Imagine these situations: some of the other missionaries on your team make reservations at a five-star hotel for the whole group going to the conference. When you question staying in such an expensive place with lodging at a fraction of the cost across the street, they point out that your agency is paying for it so it is no problem.
When back in your host country dining out, others want to eat at a very expensive restaurant with lots of “atmosphere.” You think about the little cash you have left at the end of the month for food for your own family and suggest a more modest restaurant. They say not to always be so concerned about money, that you can’t really enjoy things when you are.
In a committee meeting deciding on a new building, other missionaries vote to borrow the money and begin right away even though your field has only about one-tenth of the funds, and getting more is unlikely. They say build now; pay later. You suggest building without borrowing. They chide you for your little faith, saying that people will give when you begin.
Can some general principle be applied in all situations, or does each instance have to be considered individually? Does it make a difference if agency funds, your expense account, or your personal funds are involved? What about designated versus undesignated funds? Let us consider these questions.
Agency Funds: Designated
When people have donated money for a particular project, such as building a hospital or student scholarships, there should be no question. The only ethical thing to do is to spend all of that money on the project for which it was given. Anything else is dishonest.