"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
As a pastor in your ministry, to whom do you think you should be accountable and to what extent?
To answer this question, I must first define what accountable means. Being accountable means taking responsibility or fulfilling obligations. Our text defines obligations as, “The ethics of obligation seeks to define the moral principles or laws that must be obeyed.” These obligations also coincide with our priorities. We are obligated to everything and everyone that is biblically based, however many times these priorities tend to get out of whack causing our obligations to be unbalanced. There is no doubt regarding the obligations, expectations, and requirements that ministers face. Even though roles and job descriptions may appear cloudy, all ministers know that much is required of them. Our text points out the moral requirements of ministers by saying, “No professional is expected to model morality as much as a minister.” These requirements, however can sometimes be forgotten when the pressure to perform outweighs the consequences of moral failure. Mr. Tull mentions, “To be called as a pastor of a large, prestigious church is the goal that has led many good ministers to sacrifice their integrity on the altar of success.” While many ministers allow moral failure to creep in due to pressures from work, life, and peers, I would like to maintain that personal and moral integrity should follow our first obligation which is to God. Ministering and maintaining our obligations are possible. Our text mentions that, “Building a ministry based on integrity requires that a minister’s sense of calling and concept of service be biblical, ethical, and Christlike.”
Many lay members believe that the pastor or minister’s number one obligation is to them. They may deny this accusation and say that it is to God, but their actions speak louder than their words. I have witnessed many times as peers and good friends have fallen prey to a more powerful deacon board who are controlled by lay members which have the hunger of power in their hearts. Much of this is allowed by the ministers themselves when they become slaves to the church they work for by allowing them to dictate their priorities and obligations. Even our text mentions many times, “ministers view themselves as slaves to laity expectations.” This is nothing more than an unbalanced obligation that needs to be put back in order immediately before causing permanent damage.
There is however, also an ethical and moral obligation to the lay people from a minister’s point of view. We must maintain respect and trust among the people who we serve. We also must maintain our moral character and integrity. Our text mentions, “As laypeople have become more knowledgeable, they have become more critical of professional practice. Public disclosures of malpracticing physicians, incompetent lawyers, and mis-guided ministers have increased society’s skepticism.” To prevent hiccups along the way morally and ethically, it is important for everyone to remember as our text says, “Ministers are people before they are ministers.” The shepherds are not perfect and neither are their sheep. This is why we must maintain our balance of priorities and obligations. Just as with any other situation that may arise, moral failure is always the result of a breakdown in priority order. I could say that ministers are teachers of the Word and should always have it on the mind, but this is not the only solution to moral and ethical issues all by itself. Our text also points this out saying, “Yet simply saying ‘follow the Bible’ does not solve all our moral questions. Some ethical issues, such as divorce and war, seem both to be condoned and condemned in Scripture.” To remain true to our God and our calling, we must learn to lean on Him in times of testing. This is why our relationship with God is so vital. Our text says, “As Christ is the pattern for morality, the Spirit is the power that makes Christian living possible (Rom. 8:13–14).” I like what a text says about factors regarding our obligations.
Our text gives us six obligation factors:
4.) Spiritual Growth
5.) The Minister’s Family Life
6.) Managing Money
7.) Practicing What You Preach
8.) Sexual Conduct
While this list is awesome and inclusive, I would like to add my own overall list:
1.) Relationship With God (includes spiritual growth)
2.) Family (includes taking care of family needs over church needs)
4.) Community (Outreach and Service)