Doing Right while Doing Good (BMH Books, 2012), co-authored by Dr. Kenneth Bickel, a former banker, pastor and seminary professor, and Kevin Vanderground, a practicing attorney and professor, certainly resonates with the Army’s brand promise “Doing the Most Good.”
Today, more than any time in history, ethical practices of ministry leaders are under scrutiny. It seems every day there is a new article of a moral or ethical failure of a religious leader. Not only at issue is the leader’s own behavior, but how he or she deals, or fails to deal, with bad behavior of others.
Doing Right while Doing Good is a practical and biblically-based guide on real issues that face people in ministry. It delves into matters that are always not covered in seminary or, in the Army’s case, Training College, and obliges the reader to examine his or her own personal life.
When ministry leaders fail, it emphasizes, the ripple effects and and consequences often extend well beyond what any one person could have comprehended. The authors underscore the importance of Paul’s mandate to spiritual leaders (Col. 1:10) to not walk in a manner not worthy of their calling, which brings displeasure and shame.
Bickel and Vanderground walk the reader through various, real life scenarios that all leaders face in the course of doing ministry, and the importance of authenticity. They provide a useful guide in creating a code of ethics that includes building in accountability, safeguards and boundaries to ministry objectives, and encourage leaders to write and share it with others.
The book leaves few areas untouched, and its authors directly, yet tactfully, address the more obvious areas such as finance, use of power, relationship with those of the opposite sex, and the drive for success. However, they also cover the importance of more subtle areas like sense of entitlement, dealign with successors and predecessors in ministry appointments, and nurturing people to have an unhealthy dependence upon them, rather than on God.
This text can, and perhaps should, be used as a springboard for the pastor leader to examine his or her life and ministry.