We are a small people numerically, as compared with other great religious organizations. We have comparatively few workers, and therefore we need the enthusiastic, unstinted effort of every one of these units. Offenses must needs come, and some will go out from us to walk no more with us, often to oppose us. God pity them! But woe to those who weaken, estrange, or handicap any in our small working force by needlessly discouraging men, crippling their effectiveness, and making it impossible for them to give their full service and best talent.
God holds administrators and committees responsible for the handling of men. Take an evangelist for example. He may have conspicuous gifts in gathering and holding large concourses of people to hear his message which he gives with rare effectiveness. He may actually be able to penetrate the consciousness of a large city and arrest the attention of the multitudes, so that men generally know that a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist is in town. That is a gift possessed, a result achieved, by but few.
Shall such a man—who may and usually does have certain weaknesses or oddities—be continually handicapped by the sniping of fellow workers on the side lines, or of committees who themselves could not begin to make a dent on the consciousness of that city if their lives depended on it? Suppose he isn't the best financier in the conference. Many—perhaps most—good denominational financiers would make a flat failure of city evangelism. Shall this worker be scolded and pommeled, or be helped as a brother? Should not his weakness be compensated for by careful counsel and watchful help?
Most workers in this cause are amenable to counsel and open to suggestion—if given in a reasonable and constructive way. They crave understanding counsel from the right sources. But real brotherly counsel is too rare a commodity. Conspicuous characters are often misjudged and estranged by their associates. Petty jealousies and nagging criticisms sprino-ts from beneath, not from above. We must love men and believe in them in order to help them. Unkind thrusts and aggravating remarks are altogether too common, but are nevertheless out of place. But such is not the charitable, the frank, the Christian, the successful way of dealing with men. As a result, the one involved often works with a wounded heart, grieved because he is misunderstood and isolated by needless barriers. This inevitably cuts down efficiency, and such a handicap we cannot afford to tolerate in this little movement with its slender man power.
Sometimes there is recourse to ecclesiastical legislation to control a man's methods or eccentricities when the change ought to have been and could have been effected by the quiet, personal method. (Legislation against an individual, incidentally, is the method of weak men, not of strong men, who always prefer to talk things through to right conclusions.)
Yes, the art of handling and molding and holding men is a delicate one. It is the test of real leadership and administrative wisdom. We need leaders, not drivers or administrators. We need understanding counselors and sympathetic brethren as administrators. And most of our administrators are such men. They have their weaknesses and limitations, like the rest of us. But let us pray for them, support them, believe in them, work with them, help them, and treat them as we wish them to treat us.
L. E. F.
We are confident that there are believers with means, who, filled with a love of this message, might not incline to give unusual sums to general funds, but who would gladly invest in young men and young women during their ministerial internship period, after their preparatory training had proved their fitness. This could be effectually accomplished by their assuming that portion of the modest stipend borne by the local and union conferences; namely, one third of the salary plus expenses for the first year (the other two thirds being cared for by the General Conference, under operating provisions), and one half of the salary, plus expenses, during the second year.
What better investment could be made in these last days than in worthy youth prepared for the ministry or Bible work, but without an opening? If fifty such believers could be found annually by the conferences in different sections of North America, thus to provide this additional number of graduates with opportunity to demonstrate their fitness for permanent service in homeland or mission field, it would turn the tide of hope for such youth, whose eyes and hearts are fixed on entering our denominational work. It would place them in a unique way upon their honor, and inspire them to do their best to justify the confidence reposed in them, under such a provision. It would likewise change the whole complexion in a score of conferences which are financially unable to provide these opportunities, and it would close a serious gap in the steady stream of recruits that should never cease. Cannot these individuals be found?
L. E. F.