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    Chapter 14—The Colporteur Evangelist and Finance

    Prompt Payment for Books—The work is halting because gospel principles are not obeyed by those who claim to be following Christ. The loose way in which some canvassers, both old and young, have performed their work shows that they have important lessons to learn. Much haphazard work has been presented before me. Some have trained themselves in deficient habits, and this deficiency has been brought into the work of God. The tract and missionary societies [Book and Bible Houses] have been deeply involved in debt through the failure of canvassers to meet their indebtedness. Canvassers have felt that they were ill-treated if required to pay promptly for the books received from the publishing houses. Yet to require prompt remittal is the only way to carry on business.CM 92.1

    Absolute Honesty—Matters should be so arranged that canvassers shall have enough to live on without overdrawing. This door of temptation must be closed and barred. However honest a canvasser may be, circumstances will arise in his work which will be to him a sore temptation.CM 92.2

    Laziness and indolence are not the fruit borne upon the Christian tree. No soul can practice prevarication or dishonesty in handling the Lord's goods and stand guiltless before God. All who do this are in action denying Christ. While they profess to keep and teach God's law, they fail to maintain its principles.CM 92.3

    No Reckless Spending—The Lord's goods should be handled with faithfulness. The Lord has entrusted men with life and health and reasoning powers. He has given them physical and mental strength to be exercised; and should not these gifts be faithfully and diligently employed to His name's glory? Have our brethren considered that they must give an account for all the talents placed in their possession? Have they traded wisely with their Lord's goods, or have they spent His substance recklessly, and are they written in heaven as unfaithful servants? Many are spending their Lord's money in riotous enjoyment, so called; they are not gaining an experience of self-denial, but spending money on vanities, and are failing to bear the cross after Jesus. Many who were privileged with precious, God-given opportunities have wasted their lives and are now found in suffering and want.CM 93.1

    God calls for decided improvement to be made in the various branches of the work. The business done in connection with the cause of God must be marked with greater precision and exactness. There has not been firm, decided effort to bring about essential reform.—Testimonies for the Church 6:337, 338 (1900).CM 93.2

    Not to Incur Debt—All must practice economy. No worker should manage his affairs in a way to incur debt. The practice of drawing money from the treasury before it is earned, is a snare. In this way the resources are limited, so that laborers cannot be supported in missionary work. When one voluntarily becomes involved in debt, he is entangling himself in one of Satan's nets which he sets for souls.—Manual for Canvassers, 65 (1902).CM 93.3

    Canvassers Who Expect to Be Helped—When they get into difficulty, some canvassers expect that money is to be drawn from the treasury to help them out, only to get into strait places again, and again to require help. Those who are stewards of the means in the treasury must keep a sharp lookout to see that the supply is not exhausted by these drafts. When men cannot by canvassing bring into the treasury every dollar that belongs to it rightly, let them stop just where they are. They should not engage in canvassing unless they can bring means into the treasury, instead of robbing it.—Manual for Canvassers, 65 (1902).CM 94.1

    Truthful, Honest, and Faithful—The canvassing work is not to be conducted in a slack, loose manner. Those engaged in work that calls for the handling of money should keep a strict account of every penny received and paid out. The education in accuracy thus gained will fit them for greater usefulness.CM 94.2

    If a canvasser continues to order books, and sends no report of his work, making no statement regarding their delivery and the receipt and expenditure of the money that he handles, those in charge of the work should, in a kind, friendly manner, endeavor to ascertain the true situation. To supply books freely to an agent until he is hopelessly involved in debt is to do injustice both to the canvasser and to those by whom he is employed. Such a loose, careless way of working brings discouragement.CM 94.3

    A worker who sees that he is unable to make a success of the canvassing work should go to the proper persons and tell them that he cannot continue in that line of work.CM 95.1

    Every canvasser should be truthful, honest, and faithful. How many souls might be saved from temptation, and how much sorrow might be avoided, if all our workers were trained to be as true as steel to principle!—Manuscript 20, 1904.CM 95.2

    Results of Careless Financial Habits—Some canvassers have conducted their business in such a slack, loose way as to be constantly sapping the funds needed for carrying on the work. They have sold books, and given the impression that they were working for the cause; but instead of bringing in the means so much needed to advance the work, they have taken many dollars from the treasury. The means which came into their hands, which was not their own, they appropriated to defray their own expenses, the expenses of their families, or to favor their family connections.CM 95.3

    By appropriating to their own use that which belongs to the cause of God, canvassers involve themselves in difficulties, separate their souls from God, and create a feeling of uncertainty, a want of confidence in those who are laboring with them in the field. At the same time they do injustice to their fellow laborers. Men who do their very best are liable to be regarded with suspicion, and thus are made to suffer because of the course of untrustworthy persons.CM 95.4

