Seventh-day Adventist leaders must be spiritual men. No one can succeed or make a contribution of any value to the church who is not Spirit directed. Talents, experience, enthusiasm, hard work, and even education are valueless unless through them all there is the breath of heaven.
Back in heathen Babylon, Daniel was chosen for a post of high responsibility because "an excellent spirit" was "found" in him (Dan. 5:12). A reading of the book that bears the prophet's name clearly reveals that Daniel was successful as an administrator because of his deep spiritual life. The world would never have heard of this man and of his long and important career had he not carefully and daily nurtured his spirituality by prayer and holy meditation. "Thou art greatly beloved," was heaven's message to Daniel.
It was not easy for Daniel to maintain this high level of spiritual living. He was busy. There were many interviews, intrusions, and questions with which he had to deal. His companions in office were heathen. The very atmosphere was charged with heathenism; yet Daniel' steadily grew in spiritual strength. His busy program never crowded out his appointed time of prayer. The only failure he feared was that of not measuring up to God's expectation of him. No leader in this cause can fail who places so high an evaluation upon Heaven's approbation.
What a strength it has been to have in the cause of God leaders like Daniel. Money may fail; institutions may be forced to close; members may be scattered by persecution; but under godly leadership the cause will steadily go forward because an enduring spiritual structure has been built. This lesson was impressed upon Gideon when in a critical hour he was called to the leadership of God's people. God was first in his ministry. The triumphant battle cry of his warriors was, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon" (Judges 7:20).
How vital is that "word of the Lord" that came unto Zerubbabel in olden times: "Not by might [human], nor by power [man's], but by my spirit, saith the Lord" (Zech. 4:6). Human might and power may impress some for a time, but they bring no lasting or worth-while results. 'What is effected by divine guidance and in the fear of God is as enduring as time.
Administrators of conferences, mission fields, institutions—whoever or wherever they are—must be Spirit filled and directed if their efforts are to bring results of permanent value to the cause of God. Talent, unusual ability, a pleasing personality, intelligence, schooling—all are useful only as they are dedicated and given over to God's cause and to divine direction. A godly man under any condition is a mighty force for good in the earth, but when a capable leader is first of all a man of God, his power for good is increased manyfold.
The counsel given by the messenger of the Lord to those dedicated to spiritual ministry is good counsel to Seventh-day Adventist administrators: "Set aside a portion of each day for a study of the Scriptures and communion with God. Thus you will obtain spiritual strength, and will grow in favor with God. He alone can give you noble aspirations; He alone can fashion the character after the divine similitude. Draw near to Him in earnest prayer, and He will fill your hearts with high and holy purposes, and with deep, earnest longings for purity and clearness of thought."—Gospel Workers, p. 100.
Here is marked out the way of spiritual growth. Prayer, Bible study, and self-examination will bring power. A leader with such a program will be in close touch with heaven and under divine guidance continually. He will have the confidence of church members and workers alike. If, at times, he seems to stand alone on vital issues, he will have a source of strength and encouragement more than sufficient to carry him through.
It is a revealing statement of David's spiritual strength that is recorded of him when he and his companions returned to Ziklag and found all the families and possessions carried off by marauding Amalekites. In their despair and grief David's companions spoke of stoning him to death, feeling that somehow he was to blame for it all. What did David do in that critical hour? "David strengthened himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6, R.V.). Wonderful source of strength, this, for every leader, one that he must become acquainted with before a crisis arises.
It has been well said that the spirit and temper of any organization is largely traceable to the character of its leaders. The history of God's people bears this out. When Israel had good and godly leaders, the nation was faithful and prosperous. When Israel's leaders turned from God and went into idol worship and accompanying wickedness, it was usually because of the evil character of her rulers. Revivals came in Israel when godly leaders led the people. This lesson must not be lost upon us today. Revivals have not started by criticizing or by bearing discouraging and gloomy messages to the church. They have been born within men and women who have deeply felt their own lack and need, and falling on their knees before God in humble recognition of this great need, have experienced the overflowing presence and power of the Holy Spirit. People have been led to confess the compelling influence of such lives. When such people speak in private or in public, they bear an uplifting testimony that begets sincere longings after holiness in many hearts. A leader in God's cause should be such a man. He will be a leader with a great following. He will also be a genuine reformer.
May we who have been called to leadership in this cause and in this late hour be such men.