The Publishing Ministry

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Chapter 22—Wages for Publishing-House Workers

A Wage Scale Seems Appropriate—Every worker in our institutions should receive fair compensation. If the workers receive suitable wages, they have the gratification of making donations to the cause. It is not right that some should receive a large amount and others, who are doing essential and faithful work, very little. PM 239.1

Yet there are cases where a difference must be made. There are men connected with the publishing houses who carry heavy responsibilities and whose work is of great value to the institution. In many other positions they would have far less care and, financially, much greater profit. All can see the injustice of paying such men no higher wages than are paid to mere mechanical workers.—Testimonies for the Church 7:207. PM 239.2

A Wage Scale With Equity—While I was in Switzerland, word came to me from Battle Creek that a plan had been formed by which none working in the office should receive more than twelve dollars per week. I said, This will not work; it will be a necessity for some to receive higher wages than this. But double this amount should not be awarded to any man connected with the office; for if a few take from the treasury so largely, justice cannot be shown to all. Large wages afforded to a few is the world's plan; while others in every way as deserving receive far less. This is not justice. PM 239.3

The Lord will have faithful men who love and fear Him connected with every school, every printing office, health institution, and publishing house. Their wages should not be fashioned after the worldling's standard. There should be, as far as possible, excellent judgment exercised to keep up, not an aristocracy, but an equality, which is the law of heaven. “All ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8). A few should not demand large wages, and such wages should not be presented as an inducement to secure ability and talents. This is placing things on a worldly principle. The increase of wages brings with it a corresponding increase of selfishness, pride, display, self-gratification, and needless extravagance that the people who do their utmost to pay their tithes and present their offerings to God do not have. Poverty is seen in all their borders. The Lord loves the one just as much as the other, with the exception that the self-sacrificing, humble, contrite souls who love God and strive to serve Him, are ever kept nearer to the great heart of Infinite Love than the man who feels at liberty to have all the good things of this life.—Selected Messages 2:192. PM 239.4

Higher Wages for Qualified Workers—Those placed in leading positions should be men who have sufficient breadth of mind to appreciate persons of cultivated intellect and to recompense them proportionately to the responsibilities they bear. True, those who engage in the work of God should not do so merely for the wages they receive, but rather for the honor of God, for the advancement of His cause, and to obtain imperishable riches. At the same time we should not expect that those who are capable of doing with exactness and thoroughness work that requires thought and painstaking effort should receive no greater compensation than the less skillful workman. A true estimate must be placed upon talent. Those who cannot appreciate good work and true ability should not be managers in our institutions, for their influence would tend to circumscribe the work and to bring it down to a low level. PM 240.1

If our institutions would be as prosperous as God designs they shall be, there must be more thoughtfulness and earnest prayer, mingled with unabating zeal and spiritual ardor. To connect the right class of laborers with the work may require a greater outlay of means, but it will be economy in the end; for while it is essential that economy be exercised in everything possible, it will be found that the efforts to save means by employing those who will work for low wages, and whose labor corresponds in character with their wages, will result in loss. The work will be retarded and the cause belittled. Brethren, you may economize as much as you please in your personal affairs, in building your houses, in arranging your clothing, in providing your food, and in your general expenses; but do not bring this economy to bear upon the work of God in such a way as to hinder men of ability and true moral worth from engaging in it.—Testimonies for the Church 5:551. PM 240.2

Employment of Competent Men—I have been shown that, in addition to the help now in the office, competent men should be employed to assist in the management of the different departments of the work. Men should be employed who have experience in business and who are wise managers. It would have been better years ago [Written in 1889, this statement harks back to the time, “years ago,” when it would have been better to employ successful business managers—even at double the wages of foremen—rather than to involve the publishing house in serious financial problems. A special situation and emergency may require a special remedy.] to have employed men who were thorough managers—men who would have taught thoroughness, promptness, and economy—even if double the wages that have been paid to foreman had been necessary. Brother R is deficient here; he has not a happy way of correcting evils. He undertakes to do this, but very many things are entirely neglected that ought to be reformed at one. The office has lacked a care-taking economist, a thorough businessman. There is three times as much lost as would be required to pay for the very best talent and experience in this work.—Testimonies for the Church 5:414. PM 241.1

