The Publishing Ministry


Chapter 10—Importance of Economy

Practicing Economy in Institutions—Our institutions were established to serve as an effectual means of advancing the work of soul saving. Those connected with them are to study how they can help the institution, not how they can take the most out of the treasury. If they grasp more than is their due, they hinder the cause of God. Let everyone connected with these institutions say, “I will not set my wages at a high figure, because that would rob the treasury, and the proclamation of the message of mercy will be hindered. I must practice economy. Those who are out in the field are doing a work that is as essential as the work that I am doing. I must do all in my power to help them. It is God's means that I am handling, and I will do as Christ would do in my place. I will not spend money for luxuries. I will remember the Lord's workers in mission fields. They have more need of means than I have. In their work they come in contact with much poverty and distress. They must feed the hungry and clothe the naked. I must limit my expenditures, that I may share in their labor of love.”—Manuscript 19, 1903. PM 105.1

Gather Up the Fragments—Let the proper estimate be placed upon the publications, and then let all in our publishing houses study to economize in every possible way even though considerable inconvenience is thus caused. Watch the little outgoes. Stop every leak. It is the little losses that tell heavily in the end. Gather up the fragments; let nothing be lost. Waste not the minutes in talking; wasted minutes mar the hours. Persevering diligence working in faith, will always be crowned with success. PM 105.2

Some think it beneath their dignity to look after small things. They think it the evidence of a narrow mind and a niggardly spirit. But small leaks have sunk many a ship. Nothing that would serve the purpose of any should be allowed to waste. A lack of economy will surely bring debt upon our institutions. Although much money may be received, it will be lost in the little wastes of every branch of the work. Economy is not stinginess. PM 106.1

Every man or woman employed in the publishing house should be a faithful sentinel, watching that nothing be wasted. All should guard against supposed wants that require an expenditure of means. Some men live better on four hundred dollars a year than others do on eight hundred. [In 1902, $1.00 to $2.00 a day was the common daily wage.] Just so it is with our institutions; some persons can manage them with far less capital than others can. God desires all the workers to practice economy, and especially to be faithful accountants.—Testimonies for the Church 7:206, 207. (See also Testimonies for the Church 4:571-574.) PM 106.2

Avoid Procrastination in Labor—Important changes should take place in our offices. To defer work which needs immediate attention until a more convenient time is a mistake and results in loss. The work of repairing sometimes amounts to double what it would had it received attention in season. Many fearful losses and fatal accidents have occurred by putting off matters which should have received immediate attention. The season for action is spent in hesitancy, thinking that tomorrow will do; but tomorrow is frequently found to be too late. Our offices suffer financially every day on account of indecision, dallying, recklessness, indolence, and, on the part of some, downright dishonesty. There are some employed in these offices who pass along as indifferently as though God had given them no mental powers to be exercised in care-taking. Such are unfitted for any post of duty; they can never be depended upon. Men and women who shun duties in which difficulties are involved will remain weak and inefficient. PM 106.3

Those who educate themselves to do their work with dispatch, as well as with economy, will drive their business instead of allowing their business to drive them. They will not be constantly hurried and perplexed because their work is in confusion. Diligence and earnest fidelity are indispensable to success. Every hour's work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. The record of wasted moments and unimproved opportunities must be met when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened and everyone shall be judged according to the things written in the books.... PM 107.1

Workers Needed, Not Drones—Our offices are suffering for the want of men of stability and firmness. As I was shown from room to room I saw that the work was conducted with indifference. Losses are sustained at every position of trust. The lack of thoroughness is apparent. While some have borne the burdens of care and responsibility, others, instead of sharing these burdens, have pursued a course to increase anxiety and care. Those who have not learned the lesson of economy, and acquired the habit of making the most of their time in childhood and youth will not be prudent and economical in any business in which they engage. It is a sin to neglect to so improve our faculties that they may be used to the glory of God. All have responsibilities to bear; not one can be excused. PM 107.2

There is a variety of minds, and all need more or less cultivation and training. Every moment in connection with the cause of God should be characterized by caution and decision. Without decision, an individual is fickle and unstable as water, and can never be truly successful. All who profess Christ should be workers. There are no drones in the household of faith. Every member of the family has some task assigned him, some portion of the vineyard of the Lord in which to work. The only way to meet the demand of God is to be constantly persevering in our endeavors for higher usefulness. It is but little we can accomplish at best, but every day's effort will increase our ability to labor effectually and to bear fruit to the glory of God.—Testimonies for the Church 4:452-454. PM 107.3

Thoughtful Care in Use of Material and Machinery—Again, losses occur from lack of thoughtful care in the use of material and machinery. There is a failure to look after all the larger and smaller matters, that nothing be wasted or damaged through neglect.... PM 108.1

