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Principles for Christian Leaders

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    Counsel for missionary leaders *See also Christian Service.

    Begin aright—There is great importance attached to the starting in right at the beginning of our work. I have been shown that the work in England has been bound about without making that decided advancement that it might have made if the work had commenced right. Far more might have been done with different modes of management, and there would have been less means actually taken from the treasury. We have a great and sacred trust in the elevated truths committed to us.—Letter 14, 1887 (June 18); Ev 89, 90PCL 221.1

    Teach truth in new territories—Our growth has been, in untried fields, generally slow because of the seventh-day Sabbath. There stands a sharp cross directly in the way of every soul who accepts the truth.PCL 221.2

    There are other truths, such as the nonimmortality of the soul, and the personal coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven to our earth in a short time. But these are not as objectionable as the Sabbath. Some will conscientiously accept the truth for its own sake, because it is Bible truth, and they love the path of obedience to all the commandments of God. These objectionable features of our faith will bar the way to many souls who do not wish to be a peculiar people, distinct and separate from the world. Therefore, great wisdom is required to be exercised in the matter of how the truth is brought before the people. There are certain clearly defined ends to gain at the very introduction of missionary effort. If the plans and methods had been of a different character, even if they necessarily involved more outlay of means, there would have been far better results.—Letter 14, 1887 (June 18)PCL 221.3

    Introduce new truth carefully—Remember that great care is to be exercised in regard to the presentation of truth. Carry the minds along guardedly. Dwell upon practical godliness, weaving the same into doctrinal discourses. The teachings and love of Christ will soften and subdue the soil of the heart for the good seed of truth.—Letter 14, 1887 (June 18); Ev 142PCL 222.1

    At some places there should be a slow beginning. This is all they can do. But in many places the work can be entered into in a more thorough and decided manner from the very first. But there must be no haphazard, loose, cheap manner of work done in any place. The work in Old England might have been much further advanced now than it is if our brethren had not tried to move in so cheap a way. If they had hired good halls, and carried forward the work as though they had great truths which would be victorious, and [as though] God would have them start in to make the very first impression the very best that could be made as far as they go, the work would have advanced more than it has.PCL 222.2

    Keep up the elevated character of the missionary work. Let the inquiry of both men and women associated in the missionary work be, What am I? and what ought I to be and do? Let each worker consider that he cannot give to others that which he does not possess himself. Therefore, he should not settle down into his own set ways and habits, and make no change for the better. Paul says, “I have not attained, but I press forward.” (Philippians 3:12). It is constant advancement and improvement, and reformation that is to be made with individuals, to perfect a symmetrical, well-balanced character.—Letter 14, 1887 (June 18)PCL 222.3

    Personal defects not to impede truth—While it is well to exercise economy, let the work of God ever stand in its elevated noble dignity. As you are to begin work in a new mission, be careful that your defects are not exalted as virtues, and thus retard the work of God. It is testing truths we are bringing before the people, and in every movement these truths should be elevated to stand in moral beauty before those for whom we labor. Do not throw about the truth the peculiarities of your own character, or your own manner of labor. . . . Do not cheapen the work of God. Let it stand forth as from God. Let it bear no human impress, but the impress of the divine. Self is to be lost sight of in Jesus. . . .PCL 222.4

    Much has been lost through following the mistaken ideas of some of our good brethren. Their plans were narrow, and they lowered the work to their peculiar ways and ideas so that the higher classes were not reached. The appearance of the work impressed the minds of unbelievers as being of very little worth— some stray offshoot of religious theory entirely beneath their notice. Much also has been lost through want of wise methods of labor.—Letter 12, 1887 (June 25)PCL 223.1

    Use creativity—God’s workmen must be many-sided men; that is, they must have breadth of character, not be one-idea men, stereotyped in one manner of working, getting into a groove, and being unable to see and sense that their words and their advocacy of truth must vary with the class of people they are among, and the circumstances they have to meet. All should be constantly seeking to develop their minds evenly and to overcome ill- balanced characteristics. This must be your constant study if you make a useful, successful laborer. God would have you, old as you are, continually improving and learning how you can better reach the people.—Letter 12, 1887 (June 25)PCL 223.2

    Be wise and adaptable—The worker in foreign fields will come in contact with all classes of people and all varieties of minds, and he will find that different methods of labor are required to meet the needs of the people. A sense of his own inefficiency will drive him to God and to the Bible for light and strength and knowledge.PCL 223.3

    The methods and means by which we reach certain ends are not always the same. The missionary must use reason and judgment. Experience will indicate the wisest course to follow under existing circumstances. It is often the case that the customs and climate of a country make a condition of things that would not be tolerated in another country. Changes for the better must be made, but it is best not to be too abrupt.—GW 468 (1915)PCL 224.1

    Share the load—Be careful how you build, for it is for time and for eternity. Counsel together, have your seasons of prayer together; make no move independently or in opposition to one another. Christ is our living head, and we are members of His body, and all dependent upon the head. It is not our Lord’s plan that any member of His body shall suffer for want of proper exercise, for if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. If one member is enlightened and honored of God, all rejoice. —Letter 4, 1890 (March 9)PCL 224.2

    Banish jealousy and envy—There should be no strife, no envying, no seeking for supremacy. The work is sacred and holy, and God forbid that you [missionaries in Africa] should give to those for whom you labor an example of coldness, selfishness and avarice. If your work has been done in human wisdom, it will bear your mold, it is marred in your hands. Your work is of an exalted character, and should not be in any way so marred as to make it unacceptable and unattractive. Your discourses must be followed by a holy life. Precious lessons of love, confidence, respect for one another, must be given both in and out of the desk. You must live that which you teach. As laborers together with God, you must first come close to one another, for God’s instruments must not work at cross purposes. Constantly educate yourselves to be one, as Christ was one with the Father, each improving his entrusted talents.—Letter 4, 1890 (March 9)PCL 224.3

