KEYWORDS: family, lord, home, prophecy, charter

Freedom of Choice in the Family

May 7, 2003

—2002 Study Month

CM/FM 3426 Compiled 8/02

Dad emphasized freedom of choice in many Letters

1. Every new day we need to know and learn and find out how to do it today! And for God's sake and your children's sake and the future of the world's sake and the last generation's sake, your children, for the sake of the End, I hope you will not try to limit your children even to the way you've been doing it, much less the way I've been doing it, but that you will let them do it their way, the way God shows them to do it in their way and their day for their generation! ("New Bottles!" ML #251:31‚ Vol.2. 6/73)

2. Freedom of choice!: Neither do I think it is best for underleaders to be required to work under superiors with whom they do not get along well, and who, if given a choice‚ would prefer to work under someone else or elsewhere—and they are supposed to have a choice and the right and freedom to choose, if possible‚ the leaders they would like to work under‚ the teammates they would like to work with, as well as perhaps the Home, place or field in which they would prefer to work!

3. This freedom of choice as much as possible may sound like news to some of you would-be dictators, but it may surprise you to know that it has always been my own personal policy to practice this from the very beginning, from letting a man choose his own project or field of service‚ if qualified, to letting him pick his own team for any special task he has chosen to accept as his assignment.

4. This policy of freedom of choice as much as possible has worked very well with most of you leaders throughout our years of leadership‚ and just as you have appreciated it and responded well to it, I should think you would use it as much as possible with your own leaders. And furthermore, I think there needs to be more freedom of choice even amongst your followers, disciples and members of your Homes as to which leaders they prefer to serve under and in what Homes they prefer to work. We all need a change sometimes!

5. If a leader or member seems to be dissatisfied, discontented‚ or in need of a change, you should encourage them to express such a desire and give it your prayerful consideration, and I see no reason why he should not be permitted to transfer if he can be spared or replaced, and the Home of his choice is willing to accept him. ("Labor Leaders!" ML #161:18-21, DB5. 5/72)

We believe in volunteers

6. I've always been strictly for volunteers! Our whole work is built on this concept. We have no forced labor enslavery—only willing and cheerfully given volunteer labor! "The love of Christ constraineth me!" (2Cor.5:14). We all work together out of love for Him and each other, in loving and voluntary cooperation. Some of you military men who were in the service, like myself‚ must remember that this is the Lord's Army of volunteers—not a military dictatorship!—And let's keep it that way! Amen? ("Personal Replies!" ML #107:2, DB4. 9/71)

7. The greatest leaders the world has ever known won their followers through personal love and loyalty either to themselves or their cause—or both! The greatest shepherds called their sheep to follow with a voice of love and persuasion. They should be following because they love you, know you're right, know you love them and are doing it for their sake and their good and to please the Great Shepherd of all, and because they therefore want to!

8. We are still strictly a voluntary army—no draftees!

9. So in your dealings with your followers, always remember that the church was not intended to be a dictatorial hierarchy run only by those at the top, without question or counsel or mutual agreement; but God's children were intended to be a voluntary family fellowship, cooperating together in love, each of his own free will, and not by coercion or force, or slave-driving tactics.

10. Blind obedience can sometimes be too blind! Any truly good leader welcomes questions, suggestions, and even contrary ideas to his own! "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out" (Pro.20:5). He knows he needs to see all sides and to weigh them in the balance of his judgment, prayerfully before the Lord, and to try to agree together on a unanimous decision if possible! "And it seemed good to all of them!" (Acts 15:25,28). Hallelujah!

11. It was always my policy to ask you if you'd like to do a certain thing, or do you think you should do so–and–so‚ or what do you want to do‚ or what do you think the Lord wants you to do! I usually tried to give you your choice‚ within certain limitations of possibility, and let you move according to your own faith, choose your own team, set your own goals and forge ahead under your own steam! And you got a lot more done that way, by being led of the Lord according to your own faith, initiative, vision and courage.

12. It's our business to present the need and vision as we get it from the Lord, and to love and woo them with gentle persuasion and reasoning and faith and Scripture and try to get them to voluntarily decide on their own to do what they know they should and want to do!—Not command them like slaves and force them like draftees! We just can't do it, haven't the right to‚ and will never do well that way!

