The Review and Herald


December 8, 1885

To Our Missionary Workers


We are all laborers under God; and we must all work with intelligence, frugality, and humility. There are those who embrace too much in their labors, and by so doing accomplish little. Our efforts now must be more concentrated. Every stroke must tell. At present, the labors of our ministers cannot be so uncertain and extended as to cast the seeds of truth upon all waters. This is being done quite extensively by our publications; but God directs us, and reason tells us, that at this stage of this work, and with the present condition of our finances, our ministers must be more personal and concise in their labors, binding up the work as they go along. The work in Europe, as in America, has had to commence small; but even here it can be managed so as to become self-sustaining. One great means by which this can be accomplished will be by the well-directed efforts of those already in the truth to bring in others who will be a strength and support to the work. This was the way the Christian Church was established. Christ first selected a few persons, and bade them follow him. They then went in search of their relatives and acquaintances, and brought them to Christ. This is the way we are to labor. A few souls brought out and fully established on the truth, will, like the first disciples, be laborers for others. RH December 8, 1885, par. 1

In the work of the laborers there should be a counseling together. No one is to strike out on his own independent judgment, and work according to his own mind, unless he has a treasury of his own from which to draw. Our heavenly Father careth for his children, and his grace is sufficient in every time of need. But if we consider ourselves sufficient to manage the work of God, and depend for success on our own individual wisdom to plan and execute, we may expect defeats and losses; for they will surely come. I have been shown that the management of the work must not be trusted to inexperienced hands. Those who have not had breadth of experience are not the ones to take large responsibilities, although they may think themselves qualified to do so. Their brethren may see defects where they themselves see only perfection. Too much is at stake now to allow any great risks to be run in investing means from the Lord's treasury. If any one wishes to try experiments, let him sustain himself from his own funds, so that if losses occur he alone will be the loser. RH December 8, 1885, par. 2

The workers are not many; the means are not abundant; and the work must be fashioned accordingly. It is not God's plan that large draughts should be made upon the treasury to support the workers, and then that they should labor in such a way that no special results can be seen. Our ministers should not feel at liberty to pay large sums for halls in which to hold meetings, when they do not feel the burden of following up the interest with personal labor. The results are too uncertain to warrant using up means so rapidly. I cannot see that much is accomplished by open air meetings. These may be held at times, and on special occasions will be the best means of reaching the people. But to make this the regular manner of labor will not at present secure the desired results. The laborer cannot prove his work; he cannot make full proof of his ministry. The dearth of both men and means at this time will not warrant our brethren in doing this kind of work. The burden now is to convince souls of the truth. This can best be done by personal efforts, by bringing the truth into their houses, praying with them, and opening to them the Scriptures. RH December 8, 1885, par. 3

Those who do this work should be just as careful not to become stereotyped in their plans of labor as should the minister who labors in the desk. They should be constantly learning. They should have a conscientious zeal to obtain the highest qualifications, to become able men in the Scriptures. They should not accumulate expensive furniture and become fixtures in any one place; for they know not how soon they may be called to other fields of labor. They should not gather burdens about them so that their thoughts and time will be occupied in serving tables; but they should cultivate habits of careful study and mental activity, giving themselves to prayer and to a diligent study of the Scriptures. Many are guilty of shortcomings on this point. The claims of God upon them are not small. But they are content with the limited understanding they have of the Scriptures, and do not seek to improve both mind and manners. Every argument in prophetic history, every practical lesson given by Christ, should be carefully studied that they may be wanting in nothing. The mind gains strength, breadth, and acuteness by activity. It must be made to work, or it will grow weak. It must be trained to think, to think habitually, or it will in a great measure lose its power to think. Let the mind wrestle with the difficult problems in the word of God, and the intellect will be thoroughly awakened to bring forth, not inferior discourses, but those that will be fresh and edifying; and these will be presented in the fervor of an active mind. RH December 8, 1885, par. 4

