Fundamentals of Christian Education


Chapter 13—Importance of Training in the Work of God

The work of the laborer is not small or unimportant. If he gives himself to any branch of the work, his first business is to take heed to himself, afterward to the doctrine. He is to search his own heart and to put away sin; then he is to keep the Pattern, Christ Jesus, ever before him as his example. He is not to feel at liberty to shape his course as best pleases his own inclination. He is the property of Jesus. He has chosen a high vocation, and from it his whole future life must take its coloring and mold. He has entered the school of Christ, and he may obtain a knowledge of Christ and His mission, and of the work he has to perform. All his powers must be brought under control of the great Teacher. Every faculty of mind, every organ of the body, must be kept in as healthy a condition as possible, so that the work of God shall not bear the marks of his defective character. FE 107.1

Before a person is prepared to become a teacher of the truth to those who are in darkness, he must become a learner. He must be willing to be counseled. He cannot place his foot on the third, fourth, or fifth round of the ladder of progress before he has begun at the first round. Many feel that they are fitted for the work when they know scarcely anything about it. If such are allowed to start out to labor in self-confidence, they will fail to receive that knowledge which it is their privilege to obtain, and will be doomed to struggle with many difficulties for which they are entirely unprepared. FE 107.2

Now, to every worker is granted the privilege of improvement, and he should make everything bend to that object. Whenever a special effort is to be made in an important place, a well arranged system of labor should be established, so that those who wish to become colporteurs and canvassers, and those who are adapted to give Bible readings in families, may receive the necessary instruction. Those who are workers should also be learners, and while the minister is laboring in word and doctrine they should not be wandering listlessly about, as though there was nothing in the discourse which they needed to hear. They should not regard the speaker simply as an orator, but as a messenger from God to men. Personal preferences and prejudices must not be allowed to influence them in hearing. If all would imitate the example of Cornelius, and say, “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God,” they would receive much more profit from the sermons which they hear. FE 107.3

There should be connected with our missions training-schools for those who are about to enter the fields as laborers. They should feel that they must become as apprentices to learn the trade of laboring for the conversion of souls. The labor in these schools should be varied. The study of the Bible should be made of primary importance, and at the same time there should be a systematic training of the mind and manners that they may learn to approach people in the best possible way. All should learn how to labor with tact and with courtesy, and with the Spirit of Christ. They should never cease to become learners, but should ever continue to dig for truth and for the best ways of working, as they would dig for buried gold. FE 108.1

Let all who are commencing in the work decide that they will not rest short of becoming first-class workers. In order to do this, their minds must not be allowed to drift with circumstances and to follow impulse, but they must be chained to the point, tasked to the utmost to comprehend the truth in all its bearings. FE 108.2

Men of ability have labored at a great disadvantage because their minds were not disciplined for the work. Seeing the need of laborers, they stepped into the gap, and although they may have accomplished much good, it is in many cases not a tithe of what they could have accomplished, had they had the proper training at the start. FE 108.3

Many who contemplate giving themselves to the service of God, do not feel the need of any special training. But those who feel thus are the very ones who stand in greatest need of a thorough drill. It is when they have little knowledge of themselves and of the work that they feel best qualified. When they know more, then they feel their ignorance and inefficiency. When they subject their hearts to close examination, they will see so much in them unlike the character of Christ, that they will cry out, “Who is sufficient for these things?” and in deep humility they will strive daily to put themselves in close connection with Christ. By crucifying self they are placing their feet in the path in which He can lead them. FE 109.1

There is danger that the inexperienced worker, while seeking to qualify himself for the work, will feel competent to place himself in any kind of a position, where various winds of doctrines are blowing about him. This he cannot do without peril to his own soul. If trials and temptations come upon him, the Lord will give strength to overcome them; but when one places himself in the way of temptation, it often happens that Satan through his agents advances his sentiments in such a manner as to confuse and unsettle the mind. By communion with God and close searching of the Scriptures, the worker should become thoroughly established himself before he enters regularly upon the work of teaching others. John, the beloved disciple, was exiled to lonely Patmos, that he might be separated from all strife, and even from the work he loved, and that the Lord might commune with him and open before him the closing scenes in this earth's history. It was in the wilderness that John the Baptist learned the message that he was to bear, to prepare the way for the coming One. FE 109.2

But above everything else it should be impressed upon the individuals who have decided to become God's servants, that they must be converted men. The heart must be pure. Godliness is essential for this life and the life which is to come. The man without a solid, virtuous character will surely be no honor to the cause of truth. The youth who contemplates laboring together with God, should be pure in heart. In his lips, in his mouth, should be no guile. The thoughts should be pure. Holiness of life and character is a rare thing, but this the worker must have or he cannot yoke up with Christ. Christ says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” If those who purpose to work for others’ good and for the salvation of their fellow men rely on their own wisdom, they will fail. If they are entertaining humble views of themselves, then they are simple enough to believe in God and expect His help. “Lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Then we have the privilege of being directed by a wise counselor, and increased understanding is given to the true, sincere seeker for truth and for knowledge. FE 109.3

The reason why we have no more men of great breadth and extended knowledge, is because they trust to their own finite wisdom, and seek to place their own mold upon the work, in the place of having the mold of God. They do not earnestly pray and keep the communication open between God and their souls, that they can recognize His voice. Messengers of light will come to the help of those who feel that they are weakness itself, without the guardianship of Heaven. The word of God must be studied more, and be brought into the life and character, fashioned after the standard of righteousness God has laid down in His word. Then the mind will expand and strengthen, and be ennobled by grasping the things that are eternal. While the world are careless and indifferent to the message of warning and mercy given them in the Bible, God's people, who see the end near, should be more decided and more devoted, and work more earnestly, that they may show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. FE 110.1

Knowledge is power, either for good or for evil. Bible religion is the only safeguard for human beings. Much attention is given to the youth in this age, that they may enter a room gracefully, dance, and play on instruments of music. But this education is denied them, to know God and to answer to His claims. The education that is lasting as eternity, is almost wholly neglected as old-fashioned and undesirable. The educating of the children to take hold of the work of character building in reference to their present good, their present peace and happiness, and to guide their feet in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, is considered not fashionable, and, therefore, not essential. In order to have your children enter the gates of the city of God as conquerors, they must be educated to fear God and keep His commandments in the present life. It is these that Jesus has pronounced blessed: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” FE 111.1

The blessing is pronounced upon those who are familiar with the revealed will of God in His word. The Bible is the great agent in the hands of its Author to strengthen the intellect. It opens the garden of the mind to the cultivation of the heavenly Husbandman. It is because there is so little attention given to what God says and to that which God requires, that there are so few who have any burden to do missionary work, so few who have been passing under drill, calling into service every power to be trained and strengthened to do higher service for God. FE 111.2

Altogether too feeble efforts are being made to connect those with our schools of different nationalities who ought to be connected with them, that they may receive an education and become fitted for the work so noble, so elevated, and far-reaching in its influence. The days of ignorance God winked at. But increased light is shining; the light and privileges of understanding Bible truth are abundant, if workers will only open the eyes of their understanding. The truth must be diffusive. Foreign and home missions call for thorough Christian characters to engage in missionary enterprises. The missions in our cities at home and abroad call for men who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ, who will work as Christ worked.—The Review and Herald, June 14, 1887. FE 111.3