Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.

An elder's attitude in relationship to the truth is a life-anddeath question, both in his leadership and for his congregation. Our very destiny depends upon the attitude the leaders assume. Differing  attitudes prevail, finding their ultimate expression in two extremes. These extremes represent small a minority in terms of numbers but not always minorities in terms of peril for the ones who are related to them.

The first group takes pride in stressing its orthodox conservatism, which when stripped of its assuring phraseology is often just plain reactionism, however harsh the term may sound. They look upon any change or revision as perilous, principally because it is different fron what they use to know or do.

Some cleverly contrive to place themselves in a strategic position of the ultimate defenders of the faith delivered once and for all, the last stand of loyalty. They classify, by implication if not by declaration, all who differ from them as dangerous innovators. Their penchant is to maintain a status quo which supports their own rigid views. They condemn openly, or by implication, equally loyal, self-sacrificing, truth-loving heralds of this message who differ from them. This group is represented by some independent ministries today. Easily they mix truth and criticism in attacking the leadership of the church in general.

Dear elder be perceptive. Don't fall in the devil trap. The Lord Himself is the One who ultimately takes care of His own church. Just stay in the side of God's people and be loyal to your denomination.

On the other end of the pendulum, stressing its liberal progressivism, stands an opposite group ready to press views that are seriously revolutionary, perilous, and disruptive. Some are retired pastors, theology professors, and administrators. A few of them are saying, "Now we can speak out on what we believe because we are retired."

On this side of the pendulum's swing lies the peril of abandonment of our distinctive advent movement principles, rooted in Scriptures and confirmed by the Spirit of Prophecy, through the acceptance of specious principles that simulate light, but contradict or neutralize the soundly buttressed historic positions which have made us separate people. Such usually touch either the sanctuary truth or the Spirit of Prophecy, which constitute the distinctive and separating features of this movement, and stone of stumbling to all critics and apostates. Here again we must watch and stand by revealed truth no matter who may be the innovator, what his standing may be or his record.

These two opposite groups, each appealing to a partial set of principles of commonly acknowledged truth, make more difficult the sound, reverence, and loyal stand of the majority who reject upon principle the position and perils of both extremes. It is essential for elders to clearly understand the situation in order to intelligently and properly protect the congregation.

The guidance of the Holy Spirit is needed in having sound judgement, spiritual discernment, and unswerving fidelity to God's ever-expanding truth, revealed in His Word and buttressed by the confirming witness of the Spirit of Prophecy. Any thing else, or any thing less will prove disastrous. At the same time we should not permit ourselves to be forced into situations that are intolerable and unnecessary. There is no need of permitting a few reactionaries to blockade all legitimate advance. Let us not permit the devil set the agenda for our congregation. The voice of God speaking to us through the representative body of the church, should prevail.

Dear elder, avoid any extremes in your attitude as a leader. The pathway of the advent herald is beset with perils today. Our only safety lies in ceaseless, progressive study of the Word, individually and in groups, invoking the promised presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit ("but when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth." John 16: 13), and the matchless counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy. The elder who follows this divine program of guidance and protection has the assurance of divine keeping from pitfalls in leading his congregation.