By a lack of personal interest many things go to waste which a few moments’ thoughtful attention at the right time would save. “I forgot” causes much loss to our offices. And some feel no interest in any work or in anything which does not come under their special branch of the work. This is all wrong. Selfishness would suggest the thought, “It does not belong to me to care for that;” but faithfulness and duty would prompt everyone to care for all that comes under his observation. The example of the head workers in the bindery is followed by the hands employed; all become careless and reckless; and an amount is wasted equal to their wages. A caretaking person at the head of the work would save hundreds of dollars yearly to the office in that one department. PM 108.2

A principle should exist all through the office to economize. In order to save the dollars, dimes and pennies must be carefully treasured. Men who have been successful in business have always been economical, persevering, and energetic. Let all connected with the work of God begin now to educate themselves thoroughly as caretakers. Even though their work may not be appreciated on earth, they should never degrade themselves in their own eyes by unfaithfulness in anything they undertake. It takes time for a person to become so accustomed to a given course of life as to be happy in pursuing it. We shall be individually, for time and eternity, what our habits make us.—Testimonies for the Church 4:451, 452. PM 108.3

Disposal of Old Stock—Our institutions must be carefully guarded against unnecessary losses, and also against temptation and trial coming to the workers connected with them. Each worker is to help his brethren; each institution to help the other institutions. PM 108.4

The Word of God can always be relied upon. “My covenant will I not break,” He says, “nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” PM 109.1

When several parties have on hand large stock of certain books, nothing should be done in bringing out new editions by one office without consulting with those who already have quantities of the old edition on hand. In every action care must be exercised not to take a course that will bring loss upon our institutions. We must deal in all things with equity and with sanctified judgment.—Letter 229, 1903. PM 109.2

Faithfulness in Appointed Tasks—The workers should take Jesus with them in every department of their labor. Whatever is done should be done with an exactness and thoroughness that will bear inspection. The heart should be in the work. Faithfulness is as essential in life's common duties as in those involving greater responsibility. Some may receive the idea that their work is not ennobling; but this is just as they choose to make it. They alone are capable of degrading or elevating their employment. We wish that every drone might be compelled to toil for his daily bread; for work is a blessing, not a curse. Diligent labor will keep us from many of the snares of Satan, who “finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” PM 109.3

None of us should be ashamed of work, however small and servile it may appear. Labor is ennobling. All who toil with head or hands are workingmen or workingwomen. And all are doing their duty and honoring their religion as much while working at the washtub or washing the dishes as they are in going to meeting. While the hands are engaged in the most common labor, the mind may be elevated and ennobled by pure and holy thoughts. When any of the workers manifest a lack of respect for religious things, they should be separated from the work. Let none feel that the institution is dependent upon them. PM 109.4

Those who have long been employed in our institutions should now be responsible workers, reliable in every place, as faithful to duty as the compass to the pole. Had they rightly improved their opportunities, they might now have symmetrical characters and a deep, living experience in religious things. But some of these workers have separated from God. Religion is laid aside. It is not an inwrought principle, carefully cherished wherever they go, into whatever society they are thrown, proving as an anchor to the soul. I wish all the workers carefully to consider that success in this life and success in gaining the future life depend largely upon faithfulness in little things. Those who long for higher responsibilities should manifest faithfulness in performing the duties just where God has placed them.—Testimonies for the Church 4:590, 591. PM 109.5

Low Spirituality Affects Financial Managements [A letter addressed to the General Conference president. In the later years of his administration, this president came under the influence of several publishing house leaders whose business principles were called into question by Ellen White.]—A net has been spread ... that the people know not of, and that very few suspect the existence of. The condition of things is binding your hands and hindering the work. The crisis will soon be reached. The state of things is not fully revealed to me, but this much I know: to a great degree the management of finances has been conducted on wrong principles. While all is supposed to be prosperous, there is peril. PM 110.1

You have connected with you men who have no living connection with God. You fear to exercise your judgment, lest there shall be an explosion. This is why I feel so sad. I have written out matters that I dared not send to you unless there were persons of a firm, decided character who would stand by your side as true yoke fellows to sustain you. The two men who have been especially associated with you should, in their present spiritual condition, have no part in planning and carrying forward the work of God in any of its various lines. If they were to see themselves as God sees them and fall upon the Rock and be broken, a decided change would appear in them.... Bible religion, in private and public, is with them a thing of the past. They have been zealously declaiming against enthusiasm and fanaticism.... But if there is anything upon the earth that should inspire men with sanctified zeal, it is the truth as it is in Jesus. It is the grand, great work of redemption. It is Christ, made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.—Letter 57, 1895. PM 110.2

