For the church to grow there are people who are called upon to deliver the message to the faithfuls.These people are chosen among the congregation to serve in that capacity. They include the ministers who are known by different tittles in different denominations. They may be called clergies, pastors, priests and many other names but their role is just the same allover to take care of the sheep as it is written in the holy word. Therefore they are shepherds only in this case they are given the responsibility of looking after the people of God.
Church ministerial work is a calling where people are supposed to serve God diligently. a minister is called upon to adorn God’s glory. A minister should be a morally upright person full of love and compassion .Since a minister is a person who has been chosen, he or she is not just any other person
In his book moral formation of church leaders James E Carter observes that a minister is called upon by Jesus Christ to proclaim his Gospel. This means that he or she did not just decide to be a church leader. Jesus Christ who is the head of the church chose him or her to help him in the ministering to his people. This alone bestows a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of the minister. He or she should live as Christ did.
The word of God will be the guide in all that is said, done and thought.
Ministerial ethics refers to the conduct or set of moral principles or generally the rules governing all those who serve in the capacity of the ministers in the church.
To guide the ministers a code of ethics is set to serve as guidelines. A minister has to adhere to this code o ethics so that the ministry can be acceptable to god and the people whom he or she is serving. (Carter, J 2004)
Through following the guidelines governing the conduct of a minister, the service becomes of great benefit to the church community. As a minister one has a responsibility to God, people, and fellow ministers and also to him or herself.
A minister is expected to take into consideration ethical principles set by the church.
The set rules represent the church faith and are holy as they were made through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Carter, J 2004)
Responsibility to himself or herself as a minister
James Carter (2004) maintains that a minister has to follow the code of ethics so that he or she can be able to deliver the message and carry other task as required.
First of all the minister must be fully in charge of his life. They have a responsibility to themselves. They are required to keep emotional and physical health.
This is achieved through proper eating and regular exercise. This is important since the minister have a heavy task to carry out and for them to achieve the best the must be in good shape health wise. To nurture their devotional life the ministers are required to constantly read the scriptures and lead a prayerful life. Intellectual growth also adds up to a health person, the ministers need to increase their knowledge through having personal studies and also carrying out comprehensive reading. Attending conferences and seminars which are both educative and informative goes along way in helping the ministers to grow intellectually
Personal management is another area that is covered in the ministers’ ethics.
One is supposed to manage time effectively. There has to be a balance between personal undertakings and the church duties minister should not neglect his or her life at the expense of the church, there ought to be a balance so that they can be able to deliver the required results. Finances as supposed to be managed properly, one should be honest and responsibles,making sure that all the debts are paid on time and refrain from seeking payments or privileges, minister is also required to give generously to worthy causes. Generally as far as finances are concerned a minister is supposed to be guided by Christian principles. (Atkinson, D et al 1995)
A minister is supposed to be truthful in his or her speech making sure that there is no plagiarisms of other people work and at the same time avoid exaggerations, misuse of experiences and facts.
A minister is a servant of all regardless of their race, social class, position in the society or their religious beliefs. He or she is supposed to have a Christ like attitude towards all people.Diversty should be respected at all the times as its only through this that a minister will command respect and will be in a position to serve the people and help in spreading the Gospel to all. (Carter, J 2004)
Responsibility to the family
A minister has a responsibility to his or her family. They are supposed to be fair to all the members of the family extending to them the love, attention and any consideration they may require. They should understand that their spouses have a special role to play in their career. Ministers should recognize their family responsibilities as primary while those of the church come second. Their relation at a family level greatly affects how they are going to manage the church affairs so it is paramount that the family should take precedence so as to give them a peace of mind enabling them to carry their duties effectively. The children should be regarded as a gift given by God, their needs should be met and a minister as a parent should not impose unfair or undue expectations to his or her children. (Atkinson, D et al 1995)
A minister should seek to be a servant to the church. He or she should always follow the example of Jesus Christ where love, courage, integrity and wisdom are portrayed.Adminstration work should be carried out through the right procedures and at reasonable schedules. In the course of performing these duties the minister is expected to be impartial and show fairness to all the members of the church.