    Harmonize and employ talents and gifts—Brethren, let all see that you are living out the lessons of Christ. If any one of the workers thinks that his way is perfect, and that the brethren do not appreciate his wisdom and experience, it is a positive evidence that he is not learning meekness and lowliness of heart in the school of Christ. The transforming grace of Christ always leads to meekness and humility. The Lord is not dependent upon us to do His work; He has given us the great privilege of cooperating with Him. You may have diverse temperaments, and yet be laborers together with God, all working in harmony, and when all your ability is put into the work, you will accomplish the best results. In doing the Lord’s work we cannot follow our own judgment and peculiar notions. We must work with an eye single to the glory of Christ. Do not talk about that which cannot be done, but of that which can be done through the strength given you of God. “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts,” and “the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Haggai 2:8; Psalm 50:10).—Letter 4, 1890 (March 9)PCL 225.1

    Pray and counsel together—Be sure to pray and counsel together before coming to decisions and laying your plans, and then, in the spirit of Christ, push the work unitedly. If one of your number decides that he cannot cooperate with his brethren, and has no desire to work because of differences of opinion, the course to be pursued is without a question. Humble yourselves before God, and resort to prayer, for you cannot and must not attempt to work at variance.—Letter 4, 1890 (March 9)PCL 225.2

    Trust God—The worker in a foreign field must carry in his heart the peace and love of heaven; for this is his only safety. Amid perplexity and trial, discouragement and suffering, with the devotion of a martyr and the courage of a hero, he is to hold fast to the hand that never lets go, saying, “I will not fail nor be discouraged.” He must be a close Bible student, and should be often in prayer. If, before talking with others, he will seek help from above, he may be assured that angels of heaven will be with him. At times he may yearn for human sympathy, but in his loneliness he may find comfort and encouragement through communion with God. Let him be cheered by the words of the Saviour, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20). From this divine Companion he will receive instruction in the science of soul saving.—GW 469 (1915)PCL 226.1

    Empower local decision-makers—The people of every country have their own peculiar, distinctive characteristics, and it is necessary that men should be wise in order that they may know how to adapt themselves to the peculiar ideas of the people, and so introduce the truth that they may do them good. They must be able to understand and meet their wants. Circumstances will arise which demand immediate action, and it will be necessary that those who are right on the field should take hold of the interest, and do the thing that is necessary to be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Should they wait in a time of crisis for direction to come from Battle Creek as to what they should do, they might lose much. The men who are handling the work should be faithful stewards of the grace of God. They should be men of faith, and they should be encouraged to look to God, and to trust in Him.—Letter 58, 1895 (May 7); TM 213PCL 226.2

    Train foreign workers—Even at this eleventh hour, there should be decided advancement made in the matter of a special preparatory work. In all our Conferences there should be well-organized plans for the instruction and training of those who desire to give themselves to the cause of God. Our city missions afford favorable opportunities for education in missionary labor; but these are not enough. There ought to be connected with our schools the best possible facilities for the preparation of laborers both for home and foreign fields. There should also be in our larger churches special training schools for young men and women, to fit them to become workers for God. And far more attention should be given by our ministers to the matter of assisting and educating younger laborers.PCL 227.1

    When an effort is made to introduce the truth in an important place, our ministers should give special attention to the instruction and training of those who are to cooperate with them.—HS 281 (1886)PCL 227.2

    Help the Master Builder—The Jewish temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the mountains; and every stone was fitted for its place in the temple, hewed, polished, and tested, before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of ax or hammer. This building represents God’s spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out of every nation, and tongue, and people, of all grades, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. These are not dead substances, to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones, quarried out from the world by the truth; and the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them, and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed, this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the admiration of angels and of men; for its builder and maker is God.—HS 136, 137 (1886)PCL 227.3

    Foster unity in judgment and purpose—Let no one think that there need not be a stroke placed upon him. There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore God wants the different nationalities to mingle together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified.—HS 137 (1886)PCL 228.1

    Beware of entanglements—The presentation before me is not encouraging. Divine foresight is needed to see the result of business transactions between parties that it is next to an impossibility to unify. The missionary work is a great and grand work, and those whom God has made stewards in trust must not feel at liberty to unite in any confederacy which God, who sees the end from the beginning, cannot justify and endorse as glorifying His holy name. God must be consulted as to how His work shall be advanced without having woven into it one thread of selfishness. God will work. He will furnish means for the carrying forward of His work without entanglement. His work is not to be bound about because men choose to act out perverse human nature instead of submitting to be molded and fashioned after the divine similitude.—MS 31, 1900 (June 18)PCL 228.2

    Represent truth wisely—We have to use wisdom in representing the truth. Our speech must be tempered, else we cut ourselves off from gaining access to those who need help. The wisdom of angelic agencies must be imparted to human instrumentalities, else the door will be closed to the message the people need. “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” . . .PCL 228.3

    The Word of God is to be lived as well as preached. It is to be brought into every phase of the Christian work done in this world. The men God has appointed to do His work must be emptied of self. Let Jesus in. Open the door of the heart to the heavenly Guest. Let no man be looked up to as God. When those who come nigh God in service are consecrated, cleansed, and purified, approaching nearer and still nearer the divine benevolence, they can voice the commission of God, and be respected. . . .PCL 229.1

    God designs that men shall be drawn constantly upward by the strong moral attraction of that which is above. Had the workers in Africa remembered this, they would have done a great work by their god-fearing, unselfish attitude.—Letter 187, 1899 (November 16)PCL 229.2

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