Loma Linda Messages

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An Important Interview Regarding Physicians’ Wages

(On the morning of Dec. 4, 1913, the leading brethren of the Pacific Union Conference conferred with Mrs. E. G. White at her Elmshaven home in regard to the remuneration of our sanitarium Physicians. A stenographic report of the interview was made and the ribbon copy bears a handwritten note of endorsement by Mrs. White in these words: “This is correctly presented, and I repeat this for the benefit of others. May the Lord help us and teach and guide us at every step in our difficulties.” Essential portions of the report of this Interview follow.—Compilers of Selected Messages 2:202.)

Present: Ellen G. White, Elders F. M Burg, G. W. Reaser, W. M. Adams, J. H. Behrens, C. L. Taggart, A. G. Christiansen, W. C. White; Also C. C. Crisler. LLM 614.1

After introductions and greetings, Elder W. C. White said in part: LLM 614.2

All day yesterday we were considering the interests of our various schools in the Pacific Union Conference. In these schools located at Angwin, Lodi, Fernando, Armona, and Loma Linda, there are between six and seven hundred students in training. We were encouraged as we took counsel together regarding these schools. LLM 614.3

Today we must enter into consideration of sanitarium problems, particularly the question of the wages we should pay to physicians and surgeons. We have in our _____ Sanitarium a God-fearing physician who has won the confidence of all his associates—a man whom God has blessed greatly in his ministry to the sick. He wants to remain, and everybody wants him to remain, and he feels that it would be right for him to remain if his brethren could grant him a wage about twice as large as that paid to our average workers. He loves to give freely, and he wishes to have funds with which to live and to use for this purpose. We are much perplexed, and we would be glad to know if you have any light on this matter. LLM 614.4

Sister White: If he is granted considerably more than other physicians, they will come to believe they are not treated right unless they have more also. We must move cautiously and understandingly, and not allow wages to creep up so high that many will be tempted. There may have to be a coming down rather than a going up, in physicians’ wages; because there is a great work to be done. Unless you have some clear light from the Lord, it is not advisable to pay one man considerably more than another doing similar work. For, if you do, the other will think it perfectly proper to expect similar high wages. We must look at things on all sides, and it is of no use for us to think that we can offer a successful worker a high wage simply because he may demand it. We must rather, consider what we can afford to do at the present time, when the fields are opening upon which we shall henceforth have to expend much more means than we have spent hitherto. These are matters that will test the faith of our people. LLM 614.5

W. C. White: They do test our faith, Mother,—especially when a group of workers have labored with a man until they have learned to love him and adore him and they believe that he can do better work than any other man. Then it is natural for them to think that it is wrong for the brethren to withhold from him that which he might use to advantage. They think, “What is a thousand dollars, or fifteen hundred dollars, extra, when life is involved?” They say, “Here is such and such a case that he has just brought through, and there is another whose life he has saved;” and they feel as if it would be awfully mean of us not to meet his requirements. They say, “There is no one who has to work and suffer as does a surgeon. Think of the hours of arduous labor, of anxiety, of mental anguish they have to endure, when a precious life is hanging by a slender thread.” LLM 615.1

But on the other hand, in considering this matter, we must remember that other institutions are influenced by our action. We see a poor struggling sanitarium situated in a beautiful place, in a position to do a large business, and with every prospect of making money if only they can have a brilliant physician; and they can get a good physician if they are encouraged to pay only three to five hundred dollars more than the wage scale recommended. They say, “If you will only let us pay a few hundred dollars more than you have advised, we can gain five thousand dollars to cover this small additional expense for wages.” And thus it seems—when we look at it from a business point of view. LLM 615.2

Sister White: You see there is a selfishness that underlies that, that the Lord is not pleased with. We must work harmoniously. It is through harmonious action that our work is to be carried forward, and some will have a very hard time. Some will have an easier time. But all these things will have to be taken just as they come, and the workers must remember what Jesus gave in coming to our world. I think of it over and over and over again, and it seems to me that we can do an excellent work, if we set a right example. But if we desire that which the most of our brethren can not receive, this injures our influence. One brother says, “Such and such a brother has a certain wage, and I must have a wage to correspond.” And so the wages will climb, and keep climbing, higher and still higher. The fact is, that the wage of some may have to be lower and still lower in order that we may meet the extensive requirements of the work that is before us in warning the world. LLM 615.3

