Chapter 1: The Call to Ministry
Chapter 2: A life of Integrity
Chapter 3: The ethical framework for Ministers and Christian Leaders
Chapter 4: Ministerial Qualifications, Character and Conduct
Chapter 5: Ministers and Ethics in the Community
Chapter 6: Ministers’ confidentiality and strategies for maintaining confidentiality
Chapter 8: The relationship between an individual Christian and a societal ethics
Chapter 9: Understanding Christian Ethics
Chapter 10: Ethics and the Bible
Chapter 11: A guideline for Ministerial Ethics
Pastoral Ethics has become an imperative topic in the life of the 21st century church. For many years it was generally expected that by virtue of been a Ministers of religion, it was granted that when a person who enters into ministerial vocation, such a person would be of a high moral standard and unquestionable ethics. However this is no longer the case. The church has never been so concern about how its leaders responds to the challenges of society, which are forever changing. The church is going through serious challenges of corruption, secularism, immorality and character issues. Pastoral ministry has become demanding with more added responsibilities, which includes not only preaching, evangelism, administration, and missions, but also counselling, social ministry, nurture and fund raising, among other responsibilities.
Ethics as part of Pastoral Ministry, is personal and centred around the individual’s relationship with God. It is based on understanding biblical commands, principles, and rules, personal values along with love, justice, peace, equality, fairness, respect for others, and relationship with the family, church, law, finance, employment and religious traditions.
In this book I will reflect on this topic Pastoral ethics to help those who may want to enter in this Pastoral or Ministry vocation particularly in this century, to have an extra understanding of what is expected of them.
Chapter One The Call to Ministry
God "calls" people. The bible records the history of God and people interacting, where God summons people to do certain things. He calls all men to a relationship with Him through salvation and redemptive work that can be found only in His Son Jesus Christ. God has called believers to fellowship with Christ, to holiness, to liberty, to peace, and to "virtue". Believers are to "walk worthy" of the calling they have received. But there is still another calling that is even more personal than the moral callings. It is God's call to the individual believer for a specific ministry.
The Lord has been calling individuals for specific ministries for many years. Some people experienced the call of God in powerful and dynamic way as Moses before the burning bush (Exod. 3) or Saul blinded by the heavenly light (Acts 9). Others experience a call to a specific work or place of ministry like Abram: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). To Moses: “So come, I will send you to Pharoah to bring my people, the Israelites” (Exod. 3:10).
The call of God is the longing, yearning, and desires that God places within the His people, to awaken them to and engage them in His will, presence, and activity in the world. God uses a variety of avenues to call people, but common to each is God’s sovereign choice, grace, and purpose for the good of humanity and the glory of God’s Kingdom. God’s call should elicit the faithful response of the person called and a way of life that honours the One who calls1.
In calling us to the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19), God calls some to proclaim the gospel of reconciliation (Rom. 10:14-15) and to equip others for Christian service and the building up of the church (Eph. 4:11-12). With the call of God comes the call to live in a manner worthy of the calling (Eph. 1:1). Unfortunately, not all of those called have lived up to the high ethical standards to the One who calls them and the Spirit who leads them. Paul lays the foundation and challenge of ethical behaviour for those called as servant and vocational ministers:
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. (1 Cor. 4:1-2). Paul counsels the church in Ephesians 5:1-5. He continues admonish Christians are to imitate God, to live in love, and not to allow immorality, greed, and vulgarity in their lives. In Colossians 3:1-17, “to set your minds on things that are above . . . put to death . . . whatever in you that is earthly . . . clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Here and elsewhere in the New Testament, perfection is not a prerequisite for doing ministry, but ministers must be alert to the dangers that lead to moral and professional destruction.
Ministers should clearly hear and heed the voice of God in their lives. God’s call is not a one-time call, but one that requires the ongoing diligence of faithfulness to continue in obedience2. Many leaders whose stories are told in scripture heard the voice of God initially only to be led astray by lesser voices in later life. For David, there was the temptation of sex; for Solomon, the idolatries of 700 wives and the undisciplined pursuit of pleasure; for Hezekiah, the pride of accumulated wealth; and for Josiah, the failure to discern the true voice of God even after years of blessing and walking with the Lord. Ministers must re-examine and renew their commitment to God’s call over time.
