Ministerial Ethics

Feb 12, 2015

I Corinthians 6:12 states, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” and a few moments later in chapter ten, Paul continues: "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1Co 10:23)

It takes discipline to be distinguished. If you leave your life to chance, you won't stand a chance of excelling in ministry.As you can see from these verses, grace has allowed us to overcome the law and make many things permissible, but just because they are permissible, doesn't mean that they bring God honor and glory. Everything we do in word or deed we must to all to the glory of God. If you operate by whatever comes your way, doing what you want when you want to do it, you won't accomplish anything at the end of today. A disciplined person or minister places greater value on essentials and orders his priorities intelligently. A disciplined person is an ethical person. This essay will look at what ethics are, and why they are so important to have specifically in the life of a minister.

To start, it is often helpful to understand the opposite of ethics so that when we are discussing the concepts behind ethics, we can be on one accord. To start, I want to draw your attention to a peculiar word found in the New Testament. It's not a word we hear very often. The word is lasciviousness. Some translations call it licentiousness and, scripturally speaking, it keeps very bad company. In Mark 7:20-23, for example, Jesus includes it along with adultery, fornication, murder, and a number of other sins; as one of the things that defiles a man. In Galatians 5:19, it's listed between uncleanness and idolatry. 

The actual meaning of lasciviousness is "no restraint or unrestrained."It is the devil's first and foremost point of attack on the life of a believer. If he can conquer you there, he's got it made. You see, he knows that if you're going to live a godly life you'll have to restrain the desires and appetites of your flesh. You'll have to put your spirit in charge and make your flesh yield to and come under authority of the Holy Spirit within you. This is the essence of ethics 

For the sake of this essay, I will explain ethics by breaking it down into five broad categories. They are as follows: responsibilities to self, responsibilities to family, responsibilities to the people under you, responsibilities to colleagues, and responsibilities to the community. At any given moment your life interactions will fall under one of these categories. 


Responsibilities to Self

At the root, you must first love yourself before you can begin to minister to and love others. This is why the initial research must be made into how to live ethically within your personal life.  To most this would be the easiest, but often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. Living ethically means that you are honest with yourself and face the truth, in love. This means that you maintain physical and emotional health by regular exercise, good eating habits, and the proper care of your body (the temple of the Holy Spirit). There is not much good that can be done concerning developing other areas of ethics, unless the health of your body is in line. 

This is not just about physical health. There must be a balance in personal responsibility for your mental, spiritual, and physical well being. You must nurture your relationship with Jesus through prayer, reading of the Word, and constant communion with Him. Then you must also feed your mind, stimulating your intellect to grow in knowledge keeping your mind sharp and keen. A responsible person also takes ownership of their time and manages it well. they make the effort to properly balance their personal obligations, church duties, and family responsibilities, and they observe a weekly day off  and annual vacations. 

Honesty is of paramount importance when it applies to personal responsibility.  For example one must be honest in their finances by paying all debts on time, never seeking special gratuities or privileges, giving generously to worthwhile causes. All of these areas is how Jesus lived. We are to be as Jesus in this earth. Honesty includes being truthful in speech, never plagiarizing, exaggerating, or misconstruing personal experiences. These are all key major players in ethics. One cannot display ethics (show success) in public when they are not personally discipled at home.


Responsibilities to Family 

The next most important area in the life of anyone developing ethics is that of family relationships. This means treating those in your family with equity. Making time to be with each member of your family individually. This means that you are being fair and balancing love, time, and consideration to each member of your family. This is also the time and place where one must acknowledge the unique and especial role of one’s spouse. Without being in one spirit with your spouse, the family structure cannot function. This part of ethics is called honor. When you honor your children, siblings, parents, spouse, and extended family, you are displaying the light of Jesus to them. And that might be the only Jesus they ever get to see. This brings us to a very important point, all professing Christains are representatives or (as Paul calls them,) ambassadors for Christ. We are the only tangible reference people have for Jesus. The way we live and the choices we make is reflecting the image of Christ to others.

The last part of ethics in regards to family is with one’s children. The parent must, according to the Word, regard their children as a gift from God and seek to meet their individual needs without imposing undue expectations on them.  Again, the image that parents paint in their children’s life is the image that they will see of God, their heavenly Father.


Responsibilities to the People Under Your Authority 

The first role of an ethical leader is servanthood. A true leader serves the people “under him” with love, wisdom, courage, and integrity. A boss gives orders, but a leader leads by example.Whether those people are members of a church, employees in the office, or volunteers on a job; it doesn’t matter. A leader must faithful discharge his time through proper work habits and reasonable schedules. Especially in the case of a pastor whose responsibilities include confidentiality with members, generosity with facility use, to name just two. 

An ethical leader also always gathers around himself people of wisdom to give him input in the decisions he must make. This is accountability and balances the use of the power Christ has endowed to each leader. 


Responsibilities to Colleagues 

Honor and respect is not just ethical decisions for those who are close to you, or directly affected by the decisions you make, Ethics go beyond these important functions, all the way in relation to colleagues, work partners, friends, and fellow employees. It is the job of the Believer to relate to other believer’s as partners in the Work of God, and to respect them and their ministries despite the differences in doctrine. 

It is an opportunity to live out what you believe, by reaching out and serving colleagues through encouragement, evangelism, or sometimes just being there. An ethical person doesn’t treat others as competition in order to gain  for themselves. Again, often the image you portray is the only image of Christ these people may see. 

At the root, ethical people crucify their flesh and live only by and thought the Spirit. This is called, Spirit led living, and it comes into play when our flesh is put out of the way. Often when it comes to dealing with friends or colleagues, our flesh may rise up and cause us to want to sin with our words, thoughts , and actions. Fortunately we have been redeemed from the flesh and its corruption. We now live in control and freedom.


Responsibilities to the Community

In the final category of ethical responsibility that we will cover in this paper, we know that the role of the Believer is not just limited to within the walls of the church, or even within the confines of his home, rather, it is a public confession, a public baptism, and a public duty to reach others for Christ.  Part of ethics is certainly community service. An ethical person will accept reasonable responsibilities for keeping his community clean, participating in community service, or just being a productive member to society. Part of this community involvement also includes supporting public morality in the community through responsible prophetic witness and social action. Obedience to the laws of government, and so forth.

Without any shadow of doubt, the primary responsibility and reason for ethics is to be an example of Christ to the nations. Choosing to live and exemplify a Christian lifestyle is our duty as Believers. The only visual reference to Jesus many people will get is us. For example many other countries get their view of Christianity based off what the United States does (specifically our most public figures—celebrities, sports stars, political figures) because we claim to be a Christain nation. Unfortunately we do not do a good job as a country portraying any sign of Christianity to the world.

People are getting a bad view of Christianity if we do not live ethical lives. We don’t need to just live like Jesus, we need to live AS Jesus in this earth.In conclusion, God has given each of us a free-will. It is our privilege to live as we please, but not our right. As Christians, we have been bought with a price, therefore we must glorify God. Ethics is everyone’s responsibility. God will judge the believer based on what actions they had to back up there faith here on earth, and His judgement will be based on his code of ethics (His Word).

Category: Teaching

Nathaniel Spiers


Nathaniel Spiers is a minister, business owner, and eternal student of the Word of God. He has been called as a teacher to the Body of Christ around the world. His commission is to prepare the church to be the bride Jesus deserves. He is passionate about seeing Christians become Believers and Males become Men.

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