Internships Gone Bad

In a previous post, I gave some ideas about seminary and ministry internships. I’ve since come across a good article in the Wall Street Journal entitled When Mentoring Goes Bad, which deals with situations that have gone sour due to both the mentor and the intern. There’s also a decent article entitled Benefits and Pitfalls of Mentoring.

While the subject matter in business schools and other venues which result in internships and other kinds of mentoring relationships are different than those in seminary and ministry internships, the problems which are described can happen in seminary and ministry internships as well. My counsel is that seminaries and Bible colleges do need to be involved more effectively if the internship runs into problems. It was little noticed during the mid 1990’s that two prominent corporate executives lost their jobs due to sexual exploitation of an intern about the same time as the Bill Clinton / Monica Lewinsky scandal. Certainly any kind of comparable sexual exploitation of an intern would call for intervention and discipline by the church elders, the denominational leaders and the appropriate faculty members of the seminary. But there are problems which the articles mention which are of a different nature than sexual exploitation. It would be advisable for denominational and educational leaders who are involved with promoting, arranging and overseeing ministry internships to be aware of these as well, and intervene where there is inappropriate conduct of the types described.

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