The high-handed power that has been developed, as though positions had made men gods, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear. It is a curse wherever, and by whomsoever it is exercised. This lording it over God's heritage will create such a disgust of man's jurisdiction that a state of insubordination will result. The people are learning that men in high positions of responsibility cannot be trusted to mould and fashion other men's minds and characters. The result will be a loss of confidence even in the management of faithful men. . . .
The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of our conferences. If a man is sanguine of his own powers and seeks to exercise dominion over his brethren, feeling that he is invested with authority to make his will the ruling power, the best and only safe course is to remove him, lest great harm be done, and he lose his own soul, and imperil the souls of others. "All ye are brethren."
This disposition to lord it over God's heritage will cause a reaction unless these men change their course. Those in authority should manifest the spirit of Christ. They should deal as he would deal with every case that requires attention. They should go weighted with the Holy Spirit. A man's position does not make him one jot or tittle greater in the sight of God; it is character alone that God values.--Letter 55, 1895 (Sept. 19, 1895 to O. A. Olsen)
How the Wheels of Progress are Clogged --If it were possible, the enemy would clog the wheels of progress and
prevent the truths of the gospel from being circulated everywhere. With this object he leads men to feel that it is their privilege to control the consciences of their fellow-men according to their own perverted ideas. They dismiss the Holy Spirit from their councils, and then, under the power and name of the General Conference, they invent regulations through which they compel men to be ruled by their own ideas and not by the Holy Spirit. . . .
There is need of an education in regard to the rights and duties of men in authority who have lorded it over God's heritage. When a man is placed in a position of trust, who knows not what kind of spirit he should exercise in dealing with human minds, he needs to learn the very first principles as to his authority over his fellow-men. Right principles must be brought into the heart, and wrought into the warp and woof of character. --Letter 83, 1896 (May 22, 1896 to O. A. Olsen)
Satan Fiercely Assails Responsible Men --Observing carefully every direction that the Lord has specified in regard to the Christian armour, you will walk before him softly, and will work discreetly. You will not carry with you any yokes to bind men to your plans, nor will you attempt to make the Lord's workers amenable to any finite mind. The maxims and precepts of men are not to control His labourers. Let no man be placed in a position where he can lord it over God's heritage; for this imperils alike the soul of him who rules and the souls of those who are under his rule.--Manuscript 140, 1902 (Nov. 6, 1902 Principles for the Guidance of Men in Positions of Responsibility.)
No Commanding --Among the Lord's servants there is to be no commanding. No yokes are to be placed on the necks of God's blood-bought heritage. Every yoke is to be broken. Men and women are more precious in the sight of God than the human mind can estimate. Christ understands their value; for he sacrificed Himself for their redemption. We are His property, the purchase of His life-blood. Sign not away your allegiance to any human jurisdiction or power. "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." I Cor. 6:19, 20.
Exalted Idea of Position Dangerous --"Sometimes a man who has been placed in responsibility as a leader, gains the idea that he is in a position of supreme authority, and that all of his brethren, before making advance moves, must first come to him for permission to do that which they feel should be done. Such a man is in a dangerous position. He has lost sight of the work of a true leader among God's people. Instead of acting as a wise counsellor, he assumes the prerogatives of an exacting ruler. God is dishonoured by every such display of authority and self-exaltation. No man standing in his own strength is ever to be mind and judgement for another man whom the Lord is using in His work. No one is to lay down man-made rules and regulations to govern arbitrarily his fellow labourers who have a living experience in the truth."-- Testimonies to Ministers , p. 491.
Leadership is not Lordship --"No man is ever to set himself up as a ruler, as a lord over his fellow men, to act out his natural impulses. No one man's voice and influence should ever be allowed to become a controlling power. . . .
I am instructed by the Lord to say that position never gives a man grace or makes him righteous. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Some men entrusted with positions of responsibility entertain the idea that position is for the aggrandizement of self."-- Medical Ministry , pp. 164, 165.
