Our piety and religious duties will become narrowed down to our own interests unless we are daily partakers of the spirit of Christ. Interest for the souls of others is calculated to give breadth and depth and stability to Christian character.
The Lord is coming. We are nearing home, and we want to take large inspirations of the heavenly atmosphere; then we shall become identified with the Saviour in all His plans. We shall be elevated and able to elevate others, and shall be efficient in good works.
Chap. 66 – Needs of Our Institutions
From time to time I have felt urged by the Spirit of the Lord to bear testimony in regard to the necessity of procuring the very best talent to work in the various institutions and other departments of the cause. Heretofore there has not been sufficient care to secure the best ability for all parts of our work. Those who bear responsibilities must be men trained for the work, men whom God can teach and whom He can honor with wisdom and understanding, as He did Daniel. They must be thinking men, men who bear God’s impress and who are steadily progressing in holiness, in moral dignity, and in an understanding of their work. They must be praying men, men who will come up into the mount and view the glory of God and the dignity of the heavenly beings whom He has ordained to have charge of His work. Then, like Moses, they will follow the pattern given them in the mount; and they will be on the alert to secure and bring into connection with the work the very best talent that can be obtained. If they are growing men, possessing sanctified intelligence; if they listen to the voice of God and seek to catch every ray of light from heaven, they will, like the sun, pursue an undeviating course, and they will grow in wisdom and in favor with God.
The publishing department is an important branch of God’s work, and all connected with it should feel that it is ordained of God and that all heaven is interested in it. Especially should those who have a voice in the management of the work have breadth of mind and sanctified judgment. They should not waste their Lord’s money by thoughtlessness or lack of business tact; neither should they make the mistake of limiting the work by the adoption of narrow plans and trusting the work to men of small ability.
It has been repeatedly represented to me that all our institutions should be managed by men who are spiritually minded and who will not weave their own defective ideas and plans into their management. This work should not be left to men who will mingle the sacred with the common and who will regard the work of God as being upon about the same level as earthly things, to be managed in about the same common way in which they have been in the habit of managing their own temporal affairs. Until those can be connected with our institutions who have breadth of mind and who can lay plans in harmony with the growth of the work and its exalted character, the tendency will be to narrow down everything that is undertaken, and God will be dishonored. Oh, that all who have responsibilities to bear in connection with the cause of God would come up into a higher, holier atmosphere, where every true Christian should be! If they would, then both they and the work which they represent would be elevated and clothed with sacred dignity, and they would command the respect of all connected with the work.
Among those employed in our institutions have been men who have not sought counsel of God, who have not conformed to the great principles of truth which God has laid down in His word, and who have consequently manifested marked defects of character. As the result the greatest work ever committed to mortals has been marred by man’s defective management;
whereas, if heaven’s rules had been made the governing principle, there would have been a much nearer approach to perfection in all departments of the work.
Those placed in leading positions should be men who have sufficient breadth of mind to appreciate persons of cultivated intellect and to recompense them proportionately to the responsibilities they bear. True, those who engage in the work of God should not do so merely for the wages they receive, but rather for the honor of God, for the advancement of His cause, and to obtain imperishable riches. At the same time we should not expect that those who are capable of doing with exactness and thoroughness work that requires thought and painstaking effort should receive no greater compensation than the less skillful workman. A true estimate must be placed upon talent. Those who cannot appreciate good work and true ability should not be managers in our institutions, for their influence would tend to circumscribe the work and to bring it down to a low level.
If our institutions would be as prosperous as God designs they shall be, there must be more thoughtfulness and earnest prayer, mingled with unabating zeal and spiritual ardor. To connect the right class of laborers with the work may require a greater outlay of means, but it will be economy in the end; for while it is essential that economy be exercised in everything possible, it will be found that the efforts to save means by employing those who will work for low wages, and whose labor corresponds in character with their wages, will result in loss. The work will be retarded and the cause belittled. Brethren, you may economize as much as you please in your personal affairs, in building your houses, in arranging your clothing, in providing your food, and in your general expenses; but do not bring this economy to bear upon the work of God in such a way as to hinder men of ability and true moral worth from engaging in it.
In the Olympic games to which the apostle Paul calls our attention, those engaged in the races were required to make most thorough preparations. For months they were trained by different masters in the physical exercises calculated to give strength and vigor to the body. They were restricted to such food as would keep the body in the most healthy condition, and their clothing was such as would leave every organ and muscle untrammeled. Now if those who were to engage in running a race for earthly honor were obliged to submit to such severe discipline in order to succeed, how much more necessary it is for those who are to engage in the work of the Lord to be thoroughly disciplined and prepared, if they would be successful! Their preparation should be as much more thorough, their earnestness and self-denying efforts as much greater, than were those of the aspirants for worldly honors, as heavenly things are of more value than earthly. The mind, as well as the muscles, should be trained to the most diligent and persevering efforts. The road to success is not a smooth way over which we are borne in palace cars, but it is a rugged path filled with obstacles which can be surmounted only by patient toil.
