Ministerial Ethics
Diego Mesa

In 1994, Pastor Diego and his wife Cindy founded Abundant Living Family Church in their home with their three sons. The church has since moved to a beautiful facility located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The couple now have four grandchildren, and their sons serve as pastors within the ministry.

Pastor Diego is committed to ministering to the whole man—spiritually, physically, financially, and emotionally—with priorities focused on family, youth and children. His style is simple, allowing the hearer to easily identify and apply God’s Word to his personal life.

In addition to being the senior pastor of a mega church, his weekly television program, Real with Diego, airs on multiple television networks.

Ministerial Ethics by Diego MesaThe article below is an excerpt from Pastor Diego Mesa’s book, “Ministerial Ethics.” In this book, Pastor Diego discusses such topics as salaries, honorariums, how to leave a church, how to plant a church, how to handle gossip, plagiarism, and using the ministry for personal gain. If you would like more information about his book, “Ministerial Ethics,” you can contact Deanna Fowler, Bookstore Manager, at dfowler@alfconline.com, or by phone at (909) 204-4534.

Introduction

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

Why are some churches seemingly more blessed, prosperous, and favored, or seem to experience more growth, increase, and health than others? Could it be related to ethics? Why do some churches initially thrive only to experience a decline in the future? Could it be related to ethics? Why do some churches last and some don’t? Could ethics possibly be the answer?

Everything in life has consequences. The problem is we don’t often connect the dots that reveal the cause. It’s like a leaking roof that drips water into the living room of your home. The issue oftentimes is that the cause of the leak is not directly above the living room but in another location in the house. You don’t understand why there is an issue or hardship because you are looking at the section of the roof above the living room instead of realizing the leak started years ago in another area.

We live in a world of high tolerance, low standards, unkept promises, and justifiable actions and lifestyles. We give excuses and reasons why we do the wrong we do.

Not too long ago, at least in my lifetime and I’m really old (not really), words like integrity, ethics, morality, excellence, protocol, character, and values were more than words used loosely, or in the dictionary, but they were a lifestyle. They were very personal. They were truths and spoke of righteousness. They were non-negotiables and essentials for living and doing; declarations people lived by. They were musts; the ‘got to’ and ‘have to’ for people. But now, fast forward to the world of today, it appears that some people live by different standards, and ethics are something watered down to a slow drip.

When we look at marriage, we have to ask ourselves, where are the ethics in marriage called faithfulness? Where are the ethics in sexual purity? Where are the ethics in friendships with so much disloyalty? There are no ethics on the job. People steal merchandise, time, and clients. There are no ethics among our leaders, politicians, lawyers, educators, and doctors.

I’m longwinded when it comes to this subject because my heart is especially heavy when I think about the ethics among Christians. Where are the ethics among churches, the body of Christ, and especially ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ? I believe we should carry the highest and greatest standard of ethics in how we treat and represent God, people, money, other pastoral leaders, the church body, and buildings.

I certainly do not claim to know everything on this subject or to be an expert. I can’t say, “Because I’ve studied and researched hundreds or thousands of people and churches, I’m an expert.” No, I’m not; nor a specialist by any means. I draw my knowledge from biblical teachings and from over thirty years of pastoral experience; working with wonderful pastors, staffs and pastoring a great congregation of people.

Woven within the blissful and productive experiences of pastoring are events that occur that bring about disorder and dissension. Oftentimes, these situations are not easily rectified and churches and pastors are left with the difficulty of trying to come up with answers to the question, “Why do people make choices which are contrary to ethical conduct?”

My decision to write this book is for the purpose of trying to help a few folks that God has placed in my life, and to teach a young generation how to navigate through some of these questions on ethics. I hope to expose and prevent some of the pitfalls that lead to ethical failures.

Samuel’s Ethical Declaration

1 Samuel 12:2-5 (NKJV)
…“And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and gray headed, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day. Here I am. Witness against me before the Lord and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will restore it to you.” And they said, “You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man’s hand.”

Then he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”

As Samuel the prophet, an old, gray-headed, aged, wrinkled-faced man speaks at King Saul’s coronation, his words model and magnify a lifetime of faithfulness, credibility, and integrity as he maintained a standard of the highest form of ethics. He shared five points of ethics:

  1. “Whose ox have I taken?” He has never been guilty of stealing oxen. Metaphorically, could that mean church members?
  2. “Whose donkey have I taken?” He was not guilty of donkey stealing. Could this figuratively, include staff members?
  3. “Whom have I cheated?” He has not misrepresented anything. Could that include deliberately deceiving, either for profit or to take advantage of, people by distorting the truth?
  4. “Whom have I oppressed?” Has he been unfair or unjust to anyone by showing preference? Could that include manipulation, intimidation, threatening or controlling?
  5. “Whose hand have I received a bribe?” Could that include persuasion or inducement; to act in one’s favor for money or politicking in an attempt to get ahead?

In the passage, legal terms or courtroom terminology is used to drive the point, and everything within these verses model stewardship, accountability, honesty, and faithfulness. Samuel is living a blameless and harmless life (no shame in his game) in this passage.

Samuel closes by using the term “witness.” Witness is a judicial term of disclosure, transparency, and openness; evidence to a fact, a validation or examination. In essence, Samuel is asking:

  • Can anyone witness against me?
  • Can anyone witness for me?
  • What would God’s witness say?

These are pretty bold statements for anyone to make publicly. Huh! By making this declaration, was Samuel’s intent to boast and flaunt? No! I think by the Spirit of God, he was setting precedence for a young King Saul. He wanted Saul to hear his statement and ponder. Samuel’s declaration was a testimony of his untainted personal character demonstrated in the integrity of his pubic leadership. Samuel lived a life of integrity from childhood, and hopefully his testimony would be seen as an example of how Saul should rule over God’s people. It was an older generation leader teaching, training, and modeling to a younger generation leader. How needed and wanted is that?