Gospel Workers (1915 ed.)


Economy in Mission Work

Laborers for God must work with intelligence, frugality, and humility. There are those who undertake too much, and by so doing accomplish little. Our efforts must be more concentrated. Every stroke must tell. The mind must be active to discern the best ways and means of reaching the people near us. In an effort to do a work at a distance from us, we often let opportunities within our reach slip away. Thus time and means are lost in both places. GW 458.1

Our missionary workers must learn to economize. The largest reservoir, though fed by abundant and living springs, will fail to supply the demand if there are leakages which drain off the supply. It must not be left for one man to decide whether a certain field will warrant large efforts. If the workers in one field so fashion the work as to incur large expenses, they are barring the way so that other important fields—fields which perhaps would better warrant the outlay—cannot be entered. GW 458.2

Our younger laborers must be content to work their way among the people slowly and surely, under the advice of those who have had more experience. The ideas of many are too high. A more humble manner of working would show good results. It is encouraging to see the young enter the missionary field, enlisting all their ardor and zeal in the work; but they must not be left to manage for themselves, and keep the cause of God weighed down with debt. All should strive by wise management and earnest labor to gather enough to pay their own expenses. They should labor to make the cause self-sustaining, and should teach the people to rely upon themselves. GW 458.3

Our ministers should not feel at liberty to pay large sums for halls in which to hold meetings, when they do not feel the burden of following up the interest by personal labor. The results are too uncertain to warrant the using of means so rapidly. If churches and halls are opened to any of the laborers, and there is a desire to hear, they should embrace the opportunity, and do the best they can; but it is not wisdom for a single individual to strike out as if he had some great talent, as if he were a Moody or a Sankey, and make a lavish outlay of means. GW 459.1

In sending missionaries to foreign countries, we should select those who know how to economize, who have not large families, and who, realizing the shortness of time and the great work to be accomplished, will keep themselves as free as possible from everything that would divert their minds from the one great work. The wife, if devoted and left free to do so, can, by standing by the side of her husband, accomplish as much as he. We want missionaries who are missionaries in the fullest sense of the word, who will put aside selfish considerations, and let the cause of God come first; and who, working with an eye single to His glory, will keep themselves as minutemen, ready to go where He bids, and to work in any capacity to spread the knowledge of the truth. Men who have wives who love and fear God, and who can help their husbands in the work, are needed in the work, are needed in the missionary field. GW 459.2

Our laborers must learn to exercise economy, not only in their efforts to advance the cause of truth, but in their home expenses. They should place their families where they can be cared for at as little expense as possible. Donations and bequests do not come to our work as they do to other denominations; and those who have not educated themselves to live within their means, will surely have to do this, or else engage in some other employment. Habits of self-indulgence, or a want of tact and skill on the part of the wife and mother, may be a constant drain upon the treasury; and yet that mother may think she is doing her best, because she has never been taught to restrict her wants or the wants of her children, and has never acquired skill and tact in household matters. Hence one family may require for its support twice the amount that would suffice for another family of the same size. GW 459.3

All should learn how to keep accounts. Some neglect this work as non-essential; but this is wrong. All expenses should be accurately stated. This is something that many of our laborers will have to learn. GW 460.1

The Lord is not pleased with the present lack of order and accuracy among those who do business in connection with His work. Even in the business meetings of the conference, much time could be saved and many mistakes avoided, by a little more study and punctuality. Everything that bears any relation to the work of God should be as nearly perfect as human brains and hands can make it. GW 460.2


As laborers together with God, you should come close to one another. Lessons of love, confidence, respect for one another, must be given, both in and out of the desk. You must live that which you teach. Remember that new converts look to you for an example. GW 460.3

Some for whom you labor will wish to have the work done in their own way, thinking that their way is best; but if you have the spirit and the meekness of Christ, if you show respect and love for one another, God will enable you to perfect the work in a manner that will please Him. Work for your own souls until self is subdued, until Christ recognizes His image in you. This will be the most impressive lesson that you can give to those whom you educate. GW 461.1

In foreign fields, especially, the work cannot be accomplished except by well-considered plans. While you should endeavor to labor in harmony with the instructions of those at the head of the work, many unforeseen circumstances will arise for which they could make no provision. There must be something ventured, some risks taken, by those on the field of battle. There will be crises in which prompt action is necessary. GW 461.2

When missions are opened in foreign lands, it is of special importance that the work be started right. The laborers should be careful that they do not restrict it by narrow plans. While the state of the treasury demands that economy be exercised, there is danger of an economy which results in loss rather than gain. This has actually been the case in some of our missions, where the workers have bent their powers almost wholly to planning how to get along in the least expensive manner. With different management, far more might have been accomplished; and on the whole less means would have been taken from the treasury. GW 461.3

In new fields our growth has been slow, because the special truths which we present are not popular with the world. The observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is a heavy cross for every one who accepts the truth. Many who can see that our doctrines are sustained by the Scriptures, shrink from accepting them, because they do not wish to be peculiar, or because by obedience to the truth they would be cut off from their means of support. Because of these things, much wisdom is needed in planning how to bring the truth before the people. GW 462.1

In some places the work must begin in a small way, and advance slowly. This is all that the laborers can do. But in many cases a wider and more decided effort might be made at the outset, with good results. The work in England might now be much farther advanced than it is if our brethren, at the beginning of the work there, had not tried to work in so cheap a way. If they had hired good halls, and carried forward the work as though we had great truths, which would surely be victorious, they would have had greater success. God would have the work started in such a way that the first impressions given shall be, as far as they go, the very best that can be made. GW 462.2

Be careful to maintain the elevated character of the missionary work. Let all connected with our missions, both men and women, be constantly inquiring, “What am I? and what ought I to be and to do?” Let all remember that they cannot give to others what they themselves do not possess; therefore they should not settle down content with their natural ways and habits, seeking to make no change for the better. Paul says, “I press toward the mark.” [Philippians 3:14.] There must be constant reformation, unceasing advancement, if we would perfect a symmetrical character. GW 462.3


The Lord wants men who see the work in its greatness, and who understand the principles that have been interwoven with it from its rise. He will not have a worldly order of things come in to fashion the work in altogether different lines from those He has marked out for His people. The work must bear the character of its Originator.—Testimonies for the Church 7:209. GW 463.1


In establishing the work in new places, economize in every possible way. Gather up the fragments; let nothing be lost. The work of soul-saving must be carried on in the way that Christ has marked out. He declares, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Matthew 16:24.] Only by obeying this word can we be His disciples. We are nearing the end of this earth's history, and the different lines of God's work are to be carried forward with much more self-sacrifice than has yet been manifested.—Idem, pages 239, 240. GW 463.2