Reading 7 – Sabbath, December 12, 2015

Leadership–Courageous Service

By Idel Suarez, Jr., U.S.A.

“He that ruleth

[let him do it], with diligence.” Romans 12:8.


Modeling–leading by example

When Julius Caesar led the Roman legions to invade Britain, they were met on the rocky shores by barbarians who were seemingly wild and savage. These natives ran against the Romans like a whirlwind, like a tornado wishing to devastate everything in its path. They burst yelling angrily like madmen and frightening even the most stoic Latin soldiers. What did Caesar do? He seized the banner of Rome, lifted it up, and rushed off his ship toward the shore. He also raised his voice and cried to his companions, “Romans, soldiers, will you allow your general to be cut to pieces?” The actions  and words of the mighty leader electrified his troops, who leaped from their boats and charged on shore with their leader, vanquishing the native islanders of Britain and bringing them under the banner of Rome.1

As the greatest of all leaders in  Rome, Julius Caesar led by example. He modeled what his followers were to do. He did not recoil in the face of threat, nor at the prospect of uncertainty; rather, he pushed forward with courage and called on his followers to imitate him in the battle.

Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done….” John 13:15. He also encouraged His apostles to be servants like their Master and Lord. He modeled the behavior of a great leader so that they, too, could become leaders of the Christian church. “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.” Matthew 10:25.

The apostle Peter, addressing the first century leaders of the Christian church, advised them to lead by example, as Christ had done. “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:3. Church leaders are not to be lords or kings, for only one is Lord and King; that is Jesus Christ. Rather, elders are to be examples to the flock of believers in the fight against worldliness, sin, and evil. They are to be examples in the role of service for the community, the needy, and the outcasts. They are to be examples in leading a life of prayer, in studying God’s word, and in testifying to others of Jesus.

The apostle Paul, who was a leader among leaders, knew the importance of leading by example. He knew that it is easier to copy, model, or imitate someone than it is to learn something theoretically. Paul was so confident of this concept that he wrote to the Corinthians: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1. The Spanish Reina Valera version literally says: “Be ye imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

In offices throughout the world,  there are machines that are exact imitators. They are called photocopy machines. They duplicate any page that is placed on their glass. Now engineers have devised a three-dimensional copier. These 3D copiers are even able to reproduce exact copies of body parts made from plastic or other materials for individuals lacking an external organ like a hand, an ear, or a toe. Inventors anticipate being able to print spare human anatomical parts.

In a similar way, every Christian can be programmed by the Spirit of Christ to become a 3D duplicator or model of Jesus. Through the work of grace, we are to clone Christ in our inner being. Every leader, whether a teacher, parent, or pastor, is to duplicate Christ, to model Him, to live Him out so that others may be followers of them, as they are of Christ.

Sister Ellen G. White wrote about “leading by example” in addressing the leaders of the Adventist institutions: “Those who occupy a leading position should set the example.”2 “If you strive to live as He lived, you are saying to the world, ‘Behold the Man of Calvary.’ By precept and example you are leading others in the way of righteousness.”3

Minutemen–acting at a moment’s notice

During the American Revolution, many young men, husbands, fathers, farmers, carpenters, and storekeepers became Minutemen in their desire for liberty. The Minutemen made up about one-third of the American forces during the American Revolution’s first battles in Massachusetts in 1775. They joined the militia to fight against the British and became famous as sons of liberty and patriot soldiers who were “ready to assemble under arms at a minute’s notice.”4

In the Old Testament, there was a tribe that was known for being swift to action; it had leaders who knew what Israel needed to do, and their brethren were willing to follow them. “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.” 1 Chronicles 12:32. Such leaders are needed in the church today–those who are diligent, quick to discern what to do, not delaying in carrying out duty, and not wavering like Lot did when the angels urged him to hurry.

Jesus Christ knew the importance of not delaying in doing what was right. He encouraged His disciples to act on a moment’s notice to accomplish their purpose. “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35.

Do you remember the old cliché, “Strike while the iron is hot”? When people are yearning for the truth, when they are craving to do something to help but don’t know how, we need to seize the opportunity and take advantage of the teachable moment to lead them to Jesus. With diligence and great earnestness, let us share the gospel story and teach the gospel message to those who are willing to be led.

The text which we have been studying during this Week of Prayer includes the minuteman ideal–he that “ruleth [let him do it], with diligence.” Romans 12:8. The American Minutemen were diligent, dependable, efficient, and timely. Within one minute they would assemble at a preset location, their weapons at the ready. They did not hesitate. They did not delay. They did not stop to reason if the conditions were safe or convenient. They were men of action, willing to risk all for liberty.

