Industry and energy are closely related, but there is a clear distinction between them. Energy is inherent in the power, force, strength, resolution, vitality, and forcefulness that accompany action. It is the inward drive that keeps a person moving forward to accomplish things. We cannot think of power or accomplishment without thinking of energy. The most powerful force in nature is called atomic energy.
We are told to "covet earnestly the best gifts"; we should pursue them until they become our own. Talents and gifts are given only to those who make the proper use of them. This kind of coveting is not condemned in the Scriptures, but rather is commended. Everything depends on the motive that inspires the desire, and the use made of that which is obtained.
Motives are, therefore, more important and fundamental than actions. In the final judgment the Lord will render His decisions on the basis of the incentives that inspired the words and actions. It is for this reason that no person can justly judge another, for he cannot read the mind. The minister should pray earnestly for pure motives and a clear conscience, and the needed energy of mind and body to accomplish the work to which he has dedicated his life and for which he was set apart by ordination.
Just as "faith without works is dead," so energy without industry is worthless. The wise man said: "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings" (Prov. 22:29). Benjamin Franklin said that his father often reminded him of this proverb, with the remark, "Now, Ben, if you are energetic and industrious, you w'll someday stand in the presence of kings." Near the close of his life Benjamin Franklin said that he had enjoyed the privilege of standing before five kings and dining with three of them. He was noted for his energy and industry. The following are two of his many trite sayings: "When the devil sees a man idle, he puts him to work, and pays him wages. "He that riseth late must trot all day and will scarce overtake his duties at night."
The modern ministry needs the meekness and dedication of the apostle Paul, who after acknowledging that he had not yet attained his goal in knowledge and attainments said, "But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13, 14).
Although energy is the prerequisite of industry, neither can accomplish its mission without divine aid. Note the following:
Some reason that the Lord will by His Spirit qualify a man to speak as He would have him; but the Lord does not propose to do the work which He has given man to do. He has given us reasoning powers and opportunities to educate the mind and manners. And after we have done all we can for ourselves, making the best use of the advantages within our reach, then we may look to God with earnest prayer to do by His Spirit that which we cannot do for ourselves, and we shall ever find in our Saviour power and efficiency.—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 405.
In this work cooperation is essential to success.
The following statement is to the point:
Never think that you have learned enough, and that you may now relax your efforts. The cultivated mind is the measure of a man. Your education should continue during your lifetime; every day you should be learning and putting to practical use the knowledge gained....
Whatever your work, do it with exactness, with diligence; overcome the inclination to seek an easy task...
Those who desire a fixed amount to do and a fixed salary, and who wish to prove an exact fit without the trouble of adaptation or training, are not the ones whom God calls to work in His cause. Those who study how to give as little as possible of their physical, mental, and moral power are not the workers upon whom He can pour out abundant blessings. Their example is contagious. Self-interest is the ruling motive. Those who need to be watched, and who work only as every duty is specified to them, are not the ones who will be pronounced good and faithful. Workers are needed who manifest energy, integrity, diligence, those who are willing to do anything that needs to be done....
Man can shape circumstances, but circumstances should not be allowed to shape the man. . . We are to master them, but should not permit them to master us.
Men of power are those who have been opposed, baffled, and thwarted. By calling their energies into action, the obstacles they meet prove to them positive blessings. They gain self-reliance. Conflict and perplexity call for the exercise of trust in God and for that firmness which develops power.—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 499, 500.
The following are descriptions of those who lack energy and industry: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man" (Prov. 6:6-11).
"I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and consid-
ered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction" (Prov. 24:30-32).
Here is a striking description of the farm, vineyard, or orchard of a lazy man, and his indolence is easily recognized by all who pass along the highway. It is also a graphic picture of the pastorate of a lazy minister. A vineyard or orchard is the symbol of the church, and the minister is the vinedresser, or caretaker. He needs energy and initiative in order to properly fulfill his divinely appointed mission.
Someone has said that "there are no problems too hard to solve, but there are many preachers too indolent to solve them." In answer to a severe criticism of General Grant, Abraham Lincoln said: "He is not easily excited, and he has the grip of a bulldog. When he once gets his teeth in, nothing can shake him off." The minister needs that kind of energy and persistency. He should daily pray, "Lord, keep me alive while I am still living," and he might add, "and keep me from fossilizing."
The writer asked a doctor friend whether he knew a certain old physician, and received this response: "Yes, I knew him twenty years before he fossilized." Altogether too many preachers fossilize both spiritually and intellectually years before they should cease making progress. It is the Lord's plan that the mind should keep functioning and developing as long as there is life in the body, and many demonstrate that this can be done. There should never be a retirement from spiritual and mental vitality and progress.
Timely sermons do not come by inspiration alone, but also by perspiration. Soul-gripping messages never issue from the lips of mentally or spiritually indolent preachers. They come from men who are fully dedicated to God and to the work He has given them to do. Dr. James Stewart says:
The servant of the evangel—more than anyone else, more than scientist, artist, composer or man of affairs—must be possessed, heart and mind and soul, by the momentous enterprise that has laid its compulsion upon him. It would be unnecessary to emphasize this were it not that slackness is such an insidious peril. This common sin has beggared the rich promise of many a ministry and blunted the cutting edge of its spiritual power. The very conditions of a minister's work—which put into his own hands the control of his time and the ordering of his days—impose a peculiar responsibility. If he fritters time away in idleness, if he squanders in desultory reading of the newspaper and magazine reviews those precious morning hours that ought to be rigorously safeguarded for wrestling with the Word of God . . he damages his troth to Christ and dishonors his high calling.—Heralds of God, p. 195. (Published by Charles Scribner's Sons.)
Brethren, let us awake to the responsibilities that are ours, by using profitably the precious hours of every day in energetic and industrious work and study for the people who look to us for spiritual help and inspiration. It is true that many of us are under pressure much of the time with promotion work, committee meetings, visiting, et cetera. But, like Paul, let us say, "This one thing I do," and put all our energy and power into preparation and the preaching of the Word