15 PRACTICAL WAYS TO AVOID LEGAL EMBARRASSMENT IN THE MINISTRY
1. LAWS AFFECTING THE BUSINESS OF THE MINISTRY
Every Minister should know that one way or the other the law has an impact on the ministry’s activity and must always be mindful of legal compliance. For instance Tax laws are changing and this might have effect on ministries and their business involvements such as publishing, operating schools, selling books, acquisition and registration of ministry’s vehicles and landed properties etc. Many of these situations will require the church to secure competent legal (and sometimes technical) advice. Ignorance of the law will not be a valid excuse to free the ministry and the minister from attendant embarrassment arising from liability for failing to fulfill its legal responsibilities. Therefore get sound legal advice from your lawyers before falling into the pit of your ignorance. A stitch in time saves nine!
Any minister who makes choice of being ignorant of the law will always have himself to blame when the attendant embarrassment of such ignorance is unleashed. The law does not spare anyone just by pleading ignorance since ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Anything you do in your ministry should follow the path of the law. If you are not sure, consult a lawyer you can trust and who can share the burden of your vision i.e. someone who can see legal issues from the perspective of your ministry and thereby adopt appropriate solutions to suit the purpose.
2. MANAGING THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF MINISTRY IN MODERN TIMES
Gone are days when churches and religious establishment are accorded unchallenged respect. The media is really hitting the church hard with damaging news that constantly erodes the public perception of ministers and ministries. Thus, more and more, the trend is towards a close inspection of Christian ministries by government agencies and the public at large.
Indeed nowadays the holders of “Minister of God” title are watched with suspicion. Therefore it is imperative that you lead or direct your ministry being mindful that the terrain is hostile. The “Big Brother” (government) and citizens are watching. You need seriously to conduct your ministry in a way that will attract respect and dignity. If you don’t attract or manage respect, it would be easy for anybody to injure, defame or cause aspersion on your “reputation” simply because you do not have reputation to protect in the first place.
3. TAKING GIFTS WITHOUT DUE CAUTION.
Every minister is entitled to receive gifts whenever such is presented to them. However some gifts have landed some ministers into trouble particularly when caution is thrown to the wind. Never be hasty in receiving gifts particularly “capital gifts” e.g. land, houses, cars, shares, huge sums of money etc. without putting in place the appropriate legal structure to accommodate such gifts so that it becomes very clear who is giving, when it was given and in what circumstance it was given. It is not that you are ridiculing the giver’s intention. It is just that you have chosen to put yourself and your ministry in a honourable position. Who knows the source of the gift? But at least you will not be seen as an accomplice to any wrongdoing or anomaly in case there is any. Once again if you do not know what to do get your lawyer involved.
4. ENTERING INTO ILLEGAL CONTRACTS.
Every minister should avoid any transaction or contract that has the trait of illegality, no matter how popular such transaction is. For example, it is illegal to smuggle cars across the border from any neighbouring country. So it is an illegal contract when you give someone money or you take money from someone in the basis of crossing a car across the border. Should the contract fail (e.g. car seized by customs or for any other reason the car was not brought nobody can legitimately claim any benefit and or refund. Because any illegal contract is unenforceable. Avoid involving yourself in any such business whether as the giver or taker of money or even the “recommender” of those who are involved in the business. Any backlash of such transaction can embarrass your person or your ministry. Avoid it.
Article By: Barrister Tomi Vincent
Tomi Vincent is a Notary Public of the Supreme Court with many legal victories in his kitty both as an astute Solicitor and Barrister. He is an expert in the Law of Intellectual Properties, Commercial Law and Corporate Management and an alumnus of Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. He is the convener of ‘’Avoiding Costly mistakes in the Ministry’’ Workshops, and has been invited to facilitate at the Pan African University (LBS).