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Assignment Title: Shi in ethical founda$on for the pastoral ministry
Course: CHMN 699 - Internship
Student: Krisne Sage
Date: January 29, 2022
Professor: Dr. Joel Breidenbaugh
Shi in ethical founda$on for the pastoral ministry
When a pastor neglects the guiding ethics and eque*es of the pastoral ministry, it amounts to a
shi, in its established paradigmac ethical norms and values. Richard Gula points out,
We judge the e1ecveness of ministers in terms of the congruence of their beliefs, personal life,
and performance with the Chrisan message. The moral character and virtues of ministers are revealed
in the moral responsibilies they assume and in how they act. How they exercise their professional role
as pastoral ministers depends a great deal on who they are.
Moral character and integrity
are essenal virtues for the pastorate. This much is apparent from
the list of quali6caons for ministry handed down to Timothy (1 Tim 3). People in pastoral ministry
neglect this to their peril and to the detriment of the ministry. This is, in part, because "Chrisanity is a
behavioural religion; a Faith that is seriously concerned with the quality of living both in the context of
spiritual fellowship with God, as well as in our social or corporate relaonships. ... The Gospel ministry
demands that anyone who will play any role in it must possess the Christ-like quality of life."
What generates moral character and integrity in a pastor is the acve presence and operaon of
the Holy Spirit in a life that is transformed and submits consistently to the Lordship of Christ. As R. C.
Roberts states, "Chrisan character is not just shaped by a theory of human nature, or even stories
about a paradigm individual, or promises of a kingdom to come; it is a responsiveness to a living word of
the living and present God."
The virtues of spirituality, moral character, cognive maturity and integrity for the pastoral ministry
are no longer the guiding principles for many in ministry in twenty-6rst century Nigeria. Even some
established mainline denominaons o,en gloss over these crucial virtues when engaging new pastors.
They instead, as respondents indicated, place a premium on having a godfather, one's ethno-tribal
background, the secon of the country one comes from, and polical senments (18.6%); and academic
a*ainment (8.5%). The e1ect of this shi, can easily be seen in the lack of ethical behaviour on the part
of some pastors, which manifests itself in the following ways:
Self-centredness and materialism
Unl recently, pastors in most mainline church denominaons were never given meaningful salaries
or spends. The thinking was that a pastor's reward would come in heaven, not in the here and now. So
pastors and their families were le, to fend for themselves. Fortunately, today most mainline
denominaons do give all pastors some kind of salary, allowance, or spend.
While it was wrong for the denominaons to ignore economic realies, those pastors did at least
rely on God to meet their needs. Today, however, many Nigerian pastors seem to have forgo*en all
about the Chrisan principle of contentment (Mt 6:24-34; 1 Tim 6:5-10; 2 Tim 3:1-2) and have bought
into a materialisc ideology, to the detriment of the Gock and to the discredit of the ministry. As a
result, their focus has o,en shi,ed from the basics of winning souls and working hard to build up the
faith of church members to a desire to derive material bene6ts from the ministry.
A majority of the respondents (56%) said that most contemporary Nigerian pastors assign a higher
priority to materialism than to pastoral care and funcon. One respondent said that this shi, is
happening because there is "no fear of the Lord, no love for the Lord and for his people in the hearts of
most pastors".
Onwuka sees "'ministers' glorying, boasng, and de6ning ministerial success in terms of the quality
of clothes they wear, the type of cars they drive, the amount of salary they earn, and even in some cases
the type of television they have in their parlour."
Some of these pastors are parcular about the type
and model of the mobile phone and iPad/tablet they use.
The rise of materialism among some pastors has led to their being described as "Men of Gold"
rather than Men of God.
They are the Gehazis of our day, who are not concerned about spiritual things
but about material things.
Zachariah Chinne describes them as "gospel merchants" who "possess
predatory skills akin only to carnivorous animals that lie in wait for their prey with [the] intent to pounce
on them at the slightest opportunity."
Materialisc ministers resort to coercion, manipulaon, threats and dictatorial behaviour to
squeeze more 6nancial and material wealth from their congregaons. By becoming self-seeking and
materialisc in their ministry, they put themselves in the posion of being enemies of God (1 Sam 2:29-
30; Micah 3:9-12; Mal 1:6).
Emphasis on status
Pastoral ministry in this generaon is no longer based upon the Scripture as its guide nor on Jesus
as its model. Instead, other human beings set the standard. This has resulted in a compeve spirit as
pastors seek to be like or to surpass some other pastor. Such a spirit eats away at ministry like a feasng
maggot. It leads, as a signi6cant number of the respondents reported (32.2%), to pastors either
preaching a cheap gospel or watering down biblical preaching to pull and maintain a crowd. Others
(20.6%) said that pastors who focus on status normally deemphasize missions, evangelism and
discipleship because the focus of their preaching is prosperity and miracles - and they may not always be
honest and truthful in their preaching.
The research (47.4%) revealed that a good number of Nigerian pastors are characterized more by
pride than by humility and are driven by a thirst for status, authority, and popularity. They want to be
seen to be in charge; to be seen to be displaying power and performing the extraordinary in ministry.
The concept of anoinng (erroneously understood) is taking centre stage in ministry instead of the
preaching of the true gospel. Some pastors a*empt to bolster their status by projecng informaon
about their status and credenals on screens that are displayed before the church members to convince
them that the one who stands before them is "anointed" with power to perform wonders.