    The result is that the cause of God is involved in perplexity and brought into embarrassment, and a heavy burden is cast upon those who were appointed to bear weighty responsibilities. If this loose way of doing business is permitted to continue, it will not only drain the treasury of means, but will cut off the supplies that flow from the people. It will destroy their confidence in those at the head of the work who have the management of funds, and will lead many to discontinue their gifts and offerings.CM 96.1

    The course of these careless workmen has brought upon men in leading positions a burden that grieves them to the heart. They are perplexed to know how they can guard the cause of God from every species of robbery, and yet save the souls of those who have such perverted ideas as to what is true honesty.CM 96.2

    The practice of borrowing money to relieve some pressing necessity, and making no calculation for canceling the indebtedness, however common, is demoralizing. The Lord would have all who believe the truth converted from these self-deceiving practices. They should choose rather to suffer want than to commit a dishonest act.... If those who see the truth do not change in character corresponding to the sanctifying influence of the truth, they will be a savor of death unto death. They will misrepresent the truth, bring a reproach upon it, and dishonor Christ, who is truth.CM 96.3

    The question to be considered is, By what means the work can be carried forward, and canvassers be prevented from embarrassing the cause, and casting a burden upon the publishing houses by a careless, selfish way of doing business. This question is of consequence.—Manuscript 168, 1898.CM 96.4

    Side Lines—Some have brought themselves and their families into most distressing circumstances through poor management in book canvassing. They have run in debt, and have borrowed money of men not of our faith.CM 97.1

    With the work of scattering our publications and advocating the truth, some have mingled scheming, buying and selling. This makes a bad combination. As they labor to obtain advantage for themselves, they are allured by the prospect of buying things for less and selling them for more than their value. Therefore the world regards them as sharpers, men who will gain advantage for themselves without considering the case of others. They do not keep the commandments of God; for they do not love their neighbor as themselves.—Manual for Canvassers, 62 (1902).CM 97.2

    Financial Gain Not Paramount—If our canvassers are controlled by the spirit of financial gain, if they circulate the book upon which they can make the most money, to the neglect of others that the people need, I ask, In what sense is theirs a missionary work? Where is the missionary spirit, the spirit of self-sacrifice? The work of the intelligent, God-fearing canvasser has been represented as equal to that of the gospel minister. Then should the canvasser feel at liberty, any more than the minister, to act from selfish motives? Should he be unfaithful to the principles of missionary work, and sell only those books that are cheapest and easiest to handle, neglecting to place before the people books which will give most light, because by so doing he can earn more money for himself? How is the missionary spirit revealed here? Has not the canvassing work ceased to be what it should be? How is it that no voice is raised to correct this state of things?—Manual for Canvassers, 47, 48 (1902).CM 97.3

    But many are attracted into the canvassing work to sell books and pictures that do not express our faith, and do not give light to the purchaser. They are induced to do this because the financial prospects are more flattering than those that can be offered them as licentiates. These persons are obtaining no special fitness for the gospel ministry. They are not gaining that experience which would fit them for the work. They are not learning to bear the burden of souls and daily obtaining a knowledge of the most successful way of winning people to the truth. They are losing time and opportunities.CM 98.1

    These men are frequently turned aside from the convictions of the Spirit of God, and receive a worldly stamp of character, forgetting how much they owe to the Lord, who gave His life for them. They use their powers for their own selfish interests, and refuse to labor in the vineyard of the Lord.—Manual for Canvassers, 43 (1902).CM 98.2

    Not to Offer Special Inducements—Many of the workers in the canvassing field are making no sacrifices. As a class they have less of the missionary spirit than the workers in any other denomination. When the way is all prepared for them, when they can command the highest wages, then they are willing to enter the field. Many inducements are presented to canvassers to handle popular books; large wages are offered them; and many refuse to work for less wages to circulate books treating on present truth. Therefore the inducements have been increased to correspond with those offered by other publishers, and as a consequence the expense of getting our publications before the people is large; many of the canvassers obtain their money easily and spend it freely.—Testimonies for the Church 5:403, 404 (1885).CM 98.3

    Economy and Self-Denial—Quite a sum may be expended in hotel bills that are not at all necessary. The cause of God lay so near the heart of the pioneers in this message that they seldom took a meal at a hotel, even though the cost was but twenty-five cents each. But young men and women generally are not educated to economize, and waste follows waste everywhere. In some families there is a wicked waste of enough to support another family if reasonable economy were used. If, while traveling, our youth will keep an exact account of the money they expend, item by item, their eyes will be opened to see the leaks. While they may not be called upon to deprive themselves of warm meals, as the early workers did in their itinerant life, they may learn to supply their real wants with less expense than they now think necessary. There are persons who practice self-denial in order to give means to the cause of God; then let the workers in the cause also practice self-denial by limiting their expenses as far as possible. It would be well for all our workers to study the history of the Waldensian missionaries and to imitate their example of sacrifice and self-denial.—Testimonies for the Church 5:400 (1885).CM 99.1

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