13. If their obedience doesn't come from the heart because of love and loyalty and devotion to both the cause and its leadership‚ you're going to have discontent, disillusionment, dissatisfaction, murmuring, disobedience and even open rebellion—and a lot of backsliders!

14. You've seldom ever heard me give an order, except in emergencies, that I did not put in the form of a gentle suggestion or question: "Don't you think we should do so-and-so, or would you like to do so-and-so; or how about doing so-and-so; or what do you think we should do about it?"—In order to always give you a choice and make it voluntary‚ if possible. We want an army of loving, loyal volunteers, not driven draftees! Try to lead your sheep instead of driving them! ("Training and Shepherding Babes!" ML #734:114-121, DB8. 2/77)

Each Home makes its own

15. When I make a suggestion for one Colony that might work there, it doesn't necessarily mean it would work everywhere, under all conditions, so you've got to learn to make your own decisions, with the Lord's direct guidance, individually, for each Colony.

16. We're trying to advise you from what we've learned from the Lord and our own experience, but you don't necessarily have to do what we say. You can make your own decisions according to your own leadings from the Lord! You don't have to agree with me! ("Specifics!" ML #127:12,19, DB4. 11/71)

17. When will we ever get the point of genuine indigenuity?—That the local people should make their own local decisions about local problems and govern themselves locally as well as support themselves, do their own witnessing, win their own disciples, pioneer their own areas and take care of themselves and their own kids without dictates from us from halfway around the world! ("The Childcare Revolution!" ML #330B:7, DB6. 4/75)

18. I've been preaching [indigenuity] for years, you know that! My God, I went to Tenerife in 1974, years ago, and I got out a whole series of Letters on the indigenous Church, indigenuity, nationalizing the Church. ("Love'm and Leave'm!" ML #1760:20, GN Book 20, 3/84)

19. This was one of the first principles that I was taught clear back in the Soul Clinic—indigenuity! Fred Jordan had said about all of his works, missionaries, churches in the home, etc., that, "They need to follow the basic principle of being indigenous!" And that meant three things: Self-supporting, self–governing and self-propagating. That's indigenous! ("The Coming Great Crash!" ML #2498:73, Lifelines 18, 12/88)

20. "But what if I disagree with my leaders?!" I've made it clear in the Letters that all of our leaders should be willing to consider various points of view in order to base their decisions on good‚ well-rounded counsel. And though I believe in unity and loyal and faithful obedience to leadership in the Lord, I still do not believe that these are total absolutes which must be put above reason, right, Scripture and personal conviction of God's truth! Blind obedience can sometimes be too blind, and it's always best that "every man be fully persuaded in his own mind!" (Rom.14:5). ("Obey Them that Have Rule Over You!" ML #2417:10, DB8, 2/88)

21. We have strict discipline and certain rules, like an army!—For we are an army! But you are expected to make your own decisions within the boundaries of these guidelines‚ on your own and with the Lord's help‚ and only refer it to your leaders if it's something they have to decide and that you're not allowed to decide, because if you don't start learning how to make decisions now for at least yourself, you'll never be a leader—and we need leaders—not robots—or slaves! ("Specifics!" ML #127:8, DB4, 11/71)

"None of These Things Move Me!" (ML #3307)

22. ACCUSATION: Mama is a control freak. Even though the Charter guarantees each Charter member's rights, as well as articulates his or her responsibilities‚ Mama still holds all the power and control through the GNs and prophecy.

23. (Mama: ) Those of you who live on the field and use the Charter know that there is plenty of opportunity for you to be in control of your own lives, Homes, ministries, and decisions.

24. Each of you has the right to exercise your personal initiative, faith and choice in the use of your gifts‚ talents, education and experience as you feel best. You also can live in the Home of your choice, providing that Home will have you. Or, as everyone knows, you are free to depart from the Family at any time you choose. You have the right to bring up any matter in your Home council and have it brought to a vote. You're free to move from your present Home to another, or open your own Home at any time after submitting a 30-day notice. You have the right to be informed of the financial state of your Home, and if you're 18 or older, to participate in all financial decisions. You have the right to make all medical decisions regarding yourselves and your children, and to communicate directly with your area officers.

25. Each Family Home has the right to choose its own officers, determine its own basic nature, goals and operating procedures—including how you will spend your time, what your outreach methods will be, and where you will live. Each Home is free to determine its personnel make–up and vote to revoke the Home membership of one of its members, and also to disband the Home at any time it chooses to do so.

