Today the race for first place among nations and men has become feverish and ruthless. The conviction spreads more and more that those only are happy who reach the top. Thus, for some, life goes on in joyless activity, in expectation of the hour when, at long last, they will become a chief, a president, a general, and be at the top of the ladder. Alas! Death, which was left out of the picture, very often destroys the cherished dreams with one blow.
Does the spirit of ambition threaten to deprive some of our workers of the joy that results from humble and faithful work in God's cause? We should remember that if our work for the Lord is accomplished in a spirit of contentment and accompanied by genuine consecration, there is none greater.
A man's work can be noble, not by virtue of the position he holds but by the spirit which he reveals while in it or while he is striving to attain it. A high position gained by ambition and a thirst for success is not to be compared with the humble work done in secret by countless men and women whose names may never appear in print, who probably will never be members of a committee, large or small, and who may go through life without attracting much attention. These humble ones, no doubt, will remain unknown to history, but in the last day Jesus will say to them: "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matt. 25:2).
The natural man does not understand these things. Only a knowledge of the gospel can bring to light the true values of life. We learn that it is not necessary to reach what some term the top of the ladder in order to find joy in God's work. From the very first day of starting his career the minister may have the assurance of having a part in the most sublime work ever entrusted to mortals.
A few weeks after I had entered the ministry I gave a Bible study to a woman who, shortly before, had become acquainted with the Advent message. Before we parted she asked me several questions and the following were included.
"Just what is your career? How many years does it take to reach the top?"
These questions were asked out of a sincere desire for information. Therefore I felt equally free to state: "Madam, I am happy to inform you that I have already reached the summit of my career." As the woman, quite astonished, looked at, me without understanding, I went on to explain.
"You see, in our organization, the most important and the most noble career is that of the ministry. There is no work more thrilling and satisfying to the man of God than that of opening mortal eyes to the light of the gospel. Everything else is but organization and administration. Of course, this part of God's work has to be taken care of, too, and so presidents, secretaries, executives, et cetera, are elected. However, the preaching of the gospel, be it in public or private, is to us the highest and noblest career to which a human being can devote his life. I had the privilege of studying God's Word with you today, and thus I have performed the highest function in the career of a preacher of the gospel. Do you understand, now, what I meant a few minutes ago when I said I was already at the height of my career? Oh, yes, we may be called to positions of responsibility which are often heavy and complex. But never can these be more important than the preaching of the gospel to those who do not know it and who may be looking for it."
Yes, brethren, in the unavoidable wheels of administration, in our relation to the function of church activities to which we may be called in our career, let us remember, and find joy in the fact, that the highest, the most noble privilege of the worker for God is that of setting forth the gospel to the Nicodemuses and Samaritans of our day and those whom God may send across our way.