Manuscript Releases, vol. 17 [Nos. 1236-1300]


MR No. 1266—Church Leaders to be Humble and Spirit-Filled; Board Members Not to Serve Indefinitely

(Written October 21, 1894, from Ashfield, NSW, “To the Brethren Who Shall Assemble in General Conference” [February 15 to March 4, 1895].)

I have a burden upon my mind which I cannot lay off. The home field needs wise men in its councils. “Without Me,” said Christ, “ye can do nothing.” We can well spare the work of men who are without the imparted wisdom of God, and the sooner this is done the better it will be for the president of the General Conference and for the other members of the Conference, who must carry the work in straight lines, making clean, thorough records and straight laws for the methods and plans of the other conferences. The General Conference needs to consider well whom it places upon its boards as counsellors and planners, for the voice and influence of those whom they select will have much to do in the shaping of the work. 17MR 170.1

Year after year men who are not in touch with the all-wise and unerring Counsellor are placed in leading positions. Too long these men have been entrusted with sacred interests. They have not grown with the advance and development of the truth; they have not waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God. They are selfish and opinionated, and have come to look upon their positions in the cause of God as they would upon common business transactions. They have lost a sense of the sacredness of the work. 17MR 170.2

The General Conference is so arranged as to connect itself with the work in all parts of the world, and in its councils there should not be heard any human opinions or selfish thought. Favoritism and moving from impulse should find no place; but they have [been] to a large degree. 17MR 171.1

I have the tenderest sympathy for your president, Elder Olsen. I know his soul is weighed down with burdens; and unless those connected with him have the Holy Spirit's guidance, mistakes of a serious character will be made. Plans mingling the human element with sacred matters will be inaugurated, and men's ideas will be accepted as light when they are detrimental to the progress and success of the cause of God. 17MR 171.2

I have carried these matters upon my soul until they seem to be eating away my courage and life. Now I can refrain no longer. I have spoken. Had I known of one who would have stood by Elder Olsen and given him that wisdom in counsel and that help he so much needs, I would have sent this letter long ago; but after writing it, I have drawn back from sending it. 17MR 171.3

It has been a mystery to me how Elder Olsen could receive and sanction two men of similar religious character, when he has no evidence that they are consecrated to God. They have manifested little of a vital connection with God, and yet he has linked them together and sent them upon distant and important missions, to do important work demanding clear and sanctified agents who could look to heaven and say, “Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth.” 17MR 171.4

Elder Olsen's proposition to have A. R. Henry come to this country, I could not sanction. I was compelled to say that we did not want him. God had presented his case before me. Since the Minneapolis meeting he has never taken his position in full reception of the light God has so graciously given for these last days. He has not honored the position he has occupied in the Office, because he has carried the spirit of A. R. Henry in full size. In him there has been no diminution of self. God has revealed to me that the influence given to these men whose hearts are not right with God, who are not in harmony with God, will prove in the end a curse instead of a blessing. The confidence of the people cannot sustain these men if they pursue their course of action. 17MR 171.5

Those who have subdued, contrite hearts are tenderly regarded by the Lord. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” [Isaiah 57:15]. Thank the Lord! I praise His name that He does not judge unrighteously. “His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away” [Luke 1:50-53]. Read also every verse of the 62nd and 34th Psalm, for they both contain important lessons. 17MR 172.1

[Jeremiah 2:11-13; 7:3-11; Jeremiah 17:5-10; 18:11-15, quoted.]

These words of the Lord were read in my hearing, and I want that they should be read before the people who need them, especially before the men who have not been walking in the light. I would not urge Elder Olsen personally to take the load upon his shoulders. The men who should stay up his hands are weakening them, and I appeal directly to them. God grant that something shall be done; for I know that the Lord cannot prosper His [church] while such principles as have been practiced are still the rule of action. When the messages sent them are brought before these men, and they make no response, are unaffected, or else [are] too proud to admit their wrong course of action, bracing themselves to resist every appeal, their spirit is similar to that of Nadab and Abihu. They are determined to walk in the way they have chosen, and the Lord gives them up to their own perverted imaginations. 17MR 172.2

The Lord has a controversy with them, and yet Elder Olsen treats them as representative men, sending them hither and thither as men of discernment, endorsing them as trustworthy and reliable men, to whom the people shall listen and show respect as the voice of God in the Conference. But when they give unmistakable evidence that they are not taught or led of God, they are not to carry matters as they choose; for they will not work in Christ's lines. Enterprises in this large field of God need much consideration and wisdom from God; but men's ideas, mingled with selfishness, will be enough to drown the voice of God, which will not be heard in the uproar of voices. Thus portions of the field are neglected and mismanaged. No arrangements are to be made to fit the field. We must take them as they are, even though hard and unpromising. 17MR 173.1

The men who are engaged in the work must have a knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent. They must be men whose hearts are under the discipline and molding of God, giving evidence that they love and fear God and are responsible to Him; men who are humble, conscientiously and faithfully performing the work as God would have it done; men who are not arbitrary and self-exalted, anxious to carry out their own ideas, but who feel that they can and will lean upon the great Counsellor. 17MR 173.2

There is little of the Holy Spirit in your councils. The men composing them do not feel that they must “be still, and know that I am God.” The work has been extended, and the churches need the riches of the grace of God, the sanctification of the Spirit of God, that the members, by a proper division of labor, may develop their capabilities in doing good. A more important matter than this cannot occupy the minds of the members of the General Conference in their deliberations. 17MR 174.1

The same men are not to compose your boards year after year. Changes should have been made long ago. God would have the church roll away her reproach, but as long as men who have felt fully competent to work without accepting counsel of God are kept in office year after year, this cannot be done. This state of things is leavening every branch of the work, because men do not feel their need of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When men feel competent to pronounce judgment and condemn the Holy Spirit, they do a work for themselves which will be difficult to counteract. The whole head becomes sick and the discernment so weak that it is apt to judge unrighteously. The Spirit still calls, but they do not hear nor heed the call of God. 17MR 174.2

[1 John 2:9, 10, 15, 16, quoted.] God calls; listen to His call. [Revelation 3:2-5, 15-18, quoted.] 17MR 174.3

Those who have resisted light and evidence are in a very sad condition, for they walk as blind men, and not knowing at what they stumble. They make crooked paths for their feet, and the lame are turned out of the way. The Holy Spirit has been proffered again and again to the church in Battle Creek. The Holy Spirit has breathed upon the souls there for whom Christ has died. Then was the time to honor God, to praise Him, to respond to His grace by cultivating a love for heavenly things, by beholding Jesus, that His likeness might be reflected in their cheerful, grateful praise for the manifestation of His love and grace. 17MR 174.4

There is but a step from earth to heaven. Why did the heavenly anointing depart? Why did mischief come in? Because the soul was not trained to the exercise of pity; because faith scarcely had an existence; because the men handling sacred things were sharp, critical, and censorious.—Letter 2, 1894. 17MR 175.1

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D.C.,

July 9, 1987.

Entire Letter.