Servants' News

May/June 1999

One Search for a New Leader

The excerpt below appeared in the Focus on the Family subscriber letter. Focus on the Family is non-Sabbatarian, but has been a source of Bible-based marriage and child-rearing material for many years—often quietly recommended by "Church of God" ministers. The organization was founded by James Dobson in 1977 as "an expression of one man’s desire to serve families". You can reach them at 800-232-6459 or by writing Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995. (Servants’ News thanks C. Gudeman for drawing our attention to this.)

It seems that Mr. Dobson’s group understands that the character and reputation of a man is more important than his human "capability". We encourage you to compare this organization’s leadership qualifications to the Bible:

So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone" (Num 11:16-17).

Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you (Deut 1:13)

You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous (Deut 16:18-19).

Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business (Acts 6:3).

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love (2Cor 6:4-6).

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1Tim3:2-7; see also Titus 1).

Notes on article below: A college degree is not essential for doing the Eternal’s work, but the Eternal may use it just as he used Paul’s Roman citizenship. Also, hiring a skilled businessman as CEO could possibly shift the organization’s focus into making money rather than teaching the Bible—unless the businessman has commitment to the Eternal similar to the leader. —NSE

Where Do We Go From Here?

Will Focus on the Family continue to be effective in the post-Dobson era? It is certainly prepared to do so. Only two questions remain: First, will God’s ordination continue in days to come? And second, will His people continue to support the work? It is our belief that the answer to both questions is yes!

Choosing Future Leaders

Dr. Dobson has held two primary responsibilities since the ministry began in 1977. They are the chief executive officer role and the chief articulator of the spoken and written word. Since it will not be necessary for a successor to handle both of these assignments, it is likely that they will be divided in the post-Dobson era. It is assumed that the CEO role will be the easier position to fill by acquiring an experienced executive with a craft honed in the business world. By contrast, the creative and teaching responsibility promises to be more challenging. Here are the necessary requirements for a person being considered for this second assignment:

Genuine, mature relationship with Jesus Christ and purity in personal life

Earned Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent in a division of the "helping" sciences (e.g., psychology, psychiatry, medicine, child development, marriage-family and/or child counseling)

Highly developed ability to communicate and inspire through both the spoken and written word

Firm dedication to family relationships, accompanied by a sincere love for people and a ceaseless compassion for those in need

Thorough knowledge of the Bible, particularly as it relates to family life and human relationships

Conservative views regarding Scripture, morals and culture

A pleasing radio voice and skill as an interviewer

A strong marriage with no lapses in moral behavior

Potential to serve as a moral and spiritual leader in the nation

Though we do not yet have a need for a successor with these unique talents, it is fitting that we consider the time when a transition becomes necessary. The ideal scenario would be to find the candidate within the next three years and then start scheduling that person for occasional guest appearances on the "Focus on the Family" radio broadcast. If our listeners respond favorably and if God so leads, he or she could gradually accept more responsibility in the studio. It might even be appropriate in the interim to develop a new radio program to accommodate the skills and personality of the likely successor, while also serving under the tutelage of Dr. Dobson. The importance of steadfast prayer cannot be overstated as we seek God’s direction in this search for future leadership.

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