O, I am so thankful that the Lord has given me a little strength that I may use in completing my books! I have not gotten through yet. I have not completed all that I desire to see done. I mean to take just as good care of myself as possible, that I may complete intelligently the work the Lord has entrusted to me. And in all this I desire to share with my brethren in self-denial. What we want, brethren, is to be an example in all matters, whether man sees it or not. Let us remember, brethren, that the Lord sees every sacrifice we make individually for the spread of the truth. But if you encourage some to receive a wage considerably higher than that which their brethren are receiving, others will desire to climb just as high; and if they are not allowed to do so, they will become dissatisfied. LLM 616.1

Brethren, we cannot afford to lay a stumbling-block in the path of any soul simply because they think they must have matters arranged so and so. The Lord desires us to be consistent in everything. He desires us to follow the self-sacrificing example of Christ, and when we do that, His blessing rests upon us. When we go to various places and our brethren know that we have been tempted to ask for higher pay but that we have overcome this temptation, He will give us influence with the people. It is not the higher pay that brings success. Success comes through following in the footsteps of the Saviour, in self-denial and self-sacrifice. When we do this, the Lord pronounces His blessing upon us. He discerns the hidden motives, and when the work that is to be done is especially difficult and taxing, His grace will be sufficient for our every need. LLM 616.2

Even if we as laborers of God go beyond that which seems to be for the good of our health and strength, we may look to Him in confidence, casting our helpless soul upon Him, and realizing that He who Himself led a self-sacrificing life of toil on this earth will acknowledge our faithfulness, and will help us marvelously. When we come to hard places, the angels of God will be right impressions upon those with whom we are associated, and to whom we are ministering. LLM 616.3

Some may think that I ought to be in the field, at work, and brethren, it is in my heart to do public labor at general meetings. But at my age if I should undertake to travel from place to place, I would soon use up the little remnant of strength I still have, and would be unable to do the special work the Lord has called me to do. In former years I was strengthened to labor early and late, both in writing for the press and in public speaking. Now I am spending my chief energies in gathering up the fragments, and in preparing for publication that which should be placed in the hands of the people. If I had the strength, I should be very willing to go anywhere and to bear heavy burdens,—not that I desire to lift up myself, but that I might do some one some good. LLM 616.4

Those who have the cause of God at heart, must realize that they are not working for themselves or for the small wage they may be receiving, and that God can make the little they do receive, go farther than they may think it can. He will give them satisfaction and blessing as they go forward in self-sacrificing labor. And He will bless every one of us as we labor in the meekness of Christ. And when I see some seeking for higher wages, I say to myself, “They are losing a precious blessing,” I know this to be a fact. I have seen it worked out again and again. LLM 617.1

Now brethren, let us take hold and do the very best that we possibly can, without asking for higher wages except as we find that it is an impossibility to do the work given us without more; but even then let others see this necessity as well as ourselves, for God puts it into their hearts to see it, and they will speak the word that will have more influence than for us to speak a thousand words. They will speak words that will give us a proper standing before the people. The Lord is our helper and God, our frontguard, and our rearward. LLM 617.2

As we bring ourselves into right relationship with God, we shall have success wherever we go; and it is success that we want, not money—living success, and God will give it to us because He knows all about our self-denial. He knows every sacrifice that we make. You may think that your self-denial does not make any difference, that you ought to have more consideration, and so on. But it makes a great difference with the Lord. Over and over again I have been shown that when individuals begin to reach out after higher and still higher wages something comes into their experience that places them where they stand no longer on vantage ground. But when they take the wage that carries on the face of it the fact that they are self-sacrificing, the Lord sees their self-denial and He gives them success and victory. This has been presented to me over and over again. The Lord that seeth in secret will reward openly for every sacrifice that His tried servants have been willing to make. LLM 617.3

