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Principles for Christian Leaders

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    Poor management impedes God’s work

    In the past, one set of men have tried to keep in their own hands the control of all the means coming from the churches and have used this means in a most disproportionate manner, erecting expensive buildings where such large buildings were unnecessary and uncalled for, and leaving needy places without help or encouragement. They have taken upon themselves the grave responsibility of retarding the work where the work should have been advanced a hundredfold. It has been left to a few supposed kingly minds to say what fields should be worked and what fields should be left unworked.PCL 247.4

    A few men have kept the truth in circumscribed channels, because to open new fields would call for money. Only in those places in which they were interested have they been willing to invest means. And at the same time, in a few places, five times as much money as was necessary has passed from the treasurers and been invested in buildings. The same amount of money used in establishing plants in places where the truth had never been introduced would have brought many souls to a saving knowledge of Christ.PCL 248.1

    For years the same routine, the same “regular way” of working has been followed, and God’s work has been greatly hindered. The narrow plans that have been followed by those who did not lift up their eyes to see the fields all ripe unto the harvest and have not had clear, sanctified judgment have resulted in a showing that is not approved by God.PCL 248.2

    God calls for a revival and a reformation. The “regular lines” have not done the work which God desires to see accomplished. Let revival and reformation make constant changes. Something has been done in this line, but let not the work stop here. No! Let every yoke be broken. Let men awaken to the realization that they have an individual responsibility.—Letter 60, 1901 (June 28)PCL 248.3

    Debt-free operations—God does not want His work to be continually embarrassed with debt. When it seems desirable to add to the buildings or other facilities of an institution, beware of going beyond your means. Better to defer the improvements until Providence shall open the way for them to be made without contracting heavy debts and having to pay interest.PCL 248.4

    The publishing houses have been made places of deposit by our people and have thus been enabled to furnish means to support branches of the work in different fields and have aided in carrying other enterprises. This is well. None too much has been done in these lines. The Lord sees it all. But, from the light He has given me, every effort should be made to stand free from debt.PCL 249.1

    The publishing work was founded in self-denial and should be conducted upon strictly economical principles. The question of finance can be managed if, when there is a pressure for means, the workers will consent to a reduction in wages. This was the principle the Lord revealed to me to be brought into our institutions. When money is scarce, we should be willing to restrict our wants.PCL 249.2

    Let the proper estimate be placed upon the publications, and then let all in our publishing houses study to economize in every possible way even though considerable inconvenience is thus caused. Watch the little outgoes. Stop every leak. It is the little losses that tell heavily in the end. Gather up the fragments; let nothing be lost. Waste not the minutes in talking; wasted minutes mar the hours. Persevering diligence working in faith, will always be crowned with success.—7T 206 (1902)PCL 249.3

    In a vision of the night a short time ago, I was in council meetings. At these meetings words were spoken that savored of the human more than of the divine. The medical work in Great Britain was under consideration. Plans were proposed which, unless modified, would bind about the work and fail of relieving the situation. The General Conference was asked to pledge itself to raise a sum of no less than twenty thousand dollars, or to become responsible for that amount, to establish a sanitarium in Great Britain. Because Elder Daniells refused to consent to place this additional obligation upon the General Conference, he was severely reflected upon by some. But, under the existing circumstances, he felt that he was forbidden by the Lord to lay this burden upon the Conference. I honor Elder Daniells’ judgment on this question. . . .PCL 249.4

    But to return to the council meeting: Once more the One who has long been our Counselor, was present, to give us the word of the Lord. He said: “The Lord would not be glorified by your placing a yoke of debt upon the General Conference. In a special manner He has wrought to break from the necks of His people the binding yokes of debt which they have worn so long. The Conference must not again tread the same path that they have trodden.”—MS 144, 1902 (November 9); CS 281PCL 250.1

    When there is a seeking of the Lord and a confession of sin, when the needed reformation takes place, united zeal and earnestness will be shown in restoring what has been withheld. The Lord will manifest His pardoning love, and means will come to cancel the debts on our institutions.—Letter 163, 1901 (September 26); 8T 89PCL 250.2

    When to seek loans—It is right to borrow money to carry forward a work that we know God desires to have accomplished. We should not wait in inconvenience, and make the work much harder, because we do not wish to borrow money. Mistakes have been made in incurring debt to do that which could well have waited till a future time. But there is danger of going to the other extreme. We are not to place ourselves in a position that will endanger health and make our work wearing. We are to act sensibly. We must do the work that needs to be done, even if we have to borrow money and pay interest.—Letter 111, 1903 (June 16); CS 278PCL 250.3

    The question now before us is, Shall we try to secure the places that seem desirable in price and location, when we cannot tell where our money is coming from? Brethren Daniells, Knox, and others are opposed to the increasing of debts. But I am not prepared to say that we should not, under any circumstances, purchase land to which the Lord seems to have directed our minds, when there is no hindrance but the question of ready money, and which property, in the providence of God, we could soon pay for. We have to guard against mistakes on both sides. If we see a good opportunity to secure a building, as in Paradise Valley, I think it should be purchased.—Letter 167, 1902 (October 26)PCL 251.1

    The idea that a sanitarium should not be established unless it could be started free from debt has put the brake upon the wheels of progress. In building meetinghouses, I have had to borrow money in order that something might be done at once. I have been obliged to do this in order to fulfill the directions of God. For the last twenty years I have been borrowing money and paying interest on it to establish schools and sanitariums and to build meetinghouses. The institutions thus established and the churches built have been the means of winning many to the truth. Thus the tithe has been increased, and workers have been added to the Lord’s forces.—Letter 167, 1904 (April 27)PCL 251.2