26. Your Home council has the power to recommend someone be reclassified or excommunicated. You decide collectively how you will educate your children, as well as discipline them and errant Home members. You decide if you will permit a non-CM young person to live in your Home and under what conditions you will do so.

27. Peter and I have very little to do with the day-to-day running of your Homes. Yes, Peter and I lead the Family spiritually as God's appointed shepherds. But prayerfully determining the spiritual direction for the Family and receiving the Lord's fresh Word from Heaven is not synonymous with "control"—because you are voluntarily in the Family. You signed the Charter Membership contract of your own accord, therefore you willingly decided to obey counsel put forth by the Lord via the GNs. That's your choice, not control.

28. (Jesus speaking:) Maria and Peter are My servants, doing My bidding. They share with you what I show them, and they do so at the risk of being ridiculed, scorned, and even falsely accused. I am the One leading the Family, but I need your king and queen to be My embodiment for you. They didn't ask for the great responsibility that they carry, but they carry it with joy and a great measure of prayerfulness and wisdom, because they love Me and they fear Me and it's what I've asked them to do.

29. I'm the one leading the Family through your anointed shepherds. It's not their ideas, or their programs, or their words, or their message. It's all My doing. They're just yielded vessels in My hands‚ humbly serving Me and you, their Family, who they love so dearly. So if you don't like the way things are, or the way things are run‚ or the Word that is being published, don't blame Maria and Peter—they're just following Me. Ultimately I'm the One in charge, and they don't make a move or change or do anything without My stamp of approval.

30. Your king and queen are giving their lives for you. They spend hours in My presence day after day, week after week‚ year after year‚ in order to be faithful messengers of My Words to you. They didn't choose this job; I chose them. They're dependent on Me, desperate with Me, and they're giving their all—their time, health, blood, sweat and tears—for you. They're leading you where I show them to lead you. They're following Me so closely, and that's why I've kept them in this place of honor as your king and queen. (End of message from Jesus.) (ML #3307:123-131‚ GN 906).

"The Way Things Really Are in WS!" (ML #3309)

31. ACCUSATION: I believe in prophecy, and I believe God does speak. But it's gone too far to the point where it's controlling our lives.

32. (Mama: ) As far as prophecy controlling your life‚ let's put things into perspective. There are numerous unbelievers in the world today who say the Bible is a book that controls people's lives, that it manipulates and coerces people into doing or not doing certain things or behaving in a certain way. There are many people who say that Dad's Letters were coercive and made people do or believe certain things or behave in a certain way, and most of his Letters weren't prophecy. Now there are those who say the same about prophecy. The fact is, God's Word does have very definite things to say about behavior and belief, and those who don't like God's point of view often cry "coercion," "control," "manipulation."

33. God is very definite about right and wrong‚ about sin, about the things we should and shouldn't do. He wants people to act in a loving and unselfish manner. He doesn't want us to harm ourselves or others. He also wants us to grow spiritually, and since we've made the choice to serve Him, He wants to instruct us in how to best do so, which He does through His Word.

34. As Christians, and especially as Christians who have devoted our lives to serving the Lord full-time as missionaries, we should welcome the Lord's interaction in our lives. We should want to do what the Lord wants us to do, which He conveys through His Word, the Bible, the GNs, and in personal prophecy. If we don't want to follow what He tells us, then why are we serving Him? If we only want part-time or convenient Christianity, then active service in the Family isn't the thing to do. But if you have chosen to give your life to the Lord and to be His servant, then you need to read and receive His Word in all of its forms, and apply it to your life—even the parts you may not like or that aren't easy to live. That's not coercion on the Lord's part—it's love on your part. You love Him and have given your life to Him and you want to live the way He wants you to, thus you follow His Word.

35. We do not publish prophecy in the GNs in order to control your lives, or to manipulate or coerce the Family into doing a certain thing or behaving a certain way. We publish what the Lord tells us because that's the way He has chosen to convey His Words, guidance, and direction for the Family. It's true that sometimes His Words do give guidelines or say you shouldn't do this or that, and as His followers we should want to obey to the best of our ability—not because He's holding a big stick over our heads to "coerce" us to do so, but because we love and trust Him and know that what He shows us to do is for our own good or the good of His work.

