People live according to some principles and moral aspects. Different people have different vision of these principles, they understand morality in different ways. Church is the organization which determines some moral aspects and ethics principles according to which people should live. Church states the rules of life, which should be followed. Church commandments are aimed to show people the way they should walk during their lives, these commandments should be the bases for people, they should follow these commandments in order to achieve a Garden of Eden.
Ethics in ministry is a very important notion as ministry is a place, which appears to be sacred for many people. So, ethics in ministry is a role model from the point of view of behavior for some people. People should have such role models, people should be directed in their behavior and thoughts. Ministry is an ideal place for ethics for all people all over the world, the ethics which is going to be followed. So, the notion of ethics in ministry is not just empty word, this notion is very important as people should take it as an example for their own lives. Ethics is the scheme which should be followed,
Ethics in ministry has a close relation to the Bible as the very essence of ministry is to tell the world the Word of God, to give them knowledge about God, about His Good News. Ministry is the place where people can ‘come for God’ and Bible is the book where people may ‘read about God’.
The notion of ethics in church appears very often. People can understand this issue in different ways and how they want, but for Christian religion this issue, “ethics”, is state and does not change no matter what time it is now, and no matter who is the head of the church now. There is no formal code of ethics in the ministers but still the main notions are taken from the Bible.
Christian ethics is the study of good and evil, right and wrong. People should understand what wrong is, because without knowing what evil and wrong is, we shall not be able to understand what good and right is, without knowing evil we will not be able to consider evil and good actions.
We must recognize the biblical foundations of Christian ethics. There is an opinion that it is impossible to follow the Christian ethic notions in the modern world. I would like to oppose this meaning. Christian ethics are always up to date, and especially in modern world, where so much temptation exists, which can confuse lots of people.
Talking about the ethics in the ministry, we may emphasize that the confidentiality is one of the professional ethics in the ministry. Ministers should be guided by some rules, by some ethics.
There is a code of professional ministerial responsibility. We are going to represent the reader with the essence, the main points of this code of professional ministerial responsibility.
Faith, hope and love are the main notions in ethics. There is one rule which people should always follow: love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. This rule is very important in the ethics in the ministry. To the word, there are no rules in the ethics of ministry which are not very important, all of them of a great value.
“A moral ministry must be closely related to experiences of God and convictions about God” (Gula 1996-9). The main point in ethics in ministry is integrity. Ministry and ministers are the main participants in the relations between God and people, who are responsible in maintaining the ethics in ministry.
There are some traits which should be in every minister, who wants to serve people. These traits are:
- to serve people and to wait nothing instead of it, in other words to be unselfish,
- integrity, what means to carry out promises and not to pressure to compromise,
- generosity, the greatest trait, which should occur in every person, this means to give people all you have, not only knowledge or life experience, but also provide material help.
All these traits either exist commonly in one person, or do not exist at all. Person cannot serve people and to wait nothing instead of it and at the same time do not be generous. The same deals with other combination of these traits. If people follow all God’s commandment, so he/she cannot refuse from any of it. If a person is religious, he or she is religious in any part of his or her life, and it cannot be any exceptions.
Ministry should maintain several issues at one and the same time, the main of which is to apply integrity and ethics in all areas of people’s lives, if it is possible, the next one is to insert in people’s minds the ideas that to be honest and trustful in the relations with people should be one of their main consideration. The other function of ministry is to co-operate people in the work they do. People should be able to rely on ministry as it is one of the places they go when they want to share their grief or sins. People trust ministry, so the main aim of ministry should be to form such ethics, to form such life principles, that people could follow in their life and be proud of what they do.
Every ministry should be submitted to law, which is the same for all people and to the law which God has maintained on people. The only institution which the ministry is responsible to is the institution of faith, God. One of the main aims of the ministry is to try to improve people’s life.
Ethics in ministry tries to implement moral life on people. Different people understand moral life in different ways, but moral life for ministry was in past and is in present the same. There are a lot of aspects of moral life, which people should know and try to follow them. What for? There are a lot of reasons why people should follow Bible and listen to ethics of ministers: God is all-seeing, and sacred life on the Earth will present the happy life on the heavens.
Responsibility… People should be responsible not only for themselves, but also for others. And that is not all. First of all, people should be responsible for their actions before the God. (Gula 1996) God is the main governor of people’s life, and only our actions may predetermine our future life: the better we live under God supervision, the better and happier life we will have in future.
Faith is the dominant notion in ministry. Moral life is impossible without faith. People believe in lots of things and the faith in God is always remunerated. Faith gives us access to God. Faith “contribute to developing a theological-ethical framework for professional responsibilities in ministry” (Gula 1996).
