Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 106, 1899

Remarks/Report of Committee Meeting


July 26, 1899

Portions of this manuscript are published in CS 275-276. +Note

Elder Daniells: In our meeting two or three days ago, we met for the organization of the Medical Board. Elder Irwin was elected chairman pro tem, and Brother Morse secretary. Brother White moved that Brother Wessels be chosen president of the board; Brother Robinson seconded the motion. I think that is as far as we got with our work. In the afternoon we had another meeting, and Sister White spoke to us. I do not just understand what the object of this meeting is, unless it is to proceed with the organization of the board. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 1

Elder Starr: The other night the meeting closed after I had asked a question. I had another question to ask, which I would like to ask this morning. What is the relation of a president to his board, or a chairman to his board? This includes the relation of conference presidents to their boards. I have felt very anxious that this relation should be clearly defined. I think it would help us in the selection of such men. I think this question has a vital bearing on the election of a chairman for the Medical Board. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 2

Dr. Caro: I also would like to hear the answer to this question, for the reason that it was an explanation of the relation of a chairman to his board, given by Sister White in a person[al] conversation, that has led me to take the stand I have taken here. I would very much like to hear this question answered. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 3

Elder Starr: It has seemed to me as I have listened to the discussions on the great danger of chairmen of boards running into heavy financial investments involving the whole Cause, that difficulties have arisen because of a misapprehension of the chairman’s position. As I understand it, the chairman voices the [thinking of the] board, and if the board numbers five, he is acting in concert with five minds; if the board numbers seven, he is acting in concert with seven minds, and if the board numbers ten, he is acting in concert with ten minds. Any one who thinks that the position of president of a board makes it possible for the man occupying it to involve the cause in financial difficulties does not understand the position of chairman, as I understand it. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 4

Elder White: I wish to state some of the considerations I presented in behalf of the motion which I made. They were these: The organization of our Medical Missionary Association, with the distinct understanding that it is to control the food factory and other enterprises, places it in a position where enterprises will look to the Association for funds. They look to the Association for funds, and especially to the Chairman of the Committee, as he is one the people look to as the one to whom they can entrust their funds. The people of Australasia want to lend their money to the biggest enterprise; and when we ask for money to be loaned to the Food Company, to the School, or to the Echo Company, they say, “Yes, that is very well, but we have confidence in the Union Conference. We will lend our money to the Union Conference, and it can lend it to whatever it pleases.” So the natural tendency is for the Union Conference and the Medical Association to assume large responsibilities. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 5

Another feature. To whom do the people look? They look to the president, and not only do the people do this, but the members of the board are getting more and more into the habit of looking to the president to do anything they want done. For instance, if enough funds are not being raised for the school, if the school is not receiving proper attention, complaint is made to the Executive Committee of the Union Conference. If the Echo Company finds that its circulating department is getting a little out of order, it looks to the Union Conference Committee to take hold of the matter, and make the circulating department what it ought to be. If the Food Company is short of funds, instead of the managers feeling that it is their duty to go to the people and raise money, they say to the Union Conference Committee, We cannot go on with the work; for we have no funds. If you who hold the purse strings will provide us with funds, we will go on with the work. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 6

And the very persons who make this demand on the Union Conference are themselves members of the Union Conference Committee. I am a member of that committee, and so are the representatives of the Health Food business, the Echo Company, and other enterprises. Thus the logic of the complaining is that the president of the Committee is not doing enough. We centralize the responsibility on the President, and look to him to make things go. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 7

The fact is, we love to have kings. The people want kings. We want somebody to fight our battles for us. The school wants the Union Conference to fight its financial battles. The Echo Company wants the Union Conference to see that the Echo is properly edited, and that the circulating department is properly managed. The Food Company looks to the Union Conference to provide workers for its various branches. The people look to the center. They say, We will lend our money to the general organization. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 8

This all tends to place us where the General Conference Association was. The committee bears the burden of the general work, and the president bears the burden of the committee. That is the logic or our history, the road over which our experience has brought us. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 9