36. If you look at prophecy negatively, then yes, it could seem to you like prophecy is dictating what you should and shouldn't do. But it's not just prophecy. If you look at the Bible negatively, the same could be said of it. For that matter, if you look at society's laws you could say the same. Any rules or guidelines from any source—be it the Word of God, the customs of society, the laws of a country, or the bylaws of a company—can seem restrictive if you don't choose to follow or obey them. If you don't want to obey the Word/customs/laws, then you will most likely feel restricted by them and think that other people have power over you, because they can curb your activities or otherwise hamper your plans. The sinner feels restricted by the teachings of the Bible and the criminal feels restricted by the laws of the country; that's just life. But that doesn't mean that the Word or the laws are coercive.

37. I realize that there are some of you who feel that we use prophecy too much, or that it's intrusive in your life. To you I say, if you're able to set aside your present thoughts, discontentment, and even feelings of resentfulness toward prophecy, and see its many benefits and realize what an incredible gift from the Lord it is, I think you'll find that your life will change in many ways. You will be happier, you will grow more quickly spiritually, and you'll be sharper in the spirit and more in tune with the Lord, because you'll be fully embracing one of the most important new weapons for these Last Days.

38. I can't convince you of the need for us as a Family to use so much prophecy. I've already given you the Lord's Words about it, as well as my personal thoughts on the subject in many GNs. If you still have a problem with that, you will need to ask the Lord for a new outlook. Ask Him to help you put on glasses of faith and to see things as He sees them. Don't let the Enemy get you looking at prophecy through his viewpoint. Of course he wants to tear down your faith in prophecy. If he isn't successful at that, he'll try his best to make you doubt the need for so much prophecy, and will be sure to draw your attention to anything that involves prophecy that isn't to your liking, or that you feel cramps your style, or that raises any questions in your mind.

39. As I see it‚ prophecy has helped the Family in numerous ways. It's given each of us a direct and clear connection with the Lord. Even if you have a hard time with the amount of prophecy or are still struggling to apply the "Ask Me Everything" concept personally, you can't deny the wonderful gift that Jesus has given you in being able to hear His voice at any time, on any subject. The Lord has also poured out wonderful truths and mysteries of the spirit world through prophecy, which we probably wouldn't have gotten any other way.

40. You may feel that the downside of prophecy is that someone in your Home can get a message from the Lord for or about you or something that involves you‚ and then what can you say about it? Someone else is controlling your life through prophecy. To narrow it down, prophecy is controlling your life. Well, you have to remember that you're not bound to obey every prophecy that is received for you personally. That's made very clear in the Charter. You can ask the Lord things too, and you're responsible to get personal confirmations and to make sure that what you do with your life and service for the Lord is what the Lord wants you to do personally. You shouldn't feel bound or think that once a prophecy has been gotten by someone for you personally, that you can't ask the Lord further about it and receive your own confirmation from Him. If someone has gotten a prophecy for you and you don't have the faith to act on it, or you don't believe it's what the Lord is leading you to do‚ according to the Charter you're not obligated to carry it out. (See also "Understanding Prophecy, Pt.1," ML #3275:125-139‚ GN 875.)

41. (If there are‚ however, prophecies received for or about your Home, and your Home council votes on a matter related to them‚ then that's a different story and you are obligated to accept that Home decision even if you personally feel otherwise. Of course, you can always bring up a matter for further discussion, prayer and another vote.)

42. Peter and I pray very desperately over the prophecies that are published in the GNs, we receive numerous confirmations‚ and we believe that these are the messages that the Lord has given to the Family for our overall instruction, guidance and edification. We hope and pray that you're applying them to your life and utilizing the counsel and instruction in the GNs to the best of your ability. Naturally, the application of the GNs may vary depending on the situation. For example, a GN which emphasizes a certain style of outreach might be very applicable in some countries but might not apply in a practical manner in China or another restrictive country. Those reading the GN in China would be expected to pray about whether it can be implemented there or not. In such a case, the Lord might tell them to apply the principles of the GN but to not put the specifics into action. Each Home and area needs to be Spirit-led in the implementation of those GNs which give specific instruction.

