Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.Proverbs 15:22 NLT
…..victory depends on having many advisers. Proverbs 24:6 NLT
None of us enjoys getting our ideas shot down by a committee or board. Yet there is safety in numbers only if everyone speaks their mind in a humble and Christlike way. I have talked to new church board members who told me, they aren’t really sure what to do, so they just watch and vote the way everyone else is voting. There is no point in having many advisers if they all think alike. There is also no point in having many advisers if they don’t warn us of the consequences of the board or committee’s choices. Also the board must realize their loyalty must belong to the mission of the group and not just to the leader of the group.
While I was taking a Speech and Communications class, at a local community college, the professor introduced me to the phrase “Group Think.”
According to my professor, group think is a phenomenon, where being a part of the group is actually more important than the mission or beliefs and values of the group itself. It is where you are afraid of disagreeing with the group, in order to protect the mission of the group, for fear of being separated from the group.
Symptoms of group think are when the group over estimates its power and authority, and becomes close minded. Group members experience pressure to conform, regardless if conforming is actually helping the group accomplish its mission. Membership in the group actually becomes more important than the mission of the group.
My professor gave some examples. In Watergate all the President’s men agree to break in and bug the democratic headquarters. Later many confessed they knew it was wrong, but they complied for fear of no longer being able to work next to the President. Being a part of the group became more important than the mission of the United States government.
As my professor explained, I started thinking of some examples of “group think” in the Bible. The Jews all agreed to crucify Jesus and release Barabbas because that’s what the leaders wanted. This actually brought unity to the group, but at what expense! People were afraid to confess Jesus for fear of being thrown out of the group or synagogue. Yet Jesus was the whole purpose of the synagogue! When this phenomenon occurred the group defeated its purpose of being a
group just in order to be in the group. They may have even thought they were protecting the group from Roman persecution by having Jesus crucified, but without Jesus the group meant nothing.
Having many advisers will keep us focused on our mission only if they are not afraid to speak up.
The greatest want of the world is the want of men– men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. -Ellen White, Education, Page 57.
You may study the Proverbs Sabbath School lesson here.