Remember: There Is Always a Man

The distribution of responsibility is the test of good leadership.

By ROY L. BENTON, General Conference Rehabilitation Representative

Back in 1923 I read an article written by President Harding and published after his death. It was titled, "There Is Always a Man." The article impressed me, because it emphasized the fact that so many times we are prone to think, when an outstanding man is removed by death or physical incapacitation, that there will never arise another who can do as well as he. Mr. Harding argued that when the mantle of responsibility falls upon an obscure man little heard of, he oftentimes "will rise on the wings of vision to heights of power unknown before."

I sometimes feel that we are inclined to overlook this fact, and feel, as workers, that there is no one upon whom we can safely place responsibility —and so proceed to do the task ourselves. But we greatly err thereby.

There is a helpful chapter in the Bible that I like to read when studying along this line. It is the eighteenth chapter of Exodus. When Moses' father-in-law visited him and found him perform­ing the duties of almost all the offices in the move­ment, he could not resist the temptation to give him some "father-in-law" advice. Said he, "The thing that thou doest is not good." As Moses meekly accepted this reproof, Jethro proceeded to show him the result of such a practice. "Thou wilt surely wear away," he said, "both thou, and this people that is with thee : for this thing is too heavy for thee ; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone."

Moses probably realized this to some extent, but did not know the way out. And among the work­ers leading our people today I am convinced there are too many like Moses, who are weary from burden bearing, and whose flocks are wearing away because there is not a proper distribution of responsibility.

When this is called to the attention of some workers, they immediately reply, "There is no one upon whom I can place this responsibility." It does often appear that there is no one, but we might be surprised what could be found if we began searching "among the stuff." Methinks Moses felt he had no one qualified for the task ; yet, when Jethro had finished his instruction to his beloved son-in-law, the record is that "Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens." Counting the number of men only, it is discovered that 78,600 leaders were installed and took over the responsibilities that one poor man had been endeavoring to carry—wearing himself away, and 600,000 or more people.

I am thoroughly convinced that God is not pleased when workers carry- the burdens with which others have a right to be entrusted. It may be necessary to take some time to train leaders upon whom we can place the mantle of responsi­bility. We may even have to do at first the thing we expect them to do, while they look on, but we should step aside quickly and let them do it, for they will learn faster and better by doing than by watching us do. The man who thus distributes responsibility is training workers—possibly train­ing his successor. But what better epitaph could there be at the end of the way than, "He trained others."

As this article is for workers only may I add this observation; frequently I have seen workers take out of the hands of elected church officers, responsibilities that they were expected to carry. Thus they have brought discouragement and dis­appointment to the humble officer who has prayed and prepared that he might be able to discharge the duties of his office. Let us help these men with counsel and co-operation, and not take from them the opportunity they need to develop the leadership we so much need in our churches.

Often we find workers teaching large Sabbath school classes—much larger than we have agreed among ourselves a class should be. Right in the class are several who could and would teach if the mantle were thrown upon them ; and how much more could and would be accomplished. The les­son would more nearly accomplish what it is designed to accomplish, the workers would be less burdened, and best of all, more teachers would be in the making. It is sometimes argued that the people would not go into other classes, but for the most part Adventists will do what their leaders ask them to when the reasons are made plain.

After all, is it not true that the conduct of our people largely reflects the leadership we are giving them? Let us therefore resolve to distribute the burden bearing more like unto the way Jethro taught Moses. And remember, when tempted to conclude no one else can carry the load—"There is always a man."

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By ROY L. BENTON, General Conference Rehabilitation Representative

July 1946

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