First and foremost, this commitment is to be followers of Jesus. The lifestyle, priorities, and morality of the called should reflect the image of Christ. The call to ministry is a call to faithfulness above and beyond any considerations regarding the size or temporal measure of the ministry to which ministers are called. Ministers do well to remember not only the time and circumstances of their unique call but the holiness and the character of the One who calls them. Because the minister’s call is not just vocational, but intensely personal, ministerial accountability is intensely personal, and not based merely on outward performance.
In remembering the call and the One who calls, ministers find nourishment for persevering through difficult times. To sustain the call, ministers must work at maintaining their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and moral well-being3. The pressures of life and work can erode the sense of purpose with which ministry began. Ministers find sustaining strength to continue when other voices would bid them to abandon their ministries as they remember the God who calls and the work to which they have dedicated themselves. Faithful remembrance brings a profound sense of humility and joy.
In the Ministering of God’s word, whoever has the honour and privilege of doing so, must do it in the utmost manner of integrity and moral standing, according to God’s word, His moral will. God has however given us all a choice in the matter and so we may choose to do His will and commands in integrity or according to the world’s ways.
As we go further in this research paper we will discover classical theories of ethics, a relation to individual or personal ethics verses societal ethics, how scripture used ethical decision making and identify a personal code of ethics appropriate to future Ministries. We will also develop a strategy for maintaining confidentiality and discover ministerial character and conduct of Christians and Ministerial conduct and we will also delve into a mature servant leader’s Christ-like life of devotion and discipleship to discover more intently how important Ministerial ethics are in the Church today.
Jesus is our ultimate example of how to live a life of integrity and how to Minister with ethical, moral and godly values that come straight from the word of God. As He is the word of God, there is no better place and way to get the correct morals and ethics than from Him and through Him to be able to Minister with godly ethics. So as we go further into Ministerial ethics and all that it involves, I challenge you to check your Ministerial ethics and values according to God’s word and see if we come to the same conclusion at the end.
Chapter 2 A life of Integrity
Ministerial ethics begins with a call to ministerial integrity, which can be defined as “completeness” or “wholeness.” Jesus captures the gospel sense of integrity with the command, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). In the English text “perfect” comes from the Greek word teleios which means “complete.” This teaching concludes Jesus’ authoritative interpretation of the Law (“You have heard that it was said. . . . But I say to you”) which in turn interprets the Sermon’s theme, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). Integrity in the gospel sense entails being completed or formed by the Word of God which comes to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ conclusion to the Sermon suggests that such integrity is the embodiment of wisdom:4 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall! (Matt. 5:24-27)
The reaction of those who heard the Sermon connects integrity to the life-changing impact of gospel truth: “ Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes ” (Matt. 5:28-29). We begin to have integrity in the gospel sense when we hear and follow Jesus on our way to becoming a truthful people. Receiving, embodying, and telling the truth of God in Christ is the essence of ministerial integrity. Indeed, the failure of ministerial integrity is in large measure the failure to know and bear witness to this very truth.
The church is complicit in the loss of ministerial integrity. We live in a consumer society, and churches routinely function as subsets of this society5. We come to church as individuals with needs, and we expect our ministers to meet our needs. We feel guilty, and we need forgiveness. We feel lonely, and we need companionship. We feel grief, and we need to be comforted. We feel depressed, hopeless, empty, alienated, trapped, aimless, and we need encouragement, assurance, reconciliation, liberation, and direction. We feel bored, and we need to be entertained.
