There is great importance attached to the starting in right at the beginning of your work. I have been shown that the work in__________ 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. We are glad that there are men who will enter into our mission fields who are willing to work with small remuneration. Money does not weigh with them in the scale against the claims of conscience and duty, to open the truth to those who are in the darkness of error in far-off countries for the love of Christ and their fellow men.
The men who will give themselves to the great work of teaching the truth are not the men who will be bribed with wealth or frightened by poverty. But God would have His delegated servants constantly improving. In order for the work to be carried forward with efficiency, the Lord sent forth His disciples two and two. God has a church, and these churches are organized on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.
No one man's ideas, one man's plans, are to have a controlling power in carrying forward the work. One is not to stand apart from the others and make his plans and ideas the criterion for all the workers. There is to be with the individual members sent forth together a board or counsel together. One is not to stand apart from the others and argue his own ways and plans; for he may have an education in a certain direction, and possess certain traits of character, which will be detrimental to the interests of the work if allowed to become a controlling power.
The workers are not to stand apart from one another, but work together in everything that interests the cause of God. And one of the most important things to be considered is self-culture. There is too little attention given to this matter. There should be a cultivation of all the powers to do high and honorable work for God. Wisdom may be gained in a much larger measure than many suppose who have been laboring for years in the cause of God, which no man has yet attained. There are men who have narrow ideas, narrow plans, and work in a narrow groove.
This will be the danger in entering a new field,—to plan and bring all the powers to bear to get along in the most inexpensive manner. Now, while the state of the treasury demands that there should be constant economy, there is danger of an economy which results in loss rather than gain. 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.
There are other truths, such as the non-immortality 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.
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____________ might have been much farther 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 that God would have them start in to make the very first impression the very best that can be made as far as they go, the work would have advanced more than it has.
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, "Not as though I had already attained: . . . but I follow after. . . . I press toward the mark." Phil. 3:12-14. It is constant advancement and improvement, and reformation that is to be made with individuals to perfect a symmetrical, well-balanced character.
Please remember the words of caution that I now give you. You all need a more perfect and symmetrical character than you now have. No one has ways and habits that do not need improvement, and if this improvement is not made with you all individually, if you are not constantly seeking for higher attainments in every way, you will greatly hinder the work of each other. There must be a continual advancement with ever-varying changes. New duties will arise, new fields of labor open before ,you, and thoroughly organized effort will bring success..
Reach the Higher Classes First
There is little that any of you can do alone. Two or more are better than one if there will be that humility that you will esteem each other better than yourselves. If any of you consider your plans and modes of labor perfect, you greatly deceive yourselves. Counsel together with much prayer and humbleness of mind, willing to be entreated and advised. This will bring you where God will be your Counselor. The work you are engaged in cannot be done except by forces which are the result of well-understood plans. If you undertake the work in a narrow, cheap plan, as they have done in — mission, it will be no more in place in than in any territory and will not be
wisdom in any large city.
There must be something ventured, and some risks run by those on the field of battle. They must not in every movement feel that they must receive orders from headquarters. They must do the best they can under all circumstances, all counseling together with much earnest prayer to God for His wisdom. There must be union of effort. There is much that will have to be planned for work in accordance with your experience, different from the habits and manners of those countries for whom you labor. Therefore, the necessity for perfect unity among yourselves. As a people we must march under our own standard.
Wherever, in reforms, we can connect with others in the countries to which we go, it will be advisable to do so, but there are some things you must do within yourselves, working in the armor which God has given you, not the armor of any one individual, but working together in Christian charity sand love. Let not any one of you belittle the importance of your mission, and lower the work by a cheap, inferior way of planning to get the truth before the people.
Work intelligently, wisely, unitedly. Let no special effort be made to magnify the men, but magnify the Lord, and let Him be your fear, your dread, and your sufficiency. Bring your minds up to the greatness of the work: Your narrow plans, your limited ideas, are not to come into your methods of working. There must be reform on this point, and there will be more means brought in to enable the work to be brought up to the high and exalted position it should ever occupy. There will be men who have means who will discern something of the character of the work, although they have not the courage to lift the cross, and to bear the reproach that attends unpopular truth. First reach the high classes if possible; but there should be no neglect of the lower classes.
