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    The Use of Talents

    Petaluma, Cal.,

    June 12, 1902.

    My dear Son Edson,

    I wish you and Emma to visit us at our home near St. Helena, Since the General Conference you and Brother Palmer have worked excessively to establish more firmly the work in Nashville. You have endeavored to make this work as presentable as possible, in order to show those who knew scarcely anything about your work, what has been accomplished in so short a time, and with so small an outlay of means. You wished all to see that needless calls for means had not been made, and that the money received had not been used in vain. You desired the work done in Nashville to be a sample of what could be done in other cities.SpM 223.3

    But you found that you had expended more than you intended to expend. In trying to do the things that you wanted to see done, you taxed yourself greatly, wearing out your strength. When the general meeting for the Southern workers was appointed to be held in Graysville, you thought it would be best to have it held in Nashville. The change was made, but the time was limited in which to prepare for the accommodation of the brethren. You worked far beyond your strength, spending anxious days and sleepless nights in planning and working to complete the building that you were erecting.SpM 223.4

    You have not yet recovered from the effects of the strain under which you were laboring at that time; but do not think, my son, that if you have erred in building this addition, you have reason for being discouraged. Others know little of the earnest, almost superhuman efforts you have made to complete this building. Your zeal has led you beyond your strength, causing you to injure yourself. In my letters to you, I have written much in regard to the work to be done in Nashville; and as the work has in the past been largely under your own jurisdiction, you were led to move independently in lines that led you beyond your depth. But even if you have spent more money than is at your command, you may make this, through its lessons of caution, a much greater blessing to you than would be an abundant inflow of means.SpM 224.1

    My son, you will find that you can not please all men. You will offend some even when you do your best. But be very careful and guarded not to give occasion for your good to be evil spoken of. You can not know how anxious I am to have you stand on vantage ground; for there are those who for years have covered their own neglect to take up work in the South, by finding fault with the active labors in that field. Instead of showing their tact and ability by doing their best to start the work in new places, they have stood to one side, criticizing what Edson White and his co-workers have been doing. Those who have not “put off the old man with his deeds.” are standing as accusers of the brethren. Before angels and men Satan is zealously accusing the laborers who take up the work of God in new places. The men who do not take upon themselves the burden of God's work will be kept very busy by the enemy in accusing and picking flaws with those who are determined to advance the work in missionary fields.SpM 224.2

    I see no reason why you should not be on the committee of the Southern Union Conference as a counsellor; for you know more about how the work in the South should be carried forward than do some who have had less experience. And if your voice and your experience should be regarded by the committee as of much value, you must be careful not to think that your opinions are to be accepted as supreme, above the judgment of those with whom you are associated in labor. Remember that counsellors are to be connected with the various branches of our work. All are to pray and watch unto prayer, cherishing the wisdom that cometh from above.SpM 224.3

    It is well that something has been done to help Brother Shireman. He was in danger of making mistakes, and, for the time being, the best thing was done that could be done. If after due consideration, it should not be found best for you to lay down the responsibilities you are carrying in connection with the Hildebran School, let others take charge of this enterprise.SpM 224.4

    Brother and Sister Shireman have yielded to great temptations that the enemy has brought to bear upon them. They imagine that advantage has been taken of them. This has cost them the loss of peace with God and of faith and confidence in their brethren.SpM 224.5

    Edson, place yourself where Brother Shireman can have no cause for imagining that you mean to injure him. Arrange matters so that no suspicion shall rest upon you that you have been taking advantage of him. I know that you have been his true, disinterested, benevolent, tender-hearted friend and brother. Not one advantage would you knowingly take of him; but he imagines otherwise. I am sorry, so sorry that his soul and the soul of his wife are afflicted.SpM 225.1

    Brother and Sister Shireman have their appointed work. While they can do an excellent work in opening new fields and preparing the way for the kingdom of God to be established, they have not the ability to do regular school work. So far they have the ability, they can do good work in opening new schools; but others must come to their help in carry the school work forward on a higher plane of disciplinary and educational training than they could.SpM 225.2

    God has been pleased with the work that Brother Shireman has done in arousing an interest in educational work and in erecting church and school buildings in Hildebran. The Lord has accepted his efforts to trade upon his talents. As he has built his plain, unpretentious buildings, heavenly angels have been his helpers. It is this kind of work that make a good impression on the minds of unbelievers in regard to our brother's abilities. “Let your light so shine before men,” the Saviour says, “that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”SpM 225.3

    Brother Shireman has solicited testimonials from men of influence - from ministers and men in high official position - in praise of his work. Allowing his mind to dwell upon these things, he has hurt his soul by coming to think that he has talent for places that he could never fill. I do not want Brother and Sister Shireman to hurt their influence for good; but they will, I fear, unless they learn to recognize the necessity of connecting with the school work persons of varied talents.SpM 225.4

    God loves Brother Shireman, and will be with him, unless he draws away from the Source of his strength. Let our brother listen to the counsel of his brethren, and be as true as steel to principle. The enemy has tempted him sorely, and has nearly succeeded in spoiling his record. He has tempted him to do some strange things that God can not approve. But the Lord Jesus lives and reigns, and will deliver His servant from temptation.SpM 225.5

    In speaking of talented men, we usually think of those who have remarkable gifts, which enable them to do large things. Too often we think that only a favored few- men of superior genius and intellectual capabilities - can be called talented. But in Christ's parable of the talents are included all responsible human agents, from the humblest and poorest in this world's goods to those who are entrusted with talents of means and of intellect. Even those who faithfully use the least will hear from the Saviour's lips the words of commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The value that God places on the least of talents is shown by the reward he gives for its right use - eternal life. To every faithful steward He will say, “enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”SpM 225.6

