SOLICITATION!—In this commercial world the principle of compqtition is dominant. It is a part of the world's stock in trade to try to entice through bargain offers—the best service, the most convenient location, the "most-for-your-money," or the best financial arrangements. That's the world's scheme of things. However, in the professional field doctors, dentists, lawyers, and other professionals who advertise their wares and achievements, and who solicit the patronage of the community by promising cures and offering gold crowns at low cost, are looked upon askance by the discerning. They are commonly called quack doctors and shyster lawyers. And one usually pays out more to them in the end. There are professional ethics to be observed. Doctors in good standing do not solicit patients from other doctors by personal contacts or written approaches. Reputable dentists do not exploit their latest equipment, their elegant waiting rooms, their large patient list, or their superior service. Their skill, their obvious interest in the welfare of their patients, their willing service, and their reasonable charges for competent service form the basis for their practice. Satisfied patients are their best advertisement. That is ethical. Extending the principle we would simply add that there are similar ethics in pastoral relationships. We do not build up one church by depleting others. We are a sisterhood, seeking to move forward together.
CULTURED!—We as ministers are always under observation. We are constantly watched, and our ways should ever be cultured and refined, both in speech and manner. Our table etiquette, for example, should neither cause our friends to be embarrassed nor disgust our acquaintances with our crudities. We should be able to be at ease with the most genteel and to create a good impression for the truth. We should be examples of Christian culture to our own flock and represent rightly our message to the world. It is unfortunate for the refined to have to respect us in spite of our manners—deliberately to overlook ways that offend their sensibilities. We may need to take ourselves in hand. We may need to study books on etiquette and have some competent teacher help us with our speech. There are ways that are appropriate and above reproach, and we should investigate them. This is especially true of young men who are still forming their habits and are just carving out their niche in the cause.
FOUNDATIONS!—There is definite danger in erecting tall superstructures without adequate supporting foundations. The larger the building towers above ground, the deeper must be the sustaining foundation, out of sight beneath the surface. Otherwise there is danger of disaster through sagging, collapse, or overturning. There are some who are ambitious of growth or prominence, of greater position or 'responsibility. But this calls for correspondingly deep foundations established through meticulous preparation, training, knowledge, and experience. Otherwise one tends to become top heavy, begins to lean, and occasionally to tumble. Many a minister has been thrust into greater responsibility, only to find his foundation to be inadequate, and has had to be withdrawn in favor of another who has a sufficient base for continuous growth and responsibility. Young men, enlarge and strengthen your foundations. Prepare, read, study, expand, grow. Do thorough work. Build solidly. Beware of mushroom growth. It is better not to have shot up so fast than to have a disproportionate surface growth without a corresponding underpinning.
TRADUCERS!—It is one thing to bring an excoriating charge of apostasy and disloyalty to the faith, or of infidelity to one's churchly truth against a minister who is living and who can answer for himself. He can declare his beliefs and, if deemed necessary, defend his course. It is, however, vastly different to traduce a deceased leader of this cause, one who was chosen by the church, blessed of God, and respected by his brethren, whose conduct, integrity, and leadership were above valid reproach while living. Post-mortem attacks, based on some doctrinal or personal difference, are cowardly and despicable. It is like striking a man when he is down, or mangling a person when he is mortally wounded. It is like waiting until a man has passed by, instead of facing him, and then shooting him in the back from ambush. Defamers of the good name and character of a deceased brother minister have sunk to a low level in moral obloquy. Slanderers of the dead lose the respect and confidence of their fellows. Assassins of the living are never too highly esteemed; what, therefore, can be said of assassins of the dead? Ungodly insinuations and assertions are cruel and wicked. Mayhem of a corpse is repulsive enough, but that is nought compared with mutilating a dead character. Let our honored dead rest in peace. Shame on reopeners of the grave!
L. E. F.