Responsibilities of a Conference Committee Member

A special contribution to THE MINISTRY.

 WILLIAM G. AMBLER, Pastor, Atlanta, Georgia

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The following message was presented at a meeting of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference Committee. It is felt that it should receive wider circulation through the pages of THE MINISTRY.]

SUCCESS in any business endeavor is de­pendent upon planning and organiza­tion. The administering of God's work in the various fields around the world is not to be regarded as small business. The pro­gram of soul winning through the many agencies of service in the Seventh-day Ad­ventist Church calls for dedicated men who regard every decision as a challenge to an unfinished work. The responsibilities entrusted to consecrated ministers and lay­men are far more involved than a common business venture. When the salvation of men's souls weighs upon our hearts and the needs of God's work confront us, the matter of administering His program be­comes very sacred and serious.

A Motto to Remember

It is encouraging to know that Ellen G. White penned a motto for all who would be called to serve as committee members. This should constantly be kept before those who have the task of directing the most sacred work entrusted to mortals. "Let everyone who sits in council and com­mittee meetings write in his heart the words: I am working for time and for eternity; and I am accountable to God for the motives that prompt me to action."—Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 258, 259.

Then are added the words of David in Psalm 141:3, 4: "Set a watch, 0 Lord, be­fore my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing." This inspired counsel should characterize every motive and action of those called upon to make decisions in this solemn hour of preparation and progress. We are to be God's men caring for His work with consecrated hearts and minds. To show the necessity of this need and the sacredness of this calling,, there is placed before us the first requirement—that of personal ex­amination of self.

"Before our brethren assemble in coun­cil or board meetings, each one should pre­sent himself before God, carefully search­ing the heart and critically examining the motives. Pray that the Lord may reveal self to you so that you may not unwisely criti­cize or condemn propositions."—Ibid., p. 257.

An Intense Longing for Souls

After the death of Christ those who were entrusted with the responsibility of leader­ship and those inspired by their zeal were filled with an intense longing to carry forward the work He had begun. Their minds were energized with the thought that they had a debt to Heaven and were responsi­ble for the success of God's work. Even their features expressed a full surrender to Christ, and heaven's peace filled their hearts. "The Spirit animated them and spoke through them. The peace of Christ shone from their faces."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 46.

The blessing of Heaven attended their labors. These were God's men, dedicated to one task, to reach "every creature under heaven" with the gospel. Nothing but death itself could keep them from fulfilling their heart's desire.

One of the first items of business among the leadership of the early church was the appointing of Matthias to the twelve in the absence of Judas. This decision was reached by opening their hearts to God in prayer and asking for Heaven's guidance. "And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen" (Acts 1:24).

What a prayer that must have been as they lifted their voices to God in simple faith. It was like talking with Him face to face. Those men whose hearts were charged with Heaven's power found prayer as natural as breathing.

If we are to build confidence in God's work and know that we are being directed from above, we must keep the line open to the Source of all true guidance.

Pastor R. R. Figuhr wrote of this great need in THE MINISTRY, October, 1957: "No one can 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."

Deciding for the God of Heaven

Every decision will be carefully made when we remember that we are deciding for our heavenly Director. If the leaders in the cause of truth are without zeal, are in­different and purposeless, it will surely be reflected to the laity. It will result in carelessness and indolence. We must be "sancti­fied channels" of the Holy Spirit if the blessing of Heaven is to rest upon our ministry. The impact of our devotion and sense of urgency will be seen in the lives of those we serve.

A united, eager constituency catches the spirit of a holy purpose issuing from those who set the course of direction and who serve God and Him alone.

A Spirit of Unity Will Prevail

A constant reminder of the unity neces­sary for the success of the proclamation of the gospel is the heavenly power sent at Pentecost. They were of "one accord," of one heart and soul. The final requisite came under the Holy Spirit, and they set out to conquer the world for Christ with all hope of earthly importance extinguished.

This same spirit of oneness should char­acterize our meetings relative to the many areas of business relating to the church. Through the years my confidence in our brethren and the harmony among us has strengthened my faith in the Advent Move­ment. There may be various opinions, but the unity of decision is evidence of divine guidance.

"One test of Christianity, of the power of Christ's grace in the heart, is to be able to differ with others earnestly but kindly, to contend for principles and not involve men in the contention. Let us always dis­tinguish between men and principles, and even if we abhor the principles and feel that we must denounce them, let us love the men who hold the principles. In this way only can we win for Christ those with whom we associate."—F. M. Witcox, in Review and Herald, Jan. 13, 1938.

Seeing the Needs of the Whole Field

The gospel commission to carry the mes­sage to every corner of the globe is the marching order of the remnant church. Fulfilling these responsibilities demands an honest appraisal of the needs of the whole field. The blessing of Heaven has attended the efforts of God's people be­cause they have followed the sacred coun­sel of organization set forth in His Holy Word.

Building a Sacred Trust

In this movement to win the world for Christ the same spirit of unselfish service must distinguish every worker. The burdens of every office are borne with success only with the recognition that every man adds to another man's achievements. Those who administer God's work will build re­ciprocal trust among their fellow workers. No masterful spirit will be revealed, but the spirit of the Master will always mani­fest itself.

Standing for Principle

We must always remember that when Israel returned to God principle was as­sociated with its faithful, godly leaders. At this time, when the hour is late and a spirit of urgency is so much needed, strong con­secrated men who are positive in their thinking will meet with success in their en­deavors. A negative attitude breeds dis­trust. To think success is to have success.

Standing for Right

The leader who will stand for his con­victions in this age, when the spirit of compromise is so prevalent, is to be ad­mired. Others may not always agree with his views, but he will be honored for his courageous stand. It is far better to be mis­understood than to take no stand at all. "Many are so fearful of provoking un­friendly criticism or malicious gossip that they dare not act from principle."—Mes­sages to Young People, p. 400.

A Pledge of Loyalty

The call to Christian leadership de­mands utmost loyalty and integrity. That which is regarded as confidential will not be made public. Criticism of any nature concerning committee decisions will be completely avoided. The casting of hurtful reflections on the ministry and methods of fellow workers will never be done. The love of Christ will control the mind so that there will be no entertainment of the de­stroying element of professional jealousy. When the lay members place their con­fidence in me, I will consider this as a sacred trust and not betray it. This loyalty will be manifested among our laymen in the full support of all board and committee decisions.

Recognizing that I have been entrusted with the principles of truth and conduct that are to be held high, I will take Christ as my personal friend and constant guide. I will regard and guard this sacred trust, which my brethren have placed in me, un­til Christ returns.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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 WILLIAM G. AMBLER, Pastor, Atlanta, Georgia

November 1968

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