The brethren often leave their families and make many other sacrifices in behalf of the cause that they love more than anything else in life. They may be tempted to think that in return for this self-denial they ought to receive more remuneration; but the more they might receive would not always bring them a blessing. If they go forward in a spirit of cheerfulness, others will follow their example; and as they go forward, following on to know the Lord more perfectly, they will know that His going forth is prepared as the morning. The Lord guards the men that are willing to brave hardship and danger in order to reach precious souls in out-of-the-way places. He regards their determination to make His cause first. He honors those who are willing to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. He sees every sacrifice that is made; He sees the end from the beginning, and He will care for every one of His servants who remain faithful. There have been times when I have thought that my brethren might have done better than they did do in my behalf. But I have been careful about criticizing. I have thought of the great sacrifice Christ made in giving His life for a lost world. God gave His only begotten Son to save fallen man, and the offering that was made was prompted by the spirit of self-sacrifice. LLM 617.4

In years past, when this subject of wages has been under consideration, I have told my brethren that the Lord knows all about the spirit that prompts us to action, and that He can turn matters in our favor at times we do not expect it. As we set a right example the blessing of the Lord will rest upon us. I have seen the Lord work in many ways and in many places to help the very ones that view these matters in the right light and set a self-sacrificing example. And, brethren, as you labor earnestly, prayerfully, humbly, in the spirit of Christ, God will open doors before you. The people will see your self-denial. LLM 618.1

At times when my brethren have come to me, seeking advice as to whether they should demand a higher wage, I have told them they might gain a little means by asking for higher waves, but that the blessing of God will accompany those who follow a different course. God sees the self-denial; the Lord God of Israel sees every motive; and when you come into a hard place, the angels of God are there to help you, and to give you victory after victory. LLM 618.2

I have been very clear in counselling my brethren not to demand large wages, for this is not the impelling motive that leads us to spend our energies in the work of soul-saving. We are not to let the wage question stand in the way of our responding to the call of duty, wherever our services may be required. The Lord can bring matters around so that a blessing will attach to our labors far exceeding any compensation we may or may not receive; and He will give to His servants words to speak that are of the highest consequence to perishing souls. LLM 618.3

The people are hungering and thirsting for help from heaven. I have tried to put in practice these principles of self-sacrifice, and I know whereof I speak when I say that the blessing of God will rest upon you when you make the call of duty first. I am glad for this privilege of testifying before you this morning that the Lord has turned matters, over and over again, in such a way as to give us more than we could possibly ask for. The Lord will prove His servants; and if they prove true to Him, and leave their cases with Him, He will help them in every time of need. LLM 618.4

We are not laborers together for God for the wages we may receive in His service. True brethren, you must have wages with which to support your families; but if you should begin to stipulate as to just how much you shall receive, you may prove a stumbling-block to some one else who does not have the disposition, perhaps, that you have to be liberal; and the result will be confusion. Others will think that all are not dealt with on an equality. You will soon find that the cause of God will become cramped; and this result you do not desire to see. You wish to see the cause of God placed on vantage ground. By your example, as well as by your words, the people are to have a living assurance that the truth received into the heart begets a spirit of self-denial. And as you go forward in this spirit, there are many that will follow. LLM 619.1

The Lord desires His children to act in that self-denying self-sacrificing way that will bring to us the satisfaction of having performed our duty well because it was duty. The only Begotten Son of God gave Himself to an ignominious death on the cross, and should we complain at the sacrifice we are called upon to make? LLM 619.2

During my wakeful hours through the night season, I have been pleading with the Lord to guard our brethren against the tendency to promise to go here or there on the stipulation that they are to have a little higher wage. If they go in a spirit of self-sacrificing, trusting in Him, the Lord will grant sustaining power to mind and character, and success will be the result. LLM 619.3

In the future, our work is to be carried forward in self-denial and self-sacrifice even beyond that which we have seen in past years. God desires us to commit our souls to Him, that He may work through us in manifold ways. I feel intensely over these matters. Brethren, let us walk in meekness and lowliness of mind, and put before our associates an example of self-sacrifice. If we do our part in faith, God will open ways before us now undreamed of. LLM 619.4

