That’s Just Moishe: Collected Wisdom, Wit and Whimsy from the Founder of Jews for Jesus

It’s almost here! Our 40th year anniversary begins September 17, so for the next twelve months you’re invited to join us in celebrating four decades of God’s goodness to Jews for Jesus. We’ll be rolling out all sorts of new stuff to celebrate the past, present and future of our mission to reach Jewish people for Jesus.

That includes the soon release of a companion book to Called to Controversy: the Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus. We’ve chosen twelve of our favorite lead newsletter articles by Moishe, reflections that give insight into principles that not only shaped our ministry, but also the lives and ministries of many people he mentored throughout his life. You’ll also find excerpts from Moishe’s leadership lessons, most of which have not previously been offered to the public. Below is a sample from that second section. And finally, we collected many of Moishe’s “little sayings” along with cartoons and drawings to highlight the whimsical side of our founder. Stay tuned for how you can get your own copy of That’s Just Moishe: Collected Wisdom, Wit and Whimsy from the Founder of Jews for Jesus. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the excerpt below.

Personal Ethics

There are ethics of society and organization ethics, but it is also important to have your own personal ethics. Each of us has to act alone in private situations that test our ethics. When those test times and trying situations come, how you handle temptation will depend in large part on your own personal ethical code.

You need to know that you gain strength from exercising or operating your own principles under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. Those are key words when seen together: Operate and Principle. The moral muscle you build by operating your principles is used by God to empower you and enable you to deal with situations before they arise—so you don’t have to start searching to find those inner resources at the crucial moment of testing. They are immediately before you as policies and principles under which you normally operate.

Without personal ethics, you will not be able to uphold the ethics of the church, or the ministry in that moment of testing, when there is no one present to witness your choice. It is not enough to be accountable to other people. In that lonely moment of testing, you have got to be accountable to yourself as one who controls self and is accountable to God. Even God does not make you do things His way in that moment. You have to answer to yourself and support the decisions you have made about the person you want to be. That is why it is so important that each one of us thinks and decides very carefully about our own, individual, very personal ethics.

Without ethics, people generally move toward their goal in whatever way presents itself or seems likely to get results. People are apt, at some point, to take questionable shortcuts to reach their goals. They may rationalize that “the ends justify the means” or that they are choosing the “lesser of two evils.” Ethics protects against those kinds of traps because it takes into account the means as well as the ends.

When we subscribe to a system of ethics, we are disciplining ourselves, restricting ourselves to being and doing according to certain standards. When we choose a Christlike aim, we automatically exclude ourselves from an “ends justify the means” type of ethic. We cannot separate the means from the ends! Both the means and the ends are opportunities to conform to or distort the character of God. . . to obey or disobey God. . . to follow Yeshua’s example or depart from it.

Note that the Bible does not define “right” as the means to happiness or to a lack of harm, though Scriptures certainly do point out the blessings that often correspond to right behavior. But that which is right or good is to be desired for itself.

Personal ethics entail your commitment to standards that enable you to achieve your honorable aims and purposes. They are principles that translate into personal policies and are applied as personal procedures.

We can provide ministry ethics. But without the personal ethics of each one of you to uphold them, they will be merely institutional. Your ethics are your own personal tool. If you forge them carefully and prayerfully, they can be an exceedingly valuable tool.