In the matter of choosing a president for the Association, when the brethren said that it should be a medical man, I argued that the position was more financial than medical, and that until we made a radical change in our system of operations, it will necessarily be more financial than medical, and that it will be necessary to have a strong financial man at the head. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 10

This is the position I took. I do not say it was a right one. It may be that it was based on wrong data. But these are the opinions that my observation of our experience have given me. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 11

Sister White: I wish I had what I have written to the General Conference in regard to this matter. When they began swerving matters in objectionable lines, light was given me. Elder Butler was told decidedly that he should have a strong man to stand by his side, not to voice his words, not to feel that he must do what Elder Butler said because he was president. That would be an entirely wrong thing to do. A man must be chosen to stand as Elder Butler’s helper, every one understanding that he was business manager. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 12

Before I left the meeting Tuesday evening, the question was asked whether a medical man or a businessman should stand at the head of the board. I began to search for something I had written on this point, and I found it. This was written in regard to some difficulties that had come up. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 13

But there was a great burden resting upon me. I felt like a cart pressed beneath sheaves. I did not close my eyes till half past eleven. I thought, I ought not to have gone to that meeting. I have my work, and I ought to attend to it. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 14

After a while I fell asleep. Then I seemed to be in a meeting, and those present were in conversation regarding the question we had been discussing that afternoon. One of dignity and authority stood before us, and all present listened attentively to what he said. “The question was asked,” he said, “whether the business agent stands lower than the president. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 15

“Upon a business manager rests great responsibility. He should take charge of the finances, and stand by the president’s side. He has charge of all business arrangements. The president will not then be left to follow his own judgment, his own ideas, as a president might be supposed to do, because another man has the responsibility of financial arrangements. The position of business manager is, if anything, a more responsible one than that of the president. The business manager has a connection with the work that it is not possible for the president to have. His work is as deserving of honor and respect as the work of the president.” 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 16

These are the words that were spoken. In the past, careless work has been done in putting men into positions who did not know anything about the work. They were unproved. From the instruction given in God’s Word, we see that the men chosen to fill places on boards are to be men who will not tie themselves to any man, to be molded and fashioned after his ideas, because when men do this, the whole work is injured. Men must stand in their own individuality. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 17

The president and the business manager are to work unitedly together. The business manager is to see that the expenditure does not exceed the income. He is to know what there is to depend on, so that the work here shall not be burdened with debt as it is in Battle Creek. The condition of things there need never have existed. It is the result of men not being under God’s rule. When men are under God’s rule, the work moves harmoniously; but when men of strong temperament, who are not controlled by God, are placed in responsible positions in the work, the cause is imperilled, for their strong temperaments lead them to use money which is only in prospect. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 18

The enemy is working in every possible way to bring embarrassment upon our people. The Medical Board should be composed of picked men, and when the president sees an opening which should be improved, let him counsel with the one who has charge of the finances. He knows where the money has come from and should know just how it should be appropriated. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 19

There is to be perfect unity and harmony among the members of the board, but the members are not to take the mold of the president, whoever he may be. His independent judgment is not to be followed before the matter has been brought before the board. Everything is to be laid before the board, and the decision of the members is to control the matter. The business manager carries heavy responsibilities, but he has no moral right to say to the president, “You can go ahead, and do what you propose. It is according to my mind.” The judgment of the board is to control in all matters. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 20

As this was laid before me, the burden that has rested on me rolled away. I felt that my feet were upon the sure foundation. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 21

Dr. Caro: In the terms I used, perhaps I expressed in words what I did not mean in heart. My idea was that in a Medical Association God wants medical work done. If there were no medical work to be done, there would be no Medical Association. Sister White told me that there should be two separate men at the head of the Union Conference Committee and all such bodies. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 22

Sister White: That is what I have been trying to express. As for Dr. Caro trying to exalt himself, I do not think that at all. When the question was asked the other afternoon, I did not answer as thoughtfully as I should have done. When I went home, the burden upon me was so great that I cried to the Lord earnestly. I was shown that individual work must be done in our associations. The members of the board are to work together in harmony, but they are to be no more blended than the branches of a vine are blended. Yet the branches are supported by one parent stock. They draw their sustenance from the parent vine. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 23

