Christian Leadership



Place Responsibility on Others—Leading men should place responsibilities upon others, and allow them to plan and devise and execute, so that they may obtain an experience. Give them a word of counsel when necessary, but do not take away the work because you think the brethren are making mistakes. May God pity the cause when one man's mind and one man's plan is followed without question. God would not be honored should such a state of things exist. All our workers must have room to exercise their own judgment and discretion. God has given men talents which He means that they should use. He has given them minds, and He means that they should become thinkers, and do their own thinking and planning, rather than depend upon others to think for them. ChL 43.1

I think I have laid out this matter many times before you, but I see no change in your actions. We want every responsible man to drop responsibilities upon others. Set others at work that will require them to plan, and to use judgment. Do not educate them to rely upon your judgment. Young men must be trained up to be thinkers. My brethren, do not for a moment think that your way is perfection, and that those who are connected with you must be your shadows, must echo your words, repeat your ideas, and execute your plans.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 302, 303. ChL 43.2

Look to God Not Man—I had a long talk with Brother Bell. I told him many things. I tried to place before him where everyone of our leading men had made a mistake and hindered the work they were so desirous to advance. Each one thought that he was the very one who must bear all the responsibilities, and they spread over too much ground and failed to educate others to think, to act, to be care-takers, to lift burdens, because they gave them no chance. ChL 43.3

I told him it was not God's plan to have it thus. He had done this way and gathered upon himself a mass of burdens he had no strength to carry and he could not do justice to anything. God had given to every man his work, according to each man's ability, and when one man entertained the idea that he must gather all the responsibilities because he thought he could do it a little more perfectly than another, he sinned against himself and he sinned against his brethren. He was educating the people to look to him, to expect everything must come through him, and they were not educated to look to God and to expect God to do great things for them. They depended upon others and trusted in others rather than in the living God, therefore many have not the experience they ought to have which would make them efficient workers.—Letter 24, 1883, pp. 1, 2 (August 23, 1883, to Willie and Mary White). ChL 43.4

Let Others Learn to Bear Responsibilities—I feel deeply over your constant wearing labor. Please make others work and you do very much less. God does not want you or Elder Haskell sacrificed. He wants you to lay off work and be more a planner, a manager. There will be times when your special labors will be positively a necessity but I protest against your taking up so much labor. God does not require it of you and you must not do it. Will you heed advice? Will you let others learn to bear responsibilities even if they make blunders while you are a living man to show them how to work? ChL 44.1

I have been shown that yourself and Elder Haskell must at your age be laying the burdens on others. Attend fewer camp meetings, speak and work less at the campmeetings you attend, and this will force others to the front to be obtaining an experience which is essential for them. In order to do this, you must do less and others must do more. We want the help of every one of the old hands and the work is, I have been shown, growing more and more important. We want these experienced men as counselors. We cannot spare them. This is not the voice of Sister White but it is the message to you from God. Will you heed it, both of you? Will you be prudent? Will you be managers and work less?—Letter 117, 1886, p. 6 (June 25, 1886, to Brother Butler. Ages: Butler, 52; Haskell 53). ChL 44.2

Danger of Self-Exaltation—Now, my brother, I feel the deepest interest for you, else I would not write you as I have done. But with me I must be faithful. I tell matters just as they are, and while I would have all united in the Sanitarium in perfect bonds of union, I would not have the union of that kind and quality that you will be mind and judgment for every one of them, and they consider every proposition and plan, word and action, as without error and fault. Among a multitude of counselors there is safety. God would not have many minds the shadow of one man's mind. God has given men brains to use, intellect to cultivate, to employ to His glory; and He would be the One to mold, control, and fashion the minds after His own impress. Men are only men whatever may be their work. The more responsible the position, the more important that the one who stands in this position have no more honor or exaltation given him than is for his good. In fact, people are ruined through praise and honor bestowed upon them as though they were infallible. While due respect should be given to those whom God has entrusted with more than ordinary talents, that man thus endowed needs to walk more humbly and closely with God as he advances. All the influence that these capabilities give him will make him a better, holier, more meek and humble man or it will lead him to think as others have thought, I am not a common man, and I may do things that others can not do, and it will be no sin. This is a common error, but it is a destructive error. That man needs to learn daily important lessons from the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. Christ must dwell in that man's heart, just as the blood must be in the body and circulate there as a vitalizing power. I can not on this subject be too urgent. I can not press it home to you too strongly, that you shall not trust in self.—Letter 7, 1886 (April 26, 1886, to J. H. Kellogg). ChL 45.1

Duty to Train Others—Although it may appear to you difficult to disentangle yourself from responsibilities which others cannot take, it is your duty to train others to stand in responsible positions that should you need a change and rest, which is your due, you can have it. I think you and your wife should visit California. And again you have worked intensely upon the high pressure plan. God has spared your life, but you are not immortal, and you may die as others have died before you who have lived two years in one. ChL 46.1

