Manuscript Releases, vol. 9 [Nos. 664-770]

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6—To Direct, Not Dictate

Do Not Lord it Over God's Heritage

I have been shown that there is one practice which those in responsible places should avoid, for it is detrimental to the work of God. Men in position should not lord it over God's heritage, and command everything around them. Too many have marked out a prescribed line which they wish others to follow in the work. Workers have tried to do this in blind faith, without exercising their own judgment upon the matter which they have in hand. If those who were placed as directors were not present they have followed their implicit directions just the same. 9MR 174.1

But in the name of Christ I would entreat you to stop this work. Give men a chance to exercise their individual judgment. Men who follow the leading of others and are willing that another should think for them, are unfit to be entrusted with responsibility. Our leading men are remiss in this matter. God has not given to special ones all the brain power there is in the world. Men in responsible positions should credit others with some sense, with some ability of judgment and foresight, and look upon them as capable of doing the work committed to their hands. 9MR 174.2

Our leading brethren have made a great mistake in marking out all the directions that the worker should follow, and this has resulted in deficiency, in a lack of care-taking spirit in the workers.—Letter 12, 1885, p. 1. 9MR 174.3

Capable but Not Domineering

You have been considering the question, Whom shall we choose as president of the Northern California Conference? This matter has been laid open before me. For president of our conference, we need a man strong in capability, strong in a knowledge of the Scriptures and of Jesus Christ, strong in experience. We need just such a man as Brother J is in these respects. I have been instructed that he has the qualifications necessary, so far as physical strength and a well-balanced mind are concerned; but that in order to maintain his spirituality, he must be constantly receiving grace from Christ and constantly imparting it to others. 9MR 174.4

It is the pleasure of God that Brother J should serve this conference another year as president. It is His pleasure that J should put away all appearance of a magisterial, domineering, authoritative manner. He is not to think that by virtue of his position as president of a conference, he has arbitrary authority. True, he is to have authority, but it is to be just such an authority as Jesus had, an authority that is hid in the meekness and lowliness of Christ.—Manuscript 120, 1902, pp. 1, 2. 9MR 174.5

President Not to Dictate

Again and again I repeat the warning: Never place as president of a conference [a] man who supposes that such a position gives him the power to dictate and control the consciences of others. It is natural for man to have a large estimate of self; old habits wrestle for the supremacy; but the man who occupies a position of trust should not glorify himself. 9MR 175.1

The worker who daily subordinates his will to the will of Christ will be educated away from such an idea. He will practice the virtues of Christ's character in all meekness and lowliness of mind; and this will give to those whom his ministration is supposed to benefit the precious freedom of the liberty of the children of God. They will be free to act out the grace bestowed upon them that all may understand the precious privileges which the saints possess as members of the body of Christ. 9MR 175.2

The one who is in trust of sacred responsibilities should ever show forth the meekness and wisdom of Christ; for it is thus that he becomes a representative of Christ's character and methods. Never should he usurp authority, or command or threaten, saying, “Unless you do as I say, you will receive no pay from the conference.” A man who would speak such words is out of his place as president of a conference. He would make men slaves to his judgment.—Letter 416, 1907, pp. 5, 6. 9MR 175.3

President Does Not Have Unlimited Power

It is a mistake for a conference to select as president one who considers that his office places unlimited power in his hands. The Lord has instructed me to tell you that you do not know when to use authority, and when to refrain from using it unwisely. You have much to learn before you can do the work of a conference president intelligently. You are to bear in mind that in the cause of God there is a chief Director, whose power and wisdom is above that of human minds. 9MR 175.4

God will have nothing to do with the methods of working where finite men are allowed to bear rule over their fellow men. He calls for a decided change to be made. The voice of command must no longer be heard. The Lord has among His workers men of humility and discretion; from these should be chosen men who will conduct the work in the fear of God.—Letter 290, 1907, p. 2. 9MR 176.1

No Sharp Dictatorial Words

In our work there is to be no lording it over those with whom we are connected. No sharp, dictatorial words are to be spoken. These are entirely uncalled for. Do not treat the workers as if you could not trust them. Never treat those with whom you work as unfaithful unless you have unmistakable evidence that they are unfaithful. And even when a worker's unfaithfulness is clearly proved, you are not to deal with him in a manner that will give him excuse for saying, “You were harsh.” 9MR 176.2

You are to do nothing that will provoke the erring to anger. Do not bear down on believers or unbelievers in a way that arouses the worst feelings of the heart. Do not make charges that may be cruelly unjust. By such a course, you may drive souls to perdition.—Letter 196, 1901, p. 5. 9MR 176.3

Take Back Your Forbiddings

I am bidden to say to conference presidents: Do not interpose yourselves between God and His servants. Break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free. Do not take upon yourselves the responsibility of permitting or forbidding. This is not a time to turn from the living and true God to be taught of men. You who feel that you are empowered to tell God's messengers where and how they shall labor, Take back your forbiddings. You know not but Satan is using your controlling power to cut off the light from some soul to whom God would have it come.—Manuscript 117, 1907, p. 3. 9MR 176.4

Not Self-Sufficient and Dictatorial

The presidents of our conferences must be men who are not self-sufficient and dictatorial. They must not give place to the idea that the office of president comprehends a vast amount of rulership. With such ideas they will leave impressions upon minds that will do injury to the work. Precious privileges will be lost to the people when presidents minutely define and direct the work of their co-laborers.—Letter 270, 1902, p. 2. 9MR 176.5

Dictatorial Authority

Many of the workers who are bearing responsibilities are embracing too much authority; and they will certainly confuse the human judgment by their dictatorial authority. I must warn my brethren to be on their guard against this. The cause of God is imperiled when the workers become self-confident, and seek to embrace more than the Lord has laid upon them. Hindrance instead of advancement is the result of such a spirit.—Letter 349, 1906, p. 3. 9MR 177.1