Responsibility to the congregation
One of the major tasks of the minister is to deliver the word of God to the members of the church. In the course of doing this a minister is a minister must be very careful so that the right message can reach the faithful. Any distortion whether intended or not will have a great implication. (Carter, J 2004)Therefore the code of ethics requires minister to approach this issue with a lot of caution. In their preaching duties they are supposed to set enough time for the prayers so that they can be guided by the Holy Spirit. They should have adequate preparation for their biblical presentation which should be theologically based and should be clearly and carefully communicated.
In the course of offering counseling services to a member of the church the minister is expected to maintain confidentiality. Whenever giving this service to a member who is of the opposite sex the minister should be accompanied by a fellow minister. Alternatively this should be done in an open space. This is done to protect both the minister and the person being counseled. A minister has a responsibility to protect other people, in the course of counseling, if the case may be harmful to others; he or she is not bound to keep it confidential. Sometimes law may require disclosure of such cases and the minister will be obliged to provide the information. (Battin, M 1990)
At times the minister may be called upon to visit the church member at home, the code of ethics is very clear on this issue ,a minister is supposed to be always accompanied by a fellow minister ,if this is not possible a member of the church can accompany him or her during such visit. This applies in cases where the member to be visited is of the opposite sex. (Carter, J 2004)
A minister is supposed to take a vow committing himself to leading the congregation to salvation. At no time should a minister solicit church membership through use of unorthodox means .He or she should not manipulate converts. A minister should refrain from demeaning other denomination or religious faiths; they should be accorded the necessary respect. He is not allowed to persuade members from other denomination to join or accept his own beliefs. Members of other denomination should join his or her church through their own volition but not through coercion or intimidation.
A minister is not supposed to charge any fees while conducting services such as weddings and funerals. In a case where the person involved is not a member of the church the minister is required to follow the laid down procedures and policies. He or she is not supposed to accept any other payment apart from the remuneration prescribed by the church. In the course of leaving the church the minister should ensure proper transition and there should be a proper procedure through handling over or an appropriate closing procedure. (Carter, J 2004)
Responsibility to his or her fellow ministers
The ministers should aim at cooperating among themselves as they are serving the same God. They should respect one another, work together as partners who are called upon to help Jesus in the task of bringing people close to Him. They are supposed to support one another offering personal assistance which should also be extended to the families.
Ministers should not treat each other as competition rather they should regard each other as people who serve the same Lord and they owe their loyalty to Him and the people they serve. They should consult each other in various matters and one should not decline to offer advice or assistance whenever they can. It’s a requirement that one should not talk ill about any other minister’s work nor should he or she sabotage a colleague’s effort to deliver the message of salvation. (Carter, J 2004)
In case a minister returns to his or her former church to minister it should be through invitation by a resident minister and the proper channel should be followed. This is done to avoid clashes between ministers. Respect should be accorded to the retired ministers. If a minister is aware of any misconduct by a fellow colleague, church officials should be contacted and be informed of the incident, the concerned minister should also get the right information from the colleague to avoid misinterpretation.
Responsibility to the community and denomination
A minister should take the church first and at no time should he or she abandon the church activities to serve the community. Only those communal activities that recognize him as a minister should be accepted. (Battin, M 1990
It is the responsibility of a minister just like any other citizen to obey the laws of the country. These laws should not be in any way contrary to the God’s wish or commandments. On political matters he is not supposed to be partisan, should only engage in political activities which are ethical and biblical at the same time.
The minister is always expected to support and love the faith community .He should work towards improving the denomination and all efforts must be geared towards extension of the kingdom of God.
Ministerial ethics serve as a guide through which those who serve in that capacity are expected to follow. If they are followed to the letter there will be order in a ministry and the word of god will be delivered effectively. The code of ethics should not be seen as a too demanding on the ministers part rather they should be perceived as a tool to enable him or her to perform the duties professionally. The profession is demanding and sensitive too, if not handled carefully or left to control themselves there will be chaos and the spread of Gospel will be hampered.
Carter, J (2004) Ministerial Ethics, Moral Formation of Church Leader, Grands Rapids, Baker Academy.
Atkinson, D et al (1995). New dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology. Intervarsity press
Battin, M (1990).Ethics in Sanctuary: The Practices of Organized Religion. Yale University Press