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Principles for Christian Leaders

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    Work assignments

    Use God-given abilities—I have been shown that the presidents of our conferences are not all doing their duty. They are not all becoming more and more efficient. Their experience is cheapened, and as they do not exercise their powers by taxing them, trusting in God to give them efficiency, their work is defective in every respect. The mere possession of qualifications is not enough; the ability must be diligently used.PCL 131.2

    Can nothing be devised to arouse the presidents of conferences to a sense of their obligations? Would they could see that their positions of trust only increase and intensify their responsibility. If each president would feel the necessity of diligent improvement of his talents in devising ways and means for arousing ministers to work as they should, what a change would take place in every conference.PCL 131.3

    Faithful service on the part of the conference officers and the ministers would relieve the president of the General Conference of a large share of taxing, wearing labor. Fidelity is wanting in a marked degree. Do these men consider that the solemn scrutiny of every man’s work is soon to begin in heaven?PCL 132.1

    When the Master went away, He gave to every man in every age and in every generation his work; and He says to us all, “Occupy till I come.” Have ministers thought how much is comprehended in these words? Verily there may be but a step between them and death. How stands the record of sacred trusts committed for wise improvement—talents misused, wasted hours, neglected opportunities, duties left undone, sickly churches, the flock of God not strengthened by having their portion of meat in due season?PCL 132.2

    What is to be done? Shall the president of the General Conference carry the burden of the neglects of presidents and ministers, and weep between the porch and the altar, crying, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach”? (Joel 2:17). Shall he feel that he is responsible for the deep sleep, the paralysis, that is upon the people of God? If he works as he has done to arouse the careless and set in order the things that others have neglected, he will become unable to labor, and will go down to an untimely grave.PCL 132.3

    Will the presidents of conferences and the ministers of the people seek the Lord earnestly, put away their sins, empty their souls of their idols, or will they continue to go on half-heartedly, neglecting solemn duties, while Satan triumphs, whispering to his evil angels, and to his human confederacy in evil, “Hopeless, irredeemable bankruptcy”?—MS 8, 1892 (November 25)PCL 132.4

    Responsibility to laity and ministers—The leaders in God’s cause, as wise generals, are to lay plans for advance moves all along the line. In their planning they are to give special study to the work that can be done by the laity for their friends and neighbors. The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.—9T 116, 117 (1909)PCL 132.5

    There are many who want to go out and labor in our several conferences—who have ability, but no courage—because they must have means to support their families. It is the worst kind of generalship to allow conferences to stand still or to fail to settle their honest debts. There is a great deal of this done, and wherever it is done, God is displeased. If the president does his duty and the laborers do theirs, impressing upon the minds of the people in the various fields and churches where they labor the character of the crime of robbing God of tithes and offerings; and if these laborers have the true spirit of devotion and a burden for the work, God will make their labors a blessing to the people, and fruit will be seen as the results of their toils. . . .PCL 133.1

    God has shown me that many souls are in danger of eternal ruin through selfishness and worldliness. And the watchmen are guilty because of neglecting their duty; they do not watch for souls as they that must give account, and this Satan is exulting to see. How successfully he controls the minds of men! And how wonderfully he works through the very ones that think themselves devoted to the work of God, to cause them to neglect to warn, to reprove, to exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine! This is a branch of the work neglected by the ministers, and God will hold them responsible.PCL 133.2

    It is not God’s order that someone should follow after those who do not do their duty and bind off their unfinished work. It is not the duty of the conference to be at the extra expense of employing other laborers to follow after and pick up the dropped stitches of these negligent workers. It is the duty of the president of the conference to have an oversight of the laborers and their work and to teach them to be faithful in these things, for no church can prosper that is robbing God.PCL 133.3

    The spiritual dearth in our churches is frequently the result of an alarming prevalence of selfishness in their midst; and for this cause their eyes cannot be single to the glory of God. Their selfish, worldly pursuits and schemes have interposed between them and their God. . . .PCL 134.1

    You [R. F. Andrews] have neglected an important part of your work as a president of a conference. You have not educated the people to work with all their means and abilities, engaging all their earthly powers in the cause of God. You have been raising a family when you should have been bringing many sons and daughters to God. You have been hedging up your own way, as many of our ministers are doing, in which they show their great want of wisdom and the possession of that true missionary spirit to deny self, lift the cross, and push the work of the Master. —Letter 6, 1883 (November)PCL 134.2