Self-denial Should Characterize Workers—I was shown that the office of publication should not be conducted on the same principles as are other publishing houses; for it is to be something after the order of a training school. Everyone connected with it is to be a true missionary, and work upon the same principles that brought it into existence. Self-denial should characterize all the workers.... PM 241.2

Self-denial should characterize the men employed in responsible positions in the office, and they should be an example to all the workers. The office was brought into existence through self-denial, and the same spirit should be manifested and maintained. The great object must be kept in view. This is missionary work, and those who have no missionary spirit should not continue in the work.—Selected Messages 2:196. PM 242.1

He who is selfish and grasping, eager to take every dollar he can get from our institutions for his services, is binding about the work of God; verily he has his reward. He cannot be accounted worthy to be entrusted with the eternal, heavenly reward in the mansions Christ has gone to prepare for those who deny self and take up the cross and follow Him. The fitness of men to enter the blood-bought inheritance is tested during this probationary life. Those who have the spirit of self-sacrifice manifested in Christ, when He gave Himself for the salvation of fallen man, are those who will drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism, and they will share in the glory of the Redeemer.—Selected Messages 2:195. PM 242.2

You must retain the confidence of the people. Unless you carry the people with you, your work will be a failure. Brethren, workmen, from the highest to the lowest, you should maintain in the office the spirit manifested by Christ in coming to our world.—Letter 5, 1892. PM 242.3

Proper Compensation for Work of Women—If a woman is appointed by the Lord to do a certain work, her work should be estimated according to its value. Some may think it good policy to allow persons to devote their time and labor to the work without compensation. But God does not sanction such arrangements. When self-denial is required because of a dearth of means, the burden is not to rest wholly upon a few persons. Let all unite in the sacrifice. PM 242.4

The Lord desires those entrusted with His goods to show kindness and liberality, not niggardliness. Let them not, in their deal, try to exact every cent possible. God looks with contempt on such methods. PM 242.5

Workers should receive compensation according to the hours they give in honest labor. The one who gives full time is to receive according to the time. If one enlists mind, soul, and strength in bearing the burdens, he is to be paid accordingly.—Testimonies for the Church 7:207, 208. PM 243.1

Sad Results of Paying High Wages—I have been shown that the movement made to pay so large wages [For several decades the management of the Review publishing office was under the control of men who managed to secure for themselves very high wages as compared with other publishing workers. This selfish, grasping spirit was manifest also in their attempt to bring the control of the Pacific Press Publishing Association under their jurisdiction. This injustice and thirst for power was such a denial of the spirit of Christ that it called forth from Ellen White some of her most scathing rebukes.] was entirely contrary to the principles upon which the office of publication was first established; and it has already resulted in keeping from the cause of God in its various branches thousands of dollars. Many who pay tithes and make offerings do so by practicing self-denial, and when they know that the managers of the office receive so large wages for their work, they have little confidence in them as men whom God has chosen, since they are not imbued with the self-sacrificing spirit of Christ. He gave His life that He might save souls, and the people are losing confidence in the managers of the office.—Letter 5, 1892. PM 243.2

Large Wages Contrary to God's Plan—Those who made and executed the plans appropriating God's entrusted money in large wages for themselves were not profited thereby in a single instance, although they may imagine that they were. In accepting this money they reveal that they could not be trusted to handle the Lord's goods. This action will stand against them, revealing that they were actuated by principles that God has not given us any liberty to adopt in His work. PM 243.3

The action in this matter instituted in Battle Creek robbed the cause of God of money which He would have employed in advancing the work where the banner of truth has not been uplifted. The payment of such large wages was entirely contrary to the plan of God in any line of His work; it was contrary to the example of Christ in His life. The greatest Teacher the world ever knew gave every institution in our world a pattern of self-denying, self-sacrificing principle.—Letter 31a, 1894. PM 243.4

Employees to Have a Voice in Setting Wages—Those who change God's order of things in order to follow the counsel of selfish men will be prompted to cut down the wages of men whose work is, in the sight of God, of such a character that through Him their influence is bringing means into the treasury to sustain His cause. This action before the universe of heaven and before men reveals the character and disposition of the men who are handling sacred things. And under the inspiration of the same selfish spirit these very men, if they see a chance, will cut down the wages of the laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, without their consent, and without understanding their situation. In many cases this action brings families into strait places, and those who have the power in their hands know little what may be the consequences of deducting from the wages of the laborers. It is just as much the right of the ones employed in the cause to have a voice in such transactions as it is of men employed in various branches of trade. PM 244.1