My brethren, not one half the care has been taken that there should have been to impress upon those who could labor in the cause the importance of qualifying themselves for the work. With their powers all undisciplined, they can do but imperfect work; but if they shall be trained by wise and consecrated teachers, and are led by the Spirit of God, they will not only be able to do good work themselves, but will give the right mold to others who may work with them. It should, then, be their constant study to learn how they can become more intelligent in the work in which they are engaged. None should rest in ease and inaction; but all should seek to elevate and ennoble themselves, lest by their deficient understanding they fail to realize the exalted character of the work and lower it to meet their own finite standard.
I saw that there was great inefficiency in the bookkeeping in many departments of the cause. Bookkeeping is, and ever will be, an important part of the work; and those who have become expert in it are greatly needed in our institutions and in all branches of the missionary work. It is a work that requires study that it may be done with correctness and dispatch, and without worry or overtaxation; but the training of competent persons for this work has been shamefully neglected. It is a disgrace to allow a work of such magnitude as ours to be done in a defective, inaccurate way. God wants as perfect work as it is possible for human beings to do. It is a dishonor to sacred truth and its Author to do His work in any other way. I saw that unless the workers in our institutions were subject to the authority of God, there would be a lack of harmony and unity of action among them. If all will obey His directions, the Lord will stand as the invisible commander; but there must also be a visible head who fears God. The Lord will never accept a careless, disorderly company of workers; neither will He undertake to lead forward and upward to noble heights and certain victory those who are self-willed and disobedient. The upward progress of the soul indicates that Jesus bears rule in the heart. That heart through which He diffuses His peace and joy, and the blessed fruits of His love, becomes His temple and His throne. “Ye are My friends,” says Christ, “if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Our institutions are far beneath what God would have them be, because many of those connected with them are not in fellowship with Him. They are not growing men. They are not constantly learning of Jesus; therefore they are not becoming more and more efficient. If they would come close to Him and seek His help, He would walk with them and talk with them; He would be their counselor in all things, and would grant to them, as He did to Daniel, heavenly wisdom and understanding.
Years ago I saw that our people were far behind in obtaining that knowledge which would qualify them for positions of trust in the cause. Every member of the church should put forth efforts to qualify himself to do work for the Master. To each has been appointed a work, according to his ability. Even now, at the eleventh hour, we should arouse to educate men of ability for the work, that they may, while occupying positions of trust themselves, be educating by precept and example all who are associated with them.
Through a selfish ambition some have kept from others the knowledge they could have imparted. Others have not cared to tax themselves by educating anyone else. Yet this would have been the very best kind of work they could have done for Jesus. Says Christ: “Ye are the light of the world,” and for this reason we are to let our light shine before men.
If all that the Lord has spoken in reference to these things had been heeded, our institutions would today occupy a higher and holier place than they do. But men have been satisfied with small attainments. They have not sought with all their might to rise in mental, moral, and physical capabilities. They have not felt that God required this of them; they have not realized that Christ died that they might do this very work. As the result they are far behind what they might be in intelligence and in the ability to think and plan. They could have added virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge, and thus have become strong in the Lord. But this they have failed to do. Let each go to work now with a firm determination to rise. The present need of the cause is not so much for more men as for greater skill and consecration in the laborers.
Chap. 67 – Our Institutions at Battle Creek
The evils arising from centering so many responsibilities in Battle Creek have not been few. The dangers are many because of the unconsecrated elements that wait only until a change of circumstances shall encourage them to put all their influence on the side of wrong. If all those connected with our institutions were only devoted and spiritually minded, relying upon God more than upon themselves, there would be far greater prosperity than we have hitherto seen. But while there is such decided lack of humble trust and entire dependence upon God, we cannot be sure of anything. Our great need today is for men who are baptized with the Holy Spirit of God–men who walk with God as did Enoch. We do not want men who are so narrow in their outlook that they will circumscribe the work instead of enlarging it, or who follow the motto: “Religion is religion; business is business.” We need men who are farseeing, who can take in the situation and reason from cause to effect.
The teachers in our college should be men and women of well-balanced minds, who have a strong moral influence, who know how to deal wisely with minds, and who possess the true missionary spirit. If all were of this character, the burdens that now rest on the president would be lightened, and the danger of his becoming prematurely worn would be obviated. But it is this wisdom that is lacking.
