We just returned from Lake Texoma, in Texas, where we completed a wonderful regional conference with 72 elders and wives in the South Central region. We deeply appreciate the labor of love that our pastors, volunteer pastors and non-salaried local elders perform. We also thank their supportive wives for their active part in their husbands' pastoral work.
We have six regions in the United States and we hold a conference in each region every other year. Presentations given by our staff help equip us with pastoral skills and knowledge, but also remind us of the high calling of the ministry and the essential need to live by the highest ethical standards. Conferences give the staff of Ministerial and Member Services plenty of opportunity to fellowship with our ministers in the field. A number of our ministerial couples have had severe health challenges and such meetings have helped us encourage one another.
One announcement that was made during the meetings is that Jim Tuck will now become regional pastor over the South Central region, replacing Mark Welch.
Jorge de Campos in Brazil
Jorge de Campos is currently on a mission to a number of locations in the largest Portuguese-speaking nation in the world. This trip has two basic purposes.
1) Fact gathering to determine where God has placed His name for a second Feast site in Brazil, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
2) Visit new prospects who have requested visits. He is joined on this trip by Arlindo Lima Filho, an elder in Northern Brazil (Maloca de Moscou). At the same time he will visit members in the central/south area of Brazil during the Sabbaths.
You can follow his progress and regular reports at http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog/jorgedecampos/10
A surprising trait of powerful leaders
It is a quality prized by leaders who get things done. Forbes magazine defines it as the essence of true leadership that sets people apart (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffhyman/2018/10/31/humility/).
Organizational expert Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, found it highly active in the actions of exceptional and transformational leaders (https://www.jimcollins.com/concepts/level-five-leadership.html). He describes this as a powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will.
We speak here of the spiritual quality of gentle humility, of what the Bible sometimes calls meekness. Does this surprise you?
Oftentimes people associate effective leadership with brash and harsh traits, just as the fabled Steve Jobs of Apple, whose rapacious temper and ferocious capacity to belittle those he thought were wasting his time was the stuff of legend.
But that is not strength. Reflecting ancient and established biblical principles, many experts today regard true humility as a highly valued trait in leaders. Humble leaders care more about the people who work or serve under them than themselves. Humble leaders, whether in a major corporation, a volunteer group, or even a family, inspire and empower others to reach high. Their gentleness is regarded as a strength!
Moses, the human leader whom God selected to bring well over a million people out of Egypt, is described as "very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3 Numbers 12:3(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were on the face of the earth.)
American King James Version×, English Standard Version, emphasis added throughout). Other translations render "meek" as "humble," as does the New Living Translation: "Moses was very humble--more humble than any other person on earth" (verse 3, NLT).
What a contrast! Many biblical accounts show Moses as a dynamic leader, one who dared to reason--even argue--with God Himself! Moses was a critical leader in Israel's battles. He faced down rebellion.
Some people confuse the biblical definition of "meek" with timidity. Moses and other biblical figures who were known to be meek and humble were anything but timid!
The point? The strength of Moses' leadership capacity was grounded in humility, in meekness.
This quality of humility, of meekness, of dealing with people in a respectful and tender way, represents the essence of the English word "gentleness" that we find as a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×). Paul used the Greek word transliterated prautés for "gentleness," which is alternatively translated "humble" or "meek" in different places in the New Testament.
God's Holy Spirit gives us the ability to respect who we are without ego-inflating harm. As the apostle John tells us, we are "God's children now" (1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×, ESV), an astonishing and humbling gift. At the same time, Paul directs us: "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Romans 12:3 Romans 12:3For I say, through the grace given to me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
American King James Version×). In my half a century of service in the ministry of Jesus Christ, I have personally seen the good consequences of humility in our leaders and the derailing consequences in leaders who lacked it.
I just wrote about this principle in my latest United News column in which I described how some African chiefs are chosen. If you have not read it yet, here are some excerpts:
"In one locale Bev and I asked about how a chief was chosen. The answer was interesting. The women of the village decided who would become the next chief. 'Why was that?' we asked. The answer was that many of the women were mothers of the candidates for chief. They understood best the nature and temperament of the men because they had known them since they were little boys. Their nature from childhood was an indicator of what they would be like as adults, and more importantly, as community leaders."
A key takeaway? "The candidate who was most charming and charismatic was not always the best choice." A candidate who was humble, meek, caring and gentle, who put the needs of others above themselves, was regarded as a more suitable leader.
God ensured that these issues of humility would be illustrated in His Word. As I wrote in the United News, "There was not a more handsome person than [Saul] among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people (1 Samuel 9:2 1 Samuel 9:2And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.
American King James Version×). Saul was impressive! He probably exuded a persuasive, self-confident demeanor and the people loved it."
"But he was a failure as king. He had huge cracks in his character that undid his monarchy."
Then I brought forward another example. In the selection process for David, the next king of Israel, Samuel thought that David's older brothers were outwardly more suited as potential chief executives. But what did God say? "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'" (1 Samuel 16:7 1 Samuel 16:7But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.
American King James Version×).
If you have not read my column in the January-February United News yet, I invite you to review it when you receive it for the entire story.
We are to be right-sized in how we think of ourselves. We are to be grateful for the marvelous gifts God gives to us, including the priceless privilege of being a spiritual firstfruit of the Kingdom of God. We are to understand what James, the brother of Jesus, tells us: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6 James 4:6But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
American King James Version×, ESV).
When we have a spiritual attitude of gentleness, of humility, our relationships with others improves. People trust humble people more. Humble people are quick to embrace how they can be better. They don't participate in turf battles or allow themselves to fall into resentment. Humble people easily give others the credit they are due. Humble and gentle people build up others.
Want to be a leader? Want to have better relationships? Ask God to give you the quality of humility and meekness through His incredible gift of the Holy Spirit. Surrender yourselves and embrace the gift!