Gospel Workers (1915 ed.)


Personal Ministry

In the work of many ministers there is too much sermonizing and too little real heart-to-heart work. There is need of more personal labor for souls. In Christlike sympathy the minister should come close to men individually, and seek to awaken their interest in the great things of eternal life. Their hearts may be as hard as the beaten highway, and apparently it may be a useless effort to present the Saviour to them; but while logic may fail to move, and argument be powerless to convince, the love of Christ, revealed in personal ministry, may soften the stony heart, so that the seed of truth can take root. GW 185.1

Ministry means much more than sermonizing; it means earnest personal labor. The church on earth is composed of erring men and women, who need patient, painstaking labor, that they may be trained and disciplined to work with acceptance in this life, and in the future life be crowned with glory and immortality. Pastors are needed,—faithful shepherds,—who will not flatter God's people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life,—men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and who cherish a strong, unselfish love for those for whom they labor. GW 185.2

There is tactful work for the under-shepherd to do as he is called to meet alienation, bitterness, envy, and jealousy in the church; and he will need to labor in the spirit of Christ to set things in order. Faithful warnings are to be given, sins rebuked, wrongs made right, both by the minister's work in the pulpit and by personal labor. The wayward heart may take exception to the message, and the servant of God be misjudged and criticized. Let him then remember that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” [James 3:17, 18.] GW 185.3

The work of the gospel minister is “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.” [Ephesians 3:9.] If one entering upon this work chooses the least self-sacrificing part, contenting himself with preaching, and leaving the work of personal ministry for some one else to do, his labors will not be acceptable to God. Souls for whom Christ died are perishing for want of well-directed personal labor; and he has mistaken his calling who, having entered the ministry, is unwilling to do the personal work that the care of the flock demands. GW 186.1

The minister must be instant in season and out of season, ready to seize and improve every opportunity to further the work of God. To be “instant in season” is to be alert to the privileges of the house and hour of worship, and to the times when men are conversing on topics of religion. And to be instant “out of season” is to be ready, when at the fireside, in the field, by the wayside, in the market, to turn the minds of men, in a suitable manner, to the great themes of the Bible, with tender, fervent spirit urging upon them the claims of God. Many, many such opportunities are allowed to slip by unimproved, because men are persuaded that it is out of season. But who knows what might be the effect of a wise appeal to the conscience? It is written, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” [Ecclesiastes 11:6.] He who is sowing the seeds of truth may bear a burdened heart, and at times his efforts may seem to be without result. But if he is faithful, he will see fruit of his labor; for God's word declares, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” [Psalm 126:6.] GW 186.2