Ms 33, 1912


Ms 33, 1912

The Wages of Faithful Ministers


1912 [typed]

Compiled from earlier published and unpublished sources.

A Compilation From the Writings of Mrs. E. G. White

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; while it is said, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke; howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” [Hebrews 3:12-19.] Ms33-1912.1

Many of the Auditing Committee have not been men wise concerning the things which they were handling. Wrong decisions have been made. Those who were counted worthy to hold forth the Word of life and minister to souls ready to perish deserve different treatment to that which they have received. The Auditing Committee has not always tried, with most humble prayer for guidance, to act in every case toward the servants of Jesus Christ as they would to the person of Christ, or as they themselves would wish to be treated. But said Christ, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.” [Matthew 25:45.] Ms33-1912.2

It is a very serious matter that men, by the word of their own mouth, and some in a hardened, sang-froid manner, have decided what means shall go to the workers in the field. If a worker has been unfortunate enough to make a mistake or to incur the displeasure of the men sitting in judgment upon these matters, words are spoken in disparagement that do not give the one accused a fair chance to explain himself. Hasty decisions are made, and the discouragement brought to the mind by these things is not small. But as the workers are scattered, and no one goes to their homes to inquire in regard to these matters, the brethren are entirely ignorant as to the result of their decisions. Some few, who have had the courage to protest, have been treated in a discourteous, arbitrary, and overbearing manner. It cannot be said of the men who have acted thus, as the unholy scribe said of Jesus, “Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man: for Thou regardest not the person of men.” [Matthew 22:16.] Ms33-1912.3

I will give you a chapter in my experience. We have found it necessary to build a home and have hired carpenters, painters, and others to do the several portions of the work. The master-workman has two dollars per day, working eight hours only. As soon as the eight hours are over, the tools are laid aside, and work ceases. These men do not receive according to the amount of work done, but according to the hours worked. If a man is not an apt, quick worker, but loiters over his work, that is the loss of the one who pays him. Another may be a much quicker workman, showing that he has intellect and can use it; his aptitude and correct judgment may be a treasure to him and a satisfaction to his employer; but he may receive only the same wages. After the week’s work is done, and the payment is made, the amount of work done has nothing to do with the sum received. A slow, unprofitable man never thinks it is his duty to make up for his want of sharp thought, but receives his pay as his right. Ms33-1912.4

These men have not the burden of dealing with human minds. Senseless timber and building material are all they are dealing with. They can hammer just as hard and loud and energetically as they please, and it hurts not the soulless material. But God’s shepherds, who are to watch as well as labor for souls, as they that must give an account, cannot work in this way. The chosen missionary must go forth under all circumstances, moving his family from place to place, from country to country. This moving is expensive; for this one move has cost us about 125 pounds sterling. In order to exert a good influence, the wife of a missionary must set a proper example in neat and tidy dress. Her children must be educated and trained with much painstaking effort; for everything must be made to tell in missionary lines. The laborer who represents Christ must dress plainly and yet properly, as becoming a minister of Christ. The ministers of our conferences cannot say that they have a home; for they are sometimes in this country and sometimes in that. The people for whom they labor are poor; but Christ came to preach the gospel to the poor, for He says: Ms33-1912.5

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” [Isaiah 61:1-3.] Ms33-1912.6

This is the work the Lord’s shepherds are required to do. Money is consumed in traveling from place to place, in settling and unsettling every few months, in buying household goods and selling them or venturing transportation. The entire family have no release from their efforts; for they must always appear cheerful and fresh, that they may bring sunshine into the minds of those who need help. Ms33-1912.7

The question has been asked me, “Are you employed by the General Conference?” I am. “How many hours do you give?” Hours? God’s servants keep no record of hours. We must be ready in season and out of season to speak to this young man and that young woman, to write letters to those in peril, and to hold interviews requiring the most earnest, anxious labor, praying for and with the erring and the tempted. Ms33-1912.8

My practice is to arise at three o’clock A.M. and write twelve or fifteen pages for the papers before my breakfast. Those who write, as well as talk, the truth have double labor. The eight-hour system finds no place in the program of the minister of God. He must watch his chance to minister; he must be ready to entertain visitors. He must keep up life and energy of character; for he cannot exert a pleasing, saving influence if he is languid. If he occupies responsible positions, he must be prepared to attend board and council meetings, spending hours of wearisome brain- and nerve-taxing labor, while others are asleep, in devising and planning with his co-laborers. Who among God’s workers counts his hours of labor as do mechanics? Yet this kind of labor taxes the mind and draws upon every fiber of the being in such a way as the common laborer cannot appreciate. “When do you find opportunity to throw off care and responsibility?” I am asked; and I answer, “At no period of time can I lay down the burden.” Ms33-1912.9