43. Peter and I do not connive or conspire together about ways to control the Family through prophecy. We don't have a set agenda, rig prophecies‚ or alter them to suit our purpose or what we think is best. Sometimes the prophecies even take faith for us to believe. We are very desperate about the prophecies that we receive and publish, and we continue to seek the Lord and receive counsel and His confirmations until we know that we've found the Lord's will. Prophecy isn't meant to control your life or the Family at large; it's meant to be a light, to be a guide, and to give you the answers to your questions, the solutions to your problems.

44. I feel that the bottom line with prophecy and why you should be thankful for it, accept it, and try your best to do what it says is because prophecy is the Lord's Word. Prophecy is the Lord speaking—or Dad, a spirit helper, etc., as the case may be. When the Lord speaks, we should reverence His Words and appreciate the time He's taking to speak to us personally. We shouldn't be irreverent and disregard what He's saying, or get familiar with it. And we certainly shouldn't feel like He's being such a bother, meddling in our lives too much, or giving us counsel regarding matters that He shouldn't be interfering with.

45. As a Christian, you've made the choice to give your life to God, to believe Him, to do your best for Him, to let Him use you to be a vessel of love to others. By choosing to be in the Family, you've gone a step further and you should feel, like the Apostle Paul did‚ that "the love of Christ constrains you." You're supposed to be laying down your life on the altar of God's service—letting your light shine so that the poor people who are in darkness can see the Lord's love and light through you.

46. If that's your goal, then why would you not want to hear the Lord's Words, even all day long? If He's willing to stoop to your level to instruct you, encourage you, even give you counsel on mundane decisions, such as where to go witnessing, what flannelgraph to teach the children, what type of meal to cook‚ what to tell a sheep on the phone‚ etc., then why wouldn't you be willing to listen? You should be happy to—overjoyed, in fact—and realize that you are privileged to have at your disposal a tool that guarantees that you will reach your goal of being a top-notch missionary!

47. If you're giving your life for the Lord, why hesitate to take the help that He offers? If you really want to go all the way with the Lord, then you should grab on to prophecy and not let go! … It's for your benefit, not to bog you down or hinder you. Latch on to it! (ML #3309:84–99, GN 910.)

As far as keeping people in the Family or holding them through fear of God's judgments if they depart, we've often emphasized the fact that people are here voluntarily.

"Backsliders!" (ML #140)

48. We personally have never even approved of trying to persuade anyone to stay in any way who expressed the slightest desire to leave or return home! Anyone who has joined our group should already know enough reasons why he should stay‚ which were the same reasons for which he joined, so he should not have to be told any more why he shouldn't leave! It's always been our personal policy, when we found someone who wanted to leave‚ to simply ask them why‚ maybe answer any questions they might have or correct any misunderstandings which may be responsible, apologize for any of our mistakes which might have caused them to want to leave, but not to discourage them from leaving if they still want to.

49. I've always kept sweet, loving, gentle, kind, sympathetic, and tried to be understanding with [those] who want to go home. … I usually just asked them a few questions, listened to their answers‚ tried to correct any misunderstandings, apologized for any mistakes, explained any difficulties, rebuked any officer who might have offended them, and told them we were sincerely sorry if it had been anything that was our fault, and tried to be as understanding as possible of their reasons for wanting to go back.

50. If this gentle clarification of the issues at stake did not clear up the matter or change their minds, we would usually have sweet prayer together, kiss, embrace—sometimes cheerfully—and offer to help them call home for the funds to return, and take them to the airport or station with a genuinely loving farewell, sometimes even giving some of the boys a little money so they could hitchhike home, assuring them they would be welcome to return if they ever felt led to do so!

51. This gentle, loving, and understanding treatment of those who want to leave has often paid off, not only in keeping them as a friend instead of antagonizing them so that you send them away as an enemy, but it has frequently encouraged them later to return, after having again found out that the pit was not where it's at, and home is not what it used to be, and that they have really become a different person who can no longer enjoy it, but know they must serve the Lord!

52. Sometimes, by a little friendly and understanding farewell discussion, we have found that their reasons for going home were not necessarily all excuses, but sometimes a genuine desire to witness to their unsaved loved ones in real concern or straighten out their affairs, or make some restitution, so they would feel free to return again having delivered their soul, paid their debt‚ etc.

