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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902) - Contents
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    Ms 98, 1902

    Consideration to be Shown to Those Who in Their Work Have Wrestled With Difficulties


    July 10, 1902 [typed]

    This manuscript is published in entirety in SpM 232-238. +NoteOne or more typed copies of this document contain additional Ellen White handwritten interlineations which may be viewed at the main office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

    For years a lack of wisdom has been shown in dealing with men who take up and carry forward the Lord’s work in difficult places. Often these men labor far beyond their strength. They have a little money to invest for the advancement of the work, and they are obliged to sacrifice in order to carry the work forward. They work for small wages and practice the strictest economy. They make appeals to the people for means, and they set an example of liberality. They give God the praise for what is done, realizing that He is the author and the finisher of their faith, and that it is by His power that they are enabled to progress.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 1

    Sometimes after these workers have borne the burden and the heat of the day and by patient, persevering efforts have established a school or a sanitarium or some other interest for the advancement of the work, the decision is made by their brethren that some other man might do better, and therefore that he is to take charge of the work they have been doing. In some cases, the decision is made without giving due <consideration and> credit to those who have borne the disagreeable part of the work, who have labored and prayed and striven, putting into their labor all their strength and energy, <and have not fainted nor become discouraged>.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 2

    God is not pleased with this way of dealing with His workers. He calls upon His people to hold up the hands of those who build up the work in new, difficult places, speaking to them words of cheer and encouragement.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 3

    In their ardor, their zeal for the advancement of the cause, these workers may make mistakes. They may, in their desire to get means for the support of needy enterprises, enter into projects that are not for the best good of the work. The Lord, seeing that these projects would divert them from what He desires them to do, permits disappointment to come upon them, crushing their fondest hopes. Money is sacrificed, and this is a great grief to those who had fondly hoped to gain means for the support of the cause.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 4

    While the workers were straining every nerve to raise means to help them over an emergency, some of their brethren were standing by, criticizing and surmising evil, putting a prejudicial construction on the motives of the heavily burdened laborers and making their work more difficult. Blinded by selfishness, these fault-finders did not discern that their brethren are sufficiently afflicted without the censure of the men who have not borne the heavy burdens and responsibilities. Disappointment is a great trial, but Christian love can turn the defeat to victory. Reverses will teach caution. We learn by the things we suffer. Thus we gain our experience.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 5

    Let care and wisdom be shown in dealing with workers who, though they have made mistakes, have manifested an earnest, self-sacrificing interest in the work. Let their brethren say, We will not make matters worse by putting another in your place without giving you opportunity to retrieve your mistake and to stand on vantage ground, free from the burden of unjust criticism. Let them be given time to adjust themselves, to overcome the difficulties surrounding them, and to stand before angels and men as worthy workers. Some have made mistakes, but would those who have questioned and criticized done any better? To the accusing Pharisees, Christ said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” [John 8:7.]17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 6

    There are those who are premature in their desire to reform things that to them appear to be faulty. They think that they should be chosen to take the place of those who have made mistakes. They undervalue what these workers have done while others were looking on and criticizing. By their actions they say, “I can do great things. I can carry the work forward successfully.” To those who think that they know so well how to avoid mistakes, I am instructed to say, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. You might avoid mistakes on one point, but in other things you would make grave blunders, which would be very difficult to remedy, and which would bring confusion into the work. These mistakes might do more harm than the mistakes your brethren have made.”17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 7

    The instruction given me is that the men who lay the foundation of a work and who in the face of prejudice fight their way forward are not to be placed in an unfavorable light in order that others may take their place. There are earnest workers who, in spite of the criticisms of some of their brethren, have moved forward in the work that God said should be done. Should they now be removed from their position of responsibility, an impression would be made that would be most unjust to them and unfavorable to the work, because the changes made would be looked upon as a justification of the <unjust> criticisms made and the prejudice existing. The Lord desires that no move shall be made which would do injustice to those who have labored long and earnestly to build up the work given them.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 8

    Unwise Changes

    Many changes are made that might better never be made. Often, when workers become discontented, instead of being encouraged to stay where they are and make a success of their work, they are sent to another place. But they take with them the same traits of character that have marred their work in the past. They will manifest the same unchristlike spirit; for they have not learned the lesson of patient, humble service. Thus our working force has often been weakened.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 9

    I plead for a different order of things. Changes must be made in the groups of workers in our conferences and institutions. Men of efficiency and consecration must be sought for diligently and encouraged to connect with the burden-bearers as helpers and co-laborers.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 10

