A Code of Ethics for Christian Leaders

The following Code of Ethics is a guide and a standard for Christian leaders. It outlines the personal and interpersonal qualities that characterize the quality of leadership that ECSW deems effective for Christian ministry.

These ethical standards flow out of the two greatest commandments in Scripture: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:26-40). They are an aid to make the commandment more concrete.

Christian leaders are to…

  1. Attend first and foremost to your own relationship with God, through regular exercise of prayer, Scripture, worship, and communal life in the Body of Christ.
  2. Seek to follow God’s leading in your ministry relationships, for God is the Shepherd, constantly and actively tending to the needs of those under your care.
  3. Remember that you are a limited creature and not yourself God. You must be aware of and responsive to your own physical, relational, spiritual, and emotional needs. How you model self-care sets an example in your ministry.
  4. Be aware of when a need or question exceeds your capacity as a leader, and have ready a referral list of others who are specially trained to handle these situations.
  5. Respect the brethren as made in God’s image and treat each person with appropriate dignity and care, especially by practicing regular intercessory prayer on their behalf.
  6. Honor the experience of your congregation by preparing mindfully, setting a loving atmosphere, promoting consideration, serving with care, and maintaining healthy boundaries.
  7. Uphold confidentiality, being faithful to the trust your people have placed in you. Only share specifics about others for the purpose of your own private consultation. Know whether you are a mandatory reporter in cases of domestic abuse or suicidal intent.
  8. Keep appropriate physical boundaries with each person and do not engage in any sexualizing, abusive, manipulative, or coercive behavior, explicit or implied, in your language or actions.
  9. Maintain charitable relationships with all people in the church by refraining from disparaging other persons or congregations.
  10. Dignify all persons in society regardless of age, race, ethnicity, color, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, marital status, political belief, or any personal characteristic, attribute, condition, or status.

This Code of Ethics provides a vision of how love can direct you as a Christian leader. Because there are times when we fall short of these high standards, let us all return again and again to the throne of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, where we will find grace and mercy to receive us and guide us in His ministry of love (Hebrews 4:14-16).