53. Where these hardline, get-tough tactics began‚ I don't know, but they certainly didn't begin with me! I certainly never taught you so, nor set you any such unloving example. Some of you leaders have been with me and even in on these calm farewell conferences, and you know that I have never used such roughshod scare tactics in dealing with backsliders, much less people who had good reasons for going home. Where did you learn this kind of hard attitude and method of dealing with such cases? It certainly wasn't from me! (ML #140:11-17, Vol.1).

"Be True to the Revolution!"
(ML #3364)

54. If you are a Charter member, but you personally don't feel you can live the life of a full-time disciple anymore, that's okay. You can choose a different circle of membership within the overall Family‚ or another life altogether, outside of the Family. That's perfectly okay. But for those who choose to stay as Charter members‚ that means discipleship—as in following Jesus‚ living the Word, dropping out, not compromising for gain, living Acts 2:44 and 45, etc. …

55. I hope you realize that we're trying to help you make an educated decision by clearly stating that Peter and I will continue to publish what the Lord shows us. We have no intentions of doing away with the radical doctrines we now have, or the ones the Lord may reveal in the future. It's not like Peter and I are "forcing" you to preach the meat of the Word; we're showing you realistically what you can expect if you choose to remain a member of the Family. And of course no one is forcing you to stay in the Family.

56. Each of you needs to make a decision! To do this you must:

  1. Pray about where you stand. Be honest with yourself. Decide where your convictions lie and whether you're willing to stand up for the radical doctrines of the Family. Take into serious consideration that the Family is not becoming mainstream‚ and the meat of the Word will become known eventually. You can't hide from it or think it won't be an issue.
  2. Determine where you want to serve the Lord—in the Family as CM, FM, or Active member, or part of our general membership‚ or in the church of your choice.
  3. Make whatever changes you need to make. That could mean a change of your classification in the Family, or no longer being part of the Family and beginning a new life in the System.
  4. If you decide to continue as a Charter member, you'll need to rid your life, Home and work of the compromises that will only hurt you and others, including your toning down, ignoring‚ or denying either the radical doctrines of the Family or the Family name. (ML #3364:32, 158-159, GN 960)

"The Professionals" (ML #3399)

57. (Peter:) The publishing of the CvsC series did sift the ranks, as it caused each of us to either recommit to discipleship or choose another level of service. That was one purpose for it—to help people to assess their faith and see if they wanted to continue in the CM Family when they clearly understood what full-time discipleship means. We have used the term "Gideon's band" frequently in the Letters, as did Dad, but that should not be seen as a derogatory term. It's not with a "good riddance" attitude that we refer to that. It's to remind us all of the Biblical precedent that that's how the Lord works. He tests the faith of His followers, as He would rather have fewer soldiers who are fully dedicated than a large army, if many of the latter are distracted and not fully committed. …

58. Why would anyone choose to be a disciple in the Family? Why put up with all that's expected of a disciple? Why live the sacrificial lifestyle?—Because we love the Lord. Our love for Him causes us to live the discipleship life, and that's not easy. We're not just Christians, we're professional Christians. Christian service is our profession. It's our full-time job. It's what we do. It's what we live for. As a pro, we have to keep ourselves in shape‚ work with our team, grow in skill‚ and submit to our coaches, just like a professional athlete. If you're a disciple, you're a professional‚ and with that comes the requirement of being and remaining a professional.

59. The fact is, there are a lot of requirements involved in being a professional Christian, a disciple in the Family. A lot is expected of you. It's often difficult‚ it's sacrificial‚ but it's what it takes to be a disciple, and that's not going to change. Not only has that been the foundation of the Family from the beginning‚ but it's right there in Jesus' Own Words in the Bible.

60. However, I think a misconception that many have—especially, but not only‚ the younger folks—is that you have to live the life of a full-time disciple to be in the Family. That's not true. You can be a Family member without being a Charter member disciple. You can love the Lord, love others, and live a life of service in the Family without having to deal with the difficulties of being a full-time disciple. How do you do that? By being a Fellow member.