    God would have the standard lifted higher and still higher. The church cannot abridge her task without denying her Master. Meetinghouses must be built in many places. Is it economy to fail to provide in our cities places of worship where the Redeemer may meet with His people? Let us not give the impression that we find it too great an expense to provide properly for the reception of the heavenly Guest.PCL 251.3

    In laying plans for building, we need the wisdom of God. We should not needlessly incur debt, but I would say that in every case all the money required to complete a building need not be in hand before the work is begun. We must often move forward by faith, working as expeditiously as possible. It is through a lack of faith that we fail of receiving the fulfillment of God’s promises. We must work and pray and believe. We are to move forward steadily and earnestly, trusting in the Lord, and saying, I will not fail nor become discouraged.—Letter 25, 1904 (January 12)PCL 252.1

    Sunday afternoon I related to the congregation some of our experiences in Cooranbong, where in beginning the work we walked out in the providence of God. I spoke of the difficulties we encountered and of our struggle to obtain means. You remember how Elder Daniells was so burdened that he prayed all night in the open air for the Lord to send us the necessary means that we might carry out His will in that new, unworked field. You remember how we all worked and prayed and believed, knowing that without faith it is impossible to please God.PCL 252.2

    The Lord gave messages to our brethren in Australia that then was their opportunity to use their entrusted capabilities in the Lord’s service. When they should act their part, walking and working in faith, practicing self-denial, then they would find that the Lord would work for them.PCL 252.3

    Let not the words “found wanting” be written against God’s people. While we should thankfully receive loans of money with interest, yet the Lord calls for larger freewill offerings. We must be careful about the matter of borrowing large sums of money; for often this will result in our being placed in a strait place afterward. There may be no trouble so long as those are living who have loaned the money; but when they become sick or die, a sudden call is sometimes made for their money. This money may have been invested in opening the work in new fields, and in order to meet this demand, we may be forced to borrow from the banks at a high rate of interest.PCL 252.4

    Let us obtain all the means possible as straight gifts. If today more gifts were brought into the Lord’s treasury, the sacrifice would yield a rich harvest.—Letter 330, 1908 (November 11)PCL 253.1

    Learn from past financial mistakes—The General Conference has been presented to me as weighed down beneath heavy debt, and I have been shown that were this institution freed from this encumbrance, it would not lose its moral health and power of action by repeating the experience of the past. The General Conference should not be called upon to limit its resources by placing itself in the bondage of still greater indebtedness. The center of the work has been presented to me as a fountain which is to supply the great dearth of gospel teachers in places where the standard truth has never been lifted. Then let no voice be heard appealing for means to establish expensive buildings.PCL 253.2

    And let none think that such a large outlay of means will bring in a proportionate revenue. This has been done again and again, and it has resulted in the loss of means to sustain the work of God; the grace of God, which should flow to all the parched places of earth, has been hindered. When once these large investments are made, there must be a continual outlay of means to maintain these institutions. These heavy draughts are sapping our supplies, and when God’s voice has spoken saying, “Go forward, and lift the standard in new fields,” there has not been sufficient facilities with which to commence the work. Thus the enemy has worked to weaken the heart and head of the cause. —Letter 94, 1899 (June 16)PCL 253.3

    God designs that we shall leam lessons from the failures of the past. It is not pleasing to Him to have debts rest upon His institutions. We have reached the time when we must give character to the work by refusing to erect large and costly buildings. We are not to copy the mistakes of the past, and become more and more involved in debt. We are rather to endeavor to clear off the indebtedness that still remains on our institutions. Our churches can help in this matter if they will. Those members to whom the Lord has given means can invest their money in the cause without interest or at a low rate of interest, and by their freewill offerings they can help to support the work. The Lord asks you to return cheerfully to Him a portion of the goods He has lent you, and thus become His almoners.—RH, August 13, 1908PCL 254.1

    When men in positions of responsibility are in such a hurry to establish some new institution that is untimely, the showing made is not only against the interests of the Lord’s cause, but against the interests of the men who in human wisdom have tried to advance too rapidly. God is not glorified by those who attempt to go faster than He leads. Perplexity, embarrassment, and distress are the result. The Lord does not desire His representatives to repeat these mistakes; for the past record of such movements does not glorify Him.PCL 254.2

    There are now in existence a few overgrown institutions the cost of which eternity alone will reveal. These have been expensive to the cause not only with respect to the amount of money actually expended in their erection and maintenance, but also with respect to the evils that have resulted in consequence of their establishment. Who can estimate the alienation, the strife, the heartburnings, the recriminations, that are directly traceable to the effort to establish some of our larger institutions? Many of these difficulties have never been healed.—MS 144, 1902 (November 9)PCL 254.3

    A kind of frenzy has taken hold of the minds of men, leading them to do that which would absorb means without any prospect of afterward producing peace. Had this money been used in the way God signified it should be, workers would have been raised up and prepared to do the work that must be done before the coming of the Lord. The misappropriation of means shows me the need of the Lord’s warning that His work must not be bound about by human projects, that it must be done in a way that will strengthen His cause.PCL 255.1

    By working on wrong plans, men have brought debt upon the cause. Let not this be repeated. Let those at the head of the work move cautiously, refusing to bury the cause of God in debt. Let no one move recklessly, heedlessly, thinking, without knowing that all will be well.—MS 54a, 1901 (July 1)PCL 255.2

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