In some work relationships, traveling with opposite-sex associates may be necessary. If you are a subordinate scheduled to take a business trip with a superior, here are a few things to remember. [Please note: Most of this can also be applied if you’re traveling with a business associate —even if they aren’t your supervisor.]
1. The purpose of a business trip is business. Whatever the location of the trip, the purpose is still to conduct business. Hawaii may be the resort destination for 99.9% of the people on the airplane, but if you’re going there for business, don’t be swayed by paradise.
2. Know your responsibilities ahead of time. Ask beforehand about the goals and schedule for the business trip. Be aware before you leave of what you’ll be doing each day and what the business-related expectations are. Doing this will allow you to better prepare for your responsibilities regarding the trip. It will also alert you if your supervisor has other, sexualized, reasons for wanting you to come along.
3. Keep control over your personal time and space. A business trip may require you to be away from home for twenty-four, forty-eight, or more hours, but this doesn’t mean that all of those hours become the exclusive property of your superior. You should not be required to eat all meals with your traveling partner. You should never be required to entertain your opposite-sex traveling partner in your room, nor should you be required to conduct business in theirs. Often hotels will have work areas you can use, or they have no problem with you setting up an informal meeting in a corner of the hotel lobby.
4. Avoid loosening your personal standards because of an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes, when we’re far from home, we’re tempted to “loosen up.” If you would not allow certain behavior or speech from someone while at work, don’t allow it merely because it’s occurring away from the office. If you wouldn’t allow certain behavior or speech from yourself while at work, don’t allow yourself to engage in it merely because you’re doing it away from the office.
5. Stay connected to family. If you’re married, take a picture of your family with you. Whenever possible, call your family each night when you get back to your room. Because you may be hundreds or thousands of miles away from your family, remain connected to them by thinking about them, praying for them, talking about them. Remind whoever you’re traveling with, and yourself, of the other relationships in your life.
6. Be wise whenever you and your traveling partner have to be alone together. Maintain your professional demeanor. You may not be as high up in the company as they are, but you’re still a professional. Acting like one continually reinforces the message that to you this excursion is for business only.
Whether you are in a supervisory or subordinate role, God expects you to maintain sexual integrity. If you’re being pressured by a supervisor to have sex, do not give in. Never compromise your values, your morals, or your faith because your job is threatened. Trust God to protect you and to be with you as you confront your sexual manipulator. Trust God to take care of you if you determine it’s best for you to leave your job. If God expects you to symbolically cut off a hand or gouge out an eye so as not to sin (Matthew 5:29-30), trust him to sustain you if you have to give up a paycheck to keep yourself sexually pure.
[Marriage Missions editor’s note: The book, Too Close to the Flame, gives many more details that you’ll want to read concerning sexual temptations in the work place. However, we want to include one more section of the book that gives some wise guidelines that can be helpful in working with those who work for you (although we think these guidelines should also be applied, whenever possible, when working with any co-workers of the opposite sex).]
Be wise in how you deal with subordinates.
1. Avoid private, secluded meetings. Try, as much as possible, to let other people know when and where you will be meeting subordinates and for what reason.
2. Whenever possible, keep the door to your office open or ajar. Purposely choose to keep your voice lowered to minimize the chances of someone overhearing business you are talking about.
3. Whenever possible, include other people in your meetings. Not only will you cut down on the number of meetings, but you’ll protect yourself against either unfounded charges or unwelcome advances by a subordinate.
4. Avoid after-hours, solitary meetings with subordinate of the opposite sex. Conduct business during business hours. If you’re too busy to get to it today, leave it for tomorrow. You really should be home with your family anyway.
5. Make arrangements to have a witness. If you suspect a subordinate of being a sexual climber [“someone who is looking to control a sexual relationship for the relationship and the perks that go with it”] and find it necessary to conduct a personnel review or other meeting that needs to be private, instruct a secretary or coworker to make a prearranged entrance into your office. Later, if a problem arises, you will have a witness to the demeanor during the meeting in question.
Sound like a lot of hassle? You’re right, it is. But it’s nothing compared to the disruption of your life and career if you are targeted by a sexual climber or accused unjustly of a sexual overture. Honest coworkers and subordinates will appreciate your discretion, the maintenance of your personal integrity, and the care you extend toward them.
The bottom line in all of this is to maintain your self-control —your control over your self, your body, your person —in work situations. No matter who you are working for, you need to guard your personal integrity. This holds true twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. God does not compartmentalize your life. He is just as concerned with your conduct at work on Monday as He is with your conduct at church on Sunday. Even when a manipulator beckoned him to her bed, Joseph knew he was God’s man, and he said so!
Fuel for Thought: Look over the following passages from Proverbs and relate them to conduct at work: Proverbs 10:9; Proverbs 11:6; Proverbs 11:22; Proverbs 12:13; Proverbs 12:26; Proverbs 16:23; Proverbs 16:30; Proverbs 18:7; Proverbs 20:17; and Proverbs 25:26.
MAY GOD GRANT YOU CLEAR VISION to see the way of escape he has prepared in work-related temptations. May he grant you protection from the schemes of evil people who plot to use you for their selfish purposes. May he bolster your efforts to maintain your sexual integrity as a beacon to others of your trust in him.
The above text comes from the book, Too Close to the Flame, by Dr Gregg Jantz with Ann McMurray, published by Howard Books. There’s a lot of material on this subject that we weren’t able to put into this article so you may want to pick it up for that reason. In this book, Dr. Jantz bases each section on specific case studies and offers guidance in identifying sexual manipulators and climbers, spotting danger signals in friendships about to turn sexual, protecting family members from relatives or acquaintances who are sexual predators, knowing how to avoid sexual traps when advising church members, avoiding sexual pitfalls in professional and pastoral counseling, and more.