I wish my brethren to take this as a representation of the truth and no fiction. Those who have a due appreciation of service are God’s minutemen and must say with Isaiah, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” [Isaiah 6:8.] Those who are laborers together with God must ever consider the duties devolving upon a gospel minister. He cannot say, I am my own; I will do what I please with my time. No one who has given his life to God to work as His minister lives unto himself. His work is to follow Christ, to yoke up with Christ, and to be willing agent and co-worker with the Master, receiving His Spirit day by day, and working as Christ worked, neither failing nor being discouraged. He is chosen of God as a faithful instrument to promote missionary work in all lands and must ponder well the path he travels. Ms33-1912.10

Will my brethren consider these things which the Lord has brought before my mind in a most impressive manner? Will those who have never carried the burden of such work, and who suppose that the chosen and faithful ministers of God have an easy time, bear in mind that the sentinels of God are on duty constantly? Their labor is not measured by hours. When their accounts are audited, if selfish men shall, with voice or stroke of pen, limit the worker in his wages, they discourage and depress him. Every minister must have a salvage to work upon, that he may have something with which to lead out in good enterprises, building churches and advancing the cause of God in every line, pushing the work with zeal and laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. “For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering.” [Isaiah 61:8.] And He tells us, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn.” [1 Corinthians 9:9.] This is a figure of those who work under the eye of God to advance His cause in lifting the minds of men from the contemplation of earthly things to heaven. These God loves, and He would have men respect their rights. Ms33-1912.11

Proper Remuneration for Ministers Testimonies for the Church 5:374, 375

Instead of bringing the expense of the work down to a low figure, it is your duty to bring the minds of the people to understanding that the “laborer is worthy of his hire.” [Luke 10:7.] The churches need to be impressed with the fact that it is their duty to deal honestly with the cause of God, not allowing the guilt of the worst robbery to rest upon them, that of robbing God in tithes and offerings. When settlements are made with the laborers in His cause, they should not be forced to accept small remuneration because there is a lack of money in the treasury. Many have been defrauded of their just dues in this way, and it is just as criminal in the sight of God as for one to keep back the wages of those who are employed in any other regular business. Ms33-1912.12

There are men of ability who would like to go out and labor in our several conferences; but they have no courage, for they must have means to support their families. It is the worst kind of generalship to allow a conference to stand still, or to fail to settle its honest debts. There is a great deal of this done; and whenever it is done, God is displeased. Ms33-1912.13

If the presidents and other laborers in our conferences impress upon the minds of the people the character of the crime of robbing God, and if they have a true spirit of devotion and a burden for the work, God will make their labors a blessing to the people, and fruit will be seen as the result of their efforts. Ministers have failed greatly in their duty to so labor with the churches. There is important work to be done aside from that of preaching. Had this been done, as God designed it should be, there would have been many more laborers in the field than there now are. And had the ministers done their duty in educating every member, whether rich or poor, to give as God had prospered him, there would be a full treasury from which to pay the honest debts to the workers, and this would greatly advance missionary work in all their borders. God has shown to me that many souls are in danger of eternal ruin through selfishness and worldliness; and the watchmen are guilty, for they have neglected their duty. This is a state of things that Satan exults to see. Ms33-1912.14

All branches of the work belong to the ministers. It is not God’s order that some one should follow after them and bind off their unfinished work. It is not the duty of the conference to be at the expense of employing other laborers to follow after and pick up the stitches dropped by negligent workers. It is the duty of the president of the conference to have an oversight of the laborers and their work, and to teach them to be faithful in these things; for no church can prosper that is robbing God. ... Ms33-1912.15

The Word of God speaks of the “hire of the laborers, ... which is of you kept back by fraud.” [James 5:4.] This is generally understood to apply to wealthy men who employ servants and do not pay them for their labor; but it has a broader meaning than this. It applies with great force to those who have been enlightened by the Spirit of God, and yet in any degree work upon the same principle that these men do hiring servants, grinding them down to the lowest price. Ms33-1912.16

MS. published in Gospel Workers, 306, 307, (1892 ed.).

When missions are opened in foreign lands, it is of special importance that the work be started right. The laborers should be careful that they do not restrict it by narrow plans. While the state of the treasury demands that economy be exercised, there is danger of an economy which results in loss rather than gain. This has actually been the case in some of our missions, where the workers have bent their powers almost wholly to planning how to get along in the least expensive manner. With different management, far more might have been accomplished; and on the whole less means would have been taken from the treasury. Ms33-1912.17

Special Testimony, No. 10, pp. 17-19; March 14, 1897.