It is not desirable to place the tuition too low. It should be sufficient to meet the expenses, even if the college is not so largely patronized. Those who really prize the advantages to be obtained there will make extra exertions to secure them. The larger part of those who would be induced to come because of the low tuition would be of no benefit to other
students or to the church. The larger the number, the more tact, skill, and vigilance is required in their management.
When the college was first started, there was a fund placed in the Review and Herald office for the benefit of those who wished to obtain an education, but had not the means. This was used by several students, who thus had a good start and could earn enough to replace the amount they had drawn, that others might be benefited by it.
Some provision should now be made for the maintenance of such a fund to loan to poor but worthy students who desire to prepare themselves for missionary work. There are among us persons of ability who might be of good service in the cause were they but looked after and encouraged. When any of these are too poor to obtain the advantages of the college, the churches should feel it a privilege to defray their expenses. The youth should have it plainly set before them that so far as possible they must work to meet their own expenses. That which costs little will be lightly appreciated; that which costs something near its true value will be estimated accordingly. But the churches in different fields should feel that a solemn responsibility rests upon them in regard to training youth and educating older persons to engage in missionary effort. When they see among them any who give promise of making useful workers, but who are not able to educate themselves, they should take the responsibility of sending them to the college to be instructed and developed.
Qualifications of Managers
There should be a thorough reformation on the part of the men who are now connected with our important institutions. They possess some valuable traits of character, while they are sadly lacking in others. Their character needs to have a different mold, one after the likeness of Christ. They must all
remember that they have not yet attained unto perfection, that the work of character building is not yet finished. If they will walk in every ray of light that God has given; if they will compare themselves with Christ’s life and character, they will discern where they have failed to meet the requirements of God’s holy law and will seek to make themselves perfect in their sphere, even as God in heaven is perfect in His sphere. If these men had realized the importance of these things, they would today be far in advance of their present condition, far better qualified to fill places of trust. During these hours of probation they are to seek for perfection of character. They must learn daily of Christ. They are connected with the work of God, not because they are perfect, unerring men, without defects of character, but notwithstanding these defects. God expects them, while connected with His work, to be constantly studying and learning how to copy the Pattern.
Jesus connected John, Peter, and Judas with Him in His work, making them colaborers with Him; but at the same time they were to be constantly learning lessons of Christ. They were to gather from His divine teachings instructions which were to correct their wrong ideas and their erroneous views of what constitutes a Christian character. John and Peter were not perfect men, but they improved every opportunity to learn. Peter did not learn to distrust himself, to be jealous of himself, until he was overcome by the temptations of the devil and denied his Lord. Judas had the same opportunity that these disciples had to learn the lessons taught by Christ, but he did not appreciate their value. He was a hearer only and not a doer. The result was seen in his betrayal of his Lord.
The men whom God has connected with His institutions are not to feel that there is no improvement for them to make because they stand in responsible positions. If they are to be representative men, guardians of the most sacred work ever committed to mortals, they must take the position of learners.
They must not feel self-sufficient or self-important. They should ever realize that they are treading on holy ground. Angels of God are ready to minister to them, and they must be continually in reception of light and heavenly influences, or they are no more fitted for the work than unbelievers.
If the character of the men connected with the office at Battle Creek were so transformed that they could have a helpful influence over those under their control, then the outlook would be more encouraging. Whatever the men employed there may think of their ability, I have reason to say that many will need to improve greatly before they are qualified to fill their positions acceptably. They may feel competent to give counsel, but they are themselves in need of counsel from Him who is unerring in wisdom. Great and important interests are in danger of being misshaped and of coming forth defective from their hands. If all felt their ignorance more, and would depend less on self, they might learn of the great Teacher meekness and lowliness of heart.
God is observing everything that transpires in the office. “Thou God seest me,” should be always in mind. Everyone who bears responsibilities in the office should be courteous and kind to all. An ever-abiding sense of the presence of Christ would prevent the encroachment upon others’ rights which is so common in the world’s practice, but which is an offense to God. The love of Jesus must be incorporated into the lives of the workers in the several departments of the office, in order that justice may be done, not only to the work, but to one another.
The very first work, my brethren, is to secure the blessing of God in your own hearts. Then bring this blessing into your homes, put away your criticisms, overcome your exacting ways, and let the spirit of cheerfulness and kindness prevail. The atmosphere of your homes will be carried with you to the office, and heavenly peace will surround your souls. Wherever
the love of Jesus reigns there is pitying tenderness and thoughtfulness of others.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 pp. 549-558