some churches will have stricter rules than others. It is important to know these rules for yourself, your team, and your events.
If the church policy is total abstinence of drinking, have you ensured that your team members understand this policy? If the church is fine with your consumption of alcohol in your own home, but not in public spaces… perhaps a ladies trip to the local vineyard for a wine tour is not appropriate. We can’t claim ignorance on the topic, it is our responsibility to ask the church leadership what is and isn’t acceptable.
I remember sitting in on a meeting where it was shared that a group of women had brought a bottle of wine to share in their hotel room while at a weekend long retreat. This was new territory because the women’s ministry leadership team had never even considered that anyone would bring a bottle of wine to a church function. The debate ensued between it being in the privacy of their own room, they were not drunk, and only a limited number of people knew about it. On the other side of the equation was the question of would allowing it encourage others to do it, could it become a larger problem? This resulted in a decision to make sure that in all future events of this nature, it was clearly stated in the “what to pack and what not to pack” information that alcoholic beverages were not to be brought.
If it wasn’t allowed, then everyone in attendance’s behavior was beyond reproach. The church was represented well, and it’s reputation was not potentially tarnished. Now, as I coach ministry leaders, I bring this up when we discuss event planning. We must as a ministry stand in agreement with our church policies, and the leadership sets the tone. If it is something you disagree with, you must ask if you can accept their terms or not. When we are acting under the umbrella of our church, we become the face of our church. Whatever our actions reflect about us, as a person, are also cast onto our church.
* Take the time to read the scriptures and ask the Lord to reveal to you His truth on this topic.
* Speak to your Pastor(s) and Staff/Leadership to ensure your ministry policies reflect the views of the church.