“It is even more excusable to make a wrong decision sometimes than to be continually in a wavering position, to be hesitating, sometimes inclined in one direction, then in another. More perplexity and wretchedness result from thus hesitating and doubting than from sometimes moving too hastily….

“The most signal victories and the most fearful defeats have been on the turn of minutes. God requires promptness of action.”5

“Victories are frequently lost through delays. There will be crises in this cause. Prompt and decisive action at the right time will gain glorious triumphs, while delay and neglect will result in great failures and positive dishonor to God. Rapid movements at the critical moment often disarm the enemy, and he is disappointed and vanquished, for he had expected time to lay plans and work by artifice.

“God wants men connected with His work … whose judgment is at hand, whose minds, when it is necessary, will act like the lightnings.”6

Being familiar with American history, Sister White frequently made reference to the Minutemen of the American Revolution. She compared the believers to soldiers, for they are fighting against the enemy of our souls and are willing to risk all for freedom under the bloodstained banner of Jesus Christ.

“God’s people are to be minutemen, always ready, always composed in Jesus Christ. The time is come now when one moment we may be on solid earth, the next the earth may be heaving beneath our feet.”7

“God wants minutemen. He will have men who, when important decisions are to be made, are as true as the needle to the pole; men whose special and personal interests are swallowed up, as were our Saviour’s, in the one great general interest for the salvation of souls.”8

“God’s servants should be minutemen, ever ready to move as fast as His providence opens the way. Any delay on their part gives time for Satan to work to defeat them.”9

“Ministers go where they are sent; they are minutemen, ready to move at any moment, to meet any emergency. They are necessarily separated, to a great degree, from their families…. Brethren, do not study how little you may do, in order to reach the very lowest standard, but arouse to grasp the fullness of Christ, that you may do much for Him.”10

“There is a world to be warned. To us has been entrusted this work. At any cost we must practice the truth. We are to stand as self-sacrificing minutemen, willing to suffer the loss of life itself, if need be, in the service of God. There is a great work to be done in a short time. We need to understand our work, and to do it with fidelity. Everyone who is finally crowned victor will, by noble, determined effort to serve God, have earned the right to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness.”11

Ministering–as a servant leader

One of the most renowned scientists and thinkers of the past century was Albert Einstein, a professor at Princeton University, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921. He is credited with saying, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.”12

Jesus was the greatest of all servants, the chief Shepherd, and a true Minister. On His way to Jericho, Jesus stated the most important role of a leader, pastor, parent, or teacher. He said, “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:44, 45. Thus, the chiefest leaders and highest-ranking officers should consider it a pleasure to serve and minister to others with good works.

A student once complained to the principal of a school in the Philippines that the bathrooms were dirty and smelled bad and the toilets were not clean. The principal listened to the student and assured him that the bathrooms would be cleaned. The principal then stepped out and walked to the restrooms, picking up a mop and bucket with liquid soap and water on the way. The principal rolled up his sleeves and mopped the floors of the bathroom, cleaned the toilets, and removed the bad odor himself. The murmuring student saw the principal doing the work of a janitor and told a friend, “I thought the principal was going to call the cleaning lady, but no, he cleaned it himself. He made me feel guilty that I did not seize the opportunity to clean the bathroom.”

So it was at the Lord’s Supper. Jesus arose and took a bowl, towel, and some water and removed His outer garment. He washed the dirty feet of the twelve grown men. Each of them felt embarrassed and wondered why he had not taken the role of a servant in the place of their Leader.

It was after that vivid example of a servant leader that Jesus gave all His followers throughout all time a wonderful, inspiring promise. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do….” John 14:12.

What works did Jesus do? He did works of mercy, service, and love. He was constantly meeting people from all walks of life and asking them simple questions to find out how He could help them.


To the blind man Bartimaeus, Jesus asked, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” Mark 10:51. To the paralytic at Bethesda, Jesus inquired, “Wilt thou be made whole?” John 5:6. Now, two thousand years later, Jesus comes to you at the end of this Week of Prayer and asks you the same question, “What may I grant you? Do you want to be made whole–physically, mentally, spiritually?” Jesus yearns to bless you. He desires to heal your doubts. He wishes to grant you a new life. He longs to serve you and shower you with peace.

As followers of Jesus, every leader must seek to minister to the needs of those in his home, his church, his school, his business, his institute, and his community. She is to rise up and serve diligently those in her sphere for the glory of God. And in serving others, she will vicariously teach her children, her students, her parishioners, and her workers that it is more blessed to minister than to be ministered to.

Mentoring–training others for the season

The Beatles, who took America by storm with their rock music in the 1960’s, borrowed some of their lyrics from the Bible, as do many in Hollywood, and achieved financial success. In the song “Turn, Turn, Turn,” they set music to the words of Ecclesiastes. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Leadership also has its season. Leaders need to understand that their position, influence, and authority are on loan. Their possessions, networks, and resources are all on loan to them for a limited time. Knowing that they are not eternal, they need to develop others to take their place. They are responsible before God to prepare others to carry on after their “season of leadership influence is completed.”13 They need to lead with a plan for successors.

