The Retirement Years


Older Ministers to Speak at Camp Meetings

In 1890 I was given the following message to bear to our people: RY 35.1

“A mistake has been made in putting young men forward to speak at our camp meetings, before large congregations, when they had not the vital truths to present that were appropriate for the occasion. Precious time has been occupied by those who did not themselves know the true message for this time. Pioneers in the cause—men who had the bread of life to give to the people, men whose hearts and minds were filled with the vital truths needed by the hundreds and thousands of people assembled—have sat and listened to young preachers who could not do justice to the occasion. Not even half work was done in the presentation of the gospel message.” RY 35.2

I am now called upon to present a similar message to our churches. Our aged ministering brethren are not to be over-taxed, but when they are at any of our churches, those in the church should remember that it is always courteous to ask them to speak. It is only showing these brethren the respect due them to say, “Brethren, you are older in the faith than we are. Have you not the word of the Lord for us at this time?” RY 35.3

The time of these workers is precious. They have words to speak that the people need. When they come among you, give them all the time that they can possibly fill. Make arrangements that will enable you to obtain all the help possible from them during their stay. RY 35.4

At our camp meetings, when large congregations assemble, the time given to public speaking should be occupied, as far as possible, by old, experienced workers, who have the word of the gospel to present. Do not place before the large congregation a young man who has not been proved. He may do his best, but his words will not have the weight of the words of men of gray hairs, who have been long in active service, and who, understanding the deep things of God, can present them with clearness and power. RY 36.1

It would be doing a young man a great wrong to place him before a large congregation before he had been proved. It would not leave the best impression on the minds of the hearers. RY 36.2

In our camp meetings call to the front men of long experience and of the very best talent—men who can impress hearts by bringing forth clearly the strong reasons of our faith; men who obey the words, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” RY 36.3

Our camp meetings are not held for the purpose of putting men on exhibition, of showing off their capabilities. The people come together to receive spiritual good. There are among them those who are thirsting for the water of life. Give them opportunity to drink until their thirst is quenched. Let them hear a message fraught with the love of God. Let them have opportunity of listening to men of ripe talent, men whom God has been educating and training. The minds of these men are filled with truth that the people need. Do not bring in men who have not been proved, while men sit by in silence who have the word of God burning in their souls, and who may never again have opportunity to bear the message given them. Give these tried warriors all the opportunities to speak that they can improve without overtaxing themselves; for they can present the truths that are the very pillars of our faith. RY 36.4

The younger ministers are not to think, because they are not called to speak to the large congregation, that there is nothing for them to do. There is work for all to do. Let them hold meetings in the smaller tents. Let the occupants of several tents meet in one tent for prayer and social meeting. In such meetings as these the younger ministers can do good service. Let them speak a few words right to the point, and then give those present an opportunity to speak. All our people should learn to bear witness for God in social meeting. RY 37.1

Let the younger ministers work for the children and youth, holding special meetings for them, and also putting forth personal efforts for them. RY 37.2

Let the old standard-bearers go from place to place, from meeting to meeting. Let our people have the benefit of their long experience. Let them speak the truth in all its force, but let them be sure that their feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Let them present the truth, not in a way that will arouse the worst feelings of the human heart, but in love and tenderness and compassion. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, ... fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” RY 37.3

To our people as a whole, and to our younger and less experienced workers, I am instructed to say, “Let it be plainly seen that you respect and honor our aged workers, the men of gray hairs, who have seen long and faithful service in the cause of God, and who are recognized and honored in the courts of heaven as laborers together with God.”—Letter 152, 1903. RY 38.1