    The men appointed to positions of trust are only human. They must receive wisdom and grace from the same source that is open to you. It may be argued that the Lord gives special wisdom to those entrusted with important responsibilities. True, if they walk humbly before Him, He will give them help for their work; and He will give you help for yours, if you seek it in the same spirit.PCL 134.3

    He who is walking in the counsel of God will seek to lead his brethren to turn to the only Source that is untainted with the errors of humanity instead of looking to him to define their duty. He should see the peril of encouraging any to look to man for wisdom and should refuse to be brains and conscience for his brethren. If all, laymen and workers, are thus taught to look to God in humility for wisdom, many dangers will be averted.PCL 134.4

    If the leader errs, if he permits human influence to sway his judgment or yields to temptation, he can be corrected and helped by his brethren. Those who learn to rely upon God in their difficulties will be growing in faith, in experience; they will be gaining spiritual strength. It is the neglect to do as Christ has told them to do that makes men so destitute of the fruits of the Spirit of God, so dwarfed in religious experience.—MS 11, 1883 (c. 1883)PCL 135.1

    To those upon whom God has bestowed many talents, I am instructed to say: Help the inexperienced; discourage them not. Take them into your confidence; give them fatherly counsel, teaching them as you would teach students in a school. Watch not for their mistakes, but recognize their undeveloped talents, and train them to make a right use of these powers. Instruct them with all patience, encouraging them to go forward and to do an important work. Instead of keeping them engaged in doing things of minor importance, give them an opportunity to obtain an experience by which they may develop into trustworthy workers. Much will thus be gained to the cause of God.PCL 135.2

    Those placed in positions of responsibility should patiently seek to make others familiar with all parts of the work. This will reveal that they do not desire to be first, but that they are glad to have others become acquainted with details, and to become as efficient as they are. Those who faithfully fulfill their duty in this respect, will, in time, have standing by their side a large number of intelligent workers whom they have trained. Should they shape matters in accordance with narrow, selfish conceptions, they would stand almost alone.—RH, December 1, 1904PCL 135.3

    Foster unity—In your office as president of this conference, the Lord would have you [S. N. Haskell] do everything possible to bring about a spirit of unity. Let the idea of unity be the keynote of all your actions. This instruction has been given me for you, that not one move must be made that will create feelings of discord. Let every effort possible be made to harmonize with your brethren. This has been deeply impressed upon my mind by representations that the Lord has given me. You are standing in a position of influence, and there are some who, should they find occasion, would say that I made a mistake in advising the change in the administration of the California Conference.PCL 136.1

    Let your whole influence be cast to create a spirit of unity with the men who are carrying responsibilities in the publishing work. Then your words will have more influence.—Letter 94, 1908 (March 29)PCL 136.2

    Promote faithfulness in tithes and offerings—There has been work you [R. F. Andrews] ought to have done that you have not done: to preach the truth everywhere just as it is, pleasant or unpleasant: to impress upon the churches and individuals their God-given responsibilities in tithes and offerings, in selling, and giving alms; impressing them that God had entrusted them with means that must be used to advance His work, that they were handling the Lord’s money.—Letter 6, 1883 (November)PCL 136.3

    Press forward—I call upon the presidents of our conferences to exert their God-given influence to open the fields that have never yet been worked. These fields stand as a reproach to our people. Organize your work intelligently, and then proceed to action. Let your simplicity of speech and your simplicity and neatness of dress speak of your work as missionaries. Educational advantages will be provided, and the Lord will go before those who will take up the work in the spirit of self-sacrifice. —MS 94, 1903 (August 27)PCL 136.4

    I spoke of the duty resting upon conference presidents to understand the necessities of our large, congested cities, and of the necessity that special attention shall be given to these neglected, unworked cities; and I referred to the fact that the president of our General Conference has neglected his duty regarding this work. It is time that there shall be a general waking up to our responsibilities in this matter. There is a great work neglected that should be faithfully undertaken.—Letter 58a, 1910 (June 30)PCL 137.1

    I am instructed to say to those who have long stood at the head of the work, and who for years have allowed many of our large cities to remain unworked: The Lord will call to account those who have worked out their own plans to do a large work in a few places while they have left undone the work that should have been done in giving the last warning message to the many large cities of our land. There has been with some a spirit of forbidding, a desire to hold back from the work brethren who desired to have a part in it. Some in the blindness of their hearts have been hindering the work, and this has brought unbelief into many hearts. I am now counseled in regard to the need of employing all our energies and all our means for the advancement of the work. We need to use our influence in encouraging others to labor. Let the spirit of sanctified activity be encouraged rather than the spirit that would seek to hinder and forbid, and there will be seen advancement where in the past there has been failure to follow the will of the Lord.—MS 61, 1909 (September 17)PCL 137.2

