Several months ago, I wrote a letter to the RCG leadership in The CHURCH PASTOR’S REPORT about the crucial importance of maintaining a “can do” attitude for the rest of the age. I decided that it was something that should become a “Personal” for The PILLAR, in almost identical form, particularly since it works well with several of the other articles that you will find in this issue. It was a letter that needed to become an article that went to a wider audience. What follows is much of the essence of that letter, with a few other points and scriptures added.
Do you persevere in the face of resistance? When confronted with adversity, do you find yourself saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”? Do you also find yourself saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way”? Are you one who rises to meet a challenge? Do challenges bring out the best in you? Can you adapt, be resourceful and generally find ways around obstacles in your path? Would you generally describe yourself as one who practices stick-to-it-iveness, non-stop? Are you absolutely unwilling to give up until you have succeeded? When confronted with adversity or difficulty, are you inclined to see problems or solutions? Do you typically say, like Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13) or, like Christ, “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26)? Do you most enjoy studying the lives of biblical figures who overcame against long odds or extremely difficult circumstances—Gideon, David, Noah, Job, even Christ, etc.?
Although some of these questions and terms may seem old-fashioned to a generation with little character, they are not just clichés—and they are absolutely critical for all brethren in God’s Church to understand and practice. They are the way many in previous generations lived their entire lives. If the above paragraph describes you, then you are what is known as a “can do” person! Such people are now rare. However, if you can also inspire other people to be the same, then you are rarer still—and a truly extraordinary leader and example!
Certainly Joshua and Caleb were classic examples of leaders who would allow nothing to stop them. In Numbers 13, Moses directed twelve spies to enter Canaan “and see the land, what it is; and the people that dwell therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strongholds; and what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not” (vs. 18-20). Obviously, Moses’ instruction allowed a great deal of latitude for individual human perspective to creep into the spies’ report of the land. But he also told them to “be you of good courage” (vs. 20).
In verse 27, the “report” came in. The description of the land was certainly good, and nobody disagreed with that, but the obstacles loomed large in the eyes of the small minds who saw them: “Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak [giants] there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south [fierce, cruel fighters]…” etc. (vs. 28-29).
But, in verse 30, Caleb said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” Verses 31-33 are the spies’ rebuttal of Caleb, introducing the first four verses of chapter 14, in which Israel rebelled. In verses 8 and 9, Joshua and Caleb declared, “If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which flows with milk and honey. Only rebel not you against the Lord, neither fear you the people of the land; for they are bread for us [translated, “we’ll eat them up in battle”]: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.”
God was FURIOUS at the attitude of the ten spies—and He still is today when His people fall into this thinking. Only by Moses’ entreaty to God on Israel’s behalf were they spared annihilation at God’s hand.
The rest, of course, is history. Because of the weakness of just ten men, whose moaning, groaning, complaining, whining and wailing was able to incite the natural tendency of people to give up—to “faint in the day of adversity”—the voice of the remaining two “can do” leaders was not heard, and Israel was doomed to wander in the wilderness for 40 years as a result!
Brethren, we live in the age of quitters. So many today give up at the first sign of trouble or resistance. Almost no one any longer practices the famous motto of a WWII bomber squadron: “The difficult we can do immediately. The impossible takes a little more time.” On the other hand, all of us should be familiar with what Solomon recorded in the Proverbs: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (24:10). Of course, this is perhaps most important for God’s people to remember, in light of Matthew 24:13 and 10:22—“enduring to the end” to be saved.
All of this leads to my point:
By now, you are aware of the remarkable growth occurring in the Church. Seemingly, we are once again approaching a time when, regarding new people, “the Lord [is adding] to the Church daily such as should be saved”—and, for those who are already converted, perhaps we can say, “saved from the Tribulation!”
Consider for a moment. It now appears that The Restored Church of God has already grown by a greater number of people than occurred throughout the entirety of 2003. This is a stunning statement, and one that bodes well for the expansion in scope of God’s Work in the future. We are very grateful for this wonderful increase, and it does not appear to be slowing down.
However, this means that the Church as a whole, and headquarters specifically, must be able to react—be able to adapt—to everything that such growth may present. And we will no doubt be presented with a host of different kinds of obstacles, hurdles and completely unforeseen twists and turns in the road that lies ahead of God’s people in this age and in this Church!
I have come to appreciate more than ever the need to be creative, flexible—and even “nimble”—as an organization so that we can address the wide and assorted variety of administrative needs that growth in far-flung regions of the planet brings to a worldwide organization being governed from a central place.
