Nearly 12 years ago, I was asked to write my personal code of ethics during my undergraduate studies. I have since required students to do the same. I have never published what I wrote, but I wanted to do so this week. Working back through these points was both challenging and therapeutic. My prayer is that I can honestly live up to this standard and that readers will be blessed by the challenges it presents.
As the book of Job draws to a close and Job is vindicated before his accusers, God speaks in defense of Himself and His servant Job. In this Divine defense, God says to Eliphaz, “you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (Job 42:7). From this statement we learn that God listens when we speak about Him and there is a certain standard to which He holds us. Furthermore, Paul was concerned that his daily actions might conflict with the message that he preached, so he continually disciplined himself (1 Cor. 9:27). From these two verses it is obvious that ministers need either a written or unwritten code of ethics by which they can measure their actions and hold themselves accountable in the ministry. Thus, the purpose of this code is to provide a tangible and defined standard that can be used by ministers in identifying their strengths, assessing their weaknesses, and drawing their attention to any professional or personal changes that might need to be made in their ministry.
The basis for this code is deeply rooted in the infallible, inspired word of God. No other source is rich enough, strong enough, or reliable enough to serve as the basis for a minster’s ethical code (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Keep in the mind that while this code is written from a biblical perspective and with divine principles in mind, it is written by a man who has made many mistakes. If any apparent discrepancy is found between this man-written code of ethics and the Word of God, preference should be given to God’s Word.
As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…
- I will respectfully handle the precious word of God. I will realize that God has exalted His word above His very name (Ps. 138:2). My opinions should never override what has plainly been written and what I feel has no strength versus what He has revealed.
- I will commit myself to the service of others and fully accept my role as a servant. I will strive to remember that spiritual greatness is derived through selfless service (Mark 9:35). In being a servant, I will accept the role of “distributor” rather than “manufacturer” (Wiersbe, 5). That is, I will be happy sharing what God has to offer with others, rather than trying to be the one who owns the solutions.
- I will give all that I have and all that I can in everything that I do, in keeping with Solomon’s instructions (Ecc. 9:10). Thus, I will go the “extra mile.” As Parrott listed “I will do more than belong; I will participate. I will do more than care; I will help. I will do more than believe; I will practice. I will do more than be fair; I will be kind. I will do more than forgive; I will forget. I will do more than teach; I will inspire. I will do more than earn; I will enrich. I will do more than give; I will serve. I will do more than live; I will grow” (138).
- I will balance my time with family and the church. As a Christian minister, I must remember my Christian duty as a husband and a father. If too much of my time is spent in church work and my family is neglected, God will hold me responsible for the damage that is done. I do not want my children to be lost or for my marriage to suffer so that someone else can be spiritually strong.
- I will not hold my children to a higher standard than God does. They will be allowed to run, play, argue, and get in trouble like all other children. I will not use my role as a preacher to put extra pressure on my children to act right or attempt to be perfect.
- I will not use the pulpit or my position as a minister to get back at or get even with anyone. Doing such would compromise the message and that message is God’s chosen way of saving men (1 Cor. 1:21). The pulpit is not the place to air grievances or to put someone in their place.
- I will guard my private life and discipline myself. While no minister can live perfectly, I will put forth my best effort for my life to be in harmony with my message. Even when no one is looking and no other man or woman sees my mistakes, they will damage my confidence in delivering God’s message. I will be honest in admitting my mistakes, but I will not live in them simply because I am human.
- I will not compromise God’s message no matter the circumstance. If what needs to be preached offends my family, I will preach it anyway. If what needs to be preached angers my friends, I will preach it anyway. If what needs to be preached makes the elders uncomfortable, I will preach it anyway. If what needs to be preached means that I need to repent, I will preach it anyway.
- I will give grace to others and think the best of their motives and actions. In keeping with this promise, I will not live-in suspicion of my brethren or those with whom I disagree.
- I will work diligently to involve myself in the lives of church members. I understand that sitting with some while their spouse is in surgery or while their teenager is playing basketball helps to gain their trust and convince them that I only want what is best for them.
- I will be honest in all situations. I realize that dishonesty in my day-to-day dealings with people will cast serious doubt on my preaching and will cause people the question my sincerity.
- Bringing glory to God will be my ultimate goal.
– Wayne Jones