A Christian character is the best security to be obtained in the safeguarding of money and other values. Honesty, sincerity, integrity, and faithfulness in private relations and in public duties, are the qualities which give assurance of moral responsibility.
In the Seventh-day Adventist financial system, large latitudes are given to treasurers and managers in the handling of funds; and it is essential that persons in whom absolute confidence can be placed shall be selected for these important duties. Careful attention should be given to the training of those who are requested to assume financial responsibilities.
Managing boards and committees will recognize that it is unfair to the worker and to the duties to be performed to ask a person who has had no business training to take the responsibility of handling and recording financial interests. A man may be thoroughly honest, a good minister, and reliable in every regard, and yet, because of lack of aptitude or trained business ability, be wholly unfitted for treasury or administrative burdens.
Treasurers and managers who are kindest and sincere will welcome safeguards and limitations which may be placed about them. They have nothing to fear from safety devices and frequent examinations. Their records are open to the eye of God, who reads the hearts of men.
Such a treasurer will realize the dangers "which close familiarity with money brings, and steel himself against allowing its enchantments to engulf him. He will recognize in the handling of funds which pass through his hands a sacred trust from the Lord, and he will not allow a shadow of a doubt to cloud the confidence placed in him. No personal tickets or slips will be found in his cash drawer ; there will be no borrowings until pay day, no allowing liberties with himself that cannot be given to others. He will be even more strict with himself than with his fellow workers. Undue freedom in the use of his automobile at conference or institutional charge will be guarded. Expense reports will be consistent with his duties and travel. Personal extravagances will be shunned, and debts strictly avoided.
The life of a treasurer or a manager in every particular in which finances are concerned should be exemplary of the true eminence of his position. In no point should he be found compromising the highest standard of integrity ; and he will shrink from the thought of using any money not his own for individual advantage, or for trafficking in any way for personal benefit.
Much of the temptation to play loosely with funds on the part of treasurers or accountants would be removed by a few simple requirements and limitations placed about them by controlling boards or executive committees. Laxness in this may sometimes be a contributing cause of disaster.
Following is a list of simple safeguards within the power of any committee to adopt as its standard. These suggestions largely comprise matters of routine, and call for no added equipment and but little extra time. A good treasurer will welcome such safeguards, and a careless treasurer or manager may need them badly.
1. All receipt books should be numbered consecutively, and only numbered carbon receipt books used.
2. Carbon duplicate receipts should be written for all income, or the original letter of form accompanying the money should be filed, or a cash register should be used.
3. Funds should be deposited in the bank if possible on the day received.
4. As far as possible, payments should be made by check.
5. Small payments over the counter should be from a petty cash or imprest fund, and receipted vouchers should be taken for all payments.
6. It is a dangerous practice to leave signed checks for someone else to fill out. A better method is to secure authorization for the accountant or a trusted clerk to sign checks for a limited time if the treasurer must be absent, holding him accountable for bank transactions during this period.
7. Cash should be balanced daily, and a detailed record kept of the count.
8. No personal slips for money drawn should be allowed in the cash drawer.
9. Overdrafts on personal accounts should be discouraged, and should be allowed in emergencies only by committee action.
10. When funds are drawn for expenses, these should be charged to the employees' personal account, or an account especially opened for this purpose, and the worker should be held personally responsible for the amount until a satisfactory report is rendered.
11. Securities and investments should be purchased and sold only upon action of the controlling board or committee, or of a special responsible committee created for this purpose.
12. A complete record should be made of the purchase and sale of all investments and securities, and this record should be available to the governing board or committee.
13. Where safe-deposit boxes are maintained for the keeping of securities and other valuable documents, it should be arranged with those in charge of such service for two authorized persons to be present to gain admittance to such boxes and their contents.
14. Two signatures should appear on all notes issued by conference corporations or institutions, and these should both be signed at the time the notes are written, and not in advance.
15. In case the wife of a treasurer, manager, or president must be employed, it is well that this be in some capacity other than as an assistant in the treasury or business office. Care should be taken not to make the office a family affair.
16. The work in a cashier, accountant, or treasurer's office, where two or more persons are engaged, may be so planned that one worker will automatically check against another. Occasional interchange of duties is profitable to keep workers prompt and accurate in their assignments.
17. The bonding of treasurers, cashiers, or managers is often a desirable practice.
Although not ranking first in importance in the scale of religious activities, Seventh-day Adventist business interests are vital factors to the orderly and efficient progress of the gospel message. Workers engaged in financial affairs are stewards for God, and are accountable to their constituencies and to the Giver of all, for their personal relationships to His cause. The sincere in heart will solicit the help and the safeguards which will make their service the most effective.
The world and the work of God are always asking for "men who are not for sale; men who are honest, sound from center to circumference, true to the heart's core; men who will condemn wrong in friend or foe, in themselves as well as in others; men who fear nothing but God and hate nothing but sin; men whose consciences are as steady as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right if the heavens totter and the earth rocks ; men who can tell the truth and look the world and the devil right in the eye; men who neither brag nor run; men who neither flag nor flinch; men who can have courage without shouting it ; men in whom the courage of everlasting life runs still, deep, and strong; men who do not cry nor cause their voices to be heard in the streets, but who will not fail nor be discouraged till judgment is set in the earth ; men who know their message and can tell it ; men who know their places and can fill them; men who know their business ; men who will not lie; men who are not too lazy to work nor too proud to be poor ; men who are willing to eat what they have earned and wear what they have paid for ; it is always safe to trust those who can trust themselves, but when a man suspects his own integrity, it is true he is suspected by others; moral degradation always begins at home; honesty is never gained nor lost suddenly or by accident; moral strength or moral weakness takes possession of us by slow and imperceptible degrees."—The Royal Path of Life.