The Imperatives of Leadership

Timing, intelligence, courage, and dynamic forces.

By LOUIS K. DICKSON, President of the Pacific Union Conference

That these matchless times call for a re­vival of truer, stronger ministerial leader­ship in the church scarcely needs to be stated. But how to achieve and exert such lead­ership is the problem we all face, as ministers and workers for God. Valuable lessons in this regard may now be learned from facts which grow out of the present world situation. For many years the world's leadership in military affairs has, with one notable exception, been conspicuous chiefly for its consistency in look­ing backward. Much of the disaster which has recently befallen certain nations of Europe came as a rtsult of such imprudent leadership.

Let us therefore take care that we keep the forward look in methods, equipment, and train­ing, lest we experience setbacks similar to those of nations that have been sticklers for tradition in their military leadership and planning. While it is true that the messenger of the Lord has said, "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history," it should be noted that we are not directed so much to the methods of the past as to the hand of the Lord leading us in the past.

We must now earnestly seek and coura­geously use the equipment, tactics, and training best suited to the new order of things in the present catastrophic condition of the world, and all in harmony with God's everlasting princi­ples of righteousness. Each of these—equip­ment, tactics, and training—is perhaps equally important. But without superb training the nec­essary co-ordination and striking power could not be developed.

Timing has loomed up as a most potent factor in the victorious achievements of military or­ganization in the war scene now before us. Only training can make timing effective—the real secret weapon of all conquerors, both secular and sacred. True progress in the military, com­mercial, or religious field is built upon organization. An enlightened leader is useless unless he can transmit to those under his direction an un­derstanding of the objective to be obtained, as well as the determination and knowledge of the means to attain it. While any organization without a continuous program of training may be relatively successful, such a lack evinces the pseudo sophistication of the amateur rather than the calm confidence of the professional.

The conquering steps toward the "advance" on the enemy are the pooling of knowledge, the establishment of objectives, the development of techniques, and the indoctrination of the or­ganization with plans. Then successful leader­ship must attend to the timing and execution of the program, and the follow-through to check progress and reform broken lines for the next "advance."

Since the only constant now in the world seems to be that of change, it follows that we must be ever alert to the trends around us that may disclose the rhythm of the immediate fu­ture. Failure of leadership to react promptly and energetically to such indications evidences a decline in leadership and a forthcoming loss of leadership.

Penetrating Intelligence Imperative

The critical period such as now faces us de­mands a renaissance of leadership that will en­sure an impact upon the church of a moral and spiritual temblor more terrific than anything ex­perienced hitherto. The uncertainties of the immediate future demand this. The penetrating intelligence and unfaltering courage required to provide this sure piloting of the church through uncharted seas are not likely to come from either sudden inspiration or desperation, but from a safe and sane continual and individual seeking after God on the part of every leader.

There is to be found ample power now, as ever, in these age-tried practical processes, which, unfortunately, are too seldom used in a humble, sincere, continuous way. They are neg­lected in fair weather, and hurriedly practiced in an emergency.

As in modern warfare better leadership has been forced to appear through better-trained, more responsive troops, so in the church better leadership will result if the rank and file soldiers of the cross are more enlightened and better trained. Our leaders of today must take this fact into consideration, and they must take into their confidence these soldiers in training as they advance toward new positions of triumph for God.

New plans must be arrived at in agreement with the concerted free mind of those upon whose support we must rely to achieve them. God is leading a people—not one or a few men. And if we are always true in following this principle, we shall find that God's people, trained and disciplined, will, under God, generate the certainty and power of continual advancement and ultimate and complete triumph.

An awakened leadership must now proceed by faith, and never grow timid or quail before the seeming obstacles of present conditions which, in the hands of God, are but preludes to new and unheard-of open doors and triumphs for the hosts of truth. Experience in personal posses­sion of power from God, by faith and through prayer, should provide us with the confidence and courage to step out into the unknown, and not limit us to the beaten path of traditional and personal security.

Desire for the preservation of what we term seasoned judgment is laudable ; yet this should not lead us to underestimate the importance of retaining possession of the indomitability of youth. A proportionate use of both youth and maturity will bring the greatest success. The enemies' upreared battlements and defense lines are made to be taken, but this requires apostolic, adventuresome courage. Our techniques, our plans, then, should be constructed with but one aim in view—to reach the declared objective as rapidly as possible, and take it for the Lord, however impossible such an achievement may appear to the "experience sated."

Releasing of Dynamic Forces

Effective leadership in the cause of God, how­ever, partakes primarily of a spiritual quality which cannot and does not proceed solely in the form of goals, schemes, and methods, or even training. An agreement upon objectives, tech­niques, and plans for achievement is necessary to the fullest accomplishment, but this is not enough.

On the part of the one who leads, there must be an effective releasing of those dynamic forces that are associated with Christ and His Spirit. Then, and only then, will be manifested, among other qualities of a Spirit-filled leader, those of the adventurer, the pioneer, the inventor for God and His advancing cause—all that com­pany of intrepid, apostolic, daring qualities which have ever pushed the work of the church forward toward ever-expanding horizons.

Synthetic leadership has never generated this audacious spirit, nor has this spirit long toler­ated synthetic leadership. True leadership de­mands a personal blood-toil-sweat transfusion from leader to follower. It does not simply in­duce intellectual realization of the objective, but rather simultaneously sparks the light to see it and the power to reach it.

It is doubtful whether the church today is now utilizing even 25 per cent of the potential spiritual, mental, and physical power of its per­sonnel. What a brake on the progress of the work is this dead weight of the remaining 75 per cent lack in spiritual, mental, and physical power ! Can we deny that failure to release such power sets a brake on the progress of Christ's objectives through the church? This is most appalling when we think of the delay in finishing our task. Why, then, are we not more stirred to seek and to find the hidden springs of our power that we might lead the forces of the remnant church into the realization of their ultimate possibilities in achievement?

Correct Timing Is Imperative

Again, let us contemplate the importance of correct timing: The heads of all mass move­ments in history have been adept at selecting the propitious moment. Alexander, Napoleon, Mohammed, and many modern leaders acted successfully again and again when the time was ripe. But when is the proper time? Can only genius seize upon it, or can average leadership perceive, grasp, and utilize this principle of achievement? Suppose we define timing as the balancing of the end sought and the means to reach it.

Now the great difference between the superior and the fumbler in leadership is that the latter worries about the visible, physical obstacles and handicaps, while the former looks into the hearts of men. The time to act, then, is when the hearts of men, as well as facilities and situa­tions, are in that condition best suited to success. Can anybody doubt that from the viewpoint of conditions all about us, the hearts of men everywhere being still plastic, we have now reached the time for a finished work? How can we look at this time from any viewpoint without knowing that we have reached the hour of our "visitation"? For perfect timing, we must now lead into an "all out" program.

Much is not done, because leaders are afraid to attempt it. Even well-laid plans are often not put into effect because of fear, the press of routine programs, or the obstruction of tradi­tionally used, outworn, and outdated ideas. We must always recognize that the reward of achievement for God is not rest now, but more labor, and another opportunity for the exercise of better planning and better leadership. With the realization of this truth will come the renais­sance of leadership necessary for this greatest of all hours.

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By LOUIS K. DICKSON, President of the Pacific Union Conference

May 1944

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