The Review and Herald

230/1902

July 24, 1883

Co-operation with Ministers

EGW

To accomplish the great work of giving the last warning to the world, there is need of earnest, well-directed effort. As a people, we have not always moved with the wisdom and foresight demanded by the importance of our mission. Our leading ministers labor too hard, and, as the result, are almost constantly exhausted. Some of our leading men die prematurely, literally worn out, while there are among us men of ability who are really doing nothing in the cause. Our ministers weary themselves in doing that which should be left to others, while those who might help them, and who, if rightly instructed, would be willing to help them, are rusting from inaction. RH July 24, 1883, par. 1

God's cause has not advanced as it should have done, for the very reason that ministers and leading men have felt that they must do everything themselves. They have tugged and toiled to keep the wheel rolling, and are weighed down with responsibilities and burdens in the various departments of church-work, in the Sabbath-school, and in every other branch of the cause. They think they must do all this or it will not be done; and truly it would not be done, because they have failed to take others into their counsel and to train them to work. RH July 24, 1883, par. 2

While writing upon this subject, my attention was called to the following paragraphs touching the same point: RH July 24, 1883, par. 3

“Some pastors seem to think that they must take the lead, manage and manipulate every department of church work. They must arrange the details for every enterprise. Now, there may be churches in which the pastor must do all this or it will not be attended to at all; but in very many churches there is plenty of lay talent for all these purposes, and if the pastor would interest himself in pushing that element to the front, he would save himself much annoyance and hard work, and at the same time be rendering a service to those he thus interests in the general work of the church. RH July 24, 1883, par. 4

“In some respects the pastor occupies a position similar to that of the foreman of a gang of laboring men or the captain of a ship's crew. They are expected to see that men over whom they are set, do the work assigned to them correctly and promptly, and if occasion shall require it, only in case of emergency are they to execute in detail. RH July 24, 1883, par. 5

“The owner of a large mill once found his superintendent in a wheel-pit, making some simple repairs, while a half-dozen workmen in that line were standing by, idly looking on. The proprietor, after learning the facts so as to be sure that no injustice be done, called the foreman to his office, and handed him his discharge and full pay. In surprise the foreman asked for an explanation. It was given in these words: ‘I employed you to keep six men at work. I found the six idle and you doing the work of but one, and your work could have been done just as well by any one of the six. I cannot afford to pay the wages of seven for you to teach the six how to be idle.’ RH July 24, 1883, par. 6

“This incident may be applicable in some cases, in others not. But many pastors fail in not knowing how, or in not trying to get the full membership of the church actively engaged in the various departments of church work. If pastors would give more attention to getting and keeping their flock actively at work, they would accomplish more good, have more time for study and religious visitation, and also avoid many causes of friction.” RH July 24, 1883, par. 7

For our leading ministers, our camp-meetings have been seasons of severe and wearing labor, unfitting them for important work which required their attention at the close of the meeting. As they meet and counsel together, they lay their plans for labor; to execute these plans successfully, they need a clear brain, calm nerves, and a heart filled with courage; but they lack all three of these essential qualification. They have made a serious mistake in regard to the work resting upon them, and have done much that others should have done, and that would have been a blessing to them, giving them a precious experience in laboring for Jesus. While all cannot be ministers, all can and should act a part in the work. RH July 24, 1883, par. 8

There has been a failure to call into exercise talent which might be employed in the work, but which needs development and cultivation. We have had but few ministers and but few men to bear responsibilities, because we have had so few educators. We have lost much because we have not had those who were apt to teach, and who could conduct a training school for the inexperienced, and press them into the service. RH July 24, 1883, par. 9

The real workers in this cause are few, yet the work covers much ground; and it is often impossible for the laborers to look after the interest awakened, and they fail to discern that they must enlist the lay members of the church, and teach them to work, that they may hold all that has been gained, and continue to advance. The plan of labor has been such as to lead the people to feel that they could do very little themselves; if anything was to be accomplished, they must have a minister. RH July 24, 1883, par. 10

At our camp-meetings, ten-fold more might be done than is usually accomplished. At the very outset the ministers should organize a corps of laborers upon whom they can depend to perform various duties essential to the success of the meeting. There may be several present who have been laboring in the smaller places, testing their own ability, and learning to teach the truth. If these men really desire to learn in the school of Christ that they may teach others the way of salvation, the camp-meeting is the very place where they can learn most, not by looking on while others do all the work, but by sharing in the labor themselves. Every one should have something to do, some burden to bear. If there is ever a place to work, it is at these large gatherings. They should first take heed to themselves, see that their own hearts are softened and subdued by the grace of Christ, and then they are prepared to help others. In meekness and love they should labor for the discouraged and backslidden, inviting them to some place of retirement, and praying with and for them. There should be many little groups thus earnestly pleading with God in the intervals between preaching services. Such was the course pursued in 1844. At our general meetings, little companies would scatter in every direction to draw near to God and seek his blessing. They did not seek in vain. The rich blessing of the Lord came upon them in answer to their prayers. The same course now pursued would lead to the same results. RH July 24, 1883, par. 11