Ministers have just as much right to their wages as have the workers employed in the Review and Herald office and the laborers in the Pacific Press publishing house. A great robbery has been practiced in the meager wages paid to some of the workers. If they give their time and thought and labor to the service of the Master, they should have wages enough to supply their families with food and clothing. Ms33-1912.18

The tithe is required of the minister. He does his share according to his ability and should receive his due. The ministers are often placed where they have to lead out in donations in the places where they labor, and in defraying the expenses of tents, besides providing food for themselves. Many have families at home to support. If they were not traveling from place to place, less expensive clothing could be worn; the extra money paid for tents and camp-meetings and in donations so frequently leaves them no surplus that they feel restrained from acting a part in various enterprises which they would be pleased to participate in. This is expected of them, and in order to do this, they pledge. This pledge they are often a long time in paying; it hangs upon them as a debt which they are frequently unable to lift. It is a great self-denial on the part of these men to thus separate from their families. They are forced to take up with all kinds of fare, and to eat all kinds of food, especially in countries where the standard of truth is first lifted. Ms33-1912.19

The light which the Lord has given me on this subject is that the means in the treasury for the support of the ministers in the different fields is not to be used for any other purpose. If an honest tithe were paid, and the money coming into the treasury were carefully guarded, the ministers would receive a just wage. The Auditing Committee has often been composed of men who were farmers. These could dress in coarse clothing appropriate for the work they were doing. They raised all they needed as a family to subsist upon, and they knew not what the outlay of a minister must necessarily be when he goes into a new field to labor for perishing souls. The outlook is often hard and discouraging. Some fields, when the work is first opened up, are encouraging; but there are other fields which are not so. Both must receive the truth. The minister must labor and pray. He must visit the different families. Frequently he finds the people so poor that they have little to eat and no room in which to sleep. Often means have to be given to the very needy to supply their hunger and cover their nakedness. Then what injustice to have a company of men as Auditing Committee who, by a dash of the pen, will disappoint a distressed minister who is in need of every cent that he has been led to expect. There would be just as much fairness in having a committee decide whether the men employed in our institutions should have their stipulated wages or should have them curtailed, as the human agent who will himself be in no wise affected by the straight places they may pass through shall decide. Ms33-1912.20

Unpublished MS.

Those who change God’s order of things in order to follow the counsel of selfish men will be prompted to cut down the wages of men whose work is, in the sight of God, of such a character that through Him their influence is bringing means into the treasury to sustain His cause. All this departure from the light that God has given is turning the back to God, and not the face. This action before the universe of heaven and before men reveals the character and the disposition of the men who are handling sacred things. And under the inspiration of the same selfish spirit, these very men, if they see a chance, will cut down the wages of the laborers in the vineyard of the Lord without their consent and without understanding their situation. In many cases this action brings families into straight places, and those who have the power in their hands know little what may be the consequences of deducting from the wages of the laborers. It is just as much the right of the ones employed in this cause to have a voice in such transactions as it is of men employed in various branches of trade. Ms33-1912.21

God’s cause can afford to be fair and true, it can afford to deal on right principles. When any such work as cutting down wages is contemplated, let a circular be published setting forth the true situation, and then ask those employed by the conference if, under the pressure of lack of means, they could do with less means of support. All the arrangements with those in God’s service should be conducted as a sacred transaction between man and his fellow man. Men have no right to handle things as coolly and indifferently as they have done, treating the workers together with god as though they were inanimate objects to be handled about, without any voice or expression of their own. I have been shown that men have sat on the auditing committees who have not had discrimination or judgment. Farmers who have no real understanding of the situation of the workers have again and again brought real oppression and want into families. Their management has given occasion for the enemy to tempt and discourage the workers, and in some cases has driven them from the field. It is not justice nor righteousness to deal in so cruel a manner with this phase of the work. God is not glorified by any such arrangement. The inward fountain of life needs cleansing and the human will needs to be under the sanctification of the Spirit of God. Ms33-1912.22

Ms 43a, 1897

The Laborer Is Worthy of His Hire Ms33-1912.23

Some matters have been presented to me in regard to the laborers who are seeking to do all in their power to win souls to Jesus Christ. The ministers are paid for their work, and this is well. And if the Lord gives the wife as well as the husband the burden of labor, and if she devotes here time and her strength to visiting from family to family, opening the Scriptures to them, although the hands of ordination have not been laid upon her, she is accomplishing a work that is in the line of ministry. Should her labors be counted as naught, and her husband’s salary be no more than that of the servant of God whose wife does not give herself to the work, but remains at home to care for her family? Ms33-1912.24

