"They are searching not for imperfections on which to feed, but for positive realities by which to live:
In the correspondence coming to my desk are many interesting letters. Among them sometimes are communications of such a nature that I feel constrained to share them with others. Recently such a letter was received. It was written by a young man who is already bearing important responsibilities as a worker in the cause. He speaks for the youth of this movement. What he says should be of value to every minister, leader, and worker, whatever his Particular work or in whatever department he serves. It is reproduced in part herewith. We should earnestly strive to get the point of view of the youth of this advent movement. To succeed in this will help us to be more understanding, more sympathetic, and more helpful in our contacts with them. It is indeed challenging to be told that the young people are looking to their leaders "for loyalty, sincerity, and frankness, They are looking for practical and vital godliness and spirituality. They are looking for a wholehearted acceptance of God's revealed will and plan." God forbid that they shall have to look in vain to the life and example of any worker or leader! May God help us all so to live and practice the essentials of practical godliness that we may be safe guides for the young people of this movement.— J. L.McElhany.
The Spirit of prophecy says that there are young men among us who are watching our leaders in responsible positions. I suppose I am one of those young men. I, too, have been watching eagerly, yearningly, anxiously, almost intensely—not for flaws or mistakes, but for evidence of the moving of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts and in the work and plans of the leaders of God's people.
"Young people who are sincere in their religious life are deeply serious. They insist on reality. When they see truth, they expect proportionate holiness. In spite of what our forefathers thought about it, youth is a time of rather balanced vision and consistency. Young people study the laws of science in their textbooks, and then go into the laboratory expecting certain results from their experiments. And, too, they study the Textbook of Religion, and then go out into the laboratory of life expecting results. It is for this reason that many young men today are earnestly watching our leaders and ministers.
"As a young man, I speak in behalf of our youth. I know that there are many young people in this denomination who are watching with eager, longing eyes for men of God in whose words and in whose lives is manifest the practical religion of Jesus Christ. They sit at the feet of such men and hang upon their words. These young people are anxiously watching to see how our leading men will relate themselves to the principles and standards of truth, when issues arise. They are watching to see what positions the shepherds of the flock will take. It isn't to criticize that they watch. Youth is not looking for mistakes; it is looking for virtue. The young people of whom I write are not searching for imperfections on which to feed, but for positive realities by which to live. By the discovery of inconsistency, they are not gratified—they are hurt. Over unsoundness, they do not gloat—they suffer.
"Leaders often misunderstand young people. I have known of instances in which young people went to a worker, earnestly desiring help, and because they insisted on reality, and perhaps in an effort to make themselves understood gave expression to their disappointments, the worker would take the defensive and charge our youth with possessing a wrong spirit and having a burden to reform the church. Oh, pathetic misunderstanding! Nothing could be farther removed from the motives of youth in their normal pursuit of religious verities.
"I grant that occasionally there are young people to be found who possess a critical spirit and have a false burden; but this is not normal youth. It is a youth warped out of its naturalness by some fanatical or eccentric personality with whom it has come in contact. (And by kindness and understanding and sympathetic direction, even these cases can usually be guided back into a normal state.)
"Normal young people are often cruelly misunderstood by those who should be the most sympathetic and understanding, but who have aged in spirit and live in a make-believe world. When young people go to such men because they have been wounded by the enemy, they go away with another and deeper wound. They are hurt; yet they say nothing. They keep watching, hoping, expecting. I believe the minister of God, vitalized by the Spirit of Christ, may and does maintain the vision of his youth. There is seen in his life, not only the freshness and frankness of youth, but also a ripened wisdom and a seasoned maturity,
born of experience and growth. But many lose their contact with the living Christ, grow old in spirit, and become content with form and theory. And youth—watching, weighing, expecting—are disappointed.
"Let me say again, that there are young men among us who are watching to see how the leaders in Zion are lining themselves up. They are watching to see how those leaders are relating themselves to the great standards and ideals which God has bequeathed to the remnant church. They are looking for loyalty, sincerity, and frankness. They are looking for practical and vital godliness and spirituality. They are looking for a wholehearted acceptance of God's revealed will and plans. They watch—but in their eyes is not seen the harsh light of criticism; only the glow of yearning expectation.
"I shall not mention the impressions made by those leaders who are not what they ought to be. But I do thank God that there are men in positions of highest responsibility in the cause of God upon whom our youth can look and not be hurt. I thank God for the men at the head of the work who are true in their inmost souls to their sacred trust. God can depend upon such men—and the church can depend upon them—to lead the advent movement safely to the end, and to victory.
"I thought you would like to have the response of youth to your position as the leader of God's people. I am a normal young man, and I know the mind, the heart, the soul of the young people of the advent movement. I have told you what they would tell you if they could."