In all the associations we have, this principle must be recognized. God never designed that the presidents of our conferences should take upon themselves the responsibility of managing and carrying things according to their own judgment. This will not answer. They should have associated with them men who have a sense of the fitness of things. Then if the president should propose a wrong move, his fellow-worker can correct him. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 24

When new enterprises are to be started, the plans should be submitted to the board, and those who start the enterprise should carry with the approval of the board. If means are to be invested, the board should know of it, so that it will be responsible for the financial success of the work. Had this always been done, the state of things now existing in Battle Creek would never have existed. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 25

When Elder Butler was president of the General Conference Association, the people thought they must bring all their troubles directly to him, and that all their help must come through him. But this is not God’s design. A man in such a position should have as a helper a man of business ability, who can take the management of the finances, with whom the president can counsel. These men are to hold nothing back from each other. When difficulty arises, let them both take time to think and pray, and if together they can see a way to success, let them lay their plans before the board. They are not to act on their own responsibility. They may think the way is perfectly clear, but even if they do, they have no right to go ahead in their own judgment. The matter is to be laid before the board for the decision of the members. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 26

Elder Daniells: I believe every word Sister White has said. I think that it is good sense. For years we have talked about this, because of instruction we have received from Sister White regarding the Union Conference. We have talked about getting someone to take the management of financial affairs, but we have not yet found anyone. During the last conference period, the brethren have frequently talked about this matter and acknowledged the truth of the principle; but they have not found anyone to take this place. I had greatly hoped that at this conference the Lord would lead us to find such a man. I dread the thought of starting another term of two years with no prospect of a businessman as helper. What can we do to fill this place? I know not who to select. I have felt that I would like to impress this matter on my brethren, that it may not be left for another two years. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 27

Sister White: I would not allow it to be left. You have your line of work. Again and again I have been instructed that one man’s mind and one man’s judgment is not to decide everything. One man is not to take the responsibility of saying to the different laborers, You go to that field, and, You leave this field. This is work of grave responsibility, and one man alone cannot do it. Brother Daniells, it is not best for you to try to do it, because it brings on you a heavy burden. If the men prove treacherous, this burden falls on you. You should have a man who can stand by you, who can help you where you need help. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 28

Men’s minds are not cast in the same mold, any more than the branches of a vine are alike. Yet each man has his office, and each is to be related to the other, because they are related to the True Vine. The way in which things have gone in the past has not been just to you, Brother Daniells, because a man is wearing when he does not know it. He comes into a pressure when his energies are called out, and he throws himself into the work, using more vitality than is required. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 29

Every man needs rest. Dr. Caro must have a time of repose. He is not treating himself justly when he allows himself to be broken up in his habits of sleep and eating. If his usefulness is preserved, he must not use all his strength up because he sees so much work to be done. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 30

Great care should be taken in choosing the men to stand by the presidents of the various associations. When I wrote to Brother Butler that he must have a helper, he wrote back that he had secured his son. This was not the right thing to do. When I spoke to Brother Olsen about the same thing, he too got his son, who would not say a word if he saw his father making mistakes. What boy could see anything to correct in his father? 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 31

We are not to feel that our brethren have no right to speak to us in regard to a wrong course we are taking, because we are workers together with God. We must think over what they have said, and see where we can reform. We must take hold of the hand of God, saying, Do not let me go until I do reform. We must do this in order to perfect a Christian character. We are not to make a confederacy with our fellow workers, saying, “I will not say anything of your faults if you will not of mine.” 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 32

We are to work together, in accordance with the words, “All ye are brethren.” [Matthew 23:8.] We are to try to bring all the perfection possible into our own characters and into the characters of those connected with us. We are not to act as though we were better than those around us. If we have the sunshine of Christ’s righteousness in our hearts, if Christ is abiding in us, we will recognize Christ in our brethren, and therefore we shall work together harmoniously. 14LtMs, Ms 106, 1899, par. 33