    Seek counsel—I have a burden on my mind in regard to the Michigan Conference. Do you [Bro. Van Horn] remember my words in the church at Potterville? I said, “Brethren, you have chosen Elder Van Horn as president of your conference. He has the qualifications of a sermonizer, but is not qualified to minister. If there are persons of far-seeing discernment and good judgment who study from cause to effect and who are prompt to plan and execute, who will stand by his side to counsel with him, if Elder Van Horn will not become stereotyped in his own ideas and ways, then he can serve as your president; but he has serious defects of character; he can never bear successfully the responsibilities of this great conference unless others will come in to cooperate with him and to supply what he lacks. It is not an easy matter for him to make any material change in his habits, customs, or plans. He is too fixed in his habits.”PCL 137.3

    Brother Van Horn, you do not see the necessity of calling together the old hands in the cause, and setting your plans before them and asking their counsel. You need men of other and varied talents to counsel and plan with you. But you do not talk over matters freely with your brethren.PCL 138.1

    This I was taught my husband should do, and he obeyed the injunction of the Spirit of God. He called together his brethren, and urged them to express their mind as to the way in which the work should go, and not a move was made independently. Those experienced brethren felt that they shared the responsibility, and we carried the people with us in our efforts for the upbuilding of the work. Thus it should ever be. One man’s judgment may be deficient in many respects, but in a multitude of counselors there is safety.—Letter 29, 1890 (August 5)PCL 138.2

    Support students in need—Those who have the truth in their hearts are always openhearted, helping where it is necessary. They lead out, and others imitate their example. If there are some who should have the benefit of the school, but who cannot pay full price for their tuition, let the churches show their liberality by helping them.PCL 138.3

    Besides this, in each conference a fund should be raised to lend to worthy poor students who desire to give themselves to the missionary work; in some cases such students should even receive donations. When the Battle Creek College was first opened, there was a fund placed in the Review and Herald office for the benefit of those who wished to obtain an education, but had not the means. This was used by several students until they could get a good start; then from their earnings they would replace what they had drawn, so that others might be benefited by the fund.PCL 139.1

    Some provision should now be made for the maintenance of such a fund to lend to poor but worthy students who desire to prepare themselves for missionary work. The youth should have it plainly set before them that they must work their own way as far as possible, and thus partly defray their expenses. That which costs little will be appreciated little, but that which costs a price somewhere near its real value will be estimated accordingly. —CT 69, 70 (1913)PCL 139.2

    Manual labor—Brother Van Horn, it is not your duty at our camp meetings, to engage in manual labor. That belongs to the laymen. They should be educated to attend to the fitting up of the grounds. As president, you should apply yourself more thoroughly to plan for the spiritual interests of the meeting, consulting with your ministering brethren. Let your efficiency be seen in this direction.—Letter 29, 1890 (August 5)PCL 139.3

    Diversity of thought needed—How my heart aches to see presidents of conferences taking the burden of selecting those whom they think they can mold to work with them in the field. They take those who will not differ from them, but will act like mere machines. No president has any right to do this. Leave others to plan; and if they fail in some things, do not take it as an evidence that they are unfitted to be thinkers. Our most responsible men had to learn by a long discipline and practice how to use their judgment. In many things they have shown that their work ought to have been better.—Letter 12, 1885 (October 28); TM 304PCL 139.4

    Moving ministers—I have been shown that ministers should not be retained in the same district year after year, nor should the same man long preside over a conference. A change of gifts is for the good of our conferences and churches.PCL 140.1

    Ministers have sometimes felt unwilling to change their field of labor; but if they understood all the reasons for making changes, they would not draw back. Some have pleaded to remain one year longer in the same field, and frequently the request has been respected. They have claimed to have plans for accomplishing a greater work than heretofore. But at the close of the year there was a worse state of things than before. If a minister has been unfaithful in his work, it is not likely that he will mend the matter by remaining. The churches become accustomed to the management of that one man, and think they must look to him instead of to God. His ideas and plans have a controlling power in the conference.—GW 420 (1915)PCL 140.2

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