Essential Steps to Success in the Ministry-6


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

Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (300x250)

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus


October 1959

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

What Is Our Spiritual Inventory?

Morning devotional given by Elder Becker during the Spring Council.

How I Prepare Sermons

Dr. Lindquist, of the First Presbyterian church of Hollywood, California, was asked by