Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 16 (1901)


Lt 108, 1901

Johnston, J. O.

St. Helena, California

July 27, 1901

This letter is published in entirety in SpM 191-193.

Brother Johnston,—

A few weeks ago I sent a letter to Elder Shireman. He was presented before me as worried and suffering in mind. I was given instruction regarding the course you are pursuing toward him, a course which is not dictated by the counsels of God. You are causing Brother Shireman suffering. It is not your work to go into another man’s field of labor and take up a work which by much labor and sacrifice he has established. There are plenty of fields as barren and as needy as was this one when Brother Shireman first entered it. Why should you not go to these fields and there give evidence of your capability, tact, and ingenuity? Do not, I beg of you, act the part of a usurper or an accuser of the brethren, for the Lord will not justify any such course of action. This is not the work you are appointed by the Conference to do. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 1

What has led you, my brother, to locate in a place where another man, by patient labor and hard wrestling and with great self-denial and self-sacrifice, has established a good work? The Lord is not pleased with you for stepping into another man’s field after he has done all the pioneering, to criticize and condemn, leaving the impression upon other minds that the work has not been done right. It is not the work of a minister of Christ to go to another man’s field of labor and ignore the worker, showing no appreciation of his work. How much nobler to go to some unworked part of the vineyard and show there what can be done to make a beginning. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 2

From the light the Lord has been pleased to give me, there are many openings just as promising as was the place where Brother Shireman began his work. And you have the advantage of possessing physical strength. Seek a hard place, and go to work. Labor with humility and earnestness as Brother Shireman has done. Learn how he has accomplished his work, and then begin as he began, showing your zeal by making earnest efforts to establish something. Cultivate a part of the Lord’s vineyard where nothing has been done. Thus you can consistently show what capabilities you possess. Thus you can show that your work is genuine. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 3

Brother Shireman has taxed his energies in a way that many of our younger ministers would shrink from doing. He has opened the Scriptures to the people and has erected buildings, and the Lord has blessed him and gone before him. To some his work may appear crude, not elegant enough to suit their taste, but he has worked according to the ability given him by the Lord. God will bless any man who does this. You should be careful not to dishonor God in the person of His saints. Let the aged minister of God work in the place where he has accomplished so much, till the Lord by His Holy Spirit moves upon him to work in another place. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 4

The Conference should understand that it has no right to send a man to take the work out of the hands of one who has done the hard labor, gaining his way little by little, the Lord working with him, and giving him hire, in souls, for his labor. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 5

Study the action of Christ, as recorded in John 4:1-3. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 6

In regard to the property which Brother Shireman has built up, let no selfish greed force him to make it over to the Conference. There may be other places where he should work, and he should have something with which to operate. If he were called away suddenly, he could make this property over to someone he could trust. He should be allowed to control his own property, the results of his hard labor. He should never be allowed to feel himself destitute. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 7

Brother Shireman will always need helpers, but not men who will seek to set him aside and supersede him. His helpers should be men of fine perceptions and delicacy of feeling, who will give credit where credit is due, who will not ignore the one used by God to do the hard, pioneer labor. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 8

How dare any one, minister or lay member, bar the way of God’s servants by unjust, unfeeling speeches. But this has been done, and thereby some laborers have been discouraged and many souls lost who might have been saved. Those who do this work are not prompted by the Spirit of God, but by another spirit. Scornful criticisms and discourteous remarks are from Satan. Abraham was a courteous man. If teachers, ministers, and people would practice Bible courtesy, they would find hearts open to receive the truth and the Lord would be glorified. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 9

He who comes into another man’s field of labor to scoff at his work is not fitted for ministerial labor. He might better, far better, use his powers in some other work. Those who search for something with which to find fault have taken the enemy’s side of the question. Can Christ say of them, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? [Matthew 25:23.] Are they giving the trumpet a certain sound? Are they proclaiming to a perishing world the last message of mercy? 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 10

For years the Lord has shown me that He uses many gifts in the work of saving souls. All who can should do personal labor. As they go from house to house explaining the Scriptures to the people in a clear, simple manner, God makes the truth powerful to save. The Saviour blesses those who do this work. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 11

For many years Brother Shireman has done a good and unselfish work. While others have sought rest and comfort, he has toiled in poverty, earning means to carry forward God’s work. He is now worn with labor, and God desires him to be sustained. He should lay off some of his burdens, but the cause of God needs his experience. It needs his words, which have a comforting, soothing influence on sin-sick souls. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 12

Brother Shireman should not allow his spirit to be grieved by the course which others pursue toward him. He should not allow a combative spirit to take possession of him. He should not feel called upon to defend himself. He has no need for self-justification. His work speaks for him. Those with whom God works are not to be at all intimidated by the criticisms of men who need to understand what it means to build up an interest in a new and barren field, who might far better use the talent of speech in warning those who know not the truth than in criticizing those who are doing their best. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 13

Treat Brother Shireman with the tenderness with which you would wish to be treated were you in his place. Remember that workmen for God will spring up in many places. He who forsakes all that he has in order to advance the work of God is doing that which must be done. Every weight, every besetting sin, must be laid aside. God’s watchmen are to lift up the voice, saying, The morning cometh, and also the night. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, ... and touch not the unclean thing.” [2 Corinthians 6:17.] “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” [Isaiah 52:11.] 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 14

The church cannot measure herself by the world, nor by the opinions of men, nor yet by what she once was. Her position in this world is to be compared with what it would have been had she continually pressed forward and upward, from victory to victory. 16LtMs, Lt 108, 1901, par. 15