Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Self-Conceit and Selfishness

Dear brother, you have made a sad mistake in standing before the patients in the parlor, as you have frequently done, and exalting yourself and wife. Your own children have learned lessons from these remarks that have given shape to their characters. You will now find it not an easy matter to correct the impressions that have been made. They have been proud and self-conceited. They have thought that as your children they were superior to children in general. You have felt anxious lest the people should not give you the respect due your position as a physician of the Health Institute. This has shown a vein of weakness in you which has hindered your spiritual advancement. It has also led to a jealousy of others, fearing that they would supplant you or not place the right estimate upon your position and value. You have also exalted your wife, placing her before the patients as a superior creature. You have been like a blind man; you have given her credit for qualifications which she does not possess. 4T 98.1

You should have remembered that your moral worth is estimated by your words, your acts, your deeds. These can never be hidden, but will place you upon the right elevation before your patients. If you manifest interest for them, if you devote labor to them, they will know it, and you will have their confidence and love. But talk will never make them believe that your arduous labor for them has taxed you and exhausted your vitality, when they know that they have not had your special attention and care. The patients will have confidence and love for those who manifest a special interest in them and who labor for their recovery. If you do this work, which cannot be left undone, which the patients pay their money to have done, then you need not seek to gain esteem and respect by talking; you will as surely have it as you do the work. 4T 98.2

You have not been free from selfishness, and therefore you have not had the blessing which God gives His unselfish workmen. Your interest has been divided. You have had such a special care for yourself and yours, that the Lord has had no reason to especially work and care for you. Your course in this respect has disqualified you for your position. I saw one year ago that you felt competent to manage the Institute yourself alone. Were it yours, and you the one to be especially benefited or injured by its losses and gains, you would see it your duty to have a special care that losses should not occur and that patients who were there upon charity should not drain the Institute of means. You would investigate and would not have them remain a week longer than it was positively necessary. You would see many ways by which you could reduce expenses and keep up the property of the Institute. But you are merely employed, and the zeal, interest, and ability which you think you possess to carry on such an institution do not appear. The patients do not receive the attention for which they have paid and which they have a right to expect. 4T 99.1

You were shown me as frequently turning away from invalids who were in need of your counsel and advice. You were presented before me as apparently indifferent, seeming rather impatient while scarcely listening to what they were saying, which was to them of great importance. You seemed to be in a great hurry, putting them off till some future time, when a very few appropriate words of sympathy and encouragement would have quieted a thousand fears, and given peace and assurance in the place of disquietude and distress. You appeared to dread to speak to the patients. You did not enter into their feelings, but held yourself aloof, when you should have manifested more familiarity. You were too distant and unapproachable. They look to you as children to a parent, and have a right to expect and receive attentions from you which they do not obtain. “Me and mine” comes between you and the labor your position requires you to perform. The patients and helpers need your advice frequently; but they feel an unwillingness to go to you, and do not feel free to speak with you. 4T 99.2

You have sought to maintain an undue dignity. In the effort you have not attained the object, but have lost the confidence and love which you might have gained had you been unassuming, possessing meekness and humility of mind. True devotion and consecration to God will find a place for you in the hearts of all, and will clothe you with a dignity not assumed but genuine. You have been exalted by the words of approval which you have received. The life of Christ must be your pattern, teaching you to do good in every place that you occupy. While caring for others, God will care for you. The Majesty of heaven did not avoid weariness. He traveled on foot from place to place to benefit the suffering and needy. Although you possess some knowledge, may have some understanding of the human system, and can trace disease to its cause,—although you may have the tongue of men and of angels,—there are yet qualifications necessary or all your gifts will be of no special value. You must have a power from God which can only be realized by those who make Him their trust and who consecrate themselves to the work that He has given them to do. Christ must be a portion of your knowledge. His wisdom instead of yours should be considered. Then you will understand how to be a light in the rooms of the sick. You lack freedom of spirit, power, and faith. Your faith is feeble for want of exercise; it cannot be vigorous and healthful. Your efforts for those who are sick in heart and body will not be as successful as they might be, the patients will not gain in physical and spiritual strength as they might, if you do not carry Jesus with you in your visits. His words and works should accompany you. Then you will feel that those whom your prayers and words of sympathy have blessed will bless you in return. 4T 100.1

You have not felt your whole dependence upon God and your inefficiency and weakness without His special wisdom and grace. You worry, fear, and doubt because you have worked too much in your own strength. In God you can prosper. In humility and holiness of mind you will find great peace and strength. They shine brightest who feel most their own weakness and darkness, for such make Christ their righteousness. Your strength should come from your union with Him. Be not weary in well-doing. 4T 101.1