Moses knew this, and he trained Joshua. Asa knew this, and he trained Jehoshaphat. Jesus knew this, and He trained the twelve apostles. Paul knew this, and he trained Timothy and Titus. Peter knew this, and he trained Mark. John knew this, and he trained Polycarp.

As parents, we need to take every opportunity to train our children to become good parents. As teachers, we need to take every opportunity to encourage young people to enter the teaching field and become good teachers. As ministers, we need to inspire young men to follow the calling of God and become servant pastors. As mothers,we need to train our girls to become great women like those of Galilee who ministered to Jesus.

Sister White was once asked if it was all right for a good Field President to continue as such in the same location without a change of leadership. “The question is asked me if it is not a mistake to remove the president of a State conference to a new field when many of the people under his present charge are unwilling to give him up. The Lord has been pleased to give me light on this question. I have been shown that ministers should not be retained in the same district year after year, nor should the same man long preside over a conference. A change of gifts is for the good of our conferences and churches.”14

“Some have pleaded to remain one year longer in the same field, and frequently the request has been respected. They have claimed to have plans for accomplishing a greater work than heretofore. But at the close of the year there was a worse state of things than before. If a minister has been unfaithful in his work, it is not likely that he will mend the matter by remaining.”15

I have noticed that some leaders seem to have the misconception that if the church, field, union, or General Conference calls one to continue for many years in a leadership position, it would be wrong to refuse the call. That seems to have been the problem with Elder James White, the husband of Ellen G. White. He was such a talented leader that his brethren insisted that he serve as General Conference President for a long time. Sister White wrote concerning this: “My husband bore the heaviest burden…. Here is where the mistake has been made by his  brethren in urging him, and by himself in consenting, to stand under the burdens and responsibilities that he had borne alone for years. He should have laid down these burdens years ago, and they should have been divided with other men chosen to act in behalf of the people.”16

Jesus was the greatest mentor of all. He did not hoard office nor seek to do everything all by  Himself. He was visibly on earth for a very short season and trained His successors.17 He instilled hope, courage, and a sense of mission in His apostles who would go on to lead the Christian church. He told His disciples, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:7.

Christ knew that He needed to leave His disciples after His mission was fulfilled. He knew that He needed to let go and allow the Holy Spirit to continue to minister on His behalf. Through the Holy Spirit, He would bestow the gift of leading with diligence. He would train new leaders to relive the life of Jesus in them. Each would, in turn and like Christ, learn that leadership is for a season. True leaders mentor their successors. Each one is to lead with diligence, faithfulness, and sacrifice.

The man, the minister, and the mission

A man hurried up the steps of a chapel, rushing to reach the front doors. He asked the usher, as he and the minister were chatting together, “Is the service over?” The usher, who understood the essence of the minister’s sermon for that Sabbath, replied to the gentleman: “Sir, the worship is over, but the service is only beginning.”18

Yes, the Week of Prayer is over, but the service is just beginning. You and I are called by God to serve with diligence, to remember that leadership means to model the life of Jesus, to act as a minuteman for Christ, to minister to the needy, and to mentor others to be soul winners. This is our mission–to lead with diligence, as Jesus did and as He would have all leaders do. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never  fall.” 1 Peter 1:10. Amen.


1 Walter Baxendale, “Love of Leader,” Dictionary of Anecdote, Incident, Illustrative Fact, Selected and Arranged for the Pulpit and the Platform (New York: Thomas Whittaker, Bible House, 1892), p. 347.

2 Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1951), p. 281.

3 Ellen G. White, In Heavenly Places (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1967), p. 233.

4 Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, vol. 19, s.v. “minutemen.”

5 Ellen G. White, “Leadership,” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948), pp. 497-498.

6 Ibid., p. 498.

7 Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 20 (Silver Spring, MD: E.G. White Estate, 1993), 114.

8 White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 505.

9 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1913), p. 423.

10 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1948), pp. 208-209.

11 Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1940), pp. 43-44.

12 John C. Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, tenth edition (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), p. 52.

13 Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, Lead Like Jesus (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2005), p. 45.

14 Ellen G. White, “Conference Presidents,” Gospel Workers (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1948), p. 420.

15 Ibid.

16 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 501.

17 Laurie Beth Jones, “He Trained His Replacements,” Jesus CEO–Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership (New York: Hyperion, 1995), p. 151.

18 Charles L. Wallis, editor, “Service,” A Treasury of Sermon Illustrations (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1950), p. 260.