61. Many tend to look down on Fellow members. Some consider the Fellow member circle a place where failures or problem cases go, those who "couldn't make it." But that's not what Fellow membership is all about. Fellow members are important, full-fledged members of the Family—they believe‚ they witness, win souls, and pass out the message; they tithe and do many of the same things as Charter members. The difference is that they've decided that living the full-time discipleship life within the CM Family is not for them. But though they don't live the way the Charter members are required to, they are Family members who are valuable and who collectively do a wonderful job. …

62. It bugs me when people outside the Family speak ill of the Family, and it bugs me when people in the Family speak ill of those who decide to leave. For many it's a difficult decision to leave the Family. They know they're entering a completely different society than the one they've been in for years. They face a whole new life, with different challenges and problems, and it can be scary. We've been trying to help the Family understand this and have encouraged them to show love and compassion, to be helpful, to not be condemning. For the most part it seems that Family members have changed their mindsets about those who leave. …

63. It is a shame that so many young people choose to leave the Family. It's a problem that Mama and I have written quite a bit about over the years, and it's our hope that the JETT/Teen boards around the world will help find further solutions toward making serving the Lord more appealing, so when the young people reach the age of decision, they will choose to continue on in the Family. However, no matter what good changes come about as a result of the boards, we will still have people deciding to leave the Family in the future. That's natural and to be expected, since people need to make up their own minds, and serving the Lord in the Family just isn't for everyone. I'm not saying that lightly; I'm just realistically stating the facts. …

64. If you want total freedom to do what you want, whenever you want, as much as you want, then the Family is not for you. If that's your goal in life, then you should realize that you will never be happy in the Family, because we do have rules and we're expected to live our lives in compliance with them. There are also the spiritual requirements of disciples; there are things the Lord expects of us, which we need to live up to as professional Christians. If someone doesn't want to try to meet those expectations, if they don't want to live according to the rules, then that's fine; it's just that they can't continue to live in the Family any more than a professional sports figure can remain on the team if he or she doesn't keep up. …

65. Discipleship is a tough profession. It requires a high standard in spirit and behavior. It requires forsaking all, obedience, yieldedness‚ and willingness to do the job even if everything isn't to your liking—even if nothing is to your liking! As a disciple, sometimes you have to carry on when everything and everyone seems to be against you, when you feel so down you don't see how you can last one more minute. On top of it, you have the Devil and his minions such as Lethargy, Pan, Bacchus, Selvegion and Apotheon trying with all their might to convince you to give up, and if they can't get you to do that, then to compromise.

66. Discipleship is a hard profession. Not many take it up, and many of those who do‚ eventually give it up. Why? Because it's a difficult life. It's extremely rewarding, but at times extremely difficult. Even in Jesus' day‚ when the going got tough and the message got strong, "many of His disciples went back‚ and walked no more with Him" (John 6:66). When Jesus asked the 12 if they'd go too‚ Peter answered succinctly‚ with a powerful message as to why we are disciples‚ why we serve God every day, why we have chosen such a difficult profession: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:68-69).

67. That's what we believe. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He has called us to serve Him unconditionally as disciples at whatever price He asks. That's the commitment, that's the job, that's the profession.—And we're proud to do it because Jesus, Who is our King, Savior, Best Friend, and Husband, has asked it of us. (ML #3399:24, 31-33, 35, 182, 202, 206, 275-277, GN 993)


What the Charter says about freedom of choice in the Family


(Pages 19-21)

Charter members have the right to:

A. Individual choice and self–determination. God endows each Charter member with gifts and talents, which, along with their experiences, education and training—physically, intellectually and spiritually—help to compose the unique person they are. Each individual has the right to exercise his personal initiative, faith and choice in the use of his gifts, talents, education and experience, providing these are consistent with the goals of the overall Family and the "Fundamental Family Rules," and with the agreed-upon goals and Home regulations of the Home in which they reside. If they determine that they cannot exercise these rights in their present circumstances, they have the right to attempt to change their circumstances through their Home council meetings, through the election of the Home's officers, through moving to another Home or the pioneering of their own Home.

The term "individual choice" is used to stress that each and every Charter member of voting age has just that—the right to choose the things he or she wants to do. Of course, if you choose to do things that are not in agreement with what the Family is all about, then you may be in jeopardy of losing your membership, or if you wish, you can choose to leave the Family.

The definition of self-determination is: "Determination of one's own fate or course of action without compulsion." This is included to ensure you the right to make personal choices without anyone compelling you to do something you don't want to do. The definitions of compel are: "To force, drive, or constrain; to necessitate or pressure by force; to exert a strong, irresistible force on." As Dad said‚ "We have to choose for ourselves, find His will for ourselves‚ seek Him diligently to know His will‚ and to know what is best for us and others through our knowledge of His Word and personal experience. This is why He put us here‚ this is what we're here to learn, and the major part of our training: How to make the right decisions through our personal contact with Him, our knowledge of His Word and His will, and our love for Him and others" (ML #238:9).