The Majesty of heaven has invited the weary ones: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” The reason the burden sometimes seems so heavy and the yoke so galling is because you have got above the meekness and lowliness possessed by our divine Lord. Cease trying to gratify and exalt self; but rather let self be hidden in Jesus, and learn of Him who has invited you and promised you rest. 4T 101.2

I saw that the Health Institute can never prosper while those who hold responsible positions connected with it have more interest for themselves than for the institution. God wants unselfish men and women as workers in His cause; and those who take charge of the Health Institute should have an oversight of every department there, practicing economy, caring for the trifles, guarding against losses. In short, they should be as careful and judicious in their management as though they themselves were the actual proprietors. 4T 101.3

You have been troubled with a feeling that this and that was not your business. Everything connected with the Institute is your business. If certain things come under your observation that you cannot attend to properly, being called in another direction, call for the help of someone who will give these matters immediate attention. If this work is too arduous for you, someone should take your place who can perform thoroughly all the duties devolving upon one holding your responsible position. 4T 101.4

In your parlor talks you have frequently charged the patients and helpers with bringing unnecessary burdens and cares upon you, while, at the same time, I saw that you were not performing half the duties resting upon you as a physician. You were not properly attending to the cases of the sick under your care. The patients are not blind; they perceive your neglect of them. They are away from their homes and upon expense to obtain the care and treatment that they could not receive at home. All this scolding in the parlor is injurious to the institution and displeasing to God. 4T 102.1

It is true that you have had heavy burdens to bear, but in many cases you have blamed the patients and helpers when the trouble was in your own family. They require your constant help, but do not help you in return; there is no one in your home to stay up your hands or give you encouragement. Had you no burden outside the Institute you could bear up much better and not lose strength and fortitude. It is your duty to care for your family, but it is not at all necessary for them to be as helpless as they are and so great a weight upon you. They could assist you if they would. 4T 102.2

It is your duty also to preserve your health; and if your family cares are so great that the work in which you are engaged is overtaxing you, and you are unable to devote the time and attention to the patients and the Institute which is actually their due, then you should resign your position and seek to place yourself where you can do justice to your family, yourself, and to the responsibilities you assume. The position you now occupy is an important one. It requires a clear intellect, strength of brain, nerve, and muscle. Earnest devotion to the work is necessary for its success, and nothing short of this will make the institution prosperous. To be a living thing, it must have live, disinterested workers to conduct it. 4T 102.3

Sister I, you have not been the help to your husband that you should have been. Your attention has been devoted more to yourself. You have not realized the necessity of arousing your dormant energies to encourage and strengthen your husband in his labors, or to bless your children with the right influence. Had you set yourself diligently about the duties God has enjoined upon you, had you helped to bear the burdens of your companion and united with him to properly discipline your children, the order of things in your family would have been changed. 4T 103.1

But you have yielded to feelings of gloom and sadness, and this has brought upon your dwelling a cloud instead of sunshine. You have not encouraged hope and cheerfulness, and your influence has been depressing upon those whom you should have aided by kindly words and deeds. All this is the result of selfishness. You have required the attention and sympathy of your husband and children, and yet have not felt that it was your duty to take your mind off yourself and labor for their happiness and well-being. You have given way to impatience, and have harshly reproved your children. This has only confirmed them in their evil ways and severed the cords of affection that should bind the hearts of parents and children together. 4T 103.2

You have lacked self-control and have censured your husband in the presence of your children; this has lessened his authority over them, and yours also. You have been very weak; when your children have come to you with complaints of others, you have immediately decided in their favor, and have unwisely censured and blamed those of whom they complained. This has cherished in the minds of your children a disposition to murmur against those who do not pay them the deference they imagine they deserve. You have indirectly encouraged this spirit instead of silencing it. You have not dealt with your children as firmly and justly as you should have done. 4T 103.3

You have had trials. You have been oppressed in mind. You have been discouraged, but have unjustly charged this unhappiness upon others. The main cause is to be found in yourself. You have failed to make your home what it should be and what it might have been. It is yet in your power to correct the faults there. Come out of that cold and stiff reserve. Give more love, rather than exact it; cultivate cheerfulness; let the sunshine into your heart, and it will shine upon those about you; be more social in your manners; seek to gain the confidence of your children, that they may come to you for advice and counsel; encourage in them humility and unselfishness, and set before them the right example. 4T 104.1

Awake, my dear brother and sister, to the needs of your family. Do not be blinded, but take hold of the work unitedly, calmly, prayerfully, and in faith. Set your house in order, and God will bless your efforts. 4T 104.2