W. C. White: How shall we meet this condition? Some of our physicians, like Dr. _____ and Dr. _____ and others, who are big-hearted and generous, are brought into contact with sickness and poverty and distress, and they feel intensely the importance of advance moves in the church and in the institutions with which they are connected, and they feel that they must give. They love to give. They make big donations, and they keep making big donations, and they say, “We need money so that we can keep on giving.” How ought we to meet such proposals? Shall we put the money into their hands in the form of wages, or ought our institutions that have a surplus be willing to respond liberally to the requests to these men to do things for the poor and needy who greatly desire help? LLM 619.5

Sister White: Yes, that is the way the matter should be handled. The institution should do what it can to help. LLM 620.1

W. C. White: Sometimes the brethren call the attention of the management to certain needy cases, and they are met with the response, “We cannot afford it; there are lots of poor people in the world, and we cannot help them all.” Then the physicians say, “We must have money to use in urgent cases, and the surest way to get it is to demand a liberal wage.” LLM 620.2

Sister White: That is not the best way. If matters are arranged so that the cause of God will be served to the best account, angels of God will work, and a right influence will be exerted. As those connected with the institutions share in sacrifice, the minds of the people will be impressed and all will be inspired to do the utmost of their ability. But if men feel that they cannot labor in our institutions unless they have large wages, they will meet with disappointment. This has been presented to me over and over again. LLM 620.3

Let us not forget the infinite sacrifice Christ has made in our behalf. That He might obtain for us heaven, He hung on the cross and suffered death—a most shameful death. If He were willing to give Himself freely in order that we might have life everlasting, how glad we should be for the privilege of service, and how eager we should be to follow His example of self-sacrifice. LLM 620.4

Many nights, when I think of these matters, I am unable to sleep. I keep saying to myself, O if I could only go before the public as I used to and set before them the self-sacrificing Saviour as our divine Pattern, how glad I would be! But my age does not permit me to do this at present. LLM 620.5

W. C. White: Mother often mourns that she cannot go out as in former years to attend general meetings; but I try to encourage her that she can do more for the cause of God by sending out her writings for others to use in all parts of the field, than by attempting to attend meetings in a small portion of the field. LLM 620.6

Sister White: In former years God blessed me as I went from place to place, preaching the Word. He gave me some remarkable experiences in temperance work, near Boston, where I was permitted to address thousands of people. During these meetings when I spoke in response to the invitation of those not of our faith, I usually refused to accept any remuneration for such labor, so that they might not misinterpret my motives. LLM 620.7

W. C. White: May I tell the brethren of the things you said to me at New Castle, N. S. W., about the reform that we as a people must stand for in the matter of high charges? There are many others things you have said we should stand for, like men nursing men, and women nursing women; and some of these matters have been written out and printed. But I am not sure that this that you told me at that time has ever been written out, and I should like to repeat it to these brethren in your presence, so that you can testify as to whether I have told it correctly or not. LLM 621.1

In New Castle, you remember, we were down there one time when Brother Starr and others were holding meetings. One Friday afternoon you and I were walking out by the creek, and you said that there was a reformation that we must stand for, in medical practice that was just as important as the discarding of drugs, and that was, the matter of very high charges for medical service. LLM 621.2

E. G. White: I have some things written regarding this, but have not brought them before the public. I have not had a chance to prepare all the matter that I would like to prepare. But I mean to give myself to it. LLM 621.3

W. C. White: Well, we are getting past our meeting's hour before we knew it. It seems to me, Mother, as if the Lord gave you thoughts this morning to help us in our present perplexities. LLM 621.4

(Voices: Yes, Amen, True.) And we thank Him for it. Before we go may we kneel down and thank Him for these words of counsel, and pray for guidance today. And we will also ask your prayers that we may be guided today while we are considering many very perplexing matters. LLM 621.5

E. G. White: Well brethren, if some one proposes something that is not in accordance with self-sacrificing principles on which our work is based, let us remember that one stroke of God's Hand can sweep away all seeming benefit because it was not to His Name's glory. LLM 621.6