Principles, Problems, and Policies No. 2

Countering the questioning of authority and the breaking down of responsibility.

By J. L. McELHANY, President, General Conference

Attitude Toward Leaders

Now I come to another thing I want to speak about. It is a spirit that exists in the world, which I might refer to as an attitude toward leadership. In the last few years the world has been permeated with the idea that "if the leaders do it, it must be wrong." Isn't that spirit prevalent in the world today? The questioning of authority, the breaking down of responsibility, is seen everywhere. Sometimes it gets into the church, and people are ready to pick up something and say, "Well, if the leaders did it, it must be wrong." Now I believe we ought to live and act and work in a way that would allay any such criticism when it arises. But that attitude leads to unjust criticism, and many times I have heard men unjustly accused and criticized. Brethren, I plead today that, so far as our own personal example extends and so far as our influence reaches, we help our people and our workers to overcome in this matter of criticism.

I recognize that any man who accepts pub­lic office must expect criticism. He ought to be Christian enough and man enough to accept criticism without resentment or retaliation. This cause can best be carried forward when those working in it are actuated by a sweet Christian spirit and attitude. I know of no better way of expressing it than to say that we all ought to relate ourselves toward one another as Christian gentlemen, and leave out of our attitude and conduct anything that the Lord cannot bless.

In some fields I see a manifestation of this spirit of criticism. It gives me concern. Do you know, brethren, that when this attitude is maintained, it leads to loss of confidence and to serious consequences, even in carrying for­ward the Lord's work. I plead for a correction of this attitude. I know that this Executive Committee has no disposition to ignore any suggestion that comes to it from the officers simply because they are officers. We must have leaders. We must have them in our depart­ments. I believe that we ought to respect every man in his office, and that all should work to­gether to make one's work strong and helpful.

Although this spirit of criticism ought to be allayed, at the same time, brethren, we all ought also to remember that we should be easily approached. No man should set himself up stubbornly in opposition to the counsel of his brethren. We ought to work together in all these things. Good leadership is not synon­ymous with dictatorship. I want to raise my voice in protest against the encroachments of the dictator spirit anywhere among us. I must tell you, brethren, that I do not like to hear a conference president referred to as "The Chief." "All ye are brethren." I think that attitude is better than putting some man up on a pedestal as being above his brethren. I some­how cannot harmonize that attitude with the spirit of Jesus.

Responsible Leadership

Before leaving this matter of leadership, I want to add a few more thoughts. We need leaders in this cause today very, very much. Do you know that the problem of leadership, of finding leaders, is one of our most serious problems today? We need more men endowed with the true spirit of leadership, and it is our duty to train men in these principles. Years ago the Lord rebuked this people for gathering or allowing to be gathered into the hands of a few men the control of the whole movement. That same danger exists today. We ought to guard wisely against it.

I must tell you frankly that I feel much con­cerned over the growing tendency to refer so many matters to us here in Washington, asking us to decide so many questions. I believe it ought to be our studied purpose to give strong leadership in all matters out in the field. In each department there should be strong, stal­wart, resolute men—men led by the Spirit of God, men in touch with the Lord Himself—able to meet and solve their problems without getting a decision from Washington before they are willing to act. Is that a wrong view of the question? [Voices: No.] I think that the tendency to shift responsibility which has been spoken of in so many quarters, ought to be corrected. We must pass back to the men in the fields the responsibilities they should bear in leadership.

Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (300x250)

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

By J. L. McELHANY, President, General Conference

April 1937

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Preaching Our Distinctive Message* No. 1

Why is it that so many of our evangelists wait so long to proclaim the third angel's message?

Motion Pictures in Evangelism

The showing of harmful pictures should not close our eyes to turn the minds of people toward good pictures that will be a blessing and not a curse.

"Before Whom Three Fell" Daniel 7:20

Considering the two possible meanings of the expression occurring in Daniel 7:20.

This Matter of Musical Leadership

Not long ago a young friend of mine was placed in charge of the music activities of one of our training schools. Desirous of being of some help to him, I wrote him a letter. And believing it may prove helpful to others in similar places of opportunity, I give here that part of the letter referring to musical leader­ship:

Avoid Extremes

The enemy of our souls would gladly lead us to take extreme positions. It does not matter much to him in which direction we go, whether to the right or to the left, if only we become extreme in the position which we take.

Qualifications for True Leadership No. 1

A leader in any capacity in the cause of God is a watchman, and his office carries with it most solemn responsibility.

My First Year as an Intern

Many things awaited me, of which I was unaware that day in the union president's office when I accepted a Bible worker's intern­ship.

The Challenge of Islam

The presentation of the gospel message to Moslems constitutes one of the greatest problems confronting the Christian missionary today.

Editorial Keynotes

From the editor's desk.

The Alcohol Problem No. 4

Alcohol as a narcotic.

Gratifying Results in the South

To those who are waiting for that soon-coming day when truth shall triumph glo­riously, there is nothing more cheering than news of fresh victories won on the battle front.

The Conflict of the Ages Series No. 4

Part four of our series on Mrs. White's writings.

Meaning of "Breath" and "Soul"

In 1 Kings 17:17, 22, we find the expressions, "There was no breath left in him," and "The soul of the child came into him again, and he revived." Kindly give an effectual explanation for believers in immortality, and also give the Hebrew meaning of "breath" and "soul." Are they identical words?

Valuable Quotations

Verified extracts from current literature.

Editorial Postscripts

From the Ministry back page!

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600