For several years as the matters of the Sanitarium have been opened before me, I have been shown that you were loading down yourself to your injury, and in thus doing were depriving others of an experience. Those connected with you so closely in the Sanitarium are ready to assent to every move you may make, and to any proposition, saying, Yes, but without using their individual judgment and without taxing their minds to hard thinking that they may have sound opinions and clear ideas, not borrowed but their own. Men in responsible positions have qualified themselves in this direction by just such a process as you and others have had to go through to be fitted for just such work. Now if you relieve these persons from this responsible part of the work they are only your machines. Your head plans, devises, turns the crank, winds them up to run down, to be wound up again. This is one of the reasons why we have so few brain workers today; and this is the reason why brain workers are dropping out of our ranks into their graves, because they are brains for others. I tell you plainly as a mother would a son, you have made a decided failure here. I cannot now attempt to specify all these mistakes, but there is with you a love for supremacy whether you see it or not, and had it not been cherished you would have had by your side men who would have been developing as useful physicians, men who would be constantly growing, and upon whom you could have depended. But you have not given them all the advantages which you yourself would have claimed had you been in their place. They needed, and the case demanded that you should do more for them when they came to a certain point than you gave them to perfect them in the work. You have, whether you designed it or knew it or not, bound them to come thus far and no farther. This is not justice to them or to you, neither is it justice to the Sanitarium that so much depends upon one man. It ought not to be thus in any of our institutions because it is not God's way.—Letter 7, 1886 (April 26, 1886, to J. H. Kellogg). ChL 46.2

Wisdom from God to be Interwoven in Daily Experiences—With the grace of Christ in the soul, you may be mighty through God, beating back the powers of darkness. No power but truth will keep you steadfast, having the glory of God ever in view. Those who are closely connected with you have solemn responsibilities. You repose confidence in them, and it is their duty to cling to God, and have an eye single to His glory, hanging firmly upon the arm of Omnipotence, not trusting in or relying upon any human arm. They should make the most of their own God-given faculties, for they must give an account of the same to God; they are to be constantly growing; they are never to cease to progress. But all the aids that can be brought to them as soldiers of Jesus Christ in this holy warfare should be enlisted. All knowledge that the apostle would acknowledge as true science, as far as possible should be acquired. Everything that can strengthen or expand the mind should be cultivated to the utmost individual power. And notwithstanding all this may be the privilege of those connected with you, but few are now making the standard, and there is danger of their being deceived in their own acquirements. They will be falling back if not growing, and you will be also under delusion unless the wisdom that cometh from God be interwoven into yours as well as their daily experience. ChL 47.1

I have thought of your reasons for your not trusting responsibilities upon your workers; but you have not been as greatly disappointed as our Redeemer has been grieved and disappointed with our bungling work. We have shown so little fidelity to Him who has bought us with His own blood. ChL 47.2

I am pleased with every bit of interest that you show in religious things. The way to become great and noble is to be like Jesus, pure, holy, and undefiled. The honor that you may receive of medical and great men is not of much value as I view it, but the honor you receive of the Lord is of the greatest value. I want that you should not be almost an overcomer, but a conqueror, and more than conqueror through Him that hath loved you and given His own life to save you from ruin. You want more and greater trust in God daily. I want you to be the happiest man that is in heaven. I want you to be at peace with God here, and have heaven hereafter. You have to fight the fight of faith in order to overcome skepticism and infidelity.—Letter 7, 1886 (April 26, 1886, to J. H. Kellogg). ChL 48.1

Counsel to a Possessive Leader—While you have too much to do, others have too little. You do not give others an opportunity to improve in efficiency by practical experience. You are willing to be helped and assisted, if your helpers will leave the main responsibility resting on you. Especially among your own countrymen you desire to be placed above every one else. ChL 48.2

You do not seem to have the ability to educate young men and to give them a chance to do that which they have talents for doing if they were given an opportunity to learn. This is the work which should have been done, but which you have left undone. If you were unselfish, if you had Christlike meekness and lowliness, you would learn how to train the youth for useful service.... ChL 48.3

You do not patiently seek to make others familiar with all parts of the work. This is because you desire to be first, and do not want others to become acquainted with the details of the work, or to become as efficient as you are. You have too much self-confidence, too high an estimate of your own ability. Today you should have standing by your side a large number of intelligent workers whom you had trained. But you have shaped matters according to your narrow conceptions, and still stand almost alone.... ChL 48.4

It is your duty to change your course of action. Learn to see and to recognize ability and talent in others besides yourself. For Christ's sake, do not lord it over His heritage but be an ensample to the flock. Give to others the benefit of all the knowledge that the Lord has given to you. He has given you this knowledge that you may impart it. Teach to others everything that you know, not in an arbitrary manner, making light of their mistakes and ridiculing their ignorance; but in a kindly spirit, you yourself sitting at the feet of Jesus as a learner. Take young men into your mission home, and be their instructor, teaching them as you would teach students in a school.—Letter 10, 1884 (May 3, 1884, to J. G. Matteson). ChL 48.5

In his work today, the Lord would be pleased to have those who are engaged in any part of His service, guard against the tendency to take upon themselves responsibilities that they are not called upon to bear. Some of His servants are to direct the business matters connected with His work in the earth; others are to look after the spiritual matters. Every laborer is to strive to do well his part, leaving to others the duties entrusted to them.—The Review and Herald, October 5, 1905. ChL 49.1

Drop Responsibilities on Others—I think I have laid out this matter many times before you, but I see no change in your actions. We want every responsible man to drop responsibilities upon others. Set others at work that will require them to plan and to use judgment. Do not educate them to rely upon your judgment. Young men must be trained up to be thinkers. My brethren, do not for a moment think that your way is perfection, and that those who are connected with you must be your shadows, must echo your words, repeat your ideas, and execute your plans.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 302, 303. ChL 49.2

No Kingly Authority in Seventh-day Adventist Church—God has not set any kingly power in the Seventh-day Adventist Church to control the whole body, or to control any branch of the work. He has not provided that the burden of leadership shall rest upon a few men. Responsibilities are distributed among a large number of competent men.—Testimonies for the Church 8:236. ChL 49.3