Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 63, 1886

Brethren Having the Responsibilities of the Work of God

Basel, Switzerland

November 28, 1886

This letter is published in entirety in 16MR 136-142.

Dear Brethren Who Have the Responsibilities of the Work of God:

I wish to present before you some things which burden my mind. From time to time, I have felt urged by the Spirit of the Lord to bear a testimony to our brethren in regard to the necessity of procuring the very best talent to work in our various institutions and in the numerous other departments of our cause. Those who are thus connected with the work must be trained men, men whom God can teach and whom He can honor as He did Daniel with wisdom and understanding. They must be thinking men, men who bear God’s impress, and who are steadily progressing in holiness, in moral dignity, and in the excellence with which they labor. If they are growing men, if they possess reasoning minds and sanctified intelligence, if they listen to the voice of God and seek to catch every ray of light from heaven, they will, like the sun, pursue an undeviating course, and they will grow in wisdom and in favor with God. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 1

Heretofore the best ability has not been brought into the work of God. The Publishing Department is an important branch of that work, and all connected with it should feel that it is ordained of God and that all heaven is interested in it. Especially should those who have a voice in the management of the work be men of breadth of mind and thorough intelligence. They should not waste their Lord’s money by thoughtlessness or lack of business tact, neither should they make the mistake of seeking to cheapen the work by introducing narrow plans and trusting the work to men of small ability. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 2

I have been repeatedly shown that all our institutions need to have a different class of minds connected with them. They need to be managed by men who are spiritually minded and who will not weave their own defective ideas and plans into their management. This work should not be left to men who will mingle the sacred with the common and who will regard the work of God as being upon about the same level as earthly things and to be managed in the same cheap way that they have been in the habit of managing their temporal affairs. Now until there can be those connected with our institutions who have breadth of mind and who can lay broad plans in harmony with the growth of the work and its exalted character, the tendency will be to cheapen everything that is undertaken, and God will be dishonored through it. Oh, that all who have responsibilities to bear in connection with the cause of God would come up into a higher, holier atmosphere, where every true Christian should be. Then both they and the work which they represent would be elevated and clothed with the sacred dignity that heaven has ordained, and they would command the respect of all connected with the work in any of its branches. There needs to be more thinking, more praying, men—men who will come up into the mount after God and view His glory and the dignity of the heavenly beings whom He has ordained to have charge of His work. Then they will, like Moses, follow the pattern given them in the mount, and there will not be a constant study to cheapen the work done for the God of heaven; but the mind will be constantly on the alert to connect with that work the very best talent. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 3

There have been among those employed in our institutions men who have turned from the true Counsellor and manifested marked defects of character by not conforming to the great principle of right which God has laid down in His Word. As the result, the greatest work ever committed to mortals has been marred with man’s defective management, whereas, if heaven’s rules and regulations had been made the foundation principle, perfection would have marked the work in all its departments 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 4

Those who are placed in leading positions in connection with our institutions should be men who have sufficient breadth of mind to respect those of cultivated intellect and who will recompense them proportionately to the responsibilities they bear. True, those who engage in the work of the Lord should not do so merely for the wages they receive, but to honor God, advance His cause, and to obtain imperishable riches. At the same time we should not expect that those who are capable of taking hold of a work that requires thought and painstaking effort, and of doing it with exactitude and thoroughness, should receive no greater compensation than the less skilful workman. A true estimate must be placed upon talent. Those who cannot appreciate true work and mental ability should not occupy the position of managers in our institutions, for their influence would tend to bind about the work, to erect barriers to its progress, and to bring it down to a low level. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 5

If our institutions are as prosperous as God designs they shall be, there must be more thoughtfulness and earnest prayer, mingled with unflagging zeal and skillful labor. To connect this class of laborers with the work may require a greater outlay of means. But while it is essential that economy be exercised in everything possible, it will be found that the efforts of some narrow minds to save means by employing those who will work cheap, and whose labor corresponds in character with the cheapness of their wages, will result in the end in their loss. The progress of the work will be retarded and the cause belittled. You may economize, brethren, as much as you please in your personal affairs, in building your houses, in arranging your clothing, in providing your food, and in your general expenses, but do not bring this economy to bear upon the work of God in such a way as to hinder men of ability and true moral worth from engaging in it. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 6