The servants of Christ must meet the highest-standard. They are educators, and they should be thoroughly versed in the Scriptures. Then from their own experience they will feel the necessity of devoting less time to sermonizing, and more time to educating those for whom they labor. They will study how to make these personal efforts interesting, and to impress upon all the necessity of searching the Scriptures for themselves. The study of the Bible taxes the mind of the worker, strengthens the memory, and sharpens the intellect more than the study of all the subjects which philosophy embraces. The Bible contains the only truth that purifies the soul, and is the best book for intellectual culture. The dignified simplicity with which it handles important doctrines is just what every youth and every worker for Christ needs to teach him how to present the mysteries of salvation to those who are in darkness. RH December 8, 1885, par. 5

The mind must be active to invent the best ways and means of reaching the people next us. We should not be far-reaching, incurring great expense. There are individuals and families near us for whom we should make personal efforts. We often let opportunities within our reach slip away, in order to do a work at a distance from us which is less hopeful, and thus our time and means may be lost in both places. The study of the workers now should be to learn the trade of gathering souls into the gospel net. Our cause is struggling in poverty because we are trying to do so much. The banner of truth is being planted in all countries and among all nations; and every worker should try so to shape his labor as to secure immediate results. He should remember that he is a light-bearer from God to the world, and should so educate those who receive the truth at his hands that they in turn will become light-bearers to others. This will require foresight and much careful study and earnest prayer. At this point in the history of our work we may spread over a great deal of territory, scatter our efforts, use up our time and money, and yet have little fruit to show for our labors—few souls who will help sustain the work by their influence, their efforts, and their means. RH December 8, 1885, par. 6

There must be a firm determination on the part of our laborers to break with the established customs of the people whenever it is essential to the advancement of the work of God. The work might be much farther advanced in Europe if some of those who have embraced the truth were not so wedded to the habits and customs of nationalities. They plead that the efforts of our ministers must be made to conform to these customs and prejudices, or nothing will be accomplished. This has had a binding influence upon the work from its commencement. The effort that has been made to conform to English customs, to eat and drink English, to dress and sleep English, has circumscribed the work, and it is now years behind what it might have been. The effort to keep bound about by French customs and ideas has hindered the work in France. My heart aches as I hear our brethren say, Such an one does not understand how to labor for these nationalities. Does not God know what the people need? and will he not direct his servants? Is not the truth one? Are not the teachings of the Bible one? Let God give his messengers the word to speak, and his blessing will not fail to attend their labors. RH December 8, 1885, par. 7

In sending missionaries to distant countries, those men should be selected who know how to economize, who have not large families, and who, realizing the shortness of time and the great work to be accomplished, will not fill their hands and houses with children, but will keep themselves as free as possible from everything that will divert their minds from their one great work. The wife, if devoted, and left free to do so, can, by standing by the side of her husband, accomplish as much as he. God has blessed woman with talents to be used to his glory in bringing many sons and daughters to God; but many who might be efficient laborers are kept at home to care for their little ones. We want missionaries who are missionaries in the fullest sense of the word; who will put aside selfish considerations, and let the cause of God come first; and who, working with an eye single to his glory, will keep themselves as minute men to go where he shall bid, and to work in any capacity to spread the knowledge of the truth. Men who have wives that love and fear God and that can help them in the work, are needed in the missionary field. Many who have families go out to labor, but they do not give themselves entirely to the work. Their minds are divided. Wife and children draw them from their labor, and often keep them out of fields that they might enter were it not that they think they must be near their home. Let missionaries be missionaries; let them leave their own and their wives’ hands and hearts free, taking their homes with them where they go, and great good will be accomplished. RH December 8, 1885, par. 8

Our missionary workers must learn to economize. The largest reservoir, though fed by abundant and living springs, will fail to supply the demand if there are leakages which drain off the supply. It must not be left for one man to decide whether a certain field will warrant large efforts. If the workers in one field so fashion the work as to incur large expenses, they are barring the way so that other important fields,—fields which would warrant the outlay,—cannot be entered. Our younger laborers must be content to work their way among the people slowly and surely, under the advice of those more experienced in the work. The ideas of many are too high. A more humble manner of working would show good results. It is encouraging to see the young entering the missionary field, and enlisting all their ardor and zeal in the work; but they must not be left to manage for themselves, and keep the cause of God weighed down with debt. Large vessels must not be intrusted to inexperienced hands to guide, lest they be wrecked. All should strive by wise management and earnest labor to gather enough to pay their own expenses. They should labor to make the cause self-sustaining, and should teach the people to rely upon themselves. RH December 8, 1885, par. 9