Talk With God Before Talking With the Erring

Let those who occupy positions of trust in God's cause keep a strict guard over themselves. They are never to feel at liberty to speak condemnatory words. They are not to feel that their position gives them the right to be lordly and dictatorial. They are to honor their position by being true followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, carrying their responsibilities with the constant realization that they are in full view of the heavenly universe. Decided work must be done. 9MR 177.2

Those who are acting a part in God's great firm are to prepare for emergencies. They are to be sure to talk with God before they talk with those who have erred or are going astray. There are many things to be corrected, but let us always remember that Mercy is the twin sister of Justice. Let our work be such that of it can be spoken the words, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).—Letter 98, 1901, pp. 5, 6. 9MR 177.3

God Guides the Workers

[A message of counsel to an inexperienced conference president.]

Last night I was in a council meeting, and those in council did much talking, and read much concerning plans and details, and thus consumed much time. Those in council were slow in doing the business, and did not express things in a distinct, definite way to make progress in business. While deliberating much upon minor matters, important matters which needed clearness of mind, activity of thought, and weighty consideration were left almost untouched. 9MR 177.4

One who spake with no uncertainty, laid his hand upon Elder_____'s shoulder and said, “God hath given to every man his work. Will you please leave God room to work with His individual workers. He has not left this burden of work upon your hands. He has never placed upon one man, or upon any board of men, the burden of entering into the minutiae in regard to how workers shall carry on their work. He has never laid upon any one the burden of making rules of action which will bind about and restrict the work, and confine the workers to a certain course of action.” 9MR 178.1

The fact that a man has been selected to be the president of a conference does not mean that he shall have authority to rule over his fellow workmen. This is after the practice of Rome, and it cannot be tolerated, for it restricts religious liberty, and the man is led to place himself where God alone should be. Work has been done in the conference before the ruling president was placed as its head. If he assumes to restrict individual action, and confine men to his own ideas, which he supposes to be right, or if a board shall make rules that enter into the details of what the workers should do, no help will in any way come to those who are engaging in the work. 9MR 178.2

Workmen on the Ground to Look to Jesus

The workmen are compelled to decide on the spot as to what they will do. The place, the circumstances, the interest, the moral sentiment of the people, will have to decide in many cases the course of action to be pursued. It would be inconsistent for the worker to feel that he is compelled to write to the president or to the board for permission to pursue a certain course which his experience and judgment tell him is the best course to pursue under the circumstances. 9MR 178.3

Wherever an earnest effort is made to bring souls to the knowledge of the truth, the angels of God guard the interest. The only course that can be pursued by the worker is not to look to or depend upon any man, but to look to Jesus, and to do His work in harmony with His revealed will. Laborers in the field must be trusted to do the work committed to their hands. As emergencies shall arise, they must depend upon the grace of Christ, and obtain wisdom from above, in order to make decisions that will be advantageous to the work. 9MR 178.4

Those who are on the ground must decide as the work develops as to how much time it will be necessary to devote to that field of labor. It is not consistent to prescribe how much time shall be given to work in certain localities. The decision of this point must be left to the judgment of the workers. They must not be confined to certain places, or directed as children as to how or when the work shall be done. Mistakes have been made in this line. Those who do the work know better concerning these matters than anyone outside. God moves upon human minds to work according to His will and according to His purpose. Workers for God are to look to a higher Source for direction than to human minds. 9MR 178.5

Who Determines Minutiae and Details?

The minutiae and detail of how they are to work is not to be laid down by human minds. When we decide that Jesus Christ will not do as He has said He will do, “Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world,” when we decide that God has not power or has not time to notice His workmen, then it might be more consistent to plan out every detail of the work. But we would encourage faith in those who give themselves to the work of God. We would inspire them to believe that God is not unmindful of their labors and trials. He values His human agents and appoints divine agencies to work with them. “Ye are laborers together with God.” 9MR 179.1

It is necessary to carefully consider many things that have been left without due thought. It is necessary to drop out other things that have occupied much time, when but little time should be devoted to them. God has not laid upon any living man the burden of jealously guarding the movements of his fellow men, for this would restrict their intelligent freedom. 9MR 179.2

In following a course of this kind, men are pursuing a similar course to that of the Roman Catholics who center in the pope every power of the church, and ascribe to him authority to act as God, so that those below him in station lay every plan at his feet that he may prescribe the rules for men and women in every minutiae of life. In following a course of this kind, there is danger that no chance will be left for God to answer the prayers of His delegated servants according to His promise in giving them wisdom in pursuing their work. 9MR 179.3

God does not purpose to have one man prescribe how his fellow workmen shall perform His work. When this manner of action comes in among our people, there is need of a protest. 9MR 179.4

Let every intelligent soul wonder and adore because of the fact that God has so valued His human agents as to say to them, “Ye are laborers together with God, ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). In view of this fact, let every workman treat his fellow workman with peculiar delicacy. The cross of Calvary discloses the value of the soul in the sight of God.... 9MR 180.1

Let the Holy Spirit Work

When men undertake to work the Holy Spirit, they will find that their weak ideas, their prescribed rules and regulations which they have felt to be necessary to the work, are of no honor with God. God calls for the finite to stand aside, in order that His delegated workers may be operated upon by the Holy Spirit. 9MR 180.2

The words spoken in the council were solemn and earnest. There is need that every man should humble his heart, and walk in all humility before God. No man should consider that position gives him power to lord it over God's heritage. The consciousness of being appreciated is a great encouragement and satisfaction to any man.—Letter 53, 1894, pp. 1-3, 5. 9MR 180.3

White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

March 26, 1979.