In the Olympic games to which the apostle Paul calls our attention, the racers were required to make most extensive preparations. For ten whole months and sometimes longer they were trained by different masters in physical exercises calculated to give strength and vigor to the body. They were restricted to that class of food which would keep the body in the most healthful condition, and the clothing was to be such as would leave every organ and muscle of the body untrammeled. Now if those who were to engage in running a race for earthly honor were obliged to submit themselves to such sever discipline in order to succeed, how much more necessary it is for those who are to engage in the work of the Lord to be thoroughly disciplined and prepared if they would succeed in that which they undertake. Their preparation should be as much more thorough, their earnestness and self-denying efforts as much greater, than those of the aspirants for worldly honors, as heavenly things are of more value than earthly. The mind as well as the muscles should be trained to put forth the most diligent, persevering effort. The road to success is not a smooth way over which we are borne in rail cars, but it is a rugged path, filled with obstacles which can be surmounted only by patient toil. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 7

It should be the constant study of all connected with our institutions to know how they can become more intelligent in the work in which they are engaged. None should rest in ease and inaction; but they should seek to elevate and ennoble themselves lest by their deficient understanding they should fail to realize the exalted character of the work and lower it to meet their own finite standard. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 8

My brethren, there has not been one half the care taken that there should have been to impress upon those who could labor in the cause the importance of qualifying themselves for the work. With their powers all undisciplined, they can but do bungling work; but if they can be trained by godly teachers and by the power of God, they will not only be able to do good work themselves, but will give the right mold to others that are connected with them. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 9

Our institutions are doing a great and final work for the world and should have in their employ the very best talent to be obtained anywhere. I was shown the great deficiency there is in keeping the accounts in the various departments of the cause. Bookkeeping is and ever will be an important part of our work, and those who have become intelligent in it are greatly needed in all our institutions and in all parts of the missionary work. This branch of the work has been neglected shamefully, and altogether too long. It is a shame to allow a work of such magnitude to be done in a defective, bungling manner. God wants as perfect work as it is possible for human beings to do. To do His work in a cheap, imperfect style is a dishonor to the sacred truth and its Author. We should feel that it is necessary for those who are to connect with the work to receive an education for it. Bookkeeping is a subject that needs to be studied in order that it may be done with correctness and dispatch and without worry and taxation. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 10

I was shown years ago that there will be dissension and a lack of harmony and unity of action among the workers in our institutions unless all are subject to the authority of God. He will stand as Commander if each will obey His directions; but there must also be a visible head who fears God. The Lord will never accept a careless, disorderly company of workers; neither will He undertake to lead forward and upward to noble heights and certain victories those who are self-willed and disobedient. The soul’s progress means the Saviour’s rule. The heart through which He diffuses His peace and joy and the blessed fruits of His love is the heart which becomes His temple and His throne. “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” [John 15:14.] Our institutions are far beneath what God would have them, because those connected with them are not in fellowship with Him. They are not growing men. They are not ever learning of Jesus, therefore they are not becoming more and more efficient. If they would come close to Him and seek His help, He would walk with them and talk with them; He would be their Counsellor in all things and would grant to them as He did to Daniel heavenly wisdom and understanding. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 11

Years ago I was shown that our people were far behind in attaining that knowledge which would qualify them to take positions of trust in the cause. Every individual member of the church should put forth efforts to qualify himself to do work for the Master. To each has been appointed a work, according to his ability. Even now, at the eleventh hour, we should arouse to educate men of ability for the work, that they may, while occupying positions of trust themselves, be educating by precept and example all associated with them. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 12

There has been with some a selfish ambition to keep from others the knowledge they could have imparted. Others have not cared to tax themselves by educating any other workers. But this would have been the very best kind of work that they could have done for Jesus. “Ye are,” says Christ, “the light of the world.” [Matthew 5:14.] For this reason we are to let our light shine to others. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 13

I feel certain that if all the Lord has spoken in reference to these things had been heeded, our institutions would occupy today a higher, holier position. But men have chosen a low level. They have not sought with all their might to rise in mental, moral, and physical attainments. They have not felt that God required this of them, that Christ died that they might do this very work. As the result, they are far behind what they might be in intelligence and in the ability to think and plan. They could have added virtue to virtue, and strength to strength, and thus have become strong men in the Lord. But this they failed to do. Let each go to work now with a firm determination to rise. The present need of the cause is not more men, but more man. 4LtMs, Lt 63, 1886, par. 14