Some of our ministers have had so little to do at these general meetings that they have themselves backslidden from God. How different would have been their experience, had they been earnestly laboring for others! There is work to do in the family tents. Suitable persons should be appointed to engage, modestly and wisely, in religious conversation with the inmates of the various tents. Cases that need special help could be brought before the ministers, who might better understand how to advise. There is work enough to engage every one who can work. Many have been converted through personal effort, and a blessed revival may be expected to follow such labor. RH July 24, 1883, par. 12

The older ministers should be careful that they do not, by precept or example, give young men to understand that the work of laborers in the field consists in preaching. The education of which young ministers are in greatest need, is that which will enable them to work in the various departments of the cause, and relieve those who are wearing out from overwork. There are also laymen in the church who have ability that can be brought into service, and who should be made responsible for some part of the work. Let them feel that there are to be no idlers in the vineyard of the Lord. RH July 24, 1883, par. 13

And let those who love the Lord and his truth unite by twos and threes to seek places of retirement and pray for God's blessing upon the minister who can hardly find time to pray because he is constantly engaged attending to so many requests, sitting in councils, answering inquiries, giving advice, writing important letters. Let the fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous ascend to God, that the word spoken may be a message of truth to reach the hearts of the hearers, and that souls may thereby be won to Christ. RH July 24, 1883, par. 14

Another matter which should receive attention, both at our camp-meetings and elsewhere, is that of singing. A minister should not give out hymns to be sung, until it has first been ascertained that they are familiar to those who sing. A proper person should be appointed to take charge of this exercise, and it should be his duty to see that such hymns are selected as can be sung with the spirit and with the understanding also. Singing is a part of the worship of God, but in the bungling manner in which it is often conducted, it is no credit to the truth, and no honor to God. There should be system and order in this as well as every other part of the Lord's work. Organize a company of the best singers, whose voices can lead the congregation, and then let all who will, unite with them. Those who sing should make an effort to sing in harmony; they should devote some time to practice, that they may employ this talent to the glory of God. RH July 24, 1883, par. 15

But singing should not be allowed to divert the mind from the hours of devotion. If one must be neglected, let it be the singing. It is one of the great temptations of the present age to carry the practice of music to extremes, to make a great deal more of music than of prayer. Many souls have been ruined here. When the Spirit of God is arousing the conscience and convicting of sin, Satan suggests a singing exercise or a singing-school, which, being conducted in a light and trifling manner, results in banishing seriousness, and quenching all desire for the Spirit of God. Thus the door of the heart, which was about to be opened to Jesus, is closed and barricaded with pride and stubbornness, in many cases never again to be opened. RH July 24, 1883, par. 16

By the temptations attending these singing exercises, many who were once really converted to the truth have been led to separate themselves from God. They have chosen singing before prayer, attended singing-schools in preference to religious meetings, until the truth no longer exerts its sanctifying power upon their souls. Such singing is an offense to God. RH July 24, 1883, par. 17

The grace of Christ we cannot do without. We must have help from above if we resist the manifold temptations of Satan, and escape his devices. Amid the prevailing darkness, we must have light from God to reveal the traps and gins of error, or we shall be ensnared. We should improve the opportunity for prayer, both in secret and around the family altar. Many need to learn how to pray as well as how to sing. When we in humility tell the Lord our wants, the Spirit itself makes intercession for us; as our sense of need causes us to lay bare our souls before the all-searching eye of Omnipotence, our earnest, fervent prayers enter within the vail, our faith claims the promises of God, and help comes to us in answer to prayer. RH July 24, 1883, par. 18

Prayer is both a duty and a privilege. We must have help which God alone can give, and that help will not come unasked. If we are too self-righteous to feel our need of help from God, we shall not have his help when we need it most. If we are too independent and self-sufficient to throw ourselves daily by earnest prayer upon the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, we shall be left subject to Satan's temptations. RH July 24, 1883, par. 19

We have lost much in our meetings by our own indifference. There is much unprofitable talk, but little earnest, sincere prayer. Such prayers would bring strength and grace to resist the powers of darkness. God wants to bless. He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him than are parents to give good gifts to their children. But many do not feel their need. They do not realize that they can do nothing without the help of Jesus. Therefore they labor hard, but see little accomplished. Satan is working with all his power to block up the way, and without special help from God, the cause of truth will not go forward. RH July 24, 1883, par. 20

I have been shown angels of God all ready to impart grace and power to those who feel their need of divine strength. But these heavenly messengers will not bestow blessings unless solicited. They have waited for the cry from souls hungering and thirsting for the blessing of God; often have they waited in vain. There were, indeed, casual prayers, but not the earnest supplication from humble, contrite hearts. Meeting after meeting has closed with but little manifestation of the Spirit and power of God. The people seemed to be satisfied to reach no higher; they seemed to expect no revival of the work of God; but with grief and disappointment angels turned from the scene of confusion where tents were being removed, and the people preparing to return to their homes without the blessing which Heaven was more than willing to give them. RH July 24, 1883, par. 21

Those who would receive the blessing of the Lord, must themselves prepare the way, by confession of sin, by humiliation before God, with true penitence and with faith in the merits of the blood of Christ. The camp-meeting should be a place for all Christians to be brought into working order. If they have never labored to bring souls to Jesus and the truth, it is time for them to begin now. God requires it of them, and if they would not be finally denounced as unfaithful servants, they must engage heartily in this work. RH July 24, 1883, par. 22