To function with optimum effectiveness, pastors must set up strategies to safeguard themselves against such personal pitfalls as wasting time, abusing authority, satisfying a hungry ego, giving in morally, or even becoming a workaholic. Each pastor needs to develop a personal code of behavior or ministry ethics.
An Essential Ethic
Paul says it well in Ephesians 5:15: "So be careful how you act; these are difficult days" (The Living Bible). We all face temptation regularly, and should not expect to determine our proper responses anew each time we encounter a potential pitfall. We need some guidelines to help us uphold our ethics as we work with people daily.
Pastors can benefit from taking into consideration three important principles as they develop this professional code of behavior:
- Accountability. We must all be accountable to someone. Those who fall almost invariably develop attitudes of arrogance and isolation; they unwisely choose to go it alone. Accountability demands that every leader have a regular meeting with a board or group of peers—for the sole purpose of honestly sharing feelings, revealing temptations, and identifying problem areas in personal and spiritual growth. Such practical accountability forces us to see how vulnerable we are and how easily we can be deluded into thinking we are above temptation.