But it has been the case that the plans and the efforts have been so shaped in many fields that the lower classes only are the ones who can be reached, but methods may be devised to reach the higher classes who need the light of truth as well as the lower classes. These see the truth, but they are, as it were, in the slavery of poverty, and see starvation before them should they accept the truth. Plan to reach the best classes, and you will not fail to reach the lower classes. There is altogether too much of putting the light under the bed or under the bushel, and not on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house. May the Lord give the workers true wisdom, and much of His Holy Spirit, that they may work in God's order, and may stand as high as possible in favor with God and with the people.
Let Dignity and Order Prevail
The Lord gave special directions in the arrangements of the encampment of the Israelites in regard to how the camp should be arranged. All was to be done with perfect order. Each man had his appointed work. No one man was to do it all, but each man had a specified work and was to attend to that work faithfully and critically, that the order and harmony and exalted character of the work should make decided impressions on the nations around them, showing to these nations that Israel had a Governor who was the Lord Himself. Thus the work and character of God would not stand inferior or belittled in the eyes of the nations who served other gods. The one object to be kept before the mind is that you are reformers, and not bigots.
In dealing with unbelievers, do not show a contemptible spirit of littleness ; for if you stop to haggle over a small sum, you will, in the end, lose a much larger sum. They will say, "That man is a sharper ; he would cheat you out of your rights if he possibly could, so be on your guard when you have any dealing with him." But if in deal a trifle in your favor is placed to the favor of another, that other will work with you on the same generous plan. Littleness begets littleness, penuriousness begets penuriousness. Those who pursue this course do not see how contemptible it appears to others, especially those not of our faith ; and the precious cause of truth bears the stamp of this defection.
We are not to make the world's manner of dealing ours. We are to give to the world a nobler example, showing that our faith is of a high and elevated character. Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you. Let every action reveal the nobility of truth. Be true to your faith, and you will be true to God. Come close to the Word, that you may learn what its claims really are. When God speaks, it is your duty to listen and obey. Remember that everything in the world is judged by appearances ; therefore, study carefully the Word of God, and see that the words of instruction given to ancient Israel affect your arrangements and plans. While you shall not conform to the world, remember that our faith bears the stamp of singularity, and makes us a peculiar people. Therefore, all odd notions and individual peculiarities, and narrow plans, that would give false impressions of the greatness of the work, should be avoided. None of the workers should manufacture crosses and duties; for the Bible has given the-rule, the cross, the-way.
Let none of you feel that you are above temptation, that you have good principles, and need fear nothing from yourselves or the work which you have to do. Be jealous of yourselves. You need to humble your hearts constantly before God, that human depravity shall not neutralize your work. Do not cultivate habits of singularity, but obtain Christ's mould every day you live. Study the Pattern. Every one of you united in this missionary work, both our brethren and sisters who act a part in it, are men and women of strong wills. This is as it should be, if each has practiced equal self-control. But this lesson has not been learned as thoroughly as it should be. If you are willing to learn meekness and lowliness of heart in Christ's school, He will surely give you rest and peace.
It is a terribly hard struggle to give up your own will and your own way. But this lesson learned, you will find rest and peace. Pride, selfishness, and ambition must be overcome ; your will must be swallowed up in the will of Christ. The whole life may become one constant love sacrifice, and every action a manifestation, and every word an utterance of love. As the life of the vine circulates through stem and cluster, descends into the lower fibers, and reaches to the topmost leaf, so will the grace and love of Christ burn and abound in the soul, sending its virtues to every part of the being, and pervading every exercise of body and mind.
Again I would urge upon [you] the necessity from the very first establishment of your work, to 'commence in a dignified, Godlike manner, that you may give character to the influence of the truth which you know to be of heavenly birth. But 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 evil of the heart for the good seed of truth.
You will obtain the confidence of the people by working to obtain acquaintance with them. But keep up the elevated character of the work. Let the publications, the papers, the pamphlets, be working among the people, and preparing the minds of the reading class for the preaching of the truth. Let no stinted efforts be made in this line, and the work, if commenced wisely and prosecuted wisely, will result in success. But do be humble and teachable, if you will teach others, and lead others in the way of truth and righteousness. —ELLEN G. WHITE Letter 14, 1887.