Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens/IAD

resident for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Inter-America (IAD), Elie Henry, challenged church administrators and leaders at this year’s territory-wide leadership training conference opening last night to examine how they manage the church organization, understand their role and effectively carry out the mission of the church.

“We must recognize first that God is the owner of everything that exists and we are simply stewards managing our Father’s property, so the question we should ask regularly is how vigilantly, efficiently and submissively am I managing what God has entrusted me to do?” said Henry, as he quoted Psalm 115:15. “God is inviting us constantly to make Him the center of everything.”

Henry also said that leaders must recognize that God is the God of leadership, and all must follow the leadership style of Jesus who was the only leader in history who did everything right. “Jesus not only saved the world but was the most influential person ever who wants us to become servant-like as we lead.”

The conference, coined as Segment Leadership Development (SeLD), brought more than 600 registered church administrators and leaders from across the IAD territory for the annual three-day training event in Miami, Florida, United States from July 15-17, 2019.

This year’s SeLD Conference is themed “Accelerating Your Leadership Potential” and will feature more than 30 speakers from the Adventist World Church, North America and Inter-America.

Administrators, pastors, educators, church elders, department directors and officers will get a chance to sharpen their skills as they attend general sessions and seminars during the next two days.

“The world is in desperate need of good leaders, our communities need positive role models, our governments need honest leaders, our children need responsible leaders—fathers and mothers, and all our world needs direction,” stated Henry. “My question for you is who is willing to accept the challenge to serve with integrity, character and commitment?”

“It’s up to each one of us here present to stand up,” said Henry. “Now is the time God needs you and me…. for the quality of life depends on the quality of leaders.”

Henry reminded SeLD delegates that they must unleash the leader within as God gives human beings the natural ability to lead and carry out His purpose for the church.  But, he said, leaders must be clear about their identity.

“You must have an honest understanding of who you are, where you come from and why you are here, what you know and what you can do,” said Henry.  “We must understand the revelation of God in His Holy Scriptures so we must step up in order to promote justice, inspire and motivate others to pursue the vision and mission in leading the church.”

Henry encouraged leaders to enjoy all the benefits of the conference with the dozens of presentations and seminars as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to connect and rub shoulders with other leaders. “This will help you become visionary and innovative leaders,” he said.

“As you accelerate your leadership potential, please teach others so we can advance and allow the church organization to grow,” Henry said.

Adventist World Church President Ted N.C. Wilson, greeted the delegation through a video message. He encouraged leaders to reach out to other leaders. It’s about servant leadership, he said, by “interactive teamwork, genuine interest in others, leading by example, listening to people and most importantly full dependence on God,” Wilson said.

General Vice President for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, Artur Stele, led the first plenary session touching on the need for organizations to be effective in achieving its goals with the right authority structure that serves the mission of the organization.

Stele reminded the delegation that the absolute authority in the church belongs only to God. He stated that: “For our organization to be effective, each must have their own mission statement that contains the unique authority that the level possess.”

As Stele pointed to different types of organizational authority structures like the delegated authority and distributed authority, he pointed to lessons that could be learned from the church’s history. He said that James White, one of the church’s pioneers, spoke more than 130 years ago on the two extremes of authority: dictatorial and without main authority.

“’Between the two extremes…we find the grand secret of unity and efficiency in the ministry and in the church of God’” stated James White in Review & Herald, Jan. 4, 1881.

Organizations must understand what their main function is so the mission statement becomes key to set the tone of the same, Stele stated.

According to Balvin Braham, assistant to the Henry, in charge of leadership development for the church in Inter-America, the event has a cadre of diverse, cross-cultural, tested and proven, experienced presenters that will enrich  the leadership experience.

“We want individuals to be more effective in the areas they are called to serve,” said Braham.

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This article was originally published on the Inter-America Division’s website