Ministerial Ethics is a course of study which establishes Ethical Guidelines, Principles, and Code of conducts for Ministers in the Vineyard of God. It is essential in the lives of the Ministers, moulding the behaviour, character; conduct and integrity of the Minister to enable him attain a successful Ministry.
The imperativeness of Ministerial Ethics in the discharge of the Minister’s daily functions cannot be over stressed. A Minister who lacks a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of Ministerial Ethics cannot go too far.
For a Minister to attain optimum performance in Ministry, he must give himself to the study of, not only the Holy Bible and Christian literatures, but also Ministerial Ethics.
A Minister of Jesus Christ, called by God to proclaim the gospel and gifted by the Holy Spirit to pastor the Church, should dedicate himself to conduct his ministry according to biblical and ethical guidelines and universally accepted practices.
The minister’s service should be acceptable to God and beneficial to the Church in particular and the Christian Community at large.
The Minister’s Personal and Family Life.
1.0 In the Old Testament, men that serve at the Altar are known as Priests or Levites. In the New Testament era, the general term MINISTER refers to the Apostles, Pastors, Evangelists and Caretakers.
2.0 A Minister has a duty to ensure that his own soul is saved for the Kingdom. It will be erroneous for a Minister to save the souls of his large congregation, while his own soul perishes in hell. Jesus is concerned more about our walk than our talk. Matt. 7::21-23. 1 Cor. 9: 27.
3.0 “Therefore, you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil, and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift… “ Num. 18:7.
So, I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the Altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to Minister to Me as priest”. Exod. 29:44.
Two facts emerge from the above passages:
Firstly, a Minister is the representative of the people to God and also a representative of God to the people. His duty is to carry the people’s petitions, concerning blessings, deliverance, protection and healing to God. The people also look up to him to return to them with positive answers.
In other words, the Minister should recognize his position in the Church as God’s spokesman and mouthpiece through whom all blessings flow to the congregation. He should therefore purge himself by confessing and renouncing every secret or hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness or handling the word of God deceitfully (Eccl. 12: 14; Rom, 1:8, 2 Cor. 4:2)
Secondly, the household or family of the Minister must be involved in the Ministry work. His wife and children should be his partners in God’s business. Examples are taken from Aaron and his sons as well as Joshua and his household.
The Minister and his sons have been chosen, sanctified, set apart and authorised by God to work in the holy Altar of God. Sons of a Minister who keep themselves are permitted to join their Minister father, in all sacred services, including preparation of the Lord’s super.
It is a great privilege to be a Minister of the Gospel and a shepherd to a group of God’s people. Deep and loving relationships can develop between the Minister and people provided the Minister is careful to observe some necessary limitations that his role and position impose.
A Minister should show equal concern for all members, just as God have no favourites or partiality “For there is no respect of persons with God: But if ye have respect for persons YE commit “SIN”. (Rom. 2:11, James 2:9).
The Minister should always work in close harmony with his Church Officers, Co-workers, and Committees, and seek to build peaceful and loving relationship with himself and all people.
Ministers, avoid handling church Funds. At the pioneering stages, when it may be inevitable, he must keep accurate and detailed records of his administration of Church funds. As soon as practicable he should delegate this responsibility to other trustworthy and competent persons in the Church. As a good manager he must know the state of all departments of the Church and its financial position. He also has ultimate responsibility for all officials, who administer Church Funds.
Every Minister should be prudent, courteous and absolutely trustworthy in maintaining the confidence of pastoral work. People’s personal confession of sinful behaviour and confidential statements during counseling must be treated as sacred trust. He should keep the secret of the Church and members’ secret.
The Pastor should not start rumors or repeat uncomplimentary things about anyone. An indiscreet comment by a Minister, will be remembered, after most eloquent sermon has been forgotten.
Be wary of any entanglements with members of the opposite sex. Counseling members of the opposite sex must not be done in private or late in the Night. Do not inquire into private matters. Intimate matters are best handled by counselors of the same sex.
The Minister should avoid transporting a member of the opposite sex unaccompanied, or offer the person a seat in the rear of the car if no one else can come along as a third person.
A Minister should maintain regular contact or pastoral visitation to keep in touch with those to whom he preaches week to week. The Lord always sent out his disciples two by two. You should always accompany with you someone else when going to a member’s house.
In visitation you should not appear to be in a hurry. The Minister should listen to the person he visited. Counsel with them, read the Scriptures and pray with them. If they are sick anoint them with oil and pray the prayer of faith so that the sick will receive healing from God.
