Personal Code of Ethics

The code of ethics for ministers is the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. In them is contained everything needed for the minister to be “complete, equipped for every good work.”[1] Any personal code that a minister may develop must be totally in-line with that which is God breathed[2]. Rest, diet, counseling, community outreach, spousal and child care, are all addressed in scripture; a minister must consider each of these things in light of scripture during reflection on ethical action.

Self-Care and Healthy Boundaries


Physical Rest

            God rested on the seventh day.[3] This rest of God was “from all his work that he had done.”[4] Setting a schedule with time for rest is part of appropriate selfcare.

Spiritual Rest

Christ made it clear that the weary would find their rest in his yoke and burden.[5] Shubert Spero, says that Israel learned that in the Sabbath rest one could “taste … the goodness of God.”[6] Christ provides rest for the soul through the Holy Spirit and this rest is required on a daily basis. Setting time for resting in the word of God and prayer daily, is part of selfcare.

Eating and Diet

            The body of a Christian was bought with a price[7] and indwelt as a temple of God.[8] The tabernacle and temple of the Old Testament was to be maintained and clean,[9] and so is God’s temple in the New Testament. Health diet and exercise are a part of selfcare.

Pastoral Care and Healthy Boundaries

Pastoral care is the professional duty of the minister[10] and Christ’s call to church leaders.[11] Pastoral care requires attentive care for counseling needs of congregants including male and female. A minister should always remember that he is there to represent God, through Christ like actions, to the people.

Counseling or meeting with Congregants

Male Adult Congregants

For a male minister, counseling with male congregants can be done in private as long as a safe environment can be found.  A minister should never put themselves in any situation were there could be any accusation of misconduct. Settings and policy should be in place personally, and within the organization that the minister represents, to promote a safe counseling environment for the pastor and the congregant.

Female Adult Congregants

            A male pastor should never meet or counsel a female congregant alone or be alone with a female for any reason at any time, other than his wife.[12] Accusations of sexual misconduct would damage all involved and the organization as a whole.

Minor Congregants

A minister needs to be mindful of appearances when meeting with minors. It is advisable to never be alone with a minor of any gender.

Care for the Community and Healthy Boundaries

A minister should have a good report with the members of the community at large.[13] This is accomplished by caring interactions with the community. Through the organization that a minister represents many humanitarian endeavors are possible. However, community care should not be done at a cost to the minister’s organization. Pastoral involvement in the community can produce valuable results: in a study done by Joseph Murphy and Linda Holste, they found that when pastoral care was provided to a community of students their “identification with the school increased.”[14]

Caring for one’s Family using Healthy Boundaries

They two are one flesh[15], husband love your wife as Christ loves the church[16], those who do not take care of their families are worse than nonbelievers[17]; these are just a few statements in the Bible about conduct with family. The minister must exemplify the instructions in scripture of family care and that begins in prioritizing the family.

Care of His Wife

Washing the wife with the word[18] is the spiritual duty of the husband and the minister must prove his ability to do this before he would be qualified for church leadership.[19] Setting time for quality interaction with one spouse is needed for healthy relationships.

Care for His Children

            In the child care the husband must provide training for his children.[20] This training extends to not simply physical disciplines but in spiritual development as well. This is best accomplished by example as modeled in the relationship between husband and wife.


Rest is God sent, food needs to be used with wisdom, counseling is done as the representative of God, and family care involves setting time for family in the word, these are the fundamental bases for ministerial leadership and they are all covered in scripture.


[1]. 2 Tim 3:17, all Bible citations are in ESV unless otherwise noted.

[2]. 2 Tim 3:16

[3]. Gen 2:2

[4]. Gen 2:2

[5]. Matt 11:28-30

[6]. Shubert Spero. “SHABBAT: THREE STAGES IN ISRAEL’S EXPERIENCE.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 32, no. 3. July 2004. 170

[7]. 1 Pet1:18

[8]. 1 Cor 6:19-20

[9]. 1 Chron 23:28

[10]. Joe E. Trull and James E. Carter, Ministerial ethics: moral formation for church leaders. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic. 2004. 33, 37.

[11]. Jn 21:17

[12]. 1 Thes 5:22

[13]. 1 Tim 3:7

[14]. Joseph Murphy and Linda Holste. 2016. “Explaining the effects of communities of pastoral care for students.” Journal Of Educational Research 109, no. 5: 531-540.

[15]. Mar 10:8

[16]. Eph 5:25

[17]. 1 Tim 5:8

[18]. Eph 5:26

[19]. 1 Tim 3:2-4

[20]. Pro 22:6



Murphy, Joseph, and Linda Holste. 2016. “Explaining the effects of communities of pastoral care for students.Journal Of Educational Research 109, no. 5: 531-540. Social Sciences Citation Index, EBSCOhost (accessed March 7, 2018).

Spero, Shubert. “SHABBAT: THREE STAGES IN ISRAEL’S EXPERIENCE.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 32, no. 3. July 2004. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed March 6, 2018).

Trull, Joe E., and James E. Carter. Ministerial ethics: moral formation for church leaders. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2004.