As people are called, or stand up for the truth, in remote locations, we must pull together as a unit to be able to address one another’s needs. Acts 2:44-45 speaks of how the early Church, then all centered at Jerusalem, found it most practical to have “all things in common” for the greater good of the brethren. At that time, the original apostles found it more logical to administer the Church this way—and this may be exactly how it will have to be done in the Place of Safety. As a matter of fact, I expect this.
Perhaps God wants us to begin practicing this kind of thinking now in more earnest. Picture these three areas of the world: We now have prospective members in various African nations. We also have a significantly greater number of people with us in the Philippines—but they live far away from our other brethren there, and this country consists of a great many islands. Finally, we also have groups developing in three separate Caribbean countries. While these are all thrilling to report, they bring complicated challenges, depending upon the area of the world. And these are just a small sample of the kinds of things we can and do face as a small organization doing the Work in the 21st century.
Ultimately, such growth will not be good news for the Church if we cannot always find a way to do things “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40). We must NEVER allow the author of confusion (vs. 33) into the Church. We must continually do absolutely everything in our power, and continuously seek God’s solution to every new challenge. He will guide us if we have faith (Heb. 11:6, Hab. 2:4 and II Cor. 5:7).
We must also recognize that the headquarters itself of God’s Church simply cannot solve every problem in every location of the world. And this has been true in every age. Even when Mr. Armstrong was alive, there were regional offices filled with ministers and employees, who took care of a myriad of regional needs.
Although now generally involving only a small number of people in a given region, those needs have not changed. (1) New people still need to be baptized. Someone must always be found to do this. (2) The Feast of Tabernacles must be held in every location where there is a group of God’s people who can meet together. Someone must coordinate these sites. (3) Local brethren have basic questions that need to be answered. Headquarters must have someone “on the ground” who can answer them, and this includes all wise and experienced brethren, or they will all fall on the shoulders of an already overworked staff. (Of course, as our staff continues to expand, we ourselves can handle more and more from here—but ideally, we will be working through local leaders who have at least grown to the point that they can handle the basics common to brethren anywhere in the world.)
There are only three ways that The Restored Church of God will grow in the number of leaders and pillars available to serve God’s people: (1) God sends them from the splinters. If they have anointed their eyes, He can literally “re-activate” all the years of experience that is latent, but not fully tapped, within them. This has already happened numerous times. (2) God reveals to us that someone who is now among us has already been trained to take on leadership or coordination responsibility, whether or not this means ordination. This has also happened numerous times. (3) God “grows” leaders from within our ranks to take on more responsibility. This has already happened—and is happening as you read this. In fact, it must happen with many of you brethren!
Every present and future leader needs to understand the crucial importance of bringing a “can do” spirit to a whole host of challenges, hurdles, obstacles, difficulties and administrative needs that RCG will face around the world!
Here is what you can do:
(1) Be as responsive as possible to our requests for assistance in or near your area.
(2) Strive to carefully follow instructions in the Host, Festival Planning and NDP manuals, and, where applicable, the various leadership tools that headquarters produces.
(3) Truly study and practice the seven laws of success that Mr. Armstrong taught us. They are far and away the most practical guide to overall problem-solving and to achievement of success that I have ever read.
(4) Seek God daily with your whole heart. Ask Him to teach, lead, guide, refine, correct and “grow” you as much as possible.
(5) Always receive correction from headquarters in the spirit in which it is given. It is so very much easier for us if we do not have to “tip-toe” due to fear of offending a member, because the person lacks the humility to believe himself or herself capable of weaknesses and mistakes.
(6) Continually ask: What is the most practical solution to what we/you are facing?
(7) Also ask: What potential confusion or unnecessary difficulty might arise as a result of any particular solution that has been proposed or that is under consideration in a matter?
(8) Then ask: What might I still be overlooking?
(9) Remembering that Philadelphia is not prophesied to be “rich and increased with goods,” further ask, on headquarters behalf: What is the least expensive reasonable solution?
(10) Be as flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances as often as necessary until the job is completed.
(11) Remember that “whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only…he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42)—that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap…and let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:7, 9-10)—and, finally, that “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward His name, and that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10).
I am calling on all of us to focus ourselves on how we can become more “can do” in our approach to all that we face. The need for more determined, resourceful, committed, never-say-die—CAN DO—leaders and pillars will never diminish for the rest of the age. IT WILL ONLY INCREASE! Let all of us continue to “Pray…the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth [more] laborers” (Matt. 9:38) to share this spirit with us.
Thank you leaders and brethren for your present—and FUTURE!—service to this dynamic and growing Church and Work of God!