As the Church grows, it will become impossible for the Pastor to do all the visitation personally, so he must develop a system that will adequately and caringly fulfill this vital pastoral responsibilities.
THE MINISTER AND THE PULPIT
A Minister must be a loving shepherd, able to preach and lead public services so that people will be saved, filled with the Holy spirit, and caused to grow to be like Christ, through his personal public Ministry.
In the Pulpit, and elsewhere, only the highest standards of ethical and moral conducts are appropriate for a Church Minister. He is the representative of Christ before the people. His language, dignity, modesty and upright behaviour must be above reproach (1Tim. 3: 1-7; 1Pet. 2:12).
The Minister: should do nothing that will unnecessarily draw attention to himself in the Pulpit. He should avoid mannerisms and habits that are distracting, annoying, offensive or self-promoting showmanship in the Pulpit. These are unacceptable and unscriptural. Our conduct should focus attention to Jesus Christ. Because a Church Minister cannot see himself as others see him. He is well advised to discreetly seek the opinion of a discerning friend or his wife and be ready to accept constructive criticism.
A Minister must never misuse the power of the pulpit to manipulate people. Take “POTSHOPS”, at individuals or stir up inappropriate emotions in the people. The pulpit is holy, and it should be consecrated only to the purpose of Christ by a Minister functioning as a faithful ambassador of the King.
The Minister has an ethical obligation to prepare the messenger and messages carefully. Conduct the worship services so as to build up and encourage the people to worship God in spirit and in truth, and in an atmosphere of joy. Teach them to know God and enjoy his presence.
A Minister must take time to read his Bible and other books and articles. This will give more depth to your sermons. Allow adequate time to pray and study in preparing the messengers and the message.
He must never exploit the gift of the spirit for personal gain or popularity. He must never use the word of knowledge to gain power over people, or the gifts of healing to make money, nor should he misuse the gift of faith or the gift of miracle to promote his own name or build fame for his own Ministry.
When operating in the power of God, a Minister needs to be careful that he does not defile God’s holiness by interposing his fleshly personality. We don’t want to be like Moses who, by his angry outburst, was judged unworthy to go into the land of promise (Num.20: 7-12).
The Minister must be willing to have his prophecies judged and be ready to admit his error and admixture when exercising the gift of the spirit. The practice of prophesying people out of their Church into your Church is not only unethical but brings one in danger of divine judgement (Jer. 5:31; 29:9)
Glorifying, Blasting and Rejoicing in the exercising Power of God, over demons is forbidden by Jesus. Exorcism is not a spectator sport and giving prominence to demonic activity and excessive attention to ‘deliverance’ may glorify Satan than God.
To Prevent Pride, Causing His Fall, Pastor must always recognize other Ministries as being greater than his own (Phil.2:3). To publicly criticize and name other Ministers in the guise of being God’s “prophets” sent to expose sin in the camp is fraught with many dangers, such as, pride, arrogance, vindictiveness and self-righteousness.
A Visiting Speaker: should be introduced by the Minister simply and graciously, rather than extravagantly or pompously (Acts 12:22; 1Cor. 3:5). The Minister should make no comment at the end of the sermon, other than perhaps brief, warm affirmations.
THE MINISTER AND HIS CONGREGATION
The Minister must be properly furnished in the words of God and conversant with the doctrines of the Church so that he can properly admonish and guide members in accordance with God’s laws and the Church regulations.
A Minister should avoid keeping unduly too long in his service conducts. Rather, people should be taught to know God and enjoy His presence and to worship God in spirit and in truth in an atmosphere of joy.
In sermon preparation, the Minister should allow adequate time to pray and study his Bible and other books/articles. The motive is to produce qualitative and lively message that satisfy the spiritual and physical needs of the people. Your sermon should “be brief, alive and full of power (making it active, operative, energizing and effective); it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and (the immoral), exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
Speak the Word of God. Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, exhort and rebuke with all long suffering and teaching. (2Tim. 4:2)
A Minister must not be respecter of persons, courting the favour of the influential or the generous members which tantamount to favouritism, nor should he be partial or tribal in his judgments. The problems of the Church and Members should be priority of the Minister and he should show equal love to members whether rich or poor. A well grounded Minister can assist the poor members to become rich, spiritually and materially.
The Minister must avoid acts and words that scatter the Church. He should not allow himself, his wife or his children to be at the centre of crisis, gossip, whispering and slandering in the Church.
Should misunderstanding or disputes arise, the Minister and his family must pray and make efforts for settlement and not to fuel the crisis.
Self-assessment is vital for the Minister. Let other people say what they know about you. Christ was an example of self assessment when He asked His disciples, “Whom say ye that I am” Matt. 16: 13-16.
