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Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3

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    Chapter 29—To a Young Minister and His Wife

    Dear Brother and Sister A,

    For some months I have felt that it was time to write to you some things which the Lord was pleased to show me in regard to you several years ago. Your cases were shown me in connection with those of others who had a work to do for themselves in order to be fitted for the work of presenting the truth. I was shown that you were both deficient in essential qualifications and that if these are not obtained your usefulness and the salvation of your own souls will be endangered. You have some faults in your characters which it is very important that you should correct. If you neglect to take hold of the work resolutely and in earnest, these wrongs will increase upon you and will greatly cripple your influence in the cause and work of God, and will finally result in your being separated from the work of preaching the truth, which you love so well.3T 304.1

    In the vision given me for B, I was shown that he had a very unfortunate stamp of character. He had not been disciplined, and his temper had not been subdued. He had been permitted to have his own head and to do very much as he pleased. He was greatly deficient in reverence for God and man. He had a strong, unsubmissive spirit and but a very faint idea of proper gratitude to those who were doing their utmost for him. He was extremely selfish.3T 304.2

    I was shown that independence, a firm, set, unyielding will, a lack of reverence and due respect for others, selfishness and too great self-confidence, mark the character of Sister A. If she does not watch closely and overcome these defects in her character she will surely fail of sitting with Christ in His throne.3T 305.1

    In regard to Brother A, I was shown that many of the things mentioned in the testimony to B applied to you. I was pointed back to your past life. I saw that from a child you have been self-confident, headstrong, and self-willed, and have followed your own mind. You have an independent spirit, and it has been very difficult for you to yield to anyone. When it was your duty to yield your way and your wishes to others, you would carry matters out in your own rash way. You have felt that you were fully competent to think and act for yourself independently. The truth of God has been accepted and loved by you and has done much for you, but it has not wrought all that transformation necessary for the perfection of Christian character. When you first started out to labor in the cause of God you felt more humble and were willing to be advised and counseled. But as you began to be successful in a degree, your self-confidence increased, and you were less humble and became more independent.3T 305.2

    As you looked at the work of Brother and Sister White you thought that you could see where you could have done better than they. Feelings have been cherished in your heart against them. You were naturally skeptical, infidel, in your feelings. As you have seen their work, and heard the reproofs given to those who were wrong, you have questioned how you would bear such plain testimony. You decided that you could not receive it, and began to brace yourself against the manner of their laboring, and thus opened a door in your heart for suspicion, doubt, and jealousy of them and their work.3T 305.3

    You became prejudiced in your feelings against their labor. You watched, and listened, and gathered up all you could, and surmised much. Because God had given you a measure of success, you began to place your short experience and labors upon a level with Brother White's labors. You flattered yourself that, were you in his place, you could do very much better than he. You began to grow large in your own eyes. You thought your knowledge far more extensive and valuable than it was. Had you had one-hundredth part of the experience in real labor, care, perplexity, and burden bearing in this cause that Brother White has had, you would be better able to understand his work and be better prepared to sympathize with him in his labors, rather than to murmur and be suspicious and jealous of him.3T 306.1

    In regard to your own post of labor you should be very jealous of yourself lest you fail to do your work to God's acceptance, and lest you fail to honor the cause of truth in your labors. You should, in humiliation of soul, feel: “Who is sufficient for these things?” The reason why both of you are so ready to question and surmise in regard to Brother White's work is because you know so little about it. So few real burdens have ever pressed upon your souls, so little real anguish for the cause of God has touched your hearts, so little perplexity and real distress have you borne for others, that you are no more prepared to appreciate his work than is a ten-year-old boy the care, anxiety, and wearisome toil of his burdened father. The boy may pass along joyous in spirit because he has not the experience of the burdened, careworn father. He may wonder at the fears and anxieties of the father, which look needless to him; but when years of experience shall be added to his life, when he takes hold of and bears its real burdens, then he may look back to his father's life and understand that which was mysterious to him in his boyhood; for bitter experience has given him knowledge.3T 306.2

    I was shown that you are in danger of getting above the simplicity of the work and of placing yourself upon the pinnacle. You feel that you need no reproof and counsel, and the language of your heart is: “I am capable of judging, discriminating, and determining between right and wrong. I will not have my rights infringed upon. No one shall dictate to me. I am capable of forming my own plans of action. I am as good as anybody. God is with me and gives me success in my efforts. Who has authority to interfere with me?” These words I heard you utter, as your case was passing before me in vision, not to any person, but as if in conversation with yourself. My attending angel repeated these words, as he pointed to you both: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”3T 306.3

    I saw that the strength of the children of God is in their humility. When they are little in their own eyes, Jesus will be to them their strength and their righteousness, and God will prosper their labors. I was shown that God would prove Brother A. He would give him a measure of prosperity; and if he would bear the test, if he would turn the blessings of God to good account, not taking honor to himself and not becoming lifted up, selfish, and self-confident, the Lord would continue His blessings for the sake of His cause and for His own glory.3T 307.1

    I saw, Brother A, that you were in the greatest danger of becoming lifted up, self-righteous, self-sufficient, and feeling that you are rich and in need of nothing. Unless you guard yourself upon these points, the Lord will allow you to go on until you make your weakness apparent to all. You will be brought into positions where you will be sorely tempted if others do not regard you in as exalted a light as you estimate yourself and your ability. I was shown that you were poorly prepared to bear much prosperity and a great amount of success. A thorough conversion alone will do the work necessary to be done in your case.3T 307.2

    I have been shown that both of you are naturally selfish. You are in constant danger, unless guarded, of thinking and acting in reference to yourselves. You will lay your plans for your own accommodation, without taking into account how much you may inconvenience others. You are inclined to carry out your ideas and plans without regarding the plans and respecting the views or feelings of others. Both of you should cultivate reverence and respect for others.3T 308.1