    The Lord gives talents proportionate to the several capabilities of His children. To every man is given his work. Those who do their duty to the best of their ability, using their talent aright, are doing a much-needed work, a work that hundreds of others could do if they only would.SpM 226.1

    Through faithful performance of his duty, trading on the farthings entrusted to him, Brother Shireman secured the recognition of heaven. He who diligently uses his talent aright in doing the work that needs to be done, as Brother Shireman has used his, need never feel that in order to be appreciated, he must do a higher work, for which he is not so well fitted.SpM 226.2

    The church of God is made up of many vessels, both large and small. The Lord works through the men who are willing to be used. He will bless our Brother Shireman in doing the work that has brought blessing to him in the past - the work of seeking to save souls ready to perish.SpM 226.3

    In all the Lord's arrangements, there is nothing more beautiful than His plan of giving to men and women a diversity of gifts. The church is His garden, adorned with a variety of trees, plants, and flowers. He does not expect the hyssop to assume the proportions of the cedar, nor the olive to reach the height of the stately palm. Many have received but a limited religious and intellectual training, but God has a work for this class to do, if they will labor in humility, trusting in Him.SpM 226.4

    The Lord has graciously fitted Brother Shireman to do a certain work. Not all men can do the work that he by his Christian experience is able to do. He can do excellent work in opening new fields, beginning in a humble way, and meeting the people where they are, coarse and rough though they may be. Working with Christ, he can adapt himself to the situation, winning the hearts of many. He is able to reach after souls and to draw them into the field. In many places he can find opportunity to read and comment upon the Bible to children and to older people. He and his wife can labor together for the conversion of souls. The Lord desires Brother Shireman to present the important points of truth to the people, in object lessons, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. He is to remember that the Lord Jesus is the one who moves upon the heart. If he walks humbly with God, the Lord will continue to use him, giving him health and strength to do his appointed work.SpM 226.5

    Our brother is to prepare the way in new fields for others to work. His brethren are not to expect him to do as he has done, working to obtain means for institutions, and afterward assisting to build them up. This is too hard a work for one man to do. But he should be given every possible encouragement to go forward and in his humble way reveal his loyalty to principle and his integrity to God. Let the truth fall from his lips in simple prayers and talks. In his unpretentious way he can reach a class that ministers generally can not touch.SpM 226.6

    Brother and Sister Shireman's danger is in supposing that their talents are sufficient to enable them to do all that must be done in one of our schools. They should not suppose that they can do the work that is essential in educating the youth. This work must be done by those whose talents and training fit them to be educators, enabling them to give the students a complete education. Instead of consenting to carry responsibilities that the Lord has not fitted them to carry, they should go out to other places to arouse an interest and to begin a work similar to the work begun at Hildebran. Taking with them some young helpers to cooperate with them, they could use the breaking-up plow, preparing the soil in new fields and sowing the seed. God will give the increase.SpM 227.1

    Individual, constant, united efforts will bring the reward of success. Those who desire to do a great deal of good in our world must be willing to do it in God's way by doing little things. He who wishes to reach the loftiest heights of achievement by doing something great and wonderful, will fail of doing anything.SpM 227.2

    Steady progress in a good work, the frequent repetition of one kind of faithful service, is of more value in God's sight than the doing of one great work and wins for his children a good report, giving character to their efforts. Those who are true and faithful to their divinely-appointed duties, are not fitful, but steadfast in purpose, pressing their way through evil, as well as good, reports. They are instant in season and out of season.SpM 227.3

    Brother Shireman is not to think that he has ability to do the most difficult work, the greatest service. Let him do a small work, and see it grow under his hand. In the past, the Lord has blessed him in doing his God-given work, and He will still bless him, if he continues to work in the same line. Let him keep at the work by which, through faithfulness, he has attained success.SpM 227.4

    Let no man despise the humblest of employments. Christ, the Majesty of heaven, assumed the nature of humanity, and for many years worked at the carpenter's trade with Joseph. I presume that while working on the buildings at Hildebran, Brother Shireman has often realized that he was cooperating with the great Master Builder, and has tried to do his work in the best way that he knew how to do it, knowing that this is all that Christ requires. The Lord Jesus is an Educator, and He will constantly help our Brother and Sister Shireman to become better and still better fitted for their work.SpM 227.5

    Tell Brother Shireman to put his trust in God alone, who will give him victory after victory. Angels of God will go before him, if he will do his appointed work, using the talent given him. Let him encourage others to unite with him in pioneer work, planning with them to open new fields successfully and to erect humble church and school buildings. In teaching others to do what he has done, he will be engaged in an educational work of the highest character. -SpM 227.6

    Every one connected with the Southern Publishing House needs to have his eyes anointed with the heavenly eyesalve, in order that he may see things clearly. Let those in God's service who must meet the difficulties that are always connected with the working of new fields, draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to them. He is our Heavenly Father, “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” -SpM 228.1

    The chief burden of every human being is to be the salvation of body, soul and spirit. Every Christian strives to accumulate true riches; for in this there is safety and consolation. In the place of lavishly investing means in uncertain enterprises, he yearly lays up treasure in the Bank of Heaven, his home. He keeps in circulation in the work of God upon the earth every talent entrusted to him, increasing his gifts by trading upon them. He knows that he can not become rich in heavenly treasure by binding up his talents, be they few or many, in anything against which God has warned him. He does not hide his gifts in worldly enterprises and uncertain projects. He invests his Lord's money in the cause, trading upon it to help the Saviour to secure his purchased possession. He realizes that he is entrusted with means to use for the advancement and glory of Christ's kingdom by saving the souls for whom the Saviour died.SpM 228.2

    Ellen G. White.

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