The Worker's Personal Relations With the Organization

The various organs which compose the church must be joined together as are the parts of our bodies.

A. MEYER, Ministerial Association Secretary, Southern European Division

Organization is a necessity. On its smooth running de­pend to a great degree the good name of the church and the progress of our work in the world. The various organs which compose the church must be joined together as are the parts of our bodies. If the brain is the seat of intelligence, the heart has been consid­ered, up to the present, as the center of the affections. Reason, will, intelligence, on one side; trust, charity, understanding, on the other—a state of balance and harmony.

The relation of the worker to the Adventist organization should be one of full and loyal cooperation, voluntarily ac­cepted but not imposed, for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17). Excessive individualism and blind submission are alike to be shunned.

If we grant the necessity of organization, we must also admit the necessity of respon­sible leaders; that is, persons whose duty it is to prepare plans, make decisions, and see that they are carried out. Notwithstand­ing our respect for authority we do not believe that wisdom and intelligence are to be found only at the top of the ladder! If gold braid is a sign of authority, it is not automatically a guarantee of ability. That is a gift of God.

The church is not an army, not a hier­archy, nor yet a democracy. It is the "as­sembly of God." Calvin's thinking on this subject, as defined by Louis Goumaz, D. Th., may be cited in this connection:

"There are various degrees in the ministry. Not that certain ministers are called to rule over their fellow workers, as happened later with the bishops according to the testimony of history. In reality the bishop is not to rule over the priest, any more than the priest over the bishop or the doctor over the pastor. Democracy is the rule in this domain; although all, by whatever name they are called, will submit themselves one to another through deference, and the ministers will cheerfully accept the preeminences, precedences, and chairmanships which are essential to the organization and normal functioning of the church. It is thus that Paul insists on the elders' authority over the churches he has founded; that Timothy becomes his 'coadjutor' and disposes of similar authority; that Titus, in Crete where he has been placed by Paul, exercises the office of overseer toward the companies on the island and toward the pastors of these com­panies, as chief organizer; that Paul and Barnabas set themselves to the task of furnishing pastors for the new churches in Pisidia and of giving them the necessary development and orders: the pastors of Asia Minor, like those of Crete, have only to receive willingly the rules laid down.

"Let us admire Calvin's wisdom in stressing the authority of one worker over another which is sometimes necessitated by circumstances. Even today a lesson may be drawn from it by those pastors who reject all discipline as an intolerable burden, re­fusing to submit themselves to any order, and who, in the hypertrophy of their ego and their personal liberties, spurn all ecclesiastical authority and bridle at the mere thought of a rule to be obeyed. The New Testament is opposed to such anarchy."—Louis Goumaz, Timothee ou le ministere evan­gelique ("Timothy, or the Evangelical Minister"), p. 17.

The Leaders

The number of leaders is in proportion to the size of the movement; if their role is not always easy, it should nevertheless be well defined. On them falls the respon­sibility of laying plans, marking out lines, indicating the path to follow, and taking the lead in walking therein. A leader walks ahead of his troops and not behind. During the first World War a general said to his soldiers, "Let us get ready—now, go!" The battle that followed was a complete disaster for him and his army. A leader is not one who does the work of ten men, but rather one who can keep ten men at work. In order to have good, normal relations be­tween leaders and workers, these relations must be marked by mutual esteem, con­fidence, and respect.

"God has different ways of working, and He has different workmen to whom He entrusts varied gifts. One worker may be a ready speaker; another a ready writer; another may have the gift of sin­cere, earnest, fervent prayer; another the gift of singing; another may have special power to ex­plain the word of God with clearness. And each gift is to become a power for God, because He works with the laborer. . . .

"The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to unite in harmonious effort. It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow-laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to God's truth as it is presented in a different manner by another laborer, they will hopefully endeavor to labor together in unity."--Gospel Workers, p. 483.

"Some workers pull with all the power that God has given them, but they have not yet learned that they should not pull alone. Instead of isolating themselves, let them draw in harmony with their fellow-laborers. Unless they do this, their activity will work at the wrong time and in the wrong way. They will often work counter to that which God would have done, and thus their work is worse than wasted."—/bid., p. 488.

Someone has well said, "Half of success is to know the talents that one possesses, and the other half lies in knowing how to use them."

A Science and an Art

If medicine is a science and an art, the same can be said of preaching.

The science of leadership consists first in a thorough acquaintance with the problems that arise, the resources available, and the personality and talents of the workers, as well as one's own possibilities. With a clear all-over picture, the leader will not exceed the limits of his sphere.

The art of leadership is to exercise au­thority without being dictatorial; to use wisely all the elements at one's disposal, letting nothing go to waste; to be neither narrow nor intolerant, but to trust one's coworkers in a spirit of Christian brother­hood; to put that "binder" spoken of by Alexander Vinet into one's relations with his brethren. Our work is at the same time one and diverse; the gifts are variously dis­tributed, but all are placed at the service of God for the final victory, through the action of the Holy Spirit.

