Bro. Richard M. Davis, tell us a little about yourself and your ministry.
I have served as a pastor, editor for Word Aflame, evangelist, and currently as faculty and Dean of Theology for Texas Bible College. The Lord has let me be involved in the three most impactful ministries there are: pastoral, publications and teaching in a Bible college. I feel very humbled and grateful to have been involved in all of that. Also, I am the author of Integrity, Principles of Christian Ethics.
We live in a day when integrity is sorely lacking. Is this also bleeding into the church and ministry and, if so, why?
The culture impacts us as individuals whether we’re Christians or not. Ethics is not something that is generally taught. Some of the principles may never occur to us if we haven’t made a concerted effort to study and assimilate ethical conduct into our lives.
Share with us what you feel is the foundation of all Christian and ministerial ethics.
As a writer and editor for many years, I believe the foundation of Christian and ministerial ethics is simple: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Also, Micah 6:8: “He has shown thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord desires of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”
What can be done to spark a renewed emphasis in ethics among our young people and young ministers? Any practical ideas?
My book, Integrity: Principles of Christian Ethics, is part of the newly revised program for licensing ministers, but I believe we must do more than that. If we don’t teach ethics to our kids, when they pursue a call to ministry and then demonstrate a lack of ministerial ethics, why are we surprised? We must teach them before they pursue the call of God. Then we must continue to train them as young ministers through seminars in our local churches and classes of all sorts.
What, in your opinion, are the most common ethical violations you see in the pastoral ministry?
I believe the foundation of unethical conduct is lack of communication and lack of trust. Lack of communication causes lack of trust. Then, lack of trust leads to a breakdown in communication. For instance, an errant member from one assembly shows up at the neighboring church. It’s so easy to feel awkward and not say anything to the other pastor, but that’s exactly what needs to happen. The two ought to get together and work together to determine a plan that will reach the person and lead him to a place of redemption, not condemnation. The important thing is not so much why that person is wandering, but that these two mature, adult pastors work together not only to rectify the problem of the wandering individual without damaging their own relationship, but also to do so without destroying that soul.
What degree of responsibility should pastors/ministers feel to address ethical violations? Or should we just ignore them and hope it gets better?
The key to this is a Biblical mandate from Jesus Himself in Matthew 18:15: “Go to your brother and discuss it alone…” If that other pastor won’t hear us, then we take one or two others with us to talk with him. If we’re still unable to come to an acceptable resolution, only then did Jesus charge us to take the matter to the Church, the appropriate district officials, the presbyter, or the district secretary or superintendent. To ignore the problem is inviting the wound to become infected and infectious, spreading the infection.
What motivated you to write Integrity: Principles of Christian Ethics?
About 10-12 years ago, I was on a plane and felt like we needed something on the subject. Writing is something I do. I had a few hours to spend, so I pulled out my laptop, and it just began to flow. After writing some preliminary thoughts, I set the project aside because of the business of life and ministry. About a year and a half ago, Pentecostal Publishing House approached me. They were developing a new program for training ministerial applicants. I asked them to consider broadening their scope from just ministerial ethics to Christian ethics in general. We need to teach this to all of our people, not just our preachers. They agreed, and I took on the project. I was able to pick up what I had set aside years before and breathe new life into it, expand it and finish it. The end result is Integrity: Principles of Christian Ethics.
What topics are covered? How is the book best used?
I first lay out some fundamental principles that govern ethics, covering the foundation, living with honesty and integrity, a lifestyle of loyalty, demonstrating how vital trust and confidence are in all of our relationships. Then I get into specifics of ethics in our lives, such as our horizontal relationships with our peers and our vertical relationships up and down with those over us in authority and those under us, especially in the church. I discuss conduct with the opposite sex, ethics in the workplace, stewardship and staying away from the trap of criticism. It’s all about living a lifestyle that honors Jesus Christ and avoids reproach. The book could be used in many ways: self-study or in a group or structured classes and seminars. I believe that most teachers would find the book very easy to read and teach.
Please give us ordering information, cost, etc.
Paperback is $12.99 plus taxes, shipping and handling, or eBook, $9.99. Order from Pentecostal Publishing House, pentecostalpublishing.com or call 1-866-819-7667. It is also available on Kindle, amazon.com. I keep a few on hand if somebody wants an autographed version. Use PayPal.
If pastors or others have questions on this topic, can they email you?
I would love to hear from anyone who wants to explore these topics further or ask questions. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 314-494-5036. If they leave a message, I’m usually very prompt to return calls.