The Article of the Month

Ministry Ethics 

By Dr. John Williams

The Bible says that a shepherd should be willing to lay down his life for the sake of the sheep.  The moment a persons steps out to be a servant of God he assumes some moral obligations, which are stated below:

 1.       To Feed and Nurture them Spiritually: 

The primary responsibility or obligation of every minister to the people he ministers to is to provide the spiritual help they need.  This will include helping them to grow spiritually, teaching them the Word of God, discipling them, giving them God's counsel, feeding them with the Word of God, dealing with and solving the spiritual problems they have.  The Word of God is referred to in the Bible as milk and meat.  For the members of the church to grow spiritually, it is essential that the pastor gives them an adequate supply of the Word of God on a regular basis, and makes sure that the members assimilate them and get the nourishment that they need spiritually, to sustain their spiritual health and the strength and even to grow and mature spiritually.  The ministers and particularly the pastors have the responsibility to satisfy the spiritual hunger and thirst of the members and to cause them to grow spiritually so that they may become stronger Christians.

 2. To Serve and Minister to them : 
Another important obligation of every servant of God is to be sensitive to the needs of the people in their ministry and to minister to them immediately without any undue delay. 

When we say "ministry" it means serving others who are in need.  A minister is a servant of God.  Jesus said that he did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister.  So also every minister should take the form of a servant.  Jesus Christ went about doing good everywhere (Acts10:38).  During His ministry, He fed a multitude of people, healed all manner of sickness, opened the blind eyes, healed the deaf ears, made the lame to walk, cleansed the lepers, encouraged and comforted the sorrowful, set the captives free, cast the demons, raised the dead, forgave the sinners, etc.  At the last Supper, Jesus literally washed the feet of His disciples and then served them a meal.   It is important that every servant of God must be willing to humble himself and take time to serve and minister to the needs of the sick, needy, poor, troubled, discouraged, hurting, and sorrowful people.

3. To Disciple them : 
Another moral obligation of those who are in the ministry is to disciple those whom they minister to. Discipleship simply means training and helping others to grow spiritually and to become more and more like them.  In order to disciple others, one should take interest in them and make a commitment to do their very best to impart to them all they have learned and gained over a period of time, in terms of spiritual truths, spiritual power and spiritual qualities.  Jesus discipled 12 men during His ministry, During the three and a half years of His ministry, He gave them an opportunity to learn from Him everything that He was doing by way of ministry.  He took interest to teach them spiritual truths and to impart to them His power.  He encouraged, challenged, gave them assignments, and finally commissioned them to go into all the world and continue the very works that He did.  The Bible says that disciples cannot rise above their masters but they can become like them.

Unless a disciple is interested in being a disciple and unless the minister takes interest in discipling him, the discipleship training program will not be a success.

4.       To Love and to Care for them : 
Another important quality, characteristic or obligation of the ministers is to have a genuine love and concern for the people they minister to. They should really care for them. Ministry is not a trade profession or occupation by which one can make a living. It is not a job to make money.  Money should not be the motive for entering into the ministry. Money will be a by-product or a consequence. The Bible says that, whenever Jesus saw somebody in need He was moved by compassion to minister to them. In the ministry, there is no substitute for genuine love and compassion. Today there seems to be a glamour for ministry because it is possible for a person in a ministry to be in the limelight, to be popular and to be in a position to have a lucrative income. Jesus spent most of His time with the sinners, poor people, out-casts and down trodden. Today there is a tendency for those in the ministry to associate themselves more with the rich, powerful and those in the higher echelons or strata of the society.

