EDITOR'S NOTEHe Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).

QUESTION: I'm seventeen (eighteen in a month) and about to graduate high school. I just started going to my church's youth group a year ago and am basically the oldest kid there. A couple of months ago, I started to really like my youth pastor. I don't think that is that surprising, because he's an older guy and probably the most godly man I know. But here's the thing: I think he might like me, too. He is only a couple of years older than me, so honestly, if he wasn't my youth pastor, it wouldn't be that weird. Would it be inappropriate if after I graduate high school and leave the group we were to pursue a relationship?

HE SAID: I appreciate you seeking counsel as you may sense the seriousness of the ramifications of the relationship you desire.

As a “perennial” high school youth leader, I would be remiss if I didn’t share some of the astute guidance I received under the tutelage of some very wise pastors and mentors. Please receive this word of caution out of concern not condemnation.

Before you venture down this road too quickly (even in your mind), please respect the ministry your youth pastor has been called to and the role he plays within the church. What may seem like an innocent attraction at this point, can jeopardize and derail what God has planned for him and the lives of those surrounding the both of you. 

As a youth pastor, he is accountable to his youth and pastoral staff, all of your parents and the congregation, and to God. He is being held to a much higher standard than another young man who is only a couple of years older. He is called to live a life above reproach with no “appearance of immorality.”

Because of his position and your age, any contact between the two of you outside of sanctioned youth and church activities (or in private) may be construed as improper conduct.

I caution you about sharing your feelings with anyone except for a much older, mature, female confidant who is well acquainted with each of you. Discussing it, even with a friend you “trust,” may lead to envy, jealousy, gossip, hearsay or rumors, all of which will be detrimental to his ministry and the group.

I strongly suggest you don’t proceed, encourage, manipulate or promote a relationship or contact with your youth pastor beyond the bounds of “official” youth group activities. If a relationship with your youth pastor is truly called by God, it will wait a couple of months (or years), as in the case of those I have worked under in youth ministry.

Once you turn eighteen, graduate and are no longer a part of his ministry, if there is mutual interest he should be the one to take the initiative to pursue a relationship with you. What often gets us into trouble is following the tug of our heart rather than prayerfully seeking an answer and waiting for God’s timing.


SHE SAID: Inappropriate? No. It would not be inappropriate to date someone a couple of years older than you, since you are both (or you soon will be) of legal age. But in this case, could it appear to be inappropriate? Yes.