There is one more way to reach access to God. That way is reason. Reason gives us understanding what it means to be a person, a human. This very understanding of human essence is an access to God. Reason also directs our lives. Reason either allows people to commit right or wrong, reason ‘tells’ people whether some things or actions are worth doing.
Every person, who follows the ethics of ministry, may reach God, as only righteous people are allowed to become the part of religious society. Every ministry has its demands and if person manages to follow them, so he or she appears to be very religious and is accepted to the ministry. These demands are the same in every ministry. The only condition is that you cannot commit sins. That is all. You should believe in God and this faith, this belief will not allow you to sin.
The professionalism and the position of ministry depend on the professionalism of minister, on the fact in whose hands a power is to improve the quality of the ministry. Under improving the quality of ministry we understand its influence on people. The higher quality of the ministry, the stronger meaning of homily it can give to people.
The quality of ministry is predetermined by the professionalism of the minister. There are a lot of professions in the world, and the professionalism of people under those professions is considered coming out of people’s knowledge, skills and experience. The same characteristics are demanded from ministers. Minister should be aware of spiritual knowledge, he should know the ‘spiritual traditions and the dynamics of spiritual development’ (Gula 1996). The minister should possess the ability to listen, what is not so simple as people may think.
The ability to serve people and a person’s attraction are also very important moments in ministers. Serving to ministry has a voluntary nature. It means that Minister should believe in God with the power which may be felt by others. Looking on the minister, people should feel some kind of believing him, even if no any reasons are given. Minister should be sincere. No matter where minister is in the ministry or a home, or even in the other country, he should everywhere tell about God and the essence of belief. People should fell the warmth and strength from his words. Minister should be sure in what he believes, as if he hesitates people will fell it and they will not follow him.
The person, who is sure in his or her belief, the person who is sincere and has nothing to hide, the person whose faith and will is the strongest and the bigger we can imagine, is the best candidate for being a minister in the ministry.
Minister is the representative of God. The representative of God has only one chance to show his abilities, there is no other chance. If the minister cannot cope with his responsibilities he has taken, so the minister is not faithful enough, his belief in God is not so strong. All what minister does in ministry ‘is a response to the presence of God in and through the community calling him to act on its belief as sign and agent of God’s love’ (Gula 1996-14).
There are a lot of mysteries in the communication between God which cannot be explained, and some people cannot understand them. They start to ask constant questions in order to frustrate the minister. The questions may be: Why people dye? Why are there so many wars? Why does God allow so much murders and violence in the world? Every minister should be ready to answer these questions and insert his faith in the hearts of people who do not believe in God.
When person believes, these questions do not appear to their minds as they do not hesitate in their faith and do not question the God’s rightness. People, who believe, understand that God gives us the right to choose what way we want to walk through the life, we are eager to commit as we want, and God sees all our actions and good actions will be appreciated in future and wrong actions will be punished. Bible shows us what we ought to do as faithful people and coming out of it God will make up His conclusion what is right and what is wrong.
Talking about ministry, we should notice that ministries should be flexible and be ready for spontaneity. (Gula 1996) At the same time the policy of ministry should be one and the same. People should know what they should believe in and understand that this is the only faith and there are no other ways. The example of what we are talking about is as follows, the murder is forbidden and now matter how much time may pass the ministry will never be able to understand and accept the murder or other type of violence.
Bible says that the relationships between people and God should be based on freedom: people should have the right to choose what to believe in. These relationships should be motivated by love and be respectful of the dignity of the person as coming from God. The relationships of people and God should be held together by trust. (Gula 1996) People should trust God as this is the only way to be faithful. The main aim of ministry is to show people that the religion is open and there is only way for belief is trust. To make people trust in God, to give people reasons why they should trust in God is the responsibility of ministry and ministers in particular.
Confidentiality is the thing people are looking for. Modern world with lots of ways to find information does not allow people keeping secrets. Ministry is the place where people may find confidentiality. Once, one minister said, ‘Confidentiality is a gift we can sill give to people in a world with few secrets’ (Gula 1996). Ministry continues to keep its tradition to be the place where people may leave their secrets and do not be afraid that these secrets will be opened to the world.
In conclusion we may say that the ethics in ministry cannot answer all questions which may appear in people’s minds, but it has no such aim. Ethics in ministry aims to refer people for the direction they should follow, the rules which they should take as the primary in their way of life.
Ethics in ministry is the set of rules which people should follow to be closer for God, to be able to come in the dialogue with God and fell His attention and defeat. Ethics, which is told by the ministers, is the directions which people should follow in order to rich God and come in close relations with Him to live a faithful life.
Gula M. Richard. Ethics In Pastoral Ministry. New York: Paulist Press, 1996.