Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7


Chapter 55—Consideration for those Struggling with Difficulties

For years a lack of wisdom has been shown in dealing with men who take up and carry forward the Lord's work in difficult places. Often these men labor far beyond their strength. They have little money to invest for the advancement of the work, and they are obliged to sacrifice in order to carry the work forward. They work for small wages and practice the strictest economy. They make appeals to the people for means, and they themselves set an example of liberality. They give God the praise for what is done, realizing that He is the Author and the Finisher of their faith, and that it is by His power that they are enabled to make progress. 7T 277.1

Sometimes, after these workers have borne the burden and the heat of the day, and by patient, persevering effort have established a school or a sanitarium, or some other interest for the advancement of the work, the decision is made by their brethren that some other man might do better, and therefore that he is to take charge of the work they have been doing. In some cases the decision is made without giving due consideration and due credit to those who have borne the disagreeable part of the work, who have labored and prayed and striven, putting into their efforts all their strength and energy. 7T 277.2

God is not pleased with this way of dealing with His workers. He calls upon His people to hold up the hands of those who build up the work in new, difficult places, speaking to them words of cheer and encouragement. 7T 277.3

In their ardor, their zeal for the advancement of the cause, these workers may make mistakes. They may, in their desire to get means for the support of needy enterprises, enter into projects that are not for the best good of the work. The Lord, seeing that these projects would divert them from what He desires them to do, permits disappointment to come upon them, crushing their hopes. Money is sacrificed, and this is a great grief to those who had fondly hoped to gain means for the support of the cause. 7T 278.1

While the workers were straining every nerve to raise means to help them over an emergency, some of their brethren were standing by, criticizing, and surmising evil, putting a prejudicial construction on the motives of the heavily burdened laborers, and making their work more difficult. Blinded by selfishness, these faultfinders did not discern that their brethren were sufficiently afflicted without the censure of men who had not borne heavy burdens and responsibilities. Disappointment is a great trial, but Christian love can turn the defeat into victory. Reverses will teach caution. We learn by the things we suffer. Thus we gain experience. 7T 278.2

Let care and wisdom be shown in dealing with workers who, though they have made mistakes, have manifested an earnest, self-sacrificing interest in the work. Let their brethren say: “We will not make matters worse by putting another in your place, without giving you opportunity to retrieve your mistake, and to stand on vantage ground, free from the burden of unjust criticism.” Let them be given time to adjust themselves, to overcome the difficulties surrounding them, and to stand before angels and men as worthy workers. They have made mistakes, but would those who have questioned and criticized have done better? To the accusing Pharisees Christ said: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” John 8:7. 7T 278.3

There are those who are premature in their desire to reform things that to them appear faulty. They think that they should be chosen to take the place of those who have made mistakes. They undervalue what these workers have done while others were looking on and criticizing. By their actions they say: “I can do great things. I can carry the work forward successfully.” To those who think they know so well how to avoid mistakes, I am instructed to say: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1. You might avoid mistakes on some points, but on other things you are liable to make grave blunders, which would be very difficult to remedy and which would bring confusion into the work. These mistakes might do more harm than those your brethren have made. 7T 279.1

The instruction given me is that the men who lay the foundation of a work, and who, in the face of prejudice, fight their way forward, are not to be placed in an unfavorable light in order that others may take their places. There are earnest workers who, in spite of the criticisms of some of their brethren, have moved forward in the work that God said should be done. Should they now be removed from their position of responsibility, an impression would be made that would be unjust to them and unfavorable to the work, because the changes made would be looked upon as a justification of the unjust criticisms made and the prejudice existing. The Lord desires that no move shall be made which would do injustice to those who have labored long and earnestly to build up the work given them. 7T 279.2