Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 16 (1901)


Ms 94, 1901

The Importance of Care and Faithfulness in Bookkeeping


September 23, 1901

Portions of this manuscript are published in PUR 12/19/1901. +Note

I wish to speak of the necessity of keeping our institutions out of debt. Debts should not be allowed to accumulate. The managers of our institutions are to be faithful in this matter, keeping the fear of God before them. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 1

The importance of correct bookkeeping is not half appreciated. Religion is to be brought into this work. The methods of bookkeeping followed are to be simple and easy to be understood. Some desire to bring in methods of bookkeeping different from those which have been followed. They claim that their methods are more successful. But before these methods are introduced, they should be proved by experienced, accurate bookkeepers. If after thorough examination, these new methods are found to be superior to the old methods, it may be well to introduce them. But no man, however experienced, is to bring new methods of bookkeeping into an institution, except by the consent of competent men. The institution may adopt new plans of keeping the accounts, so that the business may be benefited, but no man is to introduce new methods of bookkeeping on his own responsibility. This is a matter to be decided on by more than one. It means more than appears at first glance to introduce new methods of bookkeeping. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 2

Suppose that a man does this, and for a time keeps the books. Then suppose that he is suddenly called away. What is the result? Perplexity arises because those who take up the work after him are not familiar with the new method. The accounts are confusing to them, and it sometimes happens that reflections of dishonesty are cast on the one who kept the accounts. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 3

Everything that can be done should be done to train bookkeepers who will keep books by the most simple process, so that when they give up the work, and others take the place, everything on the books will be clear and easily explained. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 4

There has been altogether too much blundering in the matter of keeping accounts. The books in our institutions have been handled by men who were not thorough, practical bookkeepers. They became confused in their work, and appearances bear the impression that they were unreliable. And it may be that the truth regarding their work will not be known until the day when every man’s work is brought up in review before God. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 5

Into some of our institutions, and especially into the Boulder Sanitarium, confusion has been brought by the way in which the books were kept. Business was done in an incorrect way. Let this be carefully avoided in the future. A bookkeeper who is not acquainted with the intricacies of the business should not be left to deal with them unaided. His work should be examined. He should be shown where he can improve. If left to himself, he may get the accounts into such confusion that his reputation for honesty will be lost and his influence hurt. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 6

Every account passes to the invisible Bookkeeper above. Then let no bookkeeper be left to follow his own ideas without counsel from others. Inexperienced bookkeepers should receive help from those who have gained an experience in the work. Many youthful bookkeepers have become hopelessly confused because they entered upon their work without half the education they should have had in order to be able to keep books correctly. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 7

The bookkeeper in every business firm and in every institution should make a plain record of every dollar received and every dollar paid out. Then there will be no uncertainty as to what has been done with the money. There will be no unexplainable discrepancies to cast a shadow on the reputation of someone who may have had no thought of dishonesty. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 8

When accounts are handled in a hurried, haphazard manner, it is not known whether the bills are settled or not, and in the end it will be said that fraud has been practiced by someone. Special care is needed to keep the accounts straight at a time when buildings are being erected. Just as soon as a transaction takes place, it should be jotted down. A faithful statement of every transaction should be made on the books. If this is not done, a great amount of money will be used without any one’s knowing where it has gone. Great amazement will be felt. The bookkeeper is questioned, but he has no bills to show for the money expended; and therefore an unsavory odor rests on the transactions, and the judgment alone will reveal the facts in the case. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 9

Some have such a poor memory that if they do not note down each day what they have received and what they have paid out, they are unable to remember. Some trust to a defective memory, and then discrepancies appear in their work. And though they may have had no intention of dishonesty, yet they were unfaithful in failing to keep their accounts properly. Thus some have lost their reputation for honesty, and under the feeling that they were not trusted, they have grieved themselves to death. As long as life lasted, a shadow hung over them, and they never knew that their mistake was in trusting to a defective memory. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 10

There is a right way and a wrong way of conducting business. Often the hard way is the right way, and the easy way the most confusing. God grant that those connected with His sacred work shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of evil because it appears desirable. The Lord declares, Thou shalt not eat of it, lest thou die. [Genesis 2:17; 3:3.] 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 11

May God help men to understand that their accounts are faithfully kept by an unseen bookkeeper in the heavenly courts. What right has a man to put his own estimate on his work, and then pay himself out of the money which he handles? Thus did Judas. What right has he to cut down the wages of other men, showing great zeal to prevent them from getting more than he thinks they should have? Men are not judged by the estimate they place on their work. The figures kept by the heavenly Accountant are true, and by them will each man be judged. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 12

At stated periods the account books in every office and institution should be carefully examined. This should in no case be neglected. The business done in God’s institutions should be investigated by disinterested men. It is the Lord’s money that is being handled. Through His heavenly intelligences He keeps an account of the way in which the money is used. When large sums of money are expended without sufficient reason for the outlay, the record is made in heaven, Weighed in the balances and found wanting. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 13

Money has been invested in unnecessary buildings when it should have been saved to invest in buildings which were absolutely necessary. And when buildings are put up at such an expense, as some of our institutions have been, it means that buildings in other parts of the field will have to fall far short in appearance and facilities. This is not according to the wisdom of God. Let those who are given the work of constructing buildings lay their plans with reference to the other buildings which will have to be constructed in the future. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 14

There should not be so great a contrast in the buildings which are erected to advance the cause of God. One should not have an appearance of elegance, while the other falls far short of what is needed to give character to the work. There are workers in some parts of the field who cannot afford to purchase what they need to make their work a success, while workers in other parts of the field have an overabundance of facilities. If so much money had not been invested in expensive buildings, there would be means for the establishment of schools and sanitariums in fields where for years they have been needed. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 15

These things have been laid open before me, and I now write them out, so that in the plans laid in the future for buildings, the same mistakes will not be made which have been made in the past. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 16

God calls for consecrated, intelligent workers, for workers who are willing to be worked by the Holy Spirit, who, before beginning an enterprise, will sit down and count the cost to see whether they will be able to finish. 16LtMs, Ms 94, 1901, par. 17