The alacrity with which some respond to an -I- invitation to leadership, and the assiduousness with which others seek position,—though not specifically called by their fellows, —make it apparent that the involvements of leadership are not clearly understood by such. Leadership is vastly more than opportunity to direct and to exercise power in accordance with one's preferences—and possibly with one's prejudices. It involves grave and inescapable responsibility for the direction affairs take under that leadership. It carries with it inevitable retribution for leading falsely or falteringly, or with hypocrisy or intrigue. It means, or should mean, agonizing with God and pleading with men. It involves sleepless nights and careworn days. This is the serious and somber side of leadership.
True leadership calls for piety, vision, sagacity, courage, decisiveness. It, involves standing for principle, even though associates may forsake and expediency may suggest a compromise. It calls for ability to rally and coordinate wavering, confused minds and to deal wisely with the false and antagonistic. It involves taking the lead and directing the course of affairs, not waiting until pressure from associates crowds into action. Its highest function is not to repress the aggressiveness of others, but to plan wisely and constructively in advance of others. It sometimes means saying "no" when others clamor "yes," or the reverse. It means taking the unpopular as often as the popular side.
True leadership calls for vastly more than successfully meeting crises when they arise; it calls for foreseeing and forestalling them. It means more than recognizing a good plan when urged by associates; it means anticipating and projecting one. Such a recognition strips the halo from leadership, and makes it so sobering a responsibility that no man should seek to take this honor unto himself.
At such times truth was conceived to be an expanding principle, constantly amplifying, illuminating, clarifying, or correcting past understandings. Additional aspects and enlarging views were confidently expected and seriously sought as light from God, and each added ray eagerly and joyfully received when its credentials had been established. Investigation, discussion, revision, incorporation, development—these were the key words and attitudes of those days.
But as such organizations became large and established, deadening satisfaction superseded expectancy, and investigation lagged. Diversity and criticism tended to increase. So it was deemed expedient, and indeed imperative, to crystallize and codify the truths already received. They were bound about for the sake of unity. Creedal statements of belief were adopted, becoming the criterion and test of orthodoxy.
The objective was, of course, to establish truth and to counter antagonistic, disintegrating forces. But that very process placed the official frown upon investigation, and fixed suspicion upon even the loyal investigator. Truth —which is an expansive, progressive principle —was thus stultified, and satisfied stagnation ensued, and opposition to further advances on the basis of "more and more unto the perfect day" became the order of the hour. Blind are we if we do not see and avoid this menace to our own movement.