Not to Judge or Rule --It is dangerous work to invest men with authority to judge and rule their fellow men. Not to you nor to any other man has been given power to control the actions of God's people, and the effort to do this must be no longer continued. . . . God has been dishonoured by the education that has been given to the churches in Southern California in looking to one man as conscience and judgement for them. God has never authorized any man to exercise a ruling power over his fellow-workers; and those who have allowed a dictatorial spirit to come into their official work need to experience the converting power of God upon their hearts. They have placed man where God should be.--Letter 290, 1907, pp. 2, 3 (Aug. 29, 1907)
The Conference President and Authority --It is a mistake for a conference to select as president one who considers that his office places unlimited power in his hands.
The Lord has instructed me to tell you that you do not know when to use authority, and when to refrain from using it unwisely. You have much to learn before you can do the work of a conference president intelligently. You are to bear in mind that in the cause of God there is a chief Director, whose power and wisdom is above that of human minds.
God will have nothing to do with the methods of working where finite men are allowed to bear rule over their fellow-men. He calls for a decided change to be made. The voice of command must no longer be heard. The Lord has among his workers men of humility and discretion; from these should be chosen men who will conduct the work in the fear of God.
It would be well if Elder Cottrell and at least one other worker of broad experience should be called upon to consult together and consider your plans that affect the medical work. God designs that his servants shall carry the responsibilities of that conference in a spirit of humility and dependence upon Him.--Letter 290, 1907, pp. 2, 3 (Aug. 29, 1907 to George W. Reaser)
Device to Oppress Men God will Not Vindicate --"God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow-men. The only hope for fallen man is to look to Jesus, and receive Him as the only Saviour. As soon as a man begins to make any iron rule for other men, as soon as he begins to harness up and drive men according to his own mind, he dishonours God, and imperils his own soul, and the souls of his brethren. Sinful man can find hope and righteousness only in God; and no human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God, and maintains a vital connection with Him. A flower of the field must have its roots in the soil; it must have air, dew, showers, and sunshine. It will flourish only as it receives these advantages, and all are from God. So with men. We receive from God that which ministers to the life of the soul. We are warned not to trust in man, not to make flesh our arm."
The foregoing was printed in Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, No. 9.
The Conference President --Again and again I repeat the warning: Never place as president of a conference a man who supposes that such a position gives him the power to dictate 35
and control the consciences of others. It is natural for man to have a large estimate of self; old habits wrestle for the supremacy; but the man who occupies a position of trust should not glorify himself.
The worker who daily subordinates his will to the will of Christ will be educated away from such an idea. He will practice the virtues of Christ's character in all meekness and lowliness of mind; and this will give to those whom his ministration is supposed to benefit the precious freedom of the liberty of the children of God. They will be free to act out the grace bestowed upon them that all may understand the precious privileges which the saints possess as members of the body of Christ.
The one who is in trust of sacred responsibilities should ever show forth the meekness and wisdom of Christ; for it is thus that he becomes a representative of Christ's character and methods. Never should he usurp authority, or command or threaten, saying, "Unless you do as I say, you will receive no pay from the conference." A man who would speak such words is out of his place as president of a conference. He would make men slaves to his judgement.--Letter 416, 1907, pp. 5, 6 (Dec. 30, 1907 to A. G. Daniells and W. C. White)
Remove the Dictator --"The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of our conferences. If a man is sanguine of his own powers and seeks to exercise dominion over his brethren, feeling that he is invested with authority to make his will the ruling power, the best and only safe course is to remove him, lest great harm be done, and he lose his own soul, and imperil the souls of others. 'All ye are brethren.' This disposition to lord it over God's heritage will cause a reaction unless these men change their course. Those in authority should manifest the spirit of Christ. They should deal as He would deal with every case that requires attention."-- Testimonies to Ministers , p. 362.