Throughout the Letters, Dad and Mama have said that each individual should determine his own course of action without anyone pressuring, forcing, or exerting strong, irresistible force on him to do something he doesn't want to do. We trust that you love the Lord enough and are spiritually mature enough to make the right decisions through prayer, His Word and godly counsel. The only One Who should compel or constrain us to do anything is Jesus. "For the love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14). His Word and your love for Him are what should motivate you to do the right things, not because someone is making you do them‚ but because you choose to out of love. If you must be forced to obey and follow the Lord rather than obey Him because you love Him, then you're not a very strong disciple.

This doesn't mean that you should now "do your own thing" and act however you want without any concern for others or the Family. If you wish to remain a Charter member, you must operate within the boundaries of the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules." And as long as you do‚ you are free to follow the Lord as you feel led‚ without anyone forcing you to do anything you don't feel is God's will for you.

You have the right to exercise your personal initiative and faith and to be in a Home where you are best able to do so. If not, you have the right to try to change the situation through your voting power, or move to a different Home, or pioneer your own Home with those who are like-minded; or if you feel you have no place in the Family, you are free to leave if you choose.

*You are expected to make your own decisions within the boundaries of these guidelines, on your own, and with the Lord's help, and only refer it to your leaders if it's something they have to decide, and that you're not allowed to decide, because if you don't start learning how to make decisions now for at least yourself, you'll never be a leader.—And we need leaders‚ not robots or slaves! (ML #127:14).

B. Determine by prayer, discussion, debate and voting, the basic nature, goals, direction and activities of the Home, providing they are consistent with the goals of the continental area in which they reside, and of the overall Family.

You have the right to help decide the direction, the goals and the basic nature of your Home, and the activities that your Home undertakes to meet those goals. You have the right to pray, discuss with others, and debate any issues in your Home council meetings before voting on a course of action.

*All decisions of any kind should never be dictated by one person, without agreement by other leaders and/or the rest of the body, as seems necessary. ... Any decisions made on the part of any individuals without such due consultation and agreement could be considered null and void, because others affected were not consulted nor conferred with. This is the way we personally have always operated even within our own tiny personal family (ML #210:40).


(Pages 152-154)

All Family officers are obligated to:

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.

In any case‚ the person or the Home should make the final decision on the matter, not the leader.

*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).


(Pages 231-232)

C. Family Rules are only those things specifically mandated or forbidden in the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" or "Fundamental Family Rules."

If it's not in the Charter or the "Fundamental Family Rules" it's not a Family rule! This is a very important point. Everyone needs to understand that other than the specific rules listed in the Charter or the "Fundamental Family Rules," there are no other rules in place for the worldwide Family.

The Family is expected to fulfill the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and obey the "Fundamental Family Rules," as well as Home regulations that the Home itself establishes by a majority vote. If someone violates, contravenes or fails to fulfill these, they can be disciplined, but only for those reasons.

D. The individual and/or the Home should decide upon all matters that are not addressed in the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and "Fundamental Family Rules" after prayer, counsel, and the reading of the Bible, the MLs and other Family publications.

As stated above, any matter not addressed in the Charter or in the "Fundamental Family Rules" isn't a rule. It is up to each individual and/or Home to decide how or if other matters should be made rules for their lives or Homes. Of course, you will want to pray about all such matters, counsel about them, look in the Letters and other Family pubs to see the counsel given, but then it's up to you and/or your Home to make a decision on how or whether or not to apply the counsel.

As you know, there is a wealth of counsel and guidance throughout the Letters and the other pubs, which should be adhered to, and if you read and apply this counsel the Lord will undoubtedly bless you. It is, however, up to you to make the decision whether to follow that counsel or not. It is your responsibility to make that decision and to live with the outcome of your choices. You have the right to choose in these matters, and you have the responsibility for your choices.

*This is what we're trying to do through the MO Letters, like Paul's Epistles. We're trying to advise you from what we've learned from the Lord, our own experience, but you don't necessarily have to do what we say! You can make your own decisions, according to your own leading from the Lord! (ML #127:28).

End of File