Ellen G. White — Messenger to the Remnant


Chapter 8—As a Steward of Means

Addressing the believers in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 11, 1886, Mrs. White reviewed briefly her past experience in connection with the cause, particularly in a financial way. Going back to pioneer days, she stated: EGWMR 122.1

“We believed the message. We believed the warning that Christ was soon to come, and we felt such an earnest longing for those in sin that we were willing to make almost any sacrifice. We have known what poverty is, and it was the best experience of our lives. I have fainted more than once or twice with my children in my arms, for want of bread. EGWMR 122.2

“As we went from place to place to proclaim the word of God, we suffered with heat and with cold; but God sustained us in the work, and at last He began to bring the means in for the work. When this means came in, we found many places for it. EGWMR 122.3

“But affliction came into our house. My husband became a paralytic, but our prayers went up to God, and He raised him to health again. This long affliction brought us to want again. But the Lord told us what to do. We had a home and as we found those who were in affliction and had no home we would open our home to them and let them share our comforts.... I made the statement last night that we had invested $30,000 in the cause.... EGWMR 122.4

“When we went over to the Pacific Coast, many were raised up to obey God, and then we wanted means to build a meeting-house, but the people were poor, so we sent over to Michigan, telling them to sell all that we had, and there we invested our means, and a meeting-house was built in San Francisco and [another in] Oakland... EGWMR 122.5

“Now, I cannot afford to use my means for my own glory. I want it invested to God’s glory.”—Manuscript 32, 1886. EGWMR 122.6

One may rightfully ask at this point, How could James and Ellen White contribute thousands of dollars to the various interests of the denomination, when their early years were spent in the most stringent financial circumstances, and their later years were given to the ministry of the cause? It is in order that a brief statement be made on this point. EGWMR 122.7

In the earlier years of the work there was no regular support for the ministry. James White turned his hand to various activities to sustain himself and his family. We read of his mowing hay, hauling stone for the railroad, and cutting wood. As he took hold of the publishing work, it brought some financial support, giving him a salary of from $5 to $7 a week at first, and up to $12 a week in later years. EGWMR 122.8

As leaders in the work, the Whites opened their home to visitors at all times. James White also had to lead out personally in almost every interest or enterprise calling for means. To support his own family, to entertain continually, and to head every pledge list with a substantial gift were more than could be done on a salary of $7 to $12 a week, and Elder White was forced to find some form of income outside the meager pay he received from the publishing house. EGWMR 122.9

As he traveled from place to place he discovered a need for Bibles and concordances. Of course, we did not at that time have Book and Bible Houses ready to supply the needs of our people. So he found in the agency for these books a supplementary income which was vitally necessary to meet the demands upon his finances. In later years royalties from his books also supplemented his regular income. Near the close of his life, when he looked back on the experience, he regretted that it had been necessary to devote a part of his time to work not directly connected with his ministerial duties; but under the circumstances it seemed the only solution to a difficult financial problem. The income was used, not selfishly, but for the upbuilding of the cause of God, and the Lord blessed his efforts. EGWMR 122.10

Some may feel that Elder White’s experience constitutes a justification for our ministers’ today dividing their interests to increase their personal incomes. But any fair-minded person will readily recognize the great change in circumstances between the salaried minister today and those of the pioneers before the days of organization and wage scales. EGWMR 122.11