All leaders and shepherds in the Family are obligated to act in a certain way and perform certain duties if they wish to become or remain Family officers. Following are the obligations that apply generally to all levels of leadership in the Family, followed by a comprehensive list of the responsibilities and authorities for each level of leadership.

Thank You, Lord, that You have entrusted [our leaders] with such precious responsibility. May they not take it lightly, but seriously, as good stewards of Thy Kingdom, to realize what a great responsibility and what a grave responsibility it is to have all these lives in their hands and be responsible for their leadership (ML #734:159).

All Family officers are obligated to:

A. Endeavor to carry out the duties of their office in a loving, prayerful and competent manner, and to the best of their ability, properly and lovingly shepherd those whom they are responsible for.
         Family leaders need to be
loving leaders, as love is the most important attribute of Godly leadership. They also need to be faithful, prayerful and competent, and to do their job to the best of their ability. Lord help us all to be loving, wise and prayerful, and to lead people to His Word!

         We need people first of all with love! If they haven't got love to begin with, they're nothing and they can do nothing! I don't want anybody in our leadership anywhere in the Family that's not working for that one reason, trying to save souls, the lost to begin with, and trying to help the soul-savers!--Really, sincerely, honestly concerned about them, not just doing some kind of formal, mechanical job, going through the motions without the power thereof. (2Timothy 3:5.) (ML #1819:24,25.)

B. Operate within the authority of the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules."
         One of the main purposes for the Charter is to clearly define the responsibilities and authority of leadership, so that everyone will know the boundaries Family leaders operate within. Leaders cannot take or exert any more authority than is granted to them in the Charter, and must operate within its boundaries, and according to the "Fundamental Family Rules."

         We have to have certain standards for the leadership, and they shouldn't be leaders unless they can keep those standards and operate according to those rules (ML #1202:61).

C. Encourage individuals and Homes to live in accordance with the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules," and to impose appropriate and proper disciplinary action if they do not.
         It's very important that leaders encourage the Family to live in accordance with the Charter. If they find that someone or some Home isn't, they must implement the proper disciplinary action. Such action could include placing someone on Probationary Status or Fellow Member status, or full or partial excommunication, or putting a Home on Probationary Notice depending on the offenses and what the situation warrants. These disciplinary measures must be applied in accordance with the proper procedures listed in the
Procedures section of the Charter.

         We need the regulation and we need some form of control to make sure that our people behave themselves ... and act properly and don't endanger the whole Family (ML #1202:35).
         Law without enforcement is no law at all! If you don't enforce it, your word means nothing. The law is then of none effect. ... (ML #1712:11.)

D. Endeavor to answer questions and give counsel on how to solve problems by directing the inquirer to the appropriate Bible passages or WS publications that offer guidance and counsel on the matter; when needed, offer prayerful, Word-based advice, in counsel with their co-officers if necessary; or seek counsel from a higher authority on matters that no WS publications address, or are matters or questions beyond the experience and/or authority of the officer.
         This is a major point! It's
not a leader's job to make decisions for individuals or Homes that they should be making themselves, nor to demand they do certain things. One of the main purposes of the Charter is to allow and encourage people to make their own choices according to the Word and their personal leading of what the Lord shows them through the "Seven Ways to Know God's Will."
         For various reasons, Family members have sometimes depended too much upon leadership to make personal decisions for them rather than deciding for themselves. In addition, leadership has sometimes taken too much authority upon themselves. It is our hope that the Charter will allow everyone in the Family to overcome these two problems.
         The leader's job is not to make decisions that others are supposed to make for themselves; leadership needs to avoid--in fact, refuse--to make decisions that they are not supposed to make. The leader's job is to point people to the
Word and to other Family pubs in order to lead them to the counsel that has already been written. Leaders must endeavor to teach people to go to the Word, to pray, to hear from the Lord and to counsel, so that they can personally find out what the Lord wants them to do.
         When searching the Word for answers or direction, one will find that there may be a wide spectrum of choices within God's Word. In such a case, the person may want some counsel and guidance from leadership.

         Of course, if nothing has been published on the matter at hand, or the member wishes to ask for counsel in the case of the Word not being explicit on the matter, then the member can and should seek counsel from a leader who may have some experience or knowledge of the matter, and may have some prayerful counsel to give the person. When a leader needs to give an individual or a Home counsel on some matter, they should be very prayerful and endeavor to be sure that their counsel is Word-based and that they have heard from the Lord on the matter. If the leader does not have any experience in the matter, or is not sure of what counsel to give, he or she should ask the Lord and/or pass on the question to a higher level of leadership.
         In any case, the person or the Home should make the final decision on the matter,
not by the leader.

         Many young leaders and Colonies are writing us for answers to questions, which have already been thoroughly dealt with in past MO Letters! All they need is the Letters so we can refer them to the answers and not have to continually repeat these in unnecessary replies and special communications, and oftentimes too late to prevent the trouble! (ML #156A:7.)
         Teach the Homes to make their own decisions. When [you leaders] come around and are asked what to do, say, "Why don't you read the Letters? It's in the Letters. If it's not there, why don't you pray about it? That's your job to make the decision, not mine." Now if it's a question about something the Homes don't really know about or haven't heard about or something, well, that's a different story (ML #671:8).
         Public spiritual leaders of any kind must have a tremendous knowledge of the Word and be able to give the Word. That's the ministry of people who are shepherds: They have to feed the sheep. Then they [the individuals or Homes] have to make their own decisions on the basis of the light that you give them and the food and the Word you give them. They have to make their own decision (ML #1002:33).

E. Ensure, to the best of their ability, that the rights of the members and Homes under their jurisdiction are upheld and are not being infringed upon.
         It is
paramount that leaders at all levels ensure that the individual rights granted in the Charter are being honored.

         I want to find those [shepherds] who really love the sheep and are concerned for them and have a heart! (ML #662:67.)

F. Endeavor to live in accordance with the WS publications on the subject of wise and loving leadership.
         There are many Family publications covering in detail how to be a loving and wise leader, and how not to be harsh and dictatorial. All of our Family's leadership must endeavor to apply these principles in their lives.

         If you're given more responsibility and are shepherding others, will you be the loving and kind sample that you wish others were with you? "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1Peter 5:3). (ML #2865:56).

G. Take time daily for personal prayer.
         With prayer being such an important and essential part of our lives, officers should pray individually and with others for the well being of their flocks, and the Lord's wisdom, direction and love.

         The main job of a shepherd is to keep in touch with the Lord--to begin the day with sweet music--praise and fellowship. We have to learn how to first of all rest at the Lord's feet. The secret of calm and peace and rest and patience and faith and love is that resting in the Lord!--Getting calm before the Lord, praising the Lord and seeking the Lord first. And then you just impart this to the sheep--it's a spirit--you impart that very atmosphere. ... The shepherd must feed of the elements of the earth to be satisfied, and to satisfy his flock. He too must sit upon the hillside and pipe sweet music unto his Creator in praises, to bring peace to his own soul (ML #98:4,2).

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family