Selected Messages Book 2


An Important Interview Regarding Physicians’ Wages

[On the morning of December 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.]

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. 2SM 202.2

After introductions and greetings, Elder W. C. White said in part: 2SM 202.3

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. 2SM 202.4

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. 2SM 202.5

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 so high that many will be tempted. There may have to be a coming down rather than 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 a similar work. For, if you do, the others will think it perfectly proper to expect similar high wages. We must look at all 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 expand much more means than we have spent hitherto. These are matters that will test the faith of our people. 2SM 203.1

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 admire 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 he has to endure, when a precious life is hanging by a slender thread.” 2SM 203.2

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 or 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. 2SM 204.1

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 cannot 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 wages 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.... 2SM 204.2

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 when 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. 2SM 204.3

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 wages, 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. 2SM 205.1

I have been very clear in counseling 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 soulsaving. 2SM 205.2

We are not to let the wage question stand in the way of our responding to the call of duty, wherever our service 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. 2SM 205.3

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. 2SM 205.4

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. 2SM 205.5

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 someone 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 the spirit of self-denial. And as you go forward in this spirit, there are many that will follow. 2SM 205.6

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 sacrifices we are called upon to make? 2SM 206.1

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-sacrifice, trusting in Him, the Lord will grant sustaining power to mind and character, and success will be the result. 2SM 206.2

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.... 2SM 206.3

If someone 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.—Manuscript 12, 1913. 2SM 206.4