5.       To be Willing to make some Sacrifices for them : 
It is important that every servant of God truly loves and cares for the people they minister to.  In order to fulfill this responsibility one should be both willing and prepared to make some sacrifices for them.  The Bible says that the shepherd must be willing to lay down his life for his sheep.  Many Christian servants of God may express their willingness to lay down their life for Jesus.  But the question is whether they are willing to make sacrifices for those whom they serve or minister to.  Dying for  someone else is the utmost sacrifice that anyone can make. Very seldom a servant of God may really have to give his life for someone he ministers to.  But there will be many situations in his ministry to make different kinds of sacrifices for them. At times such sacrifices may include spending time and spending money.  There cannot be any true love without sacrifice.  The Bible says in John 3:16, that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.  Jesus loved the sinners so much that He died for them on the cross.  Loving is giving and giving is a sacrifice.  One's love can be measured only in terms of the sacrifices that one makes for others.  Loving is serving and we cannot serve others without making some personal sacrifices.  Sacrifice is the cost that one has to pay to serve or minister to others.  It is very important that all the servants of God count the cost before they go into the ministry.  The cost may be very high but we should realize at the same time that the rewards will be much greater.

6.       To have a Real Burden for their Needs : 
One of the essential qualities of the servants of God is to have real burden and zeal for souls and for ministering to their needs and particularly for their spiritual needs.  They should realize that if they do not care for their spiritual needs, they not only will suffer during this life but also will undergo ever-lasting punishment.  The thought that many souls may perish eternally without hope should be the motivating factor for the servants of God to be in the ministry.

7.       To be Sensitive to their Needs : 
Normally the servant of God may respond in some way to the requests of those he ministers to.  Even when needs or problems are reported, one may respond reluctantly or slowly. Strictly speaking the servants of God should consider             that as an opportunity to minister and respond swiftly and willingly.  The servants of God must be sensitive to the needs of others, and should not only discern them quickly but also respond to them immediately.  They should develop a system of communication to know the needs and the problems of the people they serve.  In other words they should take the initiative and go out of their way to minister to their needs. The Bible says in Acts 10:38 that Jesus went about doing good everywhere. He was looking for people with needs and ministered to them.

8.       To Do the Ministry of Jesus Christ : 
Every servant of God is expected to do the ministry of Jesus Christ.  John 14:12 says, that he who believes on Jesus Christ shall do the works that He did, and also greater works than that shall he do.  When Jesus Christ was ministering on this earth for a period of three and a half years He did the following things:

(a)    Established the Kingdom of God
(b)     Brought peace and joy into this world
(c)    Destroyed the works of the devil
(d)     Did the will of His Father
(e)     Taught the Word of God
(f)     Preached the gospel
(g)     Did the ministry of reconciliation
(h)     Healed the sick
(i)      Cast-out the demons
(j)     Performed miracles
(k)     Set the captives free
(l)      Gave counsel to people with problems
(m)        Discipled and trained people for ministry

Every servant of God is supposed to do the same kind of ministry that Jesus did.  Further they are expected to be sensitive to the needs of the people, recognize them quickly and minister to them until the need is met.

9.       To Serve as a Role Model: 

As Paul said in I Corinthians 11:1, every servant of God must be able to say "Follow me as I follow Christ".  It is wrong to say "Don't look at me but look at Jesus".  The servant of God is not justified in saying as one popular  bumper sticker reads, "I am not prefect but I am just forgiven".  Every servant of God is expected to maintain the highest scriptural standards both in his personal life and in his ministry.  It is not right to always ask the people to look at the lives of Paul, Peter and John, without themselves reflecting the image and the character of Jesus Christ in their own lives.  Romans 8:29 says that, we have been predestined  to be  conformed to the  image of Jesus.

Ephisians 4:13 says that we must attain the stature and fullness of Jesus and become perfect like Him.  No minister or servant of God is justified in teaching people to do something that they do not or cannot do themselves.  People should be interested in following the leaders and patterning their lives after the example of their leaders.  If people are not interested in following their leaders, in some case it may be because they do not see any good reason to follow them.  Either nothing is attractive about them or they do not have anything in which they are interested.

10.To help Discover and Fulfill God's Will for their lives:
One of the most important responsibilities of a minister to those whom he ministers to, is to help discover and fulfill God's will for their lives.  Some of the most frequently asked questions are: what is God's will? How does God speak and does God have a specific plan for everyone?  When a person discovers God's will for his life and starts fulfilling them he will have absolute peace, joy, satisfaction and fulfillment in his life.  When a person is in the center of God's will he will have a very meaningful, challenging and fulfilling life.  When a person is in that position, through his ministry, God's Kingdom will be extended, God's name will be glorified, the ministry will be fruitful and he will be rewarded for his works.