Each worker should give an example of cheerful, spontaneous cooperation with his superiors, even though some decisions may be contrary to his desires or preferences. Above all he should guard against the spirit of criticism or opposition, tares sown by the enemy in the Master's field.

It is true that sometimes differences of opinion spring up between workers and their leaders; this is the human side of the Lord's work. Such a disagreement arose between Paul and Barnabas. It would no doubt have been better to avoid the dis­pute, but fortunately it did not last long.

The development of our work has multi­plied its machinery and rendered it more complicated. Ezekiel may not have been—and probably was not—referring to this in his famous vision of wheels, large and small, going in all directions! We have out­grown the simplicity of our beginnings. Nevertheless, we must guard against mak­ing the Advent Movement an organization in which the workers are simply employees, absorbed in their own personal advantage, and against believing that methods and money will make up for personal inade­quacy. The primary, essential task of the Advent Movement is the preaching of the gospel to the entire world. Our work in all its varied aspects has no other ultimate aim than the preparation of a people for the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul had a number of fellow workers, best known of which were Barna­bas, Silas, and Luke. He had with him also his "interns." One was John Mark, whose first experience with the apostle was not the happiest because of his lack of perse­verance; later, this young man became a useful associate (2 Tim. 4:11). Then there were Timothy and Titus, whom Paul calls his own sons in the faith. In spite of their youth they carried on a blessed ministry among the churches entrusted to them.

The interns of today will bear the re­sponsibilities of tomorrow. They will face a world very different from ours in every respect, and certainly not better. Their faith must be as firm as a rock, their cour­age dauntless, their conviction unshakable, their knowledge of the Bible thorough, their piety steadfast, their self-denial abso­lute. They must have a complete prepara­tion in order that by the grace of God they may accomplish their task. When they leave school with their diplomas in hand, they have yet to achieve manhood, and, above all, Christian manhood. However extensive their knowledge, there is still progress to be made in the realm of experience. It must not be forgotten that a glass already half full is still half empty.

Thus it is absolutely necessary to initiate the intern into the gospel ministry and all it involves—sermons, evangelistic lectures, Bible studies, visits to the homes, relations with the public and with interested per­sons, church life and activities, to say noth­ing of advertising and music. After the internship period it should be possible to entrust these young men with responsibili­ties of their own, unless it has become evi­dent that they are better qualified for some­thing other than the ministry.

During the construction of Solomon's Temple, "there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house" (1 Kings 6:7). Everything had been care­fully and systematically prepared in ad­vance. In the spiritual edifice its constituent parts should be joined to one another with­out a fissure.

In conclusion we quote a few more thoughts from Louis Goumaz.

"The fidelity demanded of the pastor presupposes his possession of four things: complete devotion to his work, rectitude of life, a persevering zeal, and a clear vision of the task to be accomplished. . . . The minister ceases to be his own master from the day when, having fulfilled the requisite con­ditions, he is placed at the head of a church. Otherwise he is nothing but a false prophet or a wicked servant. . . .

"There can be no question of changing churches on the pretext of the comforts to be found else­where. . . . But you cry, 'Must I be indifferent to my own interests?' The answer is, you must re­linquish your right if you are to fill your office acceptably. Your personal advantage will not only not be given preference, but cannot even com­pare with the consideration you owe your Lord, who holds absolute authority. Whatever be the task to which Christ calls you, accept it readily, laying aside everything else. . . . Learn to battle self and to subdue those affections which are contrary to the divine will! . . .

"Once established in a place, the pastor will lay aside all ambition and will be content with his vocation as with an office which admits neither regret nor the seeking of a position considered superior. 'There can be nothing higher than the situation of a pastor called to lead souls to salva­tion.' And the minister will not let himself be haunted by any ideas of worldly greatness. Am­bition will be a word foreign to his considerations, if not to his vocabulary. . . . The minister will have no thought for his own security, any more than for glory or riches. A true pastor is cou­rageous; he will not fear to expose his life if the circumstances demand. . . . Like the immediate disciples of Jesus Christ, we will not shrink from danger, neither will we count our lives dear, for the holy cause. Under persecution we shall not falter; like Paul and Barnabas of old, we shall ask God to bring about a desirable conclusion, and we shall go steadily on our way in the midst of rumors and turmoil, which are no 'new thing' (Acts 15:2). Flee? Never! . . . Flight is permissible for private individuals; the pastor, a public figure, does not have that liberty (Acts 8:1)."—Goumaz, op. cit., pp. 50-54.


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A. MEYER, Ministerial Association Secretary, Southern European Division

March 1955

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