Sensitive to our needs, ministers try to meet them, offering absolution, friendship, understanding, motivation, and spiritual inspiration. While congregants’ needs are heart-felt, and ministers’ attempts to meet them are genuine, the consumer approach to church and ministry undermines ministerial integrity. Christian ministry is not first and foremost about identifying and meeting the needs of people, but about leading people to follow Jesus and thus to become the people of God. Following Jesus, we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, to love our enemies, to be agents of reconciliation, to do justice for “the least of these,” to love God as we love one another, to serve God as we serve one another, and to bear witness to the cosmos-shaking reality that “the Word became flesh and lived among us . . . full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
When the task of ministry becomes defined by something less than helping the people of God to be formed by the way of Jesus, ministerial integrity is bound to suffer. This is not to deny the clear connection between human needs and Christian ministry, but rather to give an account of what it means to lose (and to regain) ministerial
Christian faith professes belief in the infinite goodness and holiness of God and that all reality has its origin and purpose in God. Christian Leaders and Ministers are called to live lives pleasing to God with Christian hope that God unconditionally wills salvation to all. The call to salvation is ultimately a call “to be saved by the Holy Spirit who makes us holy”. Clergy, religious Christian Leaders , Ministers and lay church workers should exercise their pastoral ministry in ways which repeat this call, time and again, for all to hear.
God call men and women to His own service. To Minister His word to His people. The word Minister, according to Thayer’s Greek definitions, diakonos is
1. one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master, a servant, attendant, minister
1a) the servant of a king
1b) a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use6
As we have read in the introduction, the definition of Minister is to serve people in a position or dimension in Ministry or the Church. It is reasonably clear in Scripture that (1) ministry means the service of God and his creatures; (2) the one essential ministry is that of Jesus Christ; (3) the whole membership of the old and the new Israel is called to share in ministerial service, of which there are many forms; and (4) certain persons in both the old new Israel are set apart for special ministry, within the total ministry7.
The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Ephesians Eph 4:11 -13, “ His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, travelling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. With the purpose of perfecting and the full equipping of the saints [that they should do the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body the church, That it might develop until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.
We see in these scripture that Jesus has appointed certain people, whom He gifted with the gifts needed to fulfill the role He appointed them to, in certain offices or areas, to minister His word, in order to build up the other parts of His body into maturity and unity, of who He is (relationship) and what their parts in His body where (Their purpose and plan) in order that His body may function in His perfection, bringing completeness and fulfillment of His purpose and plan (the Master plan).
According to 1st Corinthians, 12; 4 -6, spiritual gifts can be exercised in a variety of ministries which produce a variety of fruit. It says that there are different kinds of gifts (spiritual gifts) and different kinds of service (ministries the gifts are exercised in) and different kinds of workings or effects (fruit from the ministries the gifts are exercised in). The same Triune God works through all of them.
The apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth in 12:6 – 12 “And there are distinctive varieties of operation [of working to accomplish things], but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the [Holy] Spirit [the evidence, the spiritual illumination of the Spirit] for good and profit. To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit; To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit; To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses. For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
He continues to show in 1Co 12:28 – 30, that So God has appointed some in the church [for His own use]: first apostles (special messengers); second prophets (inspired preachers and expounders); third teachers; then wonder-workers; then those with ability to heal the sick; helpers; administrators; [speakers in] different (unknown) tongues. Are all apostles (special messengers)? Are all prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God)? Are all teachers? Do all have the power of performing miracles? Do all possess extraordinary powers of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret
Ministers are therefore given various gifts by the Holy Spirit to serve the Church of God in various capacities and according to the gifts
1. Ministry Gift of Teaching
God gives the gift of Teaching, the "spiritual ability to understand and explain effectively the text and truths of the Word of God." (Rom.12:7, Acts 13:1, 1 Cor.12:28)8. Discipling, counsel/teaching Any ministry in the church where teaching is needed.
2. Ministry Gift of Leadership
"Leadership" is the "spiritual ability to discern the spiritual needs of a group of Christians and lead them into fulfilling God's plan for them which is greater love for Christ, for one another, and for the lost." The core concept behind this word as used in the context of the church is leading others spiritually, leading others to greater love for Christ, greater love for one another and greater love for the lost. Leadership in any ministry in the church (according to Biblical qualifications), Leadership in youth or children’s ministry meetings. Leadership in Children's ministries, Elder, deacon, or deaconess (according to Biblical qualifications), Lead or help organize women's ministry events9
3. Ministry gift of Evangelism
The gift of evangelism comes from Eph.4:11. "Evangelism" is the "spiritual ability to present the gospel in a clear and coherent way so that unbelievers accept Christ as Saviour." (Eph.4:11, Acts 6:3-7, 8:1-13, 21:8). Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel to the whole world to preach. This is a calling to all Christians to witness however We acknowledge that God has given some a special gift to minister differently.
