Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)




Lt 1, 1885

Directors of the Sanitarium at Battle Creek

Christiania, Norway

November 3, 1885

Portions of this letter are published in MM 211; 11MR 78-79.

Dear Brethren:

Some things at the sanitarium have troubled my mind. I wrote about them and supposed that the matter had been copied and sent to Dr. Kellogg; but after we came to Switzerland, I found it in my portfolio. I then had no time to write in regard to this. I will now forward that which ought to have been sent before. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 1

I was not willing that this should come to those who might use it to the Doctor’s injury, but now I must write it out. I was shown that he had been in danger, great danger, in the past, of making shipwreck of faith by exalting science above the God of science. He has not a clearly defined position in reference to his faith, and should be guarded, or he will certainly wander in the mazes of skepticism. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 2

I have not felt that the enlargement of the sanitarium was advisable, for several reasons. The foregoing is one. Another is, there is in him an element that will have a controlling power over him, unless he walks humbly before the Lord and is under the influence of His Spirit. It is a disposition not to allow others to obtain a thorough knowledge of all branches of the important work at the sanitarium. This is not as it should be. He should feel anxious to have men obtain all the knowledge they can possibly acquire. The work has grown large, under the Lord’s guidance, and yet there is not one man that can be depended upon to work by Dr. Kellogg’s side. This is not because no man can be found, but matters are so managed that the people look to Dr. Kellogg and expect him to give them personal attention. Thus expectations are encouraged which cannot be realized; then there is dissatisfaction. Those who cannot obtain his personal help think that the advice and attention of others is of little value. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 3

The Doctor can change this order of things. He alone has the power to do this. He can and should give greater encouragement to those who labor in connection with him. He needs to look at some of these matters in a different light. Should he be unfitted for his work, who would take his place? He should not keep his knowledge in this way, saying, “Thus far shalt thou go, but no further.” Students should have every opportunity to learn all that it is possible for them to learn; for there is great need of physicians who are thoroughly qualified for their work. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 4

The sanitarium carries a heavy debt. Debts have been continually accumulating as improvements have been made. These improvements are all excellent, but there is, I have been shown, danger that the Doctor, with his inventive powers, will carry the matter altogether further than our finances will warrant. The effort to develop talent has not kept pace with the outlay of means for the purpose of increasing the patronage of the institution. While facilities are provided to accommodate more patients, scarcely anything is done to obtain talented and caretaking men to carry the burden of the work with Dr. Kellogg. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 5

The strain upon the Doctor is too heavy. He grasps at too much. His studies and bookmaking, in connection with the care of patients and so many other responsibilities, have been too much for his strength. Although there were limited facilities for the accommodation of patients, there were all the patients he could attend to, and more than he ought to have had, until he could educate reliable helpers to share his burdens. He is at fault here. We appreciate Dr. Kellogg, and we cannot consent to let him do work that others should do, to look after matters aside from his special professional duties, matters which others might look after. He should train others to do this class of work, so that the burden of so many things will not fall on him. He is a superior practitioner; but his mind is so full of contemplated improvements which he enters into, that he is so burdened with responsibilities he should not have, that it becomes worn, his nerve, brain power is strained, and he views matters in such an exaggerated light and speaks in such a way as to depress his own feelings and greatly discourage others. There are many evils resulting from this. If the Doctor continues to do as he has done, he will break down and become nervous, impatient, harsh, and denunciatory. He will justify himself when he needs to correct his wrongs. I urge those who are appointed to guard the interests of this institution to do their appointed work, to exercise their judgment, and through decided efforts change this order of things. Our sanitarium must not be the ruin of Dr. Kellogg. Brethren, you must do something in this matter. The Lord lays the responsibility upon you as directors. You should make more earnest efforts to secure men who will share this burden while Dr. Kellogg is able to give them the benefit of his knowledge and experience. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 6

The greatest service which the Doctor can render to the cause of God is to be a patient, true, God-fearing educator. He is to make that sanitarium a means of great reforms upward. He cannot find perfection anywhere, and should not expect it, but he must bear with the perversity of men and try to teach them. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 7