While I was in America, I was given light upon this subject. I was instructed that there are matters that need to be considered. Injustice has been done to women who labor just as devotedly as their husbands, and who are recognized by God as being as necessary to the work of ministry as their husbands. The method of paying men laborers and not their wives is a plan not after the Lord’s order. Injustice is thus done. A mistake is made. The Lord does not favor this plan. This arrangement, if carried out in our conferences, is liable to discourage our sisters from qualifying themselves for the work they should engage in. Ms33-1912.25

A mistake is made when the burden of the work is left entirely upon the ministers. This plan was certainly arranged without the mind of God. Some women are now teaching young women how to work successfully as visitors and Bible readers. Women who work in the cause of God should be given wages proportionate to the time they give to the work. God is a God of justice; and if the ministers receive a salary for their work, their wives, who devote themselves just as disinterestedly to the work as laborers together with God, should be paid in addition to the wages their husbands receive, notwithstanding that they may not ask this. As the devoted minister and his wife engage in the work, they should be paid proportionate to the wages of two distinct workers, that they may have means to use as they shall see fit in the cause of God. The Lord has put His Spirit upon them both. If the husband should die, and leave his wife, she is fitted to continue her work in the cause of God and receive wages for the labor she performs. Ms33-1912.26

Seventh-day Adventists are not in any way to belittle woman’s work. If a woman puts her house work in the hands of a faithful, prudent helper, and leaves her children in good care, while she engages in the work, the conference should have wisdom to understand the justice of her receiving wages. Ms33-1912.27

Women helped our Saviour by uniting with Him in His work. And the great apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat ye also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.” [Philippians 4:1-3.] Ms33-1912.28

If women do the work that is not the most agreeable to many of those who labor in word and doctrine, and if their works testify that they are accomplishing a work that has been manifestly neglected, should not such labor be looked upon as being as rich in results as the work of the ordained minister? Should it not demand the hire of the laborer? Would not such workers be defrauded if they were not paid? Ms33-1912.29

This question is not for men to settle. The Lord has settled it. You are to do your duty to the women who labor in the gospel, whose work testifies that they are essential to carrying the truth into families. Their work is just the work that must be done. Ms33-1912.30

In many respects a woman can impart knowledge to her sisters that a man cannot. The cause would suffer great loss without this kind of labor. Again and again the Lord has shown me that women teachers are just as greatly needed to do the work to which He has appointed them as are men. They should not be compelled by the sentiments and rules of others to depend upon donations for their payment any more than should the ministers. Ms33-1912.31

Lt 168, 1899

If a minister, during his leisure time, engages in labor in his orchard or garden, shall he deduct that time from his salary? Certainly not, any more than he should put in his time when he is called to work over hours in ministerial labor. Some ministers spend many hours in apparent ease, and it is right that they should rest when they can; for the system could not endure the heavy strain, were there no time for letting up. There are hours in the day that call for severe taxation, for which the minister receives no extra salary; and if he chooses to chop wood several hours a day or work in his garden, it is as much his privilege to do this as to preach. A minister cannot always be preaching and visiting, for this is exhaustive work. The light given me is that if our ministers would do more physical labor, they would reap blessings healthwise. After his day’s work of preaching and visiting and study, the minister should have time in which to attend to his necessities. If he has only a limited salary, he may contrive to add to his little fund. The narrow-minded may see in this something to criticize, but the Lord commends such a course. Ms33-1912.32

I have been shown that at times those in the ministry are compelled to labor day and night and live on very meager fare. When a crisis comes, every nerve and sinew is taxed by the heavy strain. If these men could go aside and rest a while, engaging in physical labor, it would be a great relief. Thus men might have been saved who have gone down to the grave. It is a positive necessity to physical health and mental clearness to do some manual work during the day. Thus the blood is called from the brain to other portions of the body. Ms33-1912.33

Ms 16, 1902

There are workers who are so conscientious that their interests must be guarded by their brethren, else they will cheat themselves. They will do without things that they really need. These faithful, unselfish workers are to be looked after by their fellow workers, else injustice will be done to them. Into all business transactions we are to bring the love and benevolence so plainly pointed out in the Word of God. The Lord requires us to deal with justice and mercy. Ms33-1912.34

There is a great work to be done, and those who have a burden for souls will be found in new places, hunting and fishing for men. If these workers are encouraged, the Lord’s cause will advance in every line. ... Ms33-1912.35