Cleanse the Office of Selfishness—God calls for pure, thoroughly consecrated men to manage the work of the Review and Herald office. He has no use for men who in their business transactions betray Christ into the hands of His enemies. Such men are a stigma to His cause, a reproach to the truth that they misrepresent. Unless they repent, and work in a Christlike manner, as Christ has given them an example in His life, God has no place for them in His service, for they bring in selfishness and every evil work. PM 111.1

The Lord desires to have in the office of publication a volunteer company of workers of clear discernment who will see the need of repentance. The old-time spirit of self-sacrifice must be revived. The office needs men who will see that a new order of things must be brought in, men who will cleanse the office, as Christ cleansed the Temple courts of greedy, selfish buyers and sellers.—Manuscript 12, 1902. PM 111.2

Pay Tithe and Simplify Personal Wants—With many of the workers the spirit of self-sacrifice has greatly diminished because they have lost their first love. Many are grasping for higher wages; but if they were laborers together with God, their wants would be more simple; for they spend money needlessly for things which they would not desire if their hearts were sanctified by the truth. Look at the example given you in the life of Christ. There are those in the office who have withheld their tithe from the treasury, claiming that they could not see the requirement in the Word of God. But why could they not see it? It was because selfishness was firmly rooted in the heart. They did not deny self, and make their offering to God. For years they have practiced robbery toward God; but does not the Lord keep a record of all their doings? Most assuredly, for it is written that every man shall be rewarded according as his works have been, judged according to the deeds done in the body, whether they are good or whether they are evil. The Lord will not pass over the embezzlement of His goods. He is testing men to see who will be fit subjects for His kingdom above; for if they disregard His claims here, they will disregard them in the kingdom of heaven. Suppose that all who profess to be followers of Christ should withhold from the Lord His entrusted goods, and appropriate His talents to their own use and for the advancement of their own glory, how would the work of God move forward in the world? How would those in other nations ever receive the message of truth? The Lord does not rain down money from heaven, but He honors man by entrusting to him His treasures, and He tells him what he must do. Read carefully and prayerfully the instruction the Lord has given to you in Malachi 3:8-12.—Letter 31, 1891. (Special Testimonies Concerning the Work and Workers in the Pacific Press, 39, 40.) PM 111.3

Faith in Times of Economic Crisis—You have a desire to walk by sight. God would have you learn to walk by faith. You will be often tempted to look at appearance, but this will not do. You must walk by faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” But when you looked at your depleted treasury, the dark shadows encircled you, and your faith failed. Then was the time to talk faith and courage, to rise to the emergency. The work is the Lord's, ... not ours, and we can safely leave it in His hands. Daniel sought the Lord when brought into trying places, and when in trouble, we must pray earnestly to God. You have not moved wisely in all things. You need to learn the lesson of self-denial and self-sacrifice. You must be willing to receive less money in an emergency. God will be glorified in this.—Letter 27, 1896. PM 112.1

Personal Economy Essential to Workers in God's Cause [On November 3, 1892, a publishing house manager wrote to Mrs. E. G. White to inform her that he had decided to leave the institution for employment outside the denominational work because of personal financial embarrassment. He had not managed to live within his income, had become indebted to the institution to the total amount of $1,244 during a period of eight years. In the meantime he had accumulated in like manner a debt at the sanitarium. Both institutions were kindly requesting him to settle these accounts. He felt that under the circumstances he would be justified in leaving denominational work for outside employment paying higher wages, with the hope of paying his debts and with the prospect of never returning to labor in the cause of God. This letter is Mrs. White's reply.]—My brother, in your letter you speak of leaving the Review office. I am sorry that you can be willing to separate from the work for the reasons you mention. They reveal that you have a much deeper experience to gain than you now have. Your faith is very weak. Other families, much larger than yours, sustain themselves without one word of complaint on half the wages you have. We have been over the ground, and I know what I am talking about. It is evident that whether you remain in the Review office or separate from it you have lessons to learn that will be of the highest interest to you. I do not feel at liberty to urge you to remain; for unless you drink deeper of the Fountain of living waters, your service will not be acceptable to God. PM 112.2

I do not know who would occupy the position that would be left vacant if you would leave, but if the work that the Lord designs and longs to do is done for the church in Battle Creek, I am sure He will help them in any crisis. He wants no forced service. Unless His words find entrance to the soul, and bring the entire man into subjection to Christ, the human agent will, when tempted and tried, choose to follow his own inclination rather than the ways of the Lord.... From the letters you have written, I know that you are not walking in the light.... PM 113.1

Ought the soldiers in Christ's ranks to act in this way? Should soldiers in the army of the nation do this, they would be treated as deserters, and how does the heavenly universe look upon such soldiers in Christ's army? No one who engages in the work of God with an appreciation of its sacredness, could turn from the work to secure any worldly advantages whatsoever.—Selected Messages 2:210-214. PM 113.2