Dr. Kellogg has obtained his scientific knowledge by agonizing effort. He has robbed himself of sleep, devoting to study and investigation the hours that should have been given to rest. With the same determined effort, he has put in practice the knowledge gained. But while there are few that would do as he has done, and few who have ability to plan as wisely in many things as he has planned, still his experience and practice have not been faultless, and in some instances work has been done twice over, at considerable loss of means. No experience is gained without some mistakes. Dr. Kellogg should consider that while many of his errors are not brought to notice, the mistakes of others are made to appear in the worst light. No man is perfect; and instead of indulging a spirit of unjust criticism toward those connected with him in the work because they make mistakes, he should give them all the encouragement he possibly can. This will inspire in them confidence and love toward himself. A haughty, independent spirit should never be countenanced in Dr. Kellogg or in any other doctor. All should be willing to learn, and the Doctor should be willing to teach. While imparting to others the wisdom and knowledge God has given him, he will receive of God more than he imparts. He should realize that he is doing God’s will and His work. While the students must be ready to begin with lesser responsibilities and give evidence that they can be trusted, he (the instructor) should feel for them the tenderest affection. He should not become discouraged at their ignorance, but should give them credit for all the good qualities he sees in them. In educating himself in this direction, he is obtaining a valuable experience—an experience which he needs in order to be a practical Christian. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 8

If the students make mistakes, let him not think them unworthy to be placed on trial again, as though they had committed sins that cannot be forgiven. He should kindly point out their errors, and they, in turn, should be grateful for a friend so faithful as to tell them their faults and how to correct them. To cast off the erring, or to treat them coldly, would not be doing as Christ has done for him. We are all fallible and need the pity and consideration and forgiveness of one another. Our work is to help one another to reform. The Doctor can draw men to him, he can win the confidence and love of those whom he would instruct, if he connects himself with Christ as the branch with the vine. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 9

It would be well for the Doctor and for the other physicians to go away at times from the pressure of constant care at the sanitarium. He should not have the incessant strain upon him. Provision has been made for larger patronage; and should disease fasten upon him, or he be called from the sanitarium, the result to the institution would show the lack of wise generalship in his not bringing in talent to carry forward the work that the sanitarium might not become demoralized and lose its good reputation. It is difficult for Dr. Kellogg to unload and let the burdens he should never have borne be placed on other shoulders. He has encouraged the custom of having all business matters brought before him and has so long done the thinking for others that if not consulted, he will be inclined to think that due respect was not shown him. Nevertheless, a change should be made. It was not right in the beginning that he should let other men use his brains. Those who cannot do the delicate and difficult work in his line as medical practitioner, which must devolve upon Dr. Kellogg, should think and plan and act for themselves in matters which come within their province; and the Doctor must, in place of censuring them, commend them. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 10

The management of the business interests of the sanitarium should not rest upon the Doctor as it has done. Others must attend to such matters. A multitude of cares may thus be removed from him. He should make every exertion on his part to qualify men to engage with him in the work and should give them an opportunity to share his responsibilities. This would be a mercy to himself and a great blessing to them. Unless he does make efforts to save himself, he will become, unexpectedly to himself, a complete wreck, when with proper exercise of his powers, restraining inclination, he might be able to do a good work, enduring as eternity. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 11

This advice and warning were given to me to give to my husband and have been given to many others. They were urged to unload, and not break under the continual strain and burden. My husband’s help and counsel were needed and are needed today more than at any former stage of the work. There is not one engaged in the work who has the qualities of a manager as he had; and God would have had his life preserved, that he might have stood as a counselor; but he has gone down to the grave because others let him bear the load and do their thinking and their planning, and then he suffered their criticisms, which broke his heart. He saw that others failed to discern matters clearly and that they made mistakes. They were not judicious and far-seeing. There were wanting in their characters elements which he possessed in a high degree. His qualifications were just what the work required to mold and develop it and keep from creating extravagant things which could not be sustained; but the time came when others should come in to share the responsibilities. He was waiting for some men of piety as well as of talent and ability to carry the work forward and upward to greater perfection, someone competent to take his place. He was disgusted and distressed because there were so few who were men of discernment, so few who would be burden-bearers, and he thought that in order to save blunders, he must do all the work himself. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 12

Thus he kept on and on, until he dropped under the load. He was unloaded by others before he died, not in the right way, but in a way that God did not approve; and he carried the burden all the same, only made a great deal heavier by the wicked pressure brought to bear upon him. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 13

We do not want this experience repeated in Dr. Kellogg’s case. We want the load to be removed while he has some strength left to accommodate himself to the situation. After my husband was removed from the work in such a manner as he was, the very men he dared not trust to share his burdens with him had to carry them all without the aid of his quick, far-reaching foresight, and without the help of his advice and experience. His voice might have been heard today if he had heeded the words of warning. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 14

Because Elder White could see what needed to be done, his brethren for many years were content to let him do their thinking, their seeing, their planning, and their executing. Thus, instead of becoming more efficient, they became less and less self-reliant. Simple, common business matters were brought before him by those connected with him in the work, until he became so accustomed to this that if not consulted about even minor matters he felt that due respect was not shown him. So it is with Dr. Kellogg. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 15