    Let there be a harmonious union of the new and the old, in the spirit of brotherly love. But let not changes of management be made abruptly, in such a way as to bring discouragement to those who have labored earnestly and successfully to bring the work to its present stage of progress. God will not sanction anything done to discourage His faithful servants. Let the principles of justice be followed by those whose duty it is to secure the most efficient management for our publishing houses, our sanitariums, and our schools.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 11

    The Work at Berrien Springs

    There are those who with the Bible as their standard have been working in the fear of God to carry out the principles of true education. They are not old men, but they are, nevertheless, men whom the Lord desires to place on vantage ground. They have sought to bring into their teaching the principles that would lead the students to become Bible workers. They have walked humbly with God. They have wrestled with difficulties in different places. In their work there have been hard places to pass through and many obstacles to surmount. There have been stern conflicts and fierce battles. These men are to have opportunity to prove themselves thoroughly trustworthy men.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 12

    But as they have tried to carry forward the work, their efforts have been criticized, and the question has been raised, Should not older teachers be brought in to take the burden of this work? It is thought by some that older teachers would do a more complete work. But would they? Is it not those who have been connected with a work from the beginning who know how to help beginners? Does not their experience in carrying the work forward from its first stages adapt them to meet the needs of learners?17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 13

    The Lord encouraged these brethren, giving them victories that taught them valuable lessons and strengthened their confidence. It is not according to His plan for some other worker to come in and take the burden of this work upon his shoulders, supposing that he can do a much better and larger work. This is not right. Let no one lay his hand upon another, forbidding him to go forward in his work, or asking him to step into a position of less responsibility, while another more learned and more experienced takes his place.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 14

    The high and holy work set before God’s workers is to love their fellow workers, who are just as honest and righteous as they themselves, although they may be tried with fire. He requires them to put self out of sight and, with pure hearts and clean hands, work earnestly to help those who are working in hard places and who are worthy of help. This is the Christian service appointed us. And by doing it, we show to the world, which knows not the truth, the riches of God’s goodness and mercy.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 15

    The great Teacher wants these men who have been gaining an experience in their work to continue to carry it forward under His guidance. They possess traits of character that will enable them, if they trust in God, to go forward with success.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 16

    The Lord sent them the message that propositions would be made to divide their working force, sending one to one place and one to another; but that unless providence indicated that some of their number were needed to take charge of schools in other important places, they were to keep their company united, and carry forward their work in complete harmony. Their force must not be weakened; their strength must be added to rather than diminished. They must stand together in unity, showing that nothing is so successful as success.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 17

    The words of criticism that have been spoken have at times had a very discouraging effect. But again and again in their necessity, the Lord sent them the word to go straight ahead, to follow their Leader. I have been instructed to lift up the hands that hang down and to strengthen the feeble knees, to encourage the faithful laborers with words from the Lord.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 18

    In the most trying times they took their stand firmly determined to breast every difficulty and to free Battle Creek College from debt; also, if it were possible, to move the school from Battle Creek. I had been instructed by the Lord that the College should not remain in Battle Creek, because in that place there are many influences that are a temptation both to teachers and to students. Just before the General Conference, there seemed to be a favorable opportunity to sell the school buildings. But the word of the Lord came to me for the brethren, “You are in too great a hurry. Follow on as God shall open the way. He will guide you. Work up the sale of Christ’s Object Lessons. Interest the people in the work that you are trying to do. You will find that believers and unbelievers will help you.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 19

    During the General Conference, the way opened for the school to be moved from Battle Creek with the full approval of our people.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 20

    Cautions were given to Brother Magan and Brother Sutherland against carrying their teaching so far above the spiritual line of education to which the students had been accustomed. They were told that the people were not prepared at once to understand and act intelligently upon the advanced light in regard to the Bible in education. I was instructed that they must advance steadily and solidly, and that they must guard against going to extremes in any line and against expressing their ideas in language that would confuse minds. Plain, simple language must be used. Instruction must be given line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, leading the mind up slowly and intelligently. Every idea that they expressed must be clearly defined.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 21

    They were told that unless they heeded this instruction, their teaching would result in a harvest of fanciful believers, who would not make straight paths for their feet, and who would look upon themselves as far ahead of all other Christians. In their teaching of truth, they were not to go so far in advance that it would be impossible for their students to follow them. Christ said to His disciples, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” [John 16:12.]17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 22