What does it mean to be a minister? Does it mean merely to give discourses from the desk? No, no. Sermonizing is not the highest service. To work in the spirit of the gospel does not mean merely to preach the gospel; it means to live the gospel. God asks, What does the worker do for the good of those for whom he labors? Under his efforts do they increase in spirituality? God sends men forth to labor, not merely to preach, but to minister, to hunt for the lost sheep, to devise ways of bringing sinners back to Christ. As the result of unselfish, diligent labor, lost, perishing souls will be saved. When ministers show that they are true shepherds, when they watch for souls as they that must give an account, the word of the Lord will be with power, and His name will be glorified. Ms33-1912.36

God measures men by the law which is a transcript of His character. This law points out His justice and benevolence—the attributes which are to be sacredly cherished by those in His service. In the great day of God this law will try every soul. Many now low in man’s estimation will then be seen to stand high in the estimation of God. Then those who have worked with integrity and diligence will be justly rewarded. Ms33-1912.37

In this life those who work for God are to receive remuneration for their labor; and those who decide what each worker shall receive are to be very careful to meet the mind of God in their decision. Scrupulous care should be taken in settling the accounts of the laborers. Ms33-1912.38

From Lt 25, January 12, 1904

The gospel ministry is to be supported by self-denial and self-sacrifice. Through the self-denying labors of God’s people, others will be brought into the faith, and these in turn will help to increase the offerings made for the carrying forward of the Lord’s work. Ms33-1912.39

From Ms 101, July 21, 1902

There are many things that need to be adjusted, that will be adjusted if we adhere to principle. Special instruction has been given me in regard to our ministers. It is not the will of God that they shall seek to be rich. They should not engage in worldly enterprises; for this disqualifies them for giving their best powers to spiritual things. But they are to receive wages enough to support themselves and their families. And they are not to have so many burdens laid upon them that they cannot give proper attention to the church in their own home. It is their duty to teach their children as did Abraham to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment. ... Ms33-1912.40

Let ministers and teachers remember that God holds them accountable to fill their office to the best of their ability, to bring into their work their very best power. They are not to take up duties that conflict with the work God has given them. When ministers and teachers, pressed continually under the burden of financial responsibility, enter the pulpit or the school room weary and tired, with throbbing brain and overtaxed nerves, what can be expected than that common fire will be used instead of the sacred fire of God’s kindling? The strained, tattered efforts hurt the speaker and disappoint the listeners. He has not time to seek the Lord, no time to ask in faith for the unction of the Holy Spirit. Ms33-1912.41

Shall we not change this way of working? Ms33-1912.42

In order for the efforts of those who work for God to be successful, they must receive that grace, that efficiency that He alone can give. “Ask, and ye shall receive,” is the promise. [John 16:24.] Then why not take time to ask, to open the mind to receive the impressions of the Holy Spirit, that the heart may be revived by a fresh supply of life. Ms33-1912.43

Christ Himself was much in prayer. Whenever He had opportunity, He went apart by Himself, to be alone with God. Ms33-1912.44

From Ms 82, 1904

God cannot look upon the present condition of things with approval, but with condemnation. His treasury is deprived of the means that should be used for the support of the gospel ministry in fields nigh and afar off. Those who proclaim the message of truth before great congregations, and who do house-to-house work as well, are doing double missionary work, and in no case are their salaries to be cut down. Ms33-1912.45

The use of the tithe must be looked upon as a sacred matter by our people. We must guard strictly against all that is contrary to the message now given. Ms33-1912.46

There is a lack of ministers because ministers have not been encouraged. Some ministers who have been sent to foreign lands, to enter fields never worked before, have been given the instruction, “You must support yourselves. We have not the means wherewith to support you.” This ought not to be, and it would not be if the tithe, with gifts and offerings, was brought into the treasury. When a man enters the ministry, he is to be paid from the tithe enough to sustain his family. He is not to feel that he is a beggar. ... Ms33-1912.47

Many ministers are lying in their graves, brought there by sorrow and disappointment, and by the hardship brought upon them because they did not receive sufficient for their labors. Ms33-1912.48

Let us remember that God is a God of justice and equity. There would today be many more ministers in the field, but they are not encouraged to labor. Many workers have gone into the grave brokenhearted because they had grown old and could see that they were looked upon as a burden. But had they been retained in the work, and given an easy place, with a whole or part of their wages, they might have accomplished much good. During their term of labor, these men have done double labor. They felt so heavy a burden for souls that they had no desire to be relieved of overwork. The heavy burdens borne shortened their lives. The widows of these ministers are never to be forgotten, but should, if necessary, be paid from the tithe. Ms33-1912.49