God's cause can afford to be fair and true; it can afford to deal on right principles. When any such work as cutting down wages is contemplated, let a circular be published setting forth the true situation, and then ask those employed by the conference if, under the pressure of lack of means, they could do with less means of support. All the arrangements with those in God's service should be conducted as a sacred transaction between man and his fellow man. Men have no right to treat the workers together with God as though they were inanimate objects to be handled about without any voice or expression of their own.—Letter 31a, 1894. PM 244.2

Leaders and People Alike to Practice Economy— While at Salamanca, New York, in November, 1890, there were presented to me many things. I was shown that there was coming into the office a spirit that God did not approve. While some accept large wages, there are others who have labored at their post faithfully for years, who receive very much less. I have been repeatedly shown that God's order is not to be broken down and the missionary spirit extinguished.... PM 244.3

I know there are those who practice much self-denial to pay their tithes and make offerings to the cause of God. Those who stand at the head of the work should take such a course that they can unblushingly say, “Come, let us act mutually in this work which was commenced in sacrifice, and is supported by continual self-denial.” The people should not excel those who stand at the head of our institutions in practicing economy, and binding about their wants.—Selected Messages 2:193, 194. PM 245.1

Faithfulness Determines Value of Service—My heart is deeply stirred by the scenes which during the night have passed before me. In the night season I heard from some of my brethren propositions with which I cannot agree. The statements they made indicate that they are on the wrong track, that they have not an experience which will guard them from deception. I was grieved to hear from the lips of some of our brethren expressions that show neither faith in God nor loyalty to His truth. Propositions were made that, if carried out, would lead away from the straight and narrow way. PM 245.2

Some think that if higher wages were paid to men of superior talent, these men would remain among us; then more work would be accomplished, in a more thorough manner, and the cause of truth would stand on a more elevated platform. PM 245.3

Concerning this question I have received instruction from One who never errs. Suppose this plan were followed, “Who,” I ask, “is competent to measure the genuine usefulness and the influence of his fellow workmen?” No man is qualified to judge of another's usefulness in the service of God. PM 245.4

The position or office a man may hold is not alone an indication of his usefulness in the cause of God. It is the development of a Christlike character through sanctification of the spirit that will give him influence for good. In the estimation of God the degree of his faithfulness determines the value of his service. PM 246.1

God accepts the services of those only who are partakers of the divine nature. Without Christ man can do nothing. Love for God and man alone places human beings on vantage ground with God.—Selected Messages 2:186, 187. PM 246.2

Labor Prompted by Love for Souls—I have been thinking of the question that was agitating your mind in regard to wages. You suggest that if we paid higher wages, we could secure men of ability to fill important positions of trust. This might be so, but I should very much regret to see our workers held to our work by the wages they receive. There are needed in the cause of God workers who will make a covenant with Him by sacrifice, who will labor for the love of souls, not for the wages they receive. PM 246.3

Your sentiment regarding wages, my much-respected brother, is the language of the world. Service is service, and one kind of work is as essential as the other. To every man is given his work. There is stern, taxing labor to be performed, labor involving disagreeable taxation and requiring skill and tact. In the work of God, the physical as well as the mental powers are drawn upon, and both are essential. One is as necessary as the other. Should we attempt to draw a line between mental and physical work, we would place ourselves in very difficult positions. PM 246.4

The experiment of giving men high wages has been tried in the publishing institutions. Some men have grasped high wages, while others, doing work just as severe and taxing, have had barely enough to sustain their families. Yet their taxation was just as great, and often men have been overworked and overwearied, while others, bearing not half the burdens, received double the wages. The Lord sees all these things, and He will surely call men to account; for He is a God of justice and equity. PM 246.5

Those who have a knowledge of the truth for this time should be pure and clean and noble in all their business transactions. None among God's servants should hunger and thirst for the highest place as director or manager. Such positions are fraught with great temptation.—Counsels on Health, 302, 303. PM 246.6

Men Who Exaggerate Their True Worth—I cannot trace with pen and ink the disappointment of my soul as I consider what you might have been had you used and improved your God-given capabilities. But the Lord cannot save the man who has a greater desire to win the crown than he has to bear the cross. The Lord wants men who manifest more anxiety lest they shall fail to do their duty in every respect than they do for their reward. PM 247.1