    Brother A, you have considered that your work was of too great importance for you to come down to engage in household duties. You have not a love for these requirements. You neglected them in your younger days. But these small duties which you neglect are essential to the formation of a well-developed character.3T 308.2

    I have been shown that our ministers generally are deficient in making themselves useful in the families where they are entertained. Some devote their minds to study because they love this employment. They do not feel that it is a duty which God enjoins upon ministers to make themselves a blessing in the families which they visit, but many give their minds to books and shut themselves away from the family and do not converse with them upon the subjects of truth. The religious interests in the family are scarcely mentioned. This is all wrong. Ministers who have not the burden and care of the publishing interest upon them, and who have not the perplexities and numerous cares of all the churches, should not feel that their labor is excessively hard. They should feel the deepest interest in the families they visit; they should not feel that they are to be petted and waited upon while they give nothing in return. There is an obligation resting upon Christian families to entertain the ministers of Christ, and there is also a duty resting upon ministers who receive the hospitality of Christian friends to feel under mutual obligation to bear their own burdens as far as possible and not be a tax to their friends. Many ministers entertain the idea that they must be especially favored and waited upon, and they are frequently injured and their usefulness crippled by being treated as pets.3T 308.3

    Brother and Sister A, while among your brethren you have too frequently made it a practice to make arrangements agreeable to yourselves and to take a course to gather attention to yourselves, without considering the convenience or inconvenience of others. You are in danger of making yourselves a center. You have received the attention and consideration of others when, for the good of your own souls as well as for the benefit of others, you should have devoted more attention to those you visited. Such a course would have given you far greater influence, and you would have been blessed in winning more souls to the truth.3T 309.1

    Brother A, you have ability to present the truth to others. You have an investigative mind; but there are serious defects in your character, which I have mentioned and which must be overcome. You neglect many of the little courtesies of life because you think so much of yourself that you do not realize that these little attentions are required of you. God would not have you burden others while you neglect to see and do the things that someone must do. It does not detract from the dignity of a gospel minister to bring in wood and water when needed or to exercise by doing necessary work in the family where he is entertained. In not seeing these little important duties and improving the opportunity to do them, he deprives himself of real blessings and also deprives others of the good that it is their privilege to receive from him.3T 309.2

    Some of our ministers do not have an amount of physical exercise proportionate to the taxation of the mind. As the result they are suffering from debility. There is no good reason why the health of ministers who have to perform only the ordinary duties devolving upon the minister should fail. Their minds are not constantly burdened with perplexing cares and heavy responsibilities in regard to the important institutions among us. I saw that there is no real reason why they should fail in this important period of the cause and work if they will pay due regard to the light that God has given them in regard to how to labor and how to exercise, and will give proper attention to their diet.3T 309.3

    Some of our ministers eat very heartily and then do not exercise sufficiently to work off the waste matter which accumulates in the system. They will eat and then spend most of their time sitting down, reading, studying, or writing, when a share of their time should be devoted to systematic physical labor. Our preachers will certainly break down in health unless they are more careful not to overload the stomach by too great a quantity of even healthful food. I saw that you, Brother and Sister A, were both in danger on this point. Overeating prevents the free flow of thought and words, and that intensity of feeling which is so necessary in order to impress the truth upon the heart of the hearer. The indulgence of appetite beclouds and fetters the mind, and blunts the holy emotions of the soul. The mental and moral powers of some of our preachers are enfeebled by improper eating and lack of physical exercise. Those who crave great quantities of food should not indulge their appetite, but should practice self-denial and retain the blessings of active muscles and unoppressed brains. Overeating stupefies the entire being by diverting the energies from the other organs to do the work of the stomach.3T 310.1

    The failure of our ministers to exercise all the organs of the body proportionately causes some organs to become worn, while others are weak from inaction. If wear is left to come almost exclusively upon one organ or set of muscles, the one most used must become overwearied and greatly weakened. Each faculty of the mind, and each muscle, has its distinctive office, and all are required to be equally exercised in order to become properly developed and to retain healthful vigor. Each organ has its work to do in the living organism. Every wheel in the machinery must be a living, active, working wheel. All the faculties have a bearing upon one another, and all need to be exercised in order to be properly developed.3T 310.2

    Brother and Sister A, neither of you enjoy physical, domestic labor. Both of you need to cultivate a love for the practical duties of life. This education is necessary for your health and will increase your usefulness. You think too much of what you eat. You should not touch those things which will give a poor quality of blood; both of you have scrofula.3T 310.3

    Brother A, your love for reading and your dislike for physical taxation, while talking and exercising your throat, make you liable to disease of the throat and lungs. You should be guarded and should not speak hurriedly, rattling off what you have to say as though you had a lesson to repeat. You should not let the labor come upon the upper portion of the vocal organs, for this will constantly wear and irritate them, and will lay the foundation for disease. The action should come upon the abdominal muscles. The lungs and throat should be the channel, but should not do all the work.3T 311.1

    I was shown that the manner in which you and your wife eat will bring disease, which, when once fastened upon you, will not be easily overcome. You may both bear up for years and not show any special signs of breaking, but cause will be followed by the sure results. God will not work a miracle for either of you to preserve your health and life. You must eat and study and work understandingly, following enlightened conscience. Our preachers should all be sincere, genuine health reformers, not merely adopting the reforms because others do, but from principle, in obedience to the word of God. God has given us great light upon the health reform, which He requires us all to respect. He does not send light to be rejected or disregarded by His people without their suffering the consequences.3T 311.2

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