Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5


Ministers as Educators

The state of things in ----- is a matter of deep regret. That which the Lord has been pleased to present before me has been of a character to give me pain. Whoever shall labor here or in ----- hereafter will have uphill work and must carry a heavy load because the work has not been faithfully bound off, but has been left in an unfinished state. And this is the more grievous because the failure is not wholly chargeable to worldliness and want of love for Jesus and the truth on the part of the people; but much of it lies at the door of the ministers, who, while laboring among them, have signally failed in their duty. They have not had the missionary spirit; they have not felt the great need of thoroughly educating the people in all branches of the work, in all places where the truth has gained a foothold. The work done thoroughly for one soul is done for many. But the ministers have not realized this and have failed to educate persons who in their turn should stand steadfast in defense of the truth and educate others. This loose, slack, halfway manner of working is displeasing to God. 5T 254.3

A minister may enjoy sermonizing, for it is the pleasant part of the work and is comparatively easy; but no minister should be measured by his ability as a speaker. The harder part comes after he leaves the desk, in watering the seed sown. The interest awakened should be followed up by personal labor,—visiting, holding Bible readings, teaching how to search the Scriptures, praying with families and interested ones, seeking to deepen the impression made upon hearts and consciences. 5T 255.1

There are many who have no desire to become acquainted with their unbelieving neighbors and those with whom they come in contact, and they do not feel it their duty to overcome this reluctance. The truth they teach and the love of Jesus should have great power to help them to overcome this feeling. They should remember that they must meet these very men and women in the judgment. Have they left words unsaid that should have been spoken? Have they felt interest enough for souls, to warn, to entreat, to pray for them, to make every effort to win them to Christ? Have they united discrimination with zeal, heeding the direction of the apostle: “Of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh”? 5T 255.2

There is earnest work to be done by all who would be successful in their ministry. I entreat you, dear brethren, ministers of Christ, not to fail in your appointed duty to educate the people to work intelligently to sustain the cause of God in all its varied interests. Christ was an educator, and His ministers, who represent Him, should be educators. When they neglect to teach the people their obligation to God in tithes and offerings, they neglect one important part of the work which their Master has left them to do, and “Unfaithful servant” is written against their names in the books of heaven. The church come to the conclusion that if these things were essential, the minister, whom God has sent to present the truth to them, would tell them so; and they feel secure and at ease while neglecting their duty. They go contrary to the express requirements of God and as the result become lifeless and inefficient. They do not exert a saving influence upon the world, and they are represented by Christ as salt without savor. 5T 255.3

Companies of Sabbathkeepers may be raised up in many places. Often they will not be large companies; but they must not be neglected, they must not be left to die for want of proper personal effort and training. The work should not be left prematurely. See that all are intelligent in the truth, established in the faith, and interested in every branch of the work, before leaving them for another field. And then, like the apostle Paul, visit them often to see how they do. Oh, the slack work that is done by many who claim to be commissioned of God to preach His word, makes angels weep. 5T 256.1

The cause might be in a healthful condition in every field, and it would be if ministers would trust in God and allow nothing to come between them and their work. Laborers are needed much more than mere preachers, but the two offices must be united. It has been proved in the missionary field that, whatever may be the preaching talent, if the laboring part is neglected, if the people are not taught how to work, how to conduct meetings, how to act their part in missionary labor, how to reach people successfully, the work will be nearly a failure. There is much to be done in the Sabbath school work also in bringing the people to realize their obligation and to act their part. God calls them to work for Him, and the ministers should guide their efforts. 5T 256.2

The sad fact is apparent that the work in these fields ought to be years in advance of what it now is. The negligence on the part of the ministers has discouraged the people, and the lack of interest, self-sacrifice, and appreciation of the work on the part of the people has discouraged the ministers. “Two years behind” stands recorded in the Ledger of Heaven. This people might have done much to advance the cause of truth and to bring souls to Christ in different localities, and at the same time might themselves have been growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, had they improved their opportunities and made the most of their privileges, walking, not with murmuring and complaining, but in faith and courage. Eternity alone can reveal how much has been lost during these years—how many souls have been left to perish through this state of things. The loss is too great to be computed. God has been insulted. The course pursued has brought upon the cause a wound which will be years in healing; and if the mistakes that have been made are not seen and repented of, they will surely be repeated. 5T 257.1

A realization of these facts has brought unspeakable burdens upon me, driving sleep from my eyes. At times it has seemed that my heart would break, and I could only pray, while giving vent to my anguish in weeping aloud. Oh, I felt so sorry for my Saviour! His searching for fruit amid the leaf-covered branches of the fig tree and His disappointment in finding “nothing but leaves” seemed so vivid before my eyes. I felt that I could not have it so. I could in no way be reconciled to the past years of neglect of duty on the part of ministers and people. I feared that the withering curse passed upon the fig tree might be the fate of these careless ones. The terrible neglect of doing the work and fulfilling the mission which God has entrusted to them incurs a loss which none of us can afford to sustain. It is running a risk too fearful to contemplate and too terrible to be ventured at any time in our religious history, but especially now, when time is so short and so much is to be done in this day of God's preparation. All heaven is earnestly engaged for the salvation of men; light is coming from God to His people, defining their duty, so that none need err from the right path. But God does not send His light and truth to be lightly esteemed and trifled with. If the people are inattentive, they are doubly guilty before Him. 5T 257.2

As Christ was riding into Jerusalem, on the crest of Olivet He broke forth in uncontrollable grief, exclaiming in broken utterances as He looked upon Jerusalem: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” He wept not for Himself, but for the despisers of His mercy, long-suffering, and forbearance. The course taken by the hardhearted and impenitent inhabitants of the doomed city is similar to the attitude of churches and individuals toward Christ at the present time. They neglect His requirements and despise His forbearance. There is a form of godliness, there is ceremonial worship, there are complimentary prayers, but the real power is wanting. The heart is not softened by grace, but is cold and unimpressible. Many, like the Jews, are blinded by unbelief and know not the time of their visitation. So far as the truth is concerned, they have had every advantage; God has been appealing to them for years in warnings, reproofs, corrections, and instruction in righteousness; but special directions have been given only to be disregarded and placed on a level with common things. 5T 258.1