PASTORAL EMPOWERMENT AND ETHICAL CONDUCT
A PASTOR is delegated by Jesus Christ and in the case of a church organisation, also delegated by the church authority to feed a group of Christians spiritually, mentor them practically and be specially committed to pray for them individually.
Feeding spiritually is solely through the preaching and teaching of the word of God (Jeremiah 3:15).
Mentoring is as a shepherd does with the sheep; leading the way and they follow, helping the sheep to do right in the practical things of life (1Timothy 4:12).
Praying for them is the highest expression of the oversight function that the pastor/shepherd has over the flock. Praying for the flock gives relevance and impetus to the two functions above. In prayer the local pastor/shepherd accurately connects with the highest Shepherd- Jesus (Acts 20:28, 1Peter 5:1-4), to be able to do well.
EMPOWERMENT is to equip to function well, with all the needs taken care of in financial, spiritual and emotional support. It also includes the acquisition of rights to carry out certain functions.
ETHICS is motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
CONDUCT: manner of acting or controlling yourself or the way someone behaves towards another.
The focus of this discussion will be the ethical guides for pastors in relating with church members, vis-ŕ-vis the need to empower them (i.e. the pastors) in their work.
Pastoral empowerment is done by GOD who calls people to the work in the first place. Therefore pastoral empowerment takes place by
1. The spiritual gift of God (Ephesians 4:11), and
2. The individual pastor builds on that empowerment by
a. prayer, through which you fellowship with the Holy Spirit and He empowers you with heavenly power (2Corinthians 13:14).
b. Study of the word of God to gain. Be empowered by the thoughts of God (2Timothy 2:15).
c. Seeking out avenues of development through books of other men of God, leadership development meetings etc.
3. Through giving and investment by the wisdom of God, the pastor can empower himself for biblical prosperity (Luke 6:38, Proverbs 10:4, 13:4, 27:23). You should also develop yourself with skills, to be economically relevant.
Pastoral empowerment by the CHURCH AUTHORITY comes in three ways
1. Training/guidance (1Timothy 3:15-16, Acts 20:17-35)
2. Remunerations (1Timothy 5:17)
1. Training/guidance is very important. There is the regular occasion where the pastors and made to know what is required of them in ethical conduct. Problem arises when things are not clearly spelt out and interpretation left to individual pastors. There must be ethical rules that must be made clear even before someone is appointed a pastor (1Timothy 3:1-14, Titus 1:5-9). We should not wait for crises before reacting to situations (1Corinthians 14:40).
Pastors should be guided well to avoid behaviours that would bring reproach to the name of Christ and to the church they are associated with. They should be empowered with truth.
2. Remunerations: One reason pastors are encouraged to work is so that they would not be a burden to the flock. The work of a pastor is so demanding that no amount of money can be sufficient. It takes over the life of a person; you are the servant of the God and of the people.
Nevertheless each church organisation must set up the best process for itself, examining its peculiar circumstances and listening to God for His direction for them. The church members must be encouraged to, on their own volition, meet the physical needs of the pastor (1Corinthinas 9:1-14, Galatians 6:6-10), as there is abundant blessing in this, but it must not be by force which is against the will of God to force people to give, but they should be encouraged.
The pastor must be careful to ensure that though people give him things his eyes should always be on the Lord (Psalm 23:1-2).
3. Oversight: is continuous training and guidance. A leader should be accountable to another leader higher up to him. There should always to that person that “poke noses” into your affair (Hebrews 10:24), because the destiny of many are at stake. It empowers the pastor to do the right things when accountability is part of the scheme of things.
From the above, we would now focus on the ethical conduct of the pastors especially relative to the flock with the emphasis now to avoiding wrong doing.
Ethical conduct involves both the perception of wrong doing and what actually is wrongly done
Upright moral conduct must be seen in these areas among others.
1. Money (Titus 1:7, 1Timothy 3: 3,8, 1Peter 5:2, Titus 1:11, Jude 1:11)
2. The opposite sex is handled (1Timothy 5:2)
3. Truthfulness (Colossians 3:9, Psalm 51:6)
4. Time (Ephesians 5:15-16)
5. Difficult/argumentative/errant members or situations (2Timothy 2:23-24)
1a. Money: A pastor should not directly handle the money and a foolproof measure must be taken to endure that all monies are legitimately accounted for. And the laid down rules in the organisation for remitting money to the headquarters must be strictly adhered to. Don't let monetary gain motivate you in your preaching.
The pastor should pray for God's help to overcome monetary temptation. The account of the church should be laid bare from time to time to the people, or to a select few, so that people would not be suspicious.
Big donors to the church or pastor should not be given preferential treatment in positions, so that it would not seems as if you can buy your way in the church of God.
b. Opposite Sex: When visiting a member of the opposite sex, it should be done discreetly and never alone by the pastor. Pastors should also pray for God's help against satanic sexual marauders to not have hold on they (Proverbs 6:26).
Counselling of the opposite sex must never be done indoors. No sexual impropriety must be practised by the pastor. This can be achieve when the pastor studies on the subject as the word of God is power and preaches about it to the flock.
No excuse is tenable for falling into sexual temptation. A pastor must not have anything to do with dirty picture and must watch his thoughts for anything untoward (Proverbs 4:23, 23:7). You may not have the power to control what comes to your mind in sexual pictures but you can decided if you want to entertain them or chase them out before they infect your life with sexual sin, with its terrible consequences.
You should not betray the trust the people have in you but seeking to abuse their bodies, whether that of a child or a grown-up. You should be a father figure not a sexual predator. Don't mistake the niceness of some to be sexual interest. Even if it is, you should make sure you kill that interest by not giving attention to the person.
c. Truthfulness: The servant of God must not tell lies. Truthfulness is the bedrock of all ethical conduct. Your word must be your bound; be careful what you promise or commit yourself to. If you make a vow, pay it (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7), even if it kills you, and think deeply before making commitment to others or to the church. Truthfulness also includes practicing what you preach.
d. Time: In dealing with time if you come late to a programme you should apologise to show that coming late is not tolerated as a church. You should be disciplined. When preaching, keep to time. You are the one who set the time; it is only ethical that you should keep to it.
e. Difficult/argumentative/errant members or situations: It is not good to be seen to be argumentative or quarrelsome. Let the love of God overflow to others. Some may be difficult, let that only show the overflowing of the gentleness of Christ.
Read more articles by Kayode Crown or search for articles on the same topic or others.