Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 12, 1885

Butler, G. I.; Haskell, S. N.

Orebro, Sweden

October 28, 1885

This letter is published in entirety in SpTA #6 61-67. +Note

Dear Brethren Butler and Haskell:

My prayer is that the Lord may be with you in great power during the coming conference. Some may be absent that you might wish were present, but Jesus is your helper. I sincerely hope and pray that those who bear responsibilities in Michigan, New England, Ohio, Indiana, and other states will take broader views of the work than they have done. I hope Michigan will take a step in advance. I feel to regret the fact that there is such a dearth of breadth of mind and of far-seeing ability. Workers should be educated and trained for the fields of labor. We need missionaries everywhere. We need men and women who will give themselves without reserve to the work of God, bringing many sons and daughters to God. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 1

I have been shown that there is one practice which those in responsible places should avoid; for it is detrimental to the work of God. Men in position should not lord it over God’s heritage and command everything around them. Too many have marked out a prescribed line which they wish others to follow in the work. Workers have tried to do this with blind faith, without exercising their own judgment upon the matter which they had in hand. If those who were placed as directors were not present, they have followed their implicit directions just the same. But in the name of Christ, I would entreat you to stop this work. Give men a chance to exercise their individual judgment. Men who follow the leading of another, and are willing that another should think for them, are unfit to be entrusted with responsibility. Our leading men are remiss in this matter. God has not given to special ones all the brain power there is in the world. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 2

Men in responsible positions should credit others with some sense, with some ability of judgment and foresight, and look upon them as capable of doing the work committed to their hands. Our leading brethren have made a great mistake in marking out all the directions that the workers should follow, and this has resulted in deficiency, in a lack of the caretaking spirit in the workers, because they have relied upon others to do all their planning and have themselves taken no responsibility. Should the men who have taken this responsibility upon themselves step out of our ranks, or die, what a state of things would be found in our institutions. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 3

Leading men should place responsibilities upon others, and allow them to plan and devise and execute, so that they may obtain an experience. Give them a word of counsel when necessary, but do not take away the work because you think the brethren are making mistakes. May God pity the cause when one man’s mind and one man’s plan are followed without question. God would not be honored should such a state of things exist. All our workers must have room to exercise their own judgment and discretion. God has given men talents which He means that they should use. He has given them minds, and He means that they should become thinkers and do their own thinking and planning rather than depend upon others to think and plan for them. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 4

I think I have laid out this matter many times before you, but I see no change in your actions. The Lord would have every responsible man to drop responsibilities upon others. Set others at work that will require them to plan and to use judgment. Do not educate them to rely upon your judgment. Young men must be trained up to be thinking men. My brethren, do not for a moment think that your way is perfection, and that those who are connected with you must be your shadows, must echo your words, repeat your ideas, and execute your plans. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 5

There are men who today might be men of breadth of thought, might be wise men, men to be depended upon, who are not such, because they have been educated to follow another man’s plan. They have allowed others to tell them precisely what they should do, and they have become dwarfed in intellect. Their minds are narrow, and they cannot comprehend the needs of the work. They are simply machines to be moved by another man’s thought. Now do not think that these men who do follow out your ideas are the only ones that can be trusted. You have sometimes thought that because they do your will to the letter, they were the only ones in whom you could place dependence. If anyone exercised his own judgment and differed with you, you have disconnected from him as one that could not be trusted. Take your hands off the work, and do not hold it fast in your grasp. You are not the only man whom God will use. Give the Lord room to use the talents He has entrusted to men in order that the cause may grow. Give the Lord a chance to use men’s minds. We are losing much by our narrow ideas and plans. Do not stand in the way of the advancement of the work, but let the Lord work by whom He will. Educate, encourage young men to think and act, to devise and plan, in order that we may have a multitude of wise counselors. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 6

How my heart aches to see presidents of conferences taking the burden of selecting those whom they think they can mold to work precisely with them in the field. They take those who will not differ from them, but will act like mere machines. No president has any right to do this. Leave others to plan, and if they fail in some things, do not take it as an evidence that they are unfitted to be thinkers. The wisest responsible men had to learn by a long discipline and practice how to use their judgment. In many things they have shown that their work ought to have been better. The fact that men make mistakes is no reason that we should think them unfit to be caretakers. Those who think that their ways are perfect, even now, after long experience, make many grave blunders, but others are none the wiser for it. They present their success, but their mistakes do not appear. Then be kind and considerate to every man who conscientiously enters the field as a worker for the Master. Our most responsible men have made some unwise plans and have carried them out because they thought their plans were perfect. They have needed the mingling of other elements of mind and character. They should have associated with other men who could view matters from an entirely different point of view. Thus they would have helped them in their plans. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 7

This same character of spirit is found here in Europe. For years Elder Andrews held the work back from advancing, because he feared to entrust it to others, lest they would not carry out his precise plans. He would never allow anything to come into existence that did not originate with him. Elder Loughborough also held everything in his grasp while he was in California and England, and as a result the work is years behind in England. Elder Wilcox and Sister Thayer have the same spirit of having everything go in the exact way in which they shall dictate, and no one is being trained in such a way as to know how to get hold of the work for himself. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 8

What folly it is to trust a great mission in the hands of one man so that he shall mold and fashion it in accordance with his mind, and after his own diseased imagination. Men who have been narrow, who have served tables, who are not far-seeing, are disqualified for putting their mold upon the work. Those who desire to control the work think that none can do it perfectly for themselves, and the cause bears the marks of their defects. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 9



In another letter I have spoken in reference to your accumulating so many responsibilities in Battle Creek when there is so little managing talent that is consecrated to the work of God to take care of these interests. I have spoken in disapproval of the enlargement of the sanitarium on the ground that so large a share of its responsibilities is resting upon one man. Doctor Kellogg has to be both physician and manager. Now, my brother, these things are not as God would have them. He is not pleased that so much means should be invested in one locality. Other men should be educated to share in the responsibility that Doctor Kellogg is burdened with in order that, if he fails, another will be prepared to carry the institution forward. We feel to thank God that Dr. Kellogg has the good health that he has, but he may not always have it, and the fact that he has it now is no reason why our people should sleep till the last moment. They should manage this matter wisely. Great interests are at stake, and unless Dr. Kellogg has less responsibilities, he will not be enabled to stand the pressure for a great while. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 10

There is great need that someone should also stand at the side of Brother C. H. Jones in order to share the responsibilities that he carries, so that if he should fail, another could go forward with the work without a disagreeable break. If he were relieved of some of his burdens, he would last the longer. He should not have so great cares, and so heavy burdens to carry, and should not be obliged to work when he should rest. The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. [Luke 16:8.] Jesus said this, and we see that the world works on a different plan in these matters. Weighty responsibilities connected with the business of the world are not placed wholly upon one man. In large business enterprises, responsible men choose others to share their burdens, and lift their responsibilities, so that in case one should fail, there is someone ready to step into his place. Someone should feel a burden over these matters, and a decided change should take place in the manner of our work. 4LtMs, Lt 12, 1885, par. 11