We Must not be "Bumblers"

We must not be bumblers in this crisis hour.

By LOUIS K. DICKSON, President, Southeastern California Conference

In the present campaign for adequate na­tional defense, a new expression has been coined; namely, "military bumblers." This expression is descriptive of inefficient, poorly thought-out planning, and the blundering exe­cution of leaders in defense. What waste and loss is sustained by either a government or a church when leadership falls into the hands of "bumblers"! Surely the times and the work demand most careful and efficient planning and execution on the part of every minister and leader in God's great cause. In this hour when the full force of the church, in universal ac­tion, is necessary for complete victory over the enemy, we must carefully plan an "all out" program, and faithfully execute it.

As leaders in God's work, we need to study to keep the morale of our working force and our people at its height. To do this, we must beware of that principle in our leadership which was the motivating principle of the old feudal system, wherein serfs were bound to their lord by unquestioning loyalty. We must be careful that by our demands for loyalty and by our methods of leadership, we do not turn the honest expression of ideas, and freedom of discussion of good ideas, into tools or instru­ments of execution, so that our leadership turns from a forward march into a terrified reaction. Not to make this vital distinction is, perhaps unwittingly, to nullify and paralyze the very leadership we wish to render. Let us beware of this all too common and frequent confusion of leadership perspective.

If we blandly ignore these principles and dangers, we will force God's people to suffer, the cause will lag, and we will experience great waste. If we would face boldly, and coura­geously, and triumphantly, the greatest task in the history of the church, if we would accept God's call to get the work done, we must con­cern ourselves with developing a leadership that possesses a personal organization and knowledge that will be worthy of the maximum respect and co-operation of both workers and laity. It is a weak leader who cannot bear to be crossed in his opinions or policies, and who must mark that one for execution who may differ with him concerning the wisdom of his procedure.

No easy road lies ahead. Leadership has assumed gigantic importance under God, the world's need, and the urgency of the hour. Therefore we must seek to perfect our leader­ship by becoming more Christlike in it all. Just to the extent that a leader hampers or de­nies free discussion of his proposals or policies, to that degree he weakens the movement in which he has assumed leadership. The ad­vent movement rests much upon freedom of honest discussion. There is no other method by which it can function. And in such a time as this it will function satisfactorily and ef­fectively only if the channels of free and full discussion are kept completely open. We must constantly encourage free study and discussion in this movement, or we will stultify and de­stroy those men whom God calls upon and in­spires to give guidance to the church in the final crisis.

Further, the effect of such stifling of study, conviction, and expression, will make it im­possible for the movement to call to its lead­ership its ablest and best men. If men are made victims because they honestly express views which cross the opinions of leaders, they will shrink from exposing themselves to attack. Yet of all times in our history as a church this is the time when we should be able to say to our ablest men, "You must contribute to the discussion of great and important issues. We need your wisdom and leadership. We want your free expression that we may arrive at wise and just conclusions."

The strong leader in God's cause will not only be an example, but will be an inspiring, a humble, an approachable, human being, pos­sessing unconquerable courage, unshaken faith, and intensity of purpose, yet one who seeks, by the encouragement of free discussion, to find the right way, even though he must change his mind and his preconceived opinions.

He will exemplify how remarkably beautiful a "simple, humble soul" can be. He will lead in this movement of reformation, not by a fa­natical overstraining of our beliefs, but by a reaffirmation of them—an extension of thesi principles to wider fields and deeper recesses. Reformation should not mean abandoning our fundamental, well-balanced principles, in fa­vor of an unbalanced Pharisaical interpretation of the text, but rather a re-examination of them to determine whether we are following the dead letter or the living spirit which they em­body. It must not mean forsaking the clear­as-noonday beacons which have led us in the past, transforming them into an obscurity born of puerile ignorance or incapacity to compre­hend, but rather a rekindling of those beacons in all their beautiful brilliancy.

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By LOUIS K. DICKSON, President, Southeastern California Conference

June 1941

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