It is imperative to note that the assessment of the Minister’s job performance is based on the following growth parameters:
i. Spiritual growth
ii. Membership Growth
iii. Financial Growth
There is a strong correlation between these three growth parameters. They are dependent on each other. When a Church is spirit- filled, there you will find salvation; deliverance, healing, signs and wonders, and multitudes would come to embrace the great light. The multitudes become veritable channels and resources for the infrastructural development of the Church and expansion of God’s Kingdom (Obed. 17).
THE MINISTER AND HIS COLLEAGUES
A Minister must recognize other Apostles, Pastors, Evangelists and Teachers as his colleagues, fellow prisoners and workers for the kingdom, and realize that he is always a part of a wider group of Ministers. He should foster good relations with every other Minister who is building the kingdom of God and regard it as a privilege to stand alongside a fellow Minister, especially at times of difficulty, attack or discouragement.
A Minister should always ask after and feel genuinely concerned about his colleagues with a view to sharing experiences with one another. He should pray always for the peace and progress of the ministries of his colleagues and visit one another for the purpose of taking counsel and learning. Every Minister needs a Barnabas, son of encouragement. He needs someone he can share with intimately. He goes to him continually with problems and difficult situations. Praying, counseling and holding the colleague’s confidence were major duties of Barnabas.
A Minister is also a follower. Knowledge is acquired not only by attending lectures, reading books or earning degrees, but by first watching successful colleagues lead in action. He responds to the inspiration of his colleague and emulates their examples (1 Cor. 4: 16; Phil. 3: 17; 4:9)
The Minister must have personal friendliness, good human relations and love for his colleagues. A lack of interest or an unfriendly attitude is an obstacle in the path of achievement and growth.
Any feeling of superiority or inferiority complex must be avoided by the Minister. He should not backbite or slander his colleagues and their wives… “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal. 5: 15). He should not poison the minds of his children or Church members by discussing his colleagues and their wives in their presence. This is to avoid revenge and rebellion.
A Minister should keep open heart and open door for his colleagues. Acts of suppression or oppression of colleagues should be avoided.
Seniority: The Minister must obey and honour those who are his seniors in the Ministry regardless of their age. He should always cooperate. Any system where there is no orderliness, seniority or ranks, the system disorganizes sooner or later. There must be stated orderliness in rank and file procession, as the hierarchy exists even in heaven. The status quo and levels of authority must be strictly maintained and followed. No matter how highly the Minister may think of himself he should keep his grade, level and official responsibility.
A Minister should avoid the temptation of treating his colleagues as competitors in order to gain a Church, receive honour, or achieve statistical success. He should refrain from speaking disparagingly about the person or work of any other Minister, especially his predecessor or successor. He is to enhance the ministry of his successor by refusing to interfere in any way with the Church he formerly served. He is to return to a former Church station for professional services such as wedding and funerals, only if invited by the resident Pastor or a member through the Pastor.
THE MINISTER IN SITUATIONS OF CONFLICT
Conflicts can be defined as fighting or war, a state of disagreement or arguments between people, groups or countries. Conflicts could also mean a time of general disagreement among members, between the Minister and members, Ministers and elders or officers of the Church. It is a state of confusion in the Church of God.
The following factors can lead to conflicts. The self, rumor/gossip mill, poor communication, discrimination and favouritism, poor system of seeking redress, policy issues not properly defined, lack of commitment, poor knowledge or no knowledge of events and issues, not seeking God’s will. Other factors include misunderstanding, misinterpretation, confusion and lack of acceptable answers.
Problem solving is costliest and perhaps the least rewarding function of leadership. It consumes time and seems to yield very little fruit. It is, however, a very important and very difficult job.
Many problems arise from misunderstanding people and situations. Misunderstanding includes the inability to see clearly or to see all the factors involved mistakes as to the meaning or motive behind what is said or done, disagreements and quarrels. The keys to this kind of problem are the ability to “understand the misunderstanding”. Many problems in the Church are created through misunderstanding of action or intent.
Misinterpretation is a mental process whereby we give meaning to what we “see” with our physical sense or imagination. Many problems are created through misinterpretation. Deliberate misinterpretation causes many problems in Christian circles. Original sin resulted when Satan understood to twist God’s word to man.
Today, sin abounds because of deliberate misinterpretation of God’s Word by the ungodly within and without the Church. Many congregations have members with a “gifts” for misinterpretation who do not cease to use it.
Conflict Resolution is the act of finding a way to settle conflicts. It is the channeling of all available human and material resources to achieve peaceful co-existence among members of the Church.