4 Ministry gift of Exhortation
"Exhortation" is the "spiritual ability to effectively urge and encourage other believers with the Word of God to press on to greater obedience to Jesus Christ." (Rom.12:8, 12:1, 1 Thess.4:1, Phil.4:2, 2 Tim.4:2) Those with the gift of exhortation like to encourage others in their walk with Christ. They enjoy coming alongside of other believers and urging them to obey the Lord, or serve the Lord, or get involved in the body. They want to see other believers grow in Christ and turn away from sin. Exhorters get Christians moving. They are often also very outreach oriented. They are also very concerned about the spiritual lives of those who do not know Christ. They are attracted to first-time visitors to make them feel welcome and loved. They want to encourage them. Any ministry where people need to be exhorted and encouraged.
5. Ministry gift of Mercy
"Mercy" is the "spiritual ability to effectively comfort and/or relieve the suffering believer through spiritual and/or physical means." They have a deep heart of compassion toward the suffering which moves them to action to help relieve that suffering. The believer who has the gift of mercy is drawn toward those who suffering particularly in the physical realm, but also those in general distress. They may be outcast, poor, underprivileged, abused, physically or mentally challenged, shut-tin, hungry, and the like. But they do more than feel pity and compassion, they act. They actively seek to relieve the suffering of those believers through comfort and whatever physical means it takes to help them
Visiting the ill in the hospital, Visiting house bound (those who cannot leave their homes), Helping in a food and clothing distribution ministry, ministering to widows and senior Christians, Any ministry of comfort and relief of suffering Christians or non-Christians
6. Ministry gift of Giving
"Giving" is the "spiritual ability to give of one's material goods or financial resources sacrificially for the Lord's work and/or the financial and material needs of believers (above and beyond the Biblical responsibility of all believers)." Christians with this gift enjoy giving a share or portion of what they possess to another. Giving one's time or energy is exercised whenever any gift is exercised, but the gift of giving is the sharing of material or financial resources. This gift can be exercised by giving money, or goods, donating clothes, food, whatever to meet the material needs of the saints.
7. Ministry gift of Administration
"Administration" is the "spiritual ability to effectively plan, organize, and direct a group of Christians to accomplish a particular ministry objective in a harmonious and orderly way." Those who this gift are able to effectively plan, organize, and direct a group of Christians to accomplish a ministry objective. This gift is crucial in the body of Christ. These saints can lead a variety of ministries.
8. Ministry gift of Helps
"Helps" is the "spiritual ability to effectively come to the aid of another believer to meet a personal, temporal (non-spiritual) burden or need which often is immediate, unexpected, and/or extraordinary." It has the idea of coming to the aid of or helping someone with a burden or great need that arises in a believer's life. This need often arises suddenly or unexpectedly, but not always, but it is always a need that is a burden so that the believer needs help with it. Those with this gift are attracted to help others with these kinds of burdens in their lives to help relieve them of it.
9. Ministry gift of Service
"Service" is the "spiritual ability to effectively perform self-sacrificial actions and tasks to assist the body of believers in the fulfillment of the Great Commission." People need to be ministered to and to minister to others in the church - that is what we are all about. Those with the gift of service make that possible in a wide variety of ways by assisting in ministry in whatever ways that are needed.
We can clearly see different or various dimensions of Ministry in which Christ has called His disciples to serve in. The next question would be how are they to serve, as we have established that God has gifted them with the talents, skills and His gifts for them to be able to do the work He has called them to do with sure accuracy, efficiency and ability
In our society, a minister is a generic term that usually refers to a pastor, preacher or clergyman. For our purpose here, we are referring to all such ministers in general, who are officially ordained or commissioned by a church to carry out some form of spiritual leadership.
Above all things, the qualifications of a minister must first include a divine calling (Acts 13:2). Someone once said that there are two kinds of people who enter the ministry: Persons called by God or fools. The meaning of this is, due to the many adversities faced in ministry, it is a great mistake to become a minister, especially a pastor, unless you have received a specific call from God. No amount of education from a Bible college or seminary can ever compensate for its absence10.
