Gospel Workers (1915 ed.)


Danger from Overwork

When the apostles returned from their first missionary journey, the Saviour's command to them was, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.” [Mark 6:31.] They had been putting their whole souls into labor for the people, and this was exhausting their physical and mental strength. It was their duty to rest. GW 243.1

Christ's words of compassion are spoken to His workers today just as surely as to His disciples. “Come ye yourselves apart, ...and rest awhile,” He says to those who are worn and weary. It is not wise to be always under the strain of work and excitement, even in ministering to men's spiritual needs; for in this way personal piety is neglected, and the powers of mind and soul and body are overtaxed. Self-denial is required of the servants of Christ, and sacrifices must be made; but God would have all study the laws of health, and use reason when working for Him, that the life which He has given may be preserved. GW 243.2

Though Jesus could work miracles, and had empowered His disciples to work miracles, He directed His worn servants to go apart into the country and rest. When He said that the harvest was great and the laborers were few, He did not urge upon His disciples the necessity of ceaseless toil, but said, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.” [Matthew 9:38.] God has appointed to every man his work, according to his ability; and He would not have a few weighted with responsibilities, while others have no burden, no travail of soul. GW 243.3

The servants of Christ are not to treat their health indifferently. Let no one labor to the point of exhaustion, thereby disqualifying himself for future effort. Do not try to crowd into one day the work of two. At the end, those who work carefully and wisely will be found to have accomplished as much as those who so expend their physical and mental strength that they have no deposit from which to draw in time of need. GW 244.1

God's work is world-wide; it calls for every jot and tittle of the ability and power that we have. There is danger that His workers will abuse their powers as they see that the field is ripe for the harvest; but the Lord does not require this. After His servants have done their best, they may say, The harvest truly is great, and the laborers are few; but God “knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” [Psalm 103:14.] GW 244.2

Intemperance in eating and drinking, intemperance in labor, intemperance in almost everything, exists on every hand. Those who make great exertions to accomplish just so much in a given time, and continue to labor when their judgment tells them they ought to rest, are never gainers. They are expending force that they will need at a future time. When the energy which they have so recklessly used is called for, they fail for lack of it. Physical strength is gone, and mental power is unavailable. Their time of need has come, and their resources are exhausted. GW 244.3

Each day brings its responsibilities and duties, but the work of tomorrow must not be crowded into the hours of today. God is merciful, full of compassion, reasonable in His requirements. He does not ask us to pursue a course of action that will result in the loss of physical health or the enfeebling of the mental powers. He would not have us work under a pressure and strain until exhaustion follows, with prostration of the nerves. GW 244.4

There is need that God's chosen workmen should listen to the command to go apart and rest awhile. Many valuable lives have been sacrificed because of a disregard of this command. There are those who might be with us today, to help forward the cause both at home and in foreign lands, had they but realized before it was too late that they were in need of rest. These workers saw that the field is large and the need for workers great, and they felt that at any cost they must press on. When nature uttered a protest, they paid no heed, but did double the work they should have done; and God laid them in the grave to rest until the last trump shall sound to call the righteous forth to immortality. GW 245.1

When a laborer has been under a heavy pressure of care and anxiety, and is overworked in both body and mind, he should turn aside and rest awhile, not for selfish gratification, but that he may be better prepared for future duties. We have a vigilant foe, who is ever on our track, ready to take advantage of every weakness that would help to make his temptations effective. When the mind is overstrained and the body enfeebled, he presses upon the soul his fiercest temptations. Let the laborer carefully husband his strength, and when wearied with toil, let him turn aside and commune with Jesus. GW 245.2

I do not say this to those who are constitutionally tired, those who think they are carrying heavier burdens than any one else. Those who do not labor have no need of rest. There are always those who spare themselves, and who come far short of bearing their share of responsibility. They can talk of great and crushing burdens, but they do not know what it means to bear them. Their work yields but meager results. GW 246.1

It was to those worn down in His service, not to those who were always sparing themselves, that Christ addressed His gracious words. And today it is to the self-forgetful, those who work to the very extent of their ability, who are distressed because they cannot do more, and who in their zeal go beyond their strength, that the Saviour says, “Come ye yourselves apart, ...and rest awhile.” GW 246.2


In all who are under the training of God is to be revealed a life that is not in harmony with the world, its customs or its practices; and every one needs to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God.... He bids us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46:10.] Here alone can true rest be found. And this is the effectual preparation for all labor for God. Amid the hurrying throng, and the strain of life's intense activities, the soul that is thus refreshed will be surrounded with an atmosphere of light and peace. The life will breathe out fragrance, and will reveal a divine power that will reach men's hearts.—The Desire of Ages, 363. GW 246.3