In every new field patience and perseverance must be exercised. Do not fret at small beginnings. It is often the humblest work that accomplishes the greatest results. Steady, persevering, determined efforts must be put forth by every laborer. We must come close to our fellow-men in our efforts. Men of ordinary talents can accomplish more by personal labor from house to house than by placing themselves in popular places at great expense, or by entering halls and trying to call out the crowd. Personal influence is a power. The more direct our labor for our fellow-men, the greater good will be accomplished. The minds of those with whom we are closely associated are impressed through unseen influences. One cannot stand off in a multitude and send down his voice to men, and move them as he could if he were brought into closer relationship with them. Jesus left heaven and came to our world to save souls. You must come close to those for whom you labor, that they may not only hear your voice, but shake your hand, learn your principles, and realize your sympathy. Whenever you can get access to the fireside, urge your way there. Take your Bible and open before them its great truths. Your success will not depend upon your great knowledge and accomplishments, but upon your ability to find your way to their hearts. By being social and coming close to them, the current of their thoughts will be changed, quicker than by the most able discourses. The presentation of Christ in the family, by the fireside, and in small gatherings in private houses, is more successful in securing souls to Jesus than are sermons delivered in the open air to the moving throng, or even in halls or churches. A chance speech or discourse may set minds on a train of thought which will, through other influences that may be brought to bear upon them, result in their conversion; but these cases are rare. We cannot afford to labor with such uncertain results. RH December 8, 1885, par. 10

There is a great work to be done, and individual workers can accomplish more by laboring in a humble way than by incurring great expense. There may be times when broader efforts may be in the order of God. If churches and halls are opened to any of the laborers, and there is a desire to hear, they should embrace the opportunity and do the best they can. But we have no great men among us, and none need try to make themselves what they are not, remarkable men. It is not wisdom for a single individual to strike out as though he had some great talent, as though he were a Moody or a Sankey, and make a great outlay of means. Our laborers must learn to use means prudently, not only in their efforts to advance the cause of truth, but in their own home expenses. They should place their families where they can be cared for with as little expense as possible. Donations and bequests do not come to our people as they do to others denominations; and those who have not educated themselves to live within their means will surely have to do this now or engage in some other employment. Their habits must be frugal. They must not expend money for things that are not absolutely necessary. Economy must be the rule of every laborer. If he has not economical habits he must learn the lesson at once. All should learn how to keep accounts. Some neglect this work as nonessential; but this is wrong. All expenses should be accurately stated. This is something that many of our workers will have to learn. RH December 8, 1885, par. 11

We should not allow our habits to become loose and dilatory while we are engaged in God's work. All should be prompt, sharp business men in his cause. With a little more study and punctuality, much time could be saved in our Conference business meetings, and many mistakes avoided. Everything that bears any relation to the work and cause of God should be as near perfection as human brains and human hands can make it. God is not pleased with the present lack of order and accuracy among those who do business in connection with his cause. He would have things done with as much order as was seen anciently in the arrangement of his sanctuary and of the armies of Israel. No slack, bungling work was done there; for death would have been the penalty. RH December 8, 1885, par. 12

My ministering brethren, do not think that the only work you can do, the only way you can labor for souls, is to give discourses. The best work you can do is to teach, to educate. Whenever you can find an opportunity to do so, sit down with some family and let them ask questions. Then answer them patiently, humbly. Continue this work in connection with your more public efforts. Preach less and educate more by holding Bible readings, and by praying with families and little companies. If you, as God's servants, do what you can in his love and fear, your efforts will be wholly acceptable to the Master; and in the records above you will be registered as good and faithful, and will receive at last from the lips of the Chief Shepherd the heavenly benediction, “Well done.” RH December 8, 1885, par. 13

Christiania, Norway,

November 1.