A call from God is somewhat difficult to describe, and may vary in interpretation from one person to another. Some have heard audible voices or seen visions, while others have simply discerned an inner "awareness" of God's calling upon their life. A wise, elderly pastor once spoke to prospective ministerial students on the subject. He said, "Do anything you can to stay out of the ministry, unless you can't do anything but get into it. If God has truly called you in the ministry, He'll put you there — He'll provide the opportunity and make the way. Don't seek the ministry unless it's something you can't avoid. Then you will know that it's His doing and not yours, and that He'll see you through when things get tough."
Those who answer the call to become ministers, should be mature, Spirit-filled Christians who possess an intense love for Christ and their fellow man. They should show signs of the appropriate giftings in their inclined field of ministry, and seek to enhance these through applied study and training — by attending a Bible college or seminary if possible. But more than preaching ability or other gifts, a minister of the Gospel must be a person of exceptional character, endowed with spiritual fruit, devoted to prayer and the study of God's Word11.
A minister must have a sound mind and common sense. He should possess wisdom and tact in dealing with people, and be able to communicate clearly and authoritatively. He must understand how people live, work and struggle, and be able to be empathic and compassionate to their concerns. His own financial affairs should be in good order, and he should have a strong understanding of the business aspects of a church.
A minister must be an impartial person, who will care for all the sheep of his flock equally. He must have a love for the souls of people, and a longing to lead them to a personal relationship with Christ — to contribute to their spiritual growth and development. One of the minister's greatest characteristics must be "patience," as people are very difficult to deal with, and only someone endowed with an unusual measure of patience can tolerate the ordeals of humanity. The heart of a pastor will be that of a shepherd — one who leads, feeds, cares for, and protects the flock.
A minister is a general term that refers to any of the Lord's servants or preachers, but probably more specifically relates to what the New Testament calls an "elder." Elders are an order of mature believers charged with the spiritual supervision and ministry of the church. The terms elder, bishop, and pastor were used interchangeably in scripture, and their qualifications were the same (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Tit. 1:5-9). (A deacon is also another type of minister, but with a separate list of qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:8-13.)
There are two scripture passages which specify the qualifications of the bishop, pastor, or elder. Both were authored by Paul, first to Timothy and then to Titus.
1 Tim. 3:1 "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;
3:3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous;
3:4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence
3:5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);
3:6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
3:7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
Titus 1:5 "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you;
1:6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.
1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,
1:8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,
1:9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict."
You will notice that both passages are very similar, but not identical. By combining what he expressed in the separate epistles, we gain a broad picture of what were considered the prerequisites of elders.
Epistle of 1 Timothy 1) Above reproach, 2) Husband of one wife, 3) Temperate, 4) Prudent, 5) Respectable, 6) Hospitable, 7) Able to teach, 8) Not addicted to wine, 9) Not belligerent, 10) Gentle, 11) Uncontentious, 12) Free from love of money, 13) Manages household well, 14) Not a new convert, 15) A good reputation inside and outside the church.
1 Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders 2nd Ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) is co-authored with James E. Carter
2 Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders 2nd Ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) is co-authored with James E. Carter
4 Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon, Resident Aliens (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989), p.124
5 Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders 2nd Ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) is co-authored with James E. Carter
6 E-sword, Thayer’s Greek definition
7 Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders 2nd Ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) is co-authored with James E. Carter
8 "Teaching" is the "spiritual ability to understand and explain effectively the text and truths of the Word of God." (Rom.12:7, Acts 13:1, 1 Cor.12:28).Teaching an adult Sunday morning class, Teaching an adult Bible study, Teaching a youth Sunday morning class, Teaching a youth Bible study, Teaching a Children’s Sunday morning class, Teaching a Children’s Bible study
9 Kevin J. Conner-The church in the new testament
10 Ministerial Ethics: Moral Formation for Church Leaders 2nd Ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004) is co-authored with James E. Carter
11 The Christian Ethics Today Foundation. Christmas 2006 (Issue 62 Page 9)
- Quote paper
- Thabo S. Putu (Author), 2020, Pastoral Ethics. A personal Journey to a life of God and serving in Ministry in the 21st Century Church, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/924294