I speak to you in the name of the Lord. I know you do not see things clearly. When you were receiving large wages from the office you did not give their equivalent in faithful influence and work. You were not faithful to keep the charge of the Lord. You have ever valued your labors far more highly than their worth. By exaggerating the value of your own work, you have received the credit of the knowledge and experience which others have brought into the publishing work. I must tell you the truth: I cannot see how you can ever be connected with such important interests again when the principles interwoven into the work have been so entirely contrary to the light God has given in regard to how His work in business and religious lines should be conducted.—Letter 28, 1896. (See also Selected Messages 2:196, 197.) PM 247.2

Expensive Family No Reason for Higher Wages—Men have written to me saying that they must have high wages, and pleading as an excuse an expensive family. And at the same time the institution with which they were connected was obliged to figure closely to meet running expenses. Why should anyone plead an expensive family as a reason for demanding high wages? Is not the lesson that Christ has given sufficient? He says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).—Selected Messages 2:183. PM 247.3

A Lawsuit Instigated by Evil Angels—I hear that you [A former Review and Herald publishing-house official.] have entered into or intend to enter into a lawsuit against the managers of the Review and Herald. I wish to tell you that in this you are not guided by the Lord. This move is instigated by evil angels. God has never prompted you to do any such thing. PM 248.1

It is a fact that you and B and C exerted an influence that warped the plans of the Review and Herald and brought oppression into the book work. Wrong principles were brought in which resulted in your separation from the office. That which you are now prepared to charge on to the Review and Herald is largely the result of your own actions. PM 248.2

The scheme to pay higher wages [At the Review and Herald] to a few men, brought in by you and your associates, was entirely contrary to the principles that had heretofore been practiced in the institution. PM 248.3

This matter has been clearly presented to me. In the assemblies your voice was the most urgent and determined to carry out the plans for giving a few men higher wages, and to pay a low wage to a large number who worked with just as much fidelity as those claiming higher wages.... PM 248.4

I charge you in the name of Christ to withdraw your suit, for you are wounding Christ by dishonoring His cause. Quite as justly could a suit be brought against you for formulating plans that lessened the power of the Review office to do the work that ought to have been done in sustaining missionaries in the field. Consider the fruit of your own doing, the carrying out of plans that spoiled the record of the institution. Your voice has done much to bring about wrong schemes.—Letter 227, 1905. PM 248.5

A Union Formed to Obtain Higher Wages—In view of the large work that is to be done, our laborers should be willing to work for a reasonable wage. Even if you could obtain large wages, you should consider the example of Christ in coming to our world and living a life of self-denial. Just at this time it means very much what wages are demanded by the workers. If you require and receive a large wage, the door is thrown open for others to do the same. It was the demand for large wages among the workers at Battle Creek that helped to spoil the spirit of the work there.... The cause of present truth was founded in self-denial and self-sacrifice. This selfish, grasping spirit is entirely opposed to its principles. It is like the deadly leprosy, which in time will disease the whole body. I am afraid of it. We need to take heed lest we outgrow the simple, self-sacrificing spirit that marked our work in its early years.—Selected Messages 2:197. PM 248.6

Meeting an Emergency With Less Wages—If, when cramped for means, you let your competent workers go, to set up business for themselves, you will in a short time wish you had them back. The question of finance can be managed nicely, if all the workers will be willing when there is a pressure for means, to accept less wages. This was the principle the Lord revealed to me to be brought into our publishing institutions. There will be plenty to do, and your work will need these very men. Should we not all be willing to restrict our wants at a time when money is so scarce? PM 249.1

My husband and I worked on this principle. We said, “The publishing house is the Lord's institution, and we will economize, reducing our expenses as far as possible.” The Lord requires self-sacrifice of all His servants to advance His work and make it a success. Let every worker now do his best to sustain and guard our publishing institution in -----. Do you not think that the Lord will be pleased to see this spirit control in all our institutions? We are to bring principle into the work. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Are we ready to follow Christ?.... PM 249.2

Our institutions are to be entirely under the supervision of God. They were established in sacrifice, and only in sacrifice can their work be successfully carried forward.—Selected Messages 2:207. PM 249.3