Every year Lori and I stand before Agape and read this “Ethical Conduct” agreement with our church. Our church planting organization, Kairos Church Planting, has encouraged ministers/leaders to do this each year. We continue to support our existing leaders, interns, and others in leadership to take this similar covenant before their people. Covenants are important–they remind people that relationships grow when trust, safety, peace, and support exist.
I had a minister years ago contact me to ask if I felt this was Biblical and if it was right for an “organization” to require this of it’s participants. Here is my explanation that I gave him.
- We live in a fallen world that is desperately in need of ethical, faithful, courageous, and good leaders. Even though my comments to him are almost 10 years old I believe now, more than ever, that our young people have come to expect less than the best in leaders. This is true both in the secular and faith areas of our lives. Signing this document not only communicates to people that Agape seeks leaders who model integrity, but that Lori and I both must raise the bar for leaders and ourselves.
- The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that “the goal of this [God’s work by faith] command is love which comes from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith…” (1 Tim 1:5). Leadership will only be viewed as a divine calling when men and women reflect this type of faith. Disciples, especially Christian leaders, should never feel uncomfortable putting their life, faith, and works on display. While live in a world that cries, “Don’t judge me…” God’s people welcome reflection, critique, and challenge–as it helps us to be the people Jesus wishes to proclaim his message.
- The scandals that are rocking our congregations and communities are the same scandals that have occurred for many millennia. I have had individuals suggest that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and the days of the prophets were traditional, rule following, and grace neglecting followers. This is not true. Jesus did not refer to them as faithful, obedient, and judgmental. He called them “hypocrites.” They were fake, they didn’t follow the rules or laws, and only gave themselves grace. This is why Jesus told his disciples, “Obey them and do everything they tell you, but do not do what they do–they do not practice what they preach…” (Matt 23:3). Throughout the Bible corrupt religious leaders were what they have always been–fake, concerned with outward appearances, and relied on grace without offering it. These leaders could not help anyone transform, because they themselves refused to change, transform, or modify their behavior.
Today we need leaders who are real rather than fake.
We need authenticity rather than transparency.
We need courage not fear.
God bless you this week–and thank you for the challenge and blessing to lead.