It is imperative for a Minister to be proactive rather than reactive. This means anticipating a problem and curtailing it before it occurs, rather than waiting until issues degenerate into problems and crisis before they are attended to. A proactive Minister is most likely to pick out potential areas of conflict in the Church and take measures to solve them before they result to crises.
It is one of the sobering realities of the ministry that severe tensions and even hostilities may arise on occasions between the Minister and the people. It is essential for a Minister to have WISDOM and HUMILITY to seek assistance in handling these situations before serious damages are caused.
No Minister is immune from controversy. He can hardly expect to be. The prophetic voice will provoke reaction and challenge established patterns. Jesus said we would be opposed just as he was. However, a Minister does well to realize that change ought to be introduced gradually. Should misunderstanding arise these can often be resolved to every one’s satisfaction in loving and conciliatory ways. A new Minister in the Church may find that resentment to change can be overcome if he first builds greater trust or takes more time to explain the reasons behind the changes so that people’s fear of change is gently overcome. Where there is a general acceptance of changes, the Minister still has a profound obligation to care for the minority who may feel hurt or displeased by the changes.
Should controversy or division arise within the Church the Minister should maintain the goodwill of all parties even if the trouble focuses on him or his family.
A Minister must avoid aggression and defensiveness, but seek to exercise a balance in the style of his conflict management, to bring the Church through a biblical resolution of the conflict.
Provoking conflict or taking extreme positions may increase factional feelings and even generate a Church flirt. Moderating spirit will generally engender Church growth. Ministers must strive to forget their self- interest for the good of the Church. It is always to be hoped that the Church will place the pastoral care of their Minister and his family as their utmost priority.
When a Minister feels he is misunderstood, or unfairly criticized, by an influential group in the Church, he must try to accurately assess the level and extent of discontent before reacting.
He should strive to maintain a detached and objective attitude toward the people and the circumstances before taking actions. If however, the criticisms represent genuine concern of a large proportion of the people, any temptation to “dig in’ or react strongly will not solve the problem or enhance his Ministry.
It is a wise Minister who has developed senior friends to whom he can confidently submit himself and the situation at such crises time. The Pastor and his family may become very vulnerable at these times. But a Minister of integrity with a servant’s heart is not going to insist on staying if it involves fighting with the people whom he has been called to shepherd. It may be better for all if he leaves rather than causing a Church split.
A Minister should preach and teach during peaceful time on conflict resolution, forgiveness, handling anger and other vital issues. Attempting to address these matters from the pulpit at times of conflict is rarely understood as anything other than defensiveness, and may generate further anger and disunity among the Church members.
All members are your children and they should be treated as such.
THE EFFECTIVE MINISTER’S WIFE
A Ministers wife is not one adorned with worldly wisdom and characteristics, but one clothed with the spirit of meekness, gentleness and humility. She must be steadfast in doctrine and very thorough in the knowledge of God’s word (Malachi 2: 7, 2Tim. 2:15)
1. She must be zealous for the work of God and show ability to communicate very well.
2. Must have a clear understanding of her role as a Minister’s wife with ability to supervise all activities with diligence.
3. Leading and counseling women on programmes that can meet their needs
4. Outreaches to different categories of women in the Church, single sisters, nursing mothers and the pregnant sisters.
5. Organizing development programme for children and youths for Christ, teaching them how to earn a living
6. Loving and caring for the needy, the sick and widows.
7. Organizing intercessory groups to intercede for all arms of the Church.
8. Planning Evangelical outreaches to save sinners and visitation to restore backsliders.
9. Ensuring that every member of the Minister’s household is involved in Church programme and activities.
10. Reminding her husband and assisting him to prepare for Church programme.
11. Praying always for her husband, especially when he is officiating on the altar.
12. Agreeing and supporting her husband in all things. Amos 3:3
13. Submissive to the authorities and co-operating with other Minister’s wives of all ranks.
REWARD FOR EFFECTIVE MINISTRY
So, he who has received five talents came and brought five talents, saying, Lord you delivered to me five talents, look I gained five more talents besides them. His Lord said to him, well done, good and faithful servant, you faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matt. 25: 20 -21)
Effective Ministry brings great physical and eternal benefits, for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love. Such benefits include salvation of sinners and restoration of backsliders.; Victory and dominion over sin; answered prayers and open doors to God’s blessings, joys of service, Righteousness which exalts the nation, crown of glory commendation from God, heavenly mansion, hope of spending eternity in the kingdom of God and favour from Men.
- I pray the Almighty God to empower all our Ministers and their wives to carry the cross to the end. May God’s abundant rewards be your portion in the mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
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