    I thank the Lord that the brethren heeded the instruction given them, and that they carried forward His work in simplicity and meekness, and yet intelligently. The Lord is qualifying them to teach the lessons He has given in His Word by object lessons from nature. This is the grandest, the most helpful, all-round education that the youth can have. Cultivating the soil, planting and caring for trees, sowing seed and watching its growth—this work teaches precious lessons. Nature is an expositor of the Word of the living God. But only through Christ does creation answer the highest purpose of the Creator. The Saviour has wonderful revelations for all who will walk humbly with God. Under the discipline and training of the higher teaching, they will behold wondrous things out of His law.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 23

    In establishing schools, enough land should be secured to give the students opportunity to gain a knowledge of agriculture. If it is necessary to curtail the expense anywhere, let it be on the buildings. There should be no failure to secure land; for from the cultivation of the soil, the students are to learn lessons illustrating the truths of the Word of God, truths that will help them to understand the work of the Creator.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 24

    Those who have charge of the school at Berrien Springs have been learners in the school of Christ, and He has been working with them, preparing them to be acceptable teachers. It is right that they carry on the work they have begun. If they will watch unto prayer, and plead earnestly with God to supply them with His grace, they will increase in wisdom and knowledge.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 25

    It has been a tremendous struggle for them to advance in the face of great financial embarrassment. They planned and contrived and devised in every way, with self-denial and self-sacrifice, to bring the school through and to free it from burden of debt. Now they begin to see that the way pointed out was the way of the Lord’s leading. <This is the lesson the Lord would have many more to learn.>17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 26

    It is not the Lord’s will that at this time other men, whatever their age or experience, shall take the place of these brethren. It would not be pleasing to Him for us to set them aside by calling others to fill their places. He will continue to work out His will through them if they will walk humbly before Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. As they labor in humility, they will have the assurance that growth in grace is shown by increased ability to grasp the great truths of the gospel and to teach these truths. When men place themselves in a position where they can work out God’s purposes, He stands at their right hand to open ways of advance for them.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 27

    A Call to Service

    God calls for workers. The cause needs men who are self-made, who, placing themselves in the hands of God <as humble learners>, have proved themselves workers together with Him. These are the men that are needed in the ministry and in the school work. Let those who have shown themselves to be men move out and do what they can in the Master’s service. Let them step into the ranks of the workers and by patient, continuous effort prove their worth. It is in the water, not on the land, that we learn to swim. Let them fill with fidelity the place to which they are called, that they may be qualified for still higher responsibilities. God gives all opportunity to perfect themselves in His service.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 28

    He who puts on the armor to war a good warfare will gain greater and still greater ability as he strives to perfect his knowledge of God, working in harmony with the plan God has laid down for the perfect development of the physical, mental, and spiritual powers.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 29

    Young men and young women, gather a stock of knowledge. Do not wait until some human examination pronounces you competent to work, but go out into the highways and hedges, and begin to work for God. Use wisely the knowledge you have. Exercise your ability with faithfulness, generously imparting the light that God gives you. Study how best to give to others peace and light and truth and the many other rich blessings of heaven. Constantly improve. Keep reaching higher and still higher. It is the ability to put to the tax the powers of mind and body, ever keeping eternal realities in view, that is of value now. Seek the Lord most earnestly, that you may become more and more refined, more spiritually cultured. Then you will have the very best diploma that any one can have—the endorsement of God.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 30

    However large, however small, your talents, remember that what you have is yours only in trust. Thus God is testing and trying you, giving you opportunity to prove yourself true. To Him you are indebted for all your capabilities. To Him belong your powers of body, mind, and soul, and for Him these powers are to be used. Your time, your influence, your capabilities, your skill—all must be accounted for to Him who gives all. He uses his gifts best who seeks by earnest endeavor to carry out the Lord’s great plan for the uplifting of humanity, remembering always that he must be a learner as well as a teacher.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 31

    As young men go out into this work and, in spite of many difficulties, make a success, let not propositions be made that they take up another work and that the work they have started be given into the charge of men who are older and more experienced. This is not the way to encourage our young men. As they struggle with difficulties, they may make mistakes, but if they press forward perseveringly, their defeats will be turned into victories.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 32

    My fellow workers, persevere in the work that you have begun. Keep at it until you gain victory after victory, remembering that only by succeeding can you demonstrate the genuineness of your success. Educate yourself for a purpose. Keep in view the highest standard that you may accomplish greater and still greater good, thus reflecting the glory of God.17LtMs, Ms 98, 1902, par. 33

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