Pastor Hurtman was wounded. He had been slighted. Conference officials had visited his community, had even gone to the home of the worker in the other city church, but had failed to telephone him a word of greeting. He felt neglected. He was discouraged. In fact, he was angry.
Brother Hurtman brooded over what he considered an intentional slight. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. He was fed up. He resolved to go to the conference office and receive some satisfaction. He wouldn't take it any longer.
The wounded worker telephoned Brother Financial, the treasurer of the conference, and informed him he would be in his office at nine o'clock the next morning.
Arriving as scheduled, Brother Hurtman stormed into the treasurer's office, prepared to deliver himself of the venom that had been poisoning his soul.
"Brother Hurtman," the treasurer interrupted softly, "I do not always pray with workers as they come to my office, but this morning I feel impressed that before we chat it would be well for us to kneel together and talk with the Lord."
The two knelt. Brother Financial poured out his heart on behalf of Brother Hurtman. He prayed for his work. He prayed for his wife. He prayed for his children. He prayed earnestly that the Lord would richly bless him in his service for God.
Recently in a special meeting in Washington I heard Pastor Hurtman tell his story.
"When we got up from that prayer," he confessed, "all the pent-up fire in my heart had gone out. The hurt was gone. The earnest prayer of my conference treasurer changed my attitude entirely—not only then but ever since."
As Brother Hurtman was speaking I thought to myself, What fires a little thoughtlessness can kindle, and how much a little thoughtfulness and a little prayer can do to pour the balm of Gilead upon wounded hearts. How good it would have been had the men from the conference taken a few minutes that day to call Brother Hurtman to let him know he was in their thoughts and prayers, and to inquire whether there was anything they could do to help him in his work.
Prayer and care are two indispensable tools in the work kit of every Christian leader.
There is no question about it—prayer changes things. This is no cliche. It is a blessed truth that every Christian leader should learn well. Prayer quenches the fires of hostility and sometimes even transforms them into glowing coals of warm support. Prayer changes circumstances, solves apparently impossible problems. Prayer has put money into empty church coffers and hope into empty hearts. Prayer has turned lukewarmness and indifference into enthusiastic support. "For every earnest prayer put up in faith for anything, answers will be returned. They may not come just as we have expected; but they will come, not perhaps as we have devised, but at the very time when we most need them. ... 'If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.' " —Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 209.
Care will accomplish more than cash any day. As leaders, we must not fail to let our members and workers know that we care for them—that we are concerned with their welfare. We may not always be able to respond to appeals for financial assistance, but if our reservoir of Christian love is full to overflowing, and we take time to be thoughtful and reveal concern, any disappointment in not being helped materially may be assuaged.
Our Master Leader has set the example for us in thoughtfulness and care for all about Him. "Look to Jesus as your guide and pattern. . . . Study how you can be like Him, in thoughtfulness for others, in meekness and humility." —Ellen G. White, The Youth's Instructor, Dec. 5, 1883.
When Jesus is made the Guiding Star of our lives, we will reflect His kindness, His care—we will be mindful of the feelings and the welfare of those with whom we serve. "The Christian will shine as a light amid the moral darkness of the world. He will be tender of heart, and considerate of the feelings of others." —Ibid., Sept. 20, 1894.
The Lord would have us cultivate these Christlike tendencies in our leadership. What a difference a little tenderness, thoughtfulness, and care will make in our relationships with others.
"Wherever the love of Jesus reigns," one spiritually-minded writer reminds us, "there is pitying tenderness and thoughtfulness of others." The welfare and the feelings of those with whom we serve will be the first consideration of the leader in whose heart Jesus reigns supreme. How much of that love and thoughtfulness motivates you in your service with those about you? How much time do you spend in prayer over the problems and the potential of greater service in your sphere of influence?