11.     To be Humble and Meek in dealing with them:  
Every minister or servant of God has been called to serve the people.  He should be able to say as Jesus said, "I have come to minister and not to be ministered unto".  In order to serve the people one should be humble and meek.  To the contrary, today many are proud, haughty, selfish and arrogant. Such people just cannot serve or minister to anyone effectively and meaningfully.  The Bible says that Jesus took the form of a servant and that He even washed the feet of His disciples.  The Bible also says that Jesus was meek and He humbled himself to the point of laying down His life for others.  Meekness is not weakness.  When a person is meek like Jesus, even when others falsely accuse him, He will not react, resist or retaliate. He will not even open his mouths to defend himself even though He may be in a position to defend himself and prove his innocence.  One has to be spiritually very strong and mature to be meek.

12.     Not to be Lords over them: 
The position of the servants of God is not to be lords over God's heritage (I Peter 5:3).   In other words, they should not consider themselves as bosses over them.  They should not command, control, manipulate, humiliate, mistreat, dishonor or disrespect them.  They should treat them with dignity and self-respect.  They should not treat them as servants or subordinates but rather as clients or customers.

13.     Not to Exploit them or take Undue Advantage over them: 
While the ministers or the servants of God are expected to feed their sheep, many are fed by the sheep and some even feed on the sheep.  It is not uncommon for servants of God even to feed on the sheep which means exploiting them or enriching themselves at the cost of the people they minister to.  The motive of the ministers should be to give and not to take from them.  Their attitude must be to serve, to sacrifice and to give without expecting anything in return.

14.     Not to Keep them as Followers Perpetually:  
While the servants of God are expected to disciple their followers, within a reasonable time they should make them leaders.  When Jesus Christ invited some common men to follow Him he promised to make them leaders (fisher of men).  Those men who were discipled by Jesus Christ turned out to be great world leaders.  It takes a little while to train anybody, but within a certain time the training must be completed and the trainees should be groomed for positions of leadership and some special assignments must be given to them.  It is unjust, improper and unscriptural to retain the followers indefinitely as members of their congregation, without developing them as leaders and utilizing them in that capacity. Many pastors and Christian leaders may be guilty of keeping the members of congregation too long within the four walls of their churches and insisting that they should participate in all the programs of the church regularly, give the tithes and offerings faithfully and stay in the church forever and ever loyally.  Many pastors seem to be satisfied with faithful followers.  They do not attempt to make them leaders.  It seems attractive to many ministers to have a large number of faithful followers attend the weekly programs of the church regularly and help them in a number of ways to keep the programs going.  It is the attendance of the number of people that is viewed as a mark of success.  All the efforts of the leaders are directed to get their own people to attend their own programs while the mission of the church is to send them out to make them disciples of all nations.  

 15.     Not to Threaten them: 
The members of the church or anyone that is ministered to by a man of God should not feel intimidated or threatened by him in any way, either to submit to him or to obey him, unconditionally and without asking any question.  It is improper, unethical and immoral on the part of the pastors to threaten the people they minister to under any circumstance, for selfish gain under the pretext of either a prophecy or an action of the Holy Spirit.  It is not very uncommon for some men of God to demand their people to do something for them or for the ministry under a threat of reprisals or some serious and dire consequences, in the event of failure to carry them out.

16.     Not to Merely Use them for their Own Advantage: 
Those in the ministry should offer themselves as a living sacrifice.  They should not expect any pecuniary gain from those whom they serve.  It is totally improper to misuse, harass, extort, and misappropriate anyone under any circumstance, of those whom they serve.  The true motivation for serving them or ministering to them must be the love of God and the love for whom they serve.  John 14:13 says, that no one has greater love than this and that is to lay down one's life for one's friend.

- The End-