Brethren Murphy, Hall, and those connected with them are making the same mistake which others made in the case of my husband. They are in many respects machine men. They are willing to do if someone will tell them what to do; but their mental powers are becoming weakened, because, instead of thinking and planning for themselves, even in simple matters, they prefer to use Dr. Kellogg’s mind. They wait to ask him if such and such things should be done. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 16

Brother Hall occupies the position of superintendent, but so far as thoughts and plans are concerned, Dr. Kellogg has the work of the superintendent to do. The Doctor should not have encouraged these men to depend on him to be brains for them. He has served tables too much. It is a sin and a shame for his mind to be called to so many frivolous, commonplace matters, and in allowing it he does a wrong to those connected with him. They will never become efficient till he shall change his course. Dr. Kellogg has larger responsibilities to take his time and engage his powers, and others should lift from him every ounce of burden they can. He cannot throw his arms about the entire institution. He must train his helpers to be self-reliant, independent, to be wise generals. He should not attempt to order every movement in person. God does not require of him such taxing service, even in the most important enterprises. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 17

The Doctor has succeeded because he would not be defeated. He has faced stubborn difficulties, and has seen them give way before him, because his courage would not be daunted nor his energy wearied. But this is just what his associates in the work have failed to do. Such an experience would be more valuable to them than gold; it would be a benefit through all time and through all eternity. There need not be so many helpless souls who will sink before difficulties. Elder Andrews might have lived had he encouraged and educated others to share the burdens with which he loaded himself down. He deprived them of an education they might have had, because he did so much himself, and allowed them to rely upon his brain, instead of doing their own thinking. Every man can be a man, a whole man. By patient, thoughtful effort put forth with zeal and energy, all may overcome cowardice and ignorance and inefficiency. The superintendent of the sanitarium should do more than merely to echo Dr. Kellogg’s thoughts and plans. He should have sufficient breadth of thought and independence of judgment to differ with him in a Christlike manner, if the case demands it. He should use the powers of his own brain, and fill his office, thus growing in judgment and ability, so that every year he will become more capable of bearing responsibilities, that Dr. Kellogg may have periods of entire rest and change. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 18

The same is true of others who are connected with the institution. They should not be mere shadows of Dr. Kellogg, for this is the danger; should the substance be removed, nothing would remain to make the shadow. They should not say Yea to his every proposition. They should never consent to be mere machines, run by another man’s brains. God has given them ability to think and to act. He would have them strong, firm, whole-souled, well-balanced men. And they should not be crippled or dwarfed in their knowledge for want of practice. Practical training is essential for all who would become efficient, whole. If students could spend some time in a hospital, they would obtain an experience of great value to them. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 19

If the workers in the sanitarium learn to think independently, they will often be able to help the Doctor in his thoughts and plans, for he will recognize the propositions which reveal thought. He is not infallible; his plans are not always faultless and wise, and another may see failure where he sees success. An associate with a good strong mind to propose plans and offer counsel would be the greatest blessing the Doctor could have. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 20

But there are some who no sooner hear a plan proposed, than they take it for granted that its utility cannot be questioned. Because it is proposed by Dr. Kellogg it must be right, and they at once give it their support. They do not weigh the matter, probe it, sift it, test it, pray over it, giving the Doctor the benefit of deliberate thought and clear plans that would bring relief to his mind. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 21

The Lord has said, No one man’s mind or judgment is sufficient to exert a controlling influence in any of our institutions; therefore it is necessary that councils be held, that plans be considered by men of different stamp of character; then if there are defects, they will be discovered and removed. But here the same lack of independent thought is seen. If Dr. Kellogg makes a proposition, others stand ready to vote for it without taxing their own minds to candidly weigh the different points in the matter. Such men are mere ciphers. Brethren, you must have force of character, moral backbone and more power of thought in order to discern what enterprises are judicious, and the best way to take hold of them and make a success. But to do this, you should bring all your plans to the divine Counselor. Do not neglect to pray earnestly and in faith over every matter. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 22

In order for you to be reliable men, there must be a constant growth of your powers. It is by the exercise of every faculty, even in little things, that we acquire power to engage in larger undertakings. Do not shirk your share of responsibility because there are risks to run, because there is something to be ventured. Do not require others to be brains for you. Do not be like a ball of putty. You must train your powers to be strong and vigorous. Your talents will increase as you exercise steady, unyielding energy in the discharge of duty. 4LtMs, Lt 1, 1885, par. 23