Raphael O. Olori has studied this quest for power in the Nigerian version of the prosperity gospel,
which he a*ributes to the ideology of dominion and dominaon; power and authority to possess and
exercise one's authority over sickness, poverty, demons and bad luck; and the quest to remain in power
for the bene6t of personal veneraon and dominance over one's church members. He reports that
pastors will look outside the church for some source of addional power to enable them to sustain their
ministry gymnascs.
But power and authority in pastoral ministry do not and cannot originate from satanic sources.
They come only from Christ and Gow only through a humble heart that kneels daily at the foot of the
cross. Even the great Apostle Paul acknowledged that Christ was the source of his power and success in
ministry, saying, "I can do all things through him who strengthens" (Phil 4:13). True ministers should
seek to "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Eph 6:10).
The true model for pastors should be the one the Apostle John sketched for us when he described
the simple lifestyle and humble aOtude of John the Bapst, who said of himself, "'I am not the Christ'"
(John 1:20) and was content to describe himself as "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make
straight the way of the Lord'" (Jn 1:23). He tes6ed that he was not worthy to une the strap of Christ's
sandal (Jn 1:27 NIV). This paradigm of humility is fast being replaced by the glori6caon of self.
Pandering to the congregaon
Because of the prevalence of distorted pastoral ministry, many Chrisans can scarcely untangle
good from bad biblical doctrine or di1erenate between false and true Chrisan spirituality. Anything
that is thrown at them is accepted as good. There is a general ignorance of what Scripture teaches, and
li*le desire to seek such knowledge. To compound this problem, a growing number of worshippers are
becoming spiritual dissidents, demanding that their pastors give them what appeals to them or they will
leave the church. This is the same scenario that was envisaged by Paul: "For the me will come when
[church members] will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will
gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will
turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Tim 4:3-4 NIV). Peterson describes this
as a conspiracy to eliminate what is most important in the ministry.
Pastors who are not 6rmly rooted in the Scriptures can easily yield to such demands, forgeOng the
ministerial imperave, "But you [minister of God], keep your head in all situaons, endure hardship, do
the work of an evangelist, discharge all the dues of your ministry" (2 Tim 3:5 NIV). Personal convicon,
boldness and 6rmness are necessary if one is to be able to remain faithful and steadfast in doing what is
right when many are giving in to popular demands. But derelicon of duty and abandoning your primary
obligaon, responsibility and accountability to God in favour of the demands of an erring Gock is very
risky. King Saul was not exonerated from divine judgement because of the context that informed his
wrong acon (1 Sam 13:5-14; 15:19-27).
Lack of respect for seniority
African cultures have a long tradion of respect for one's elders, but this value is now being eroded.
We are now seeing examples of blatant disrespect of the elderly and senior colleagues by junior pastors,
who are expected to be models to the Gock. This disrespect extends even to those under whom such
pastors serve as subordinates. But ministerial respect for seniority is not only cultural but Scriptural. For
example, there was 6rst a Moses before there was a Joshua; there was an Elijah before there was an
Elisha; and there was a Paul before there were Timothy and Titus. None of these accounts of the
relaonships between these leaders indicates any disregard or disrespect for superiors.
This paradigm shi, results in younger pastors refusing to accept any correcon or guidance from
senior pastors, even when the correcon o1ered is biblical. The arrogance of the younger pastors means
that they want to do pastoring on their own terms rather than on God's terms. Their godless, immature
and insensive spiritual aOtude o,en causes them to become arrogant and boasPul.
The ethical failings outlined above leave the Gock confused, misguided, disenfranchised and
spiritually malnourished. Instead of being inspired by the lives of their pastors as examples of right
they are discouraged by their negave aOtudes and ungodly character. Some respond by
adopng the same twisted and rebellious aOtudes modelled by their pastors, others (as 20.3%
indicated) move on to 6nd another church, where they may again fall prey to predatory prophets.
Shi in professionalism
Every profession requires that those who pracse it manifest professional competence and
maintain professional ethics, that is, "the moral character and the sum of obligaons that pertain to the
pracce of a profession."
A true professional "is commi*ed to standards of integrity and performance
that cannot be altered to suit people's tastes or what they are willing to pay for."
Just as a medical doctor is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of physical ailments, so the
pastor as a spiritual specialist and expert must be "a spiritual physician, [who] knows how to diagnose
[people's] cases and to rightly apply the medicaon of the Word of God to their spiritual needs."
Church members look to the pastor for help, direcon and guidance. "They count on him as one who
has medicine for their sickness, knowledge for their ignorance, light for their darkness, wisdom for their
foolishness, guidance for their confusion, counselling for their mistakes and misbehaviours, comfort for
their sorrows, balm for their wounds, sight for their blindness, and direcon for their journey."
With such high trust and con6dence reposed in the pastor and the pastoral ministry, those who lay
claim to the pastoral funcon cannot a1ord to fail God's people in any way. Gula notes, "The proper
exercise of their ministry requires expert knowledge and skill and good moral character to serve the
religious needs of the people."
However, many so-called pastors in contemporary Nigeria display glaring incompetence in the
pastorate. Some lack administrave skills and the capacity to give leadership. Many know nothing of
church history and the reasons for the established tradions for ministry in the denominaons within
which they serve as pastors. They are incompetent in the execuon of the liturgical tradions and in the
administraon of the various sacraments. Worst, they are incompetent in the way they handle the
biblical text in the pulpit.
When professional experse is downplayed and egocentric, untrained, arrogant and careless
people 6nd their way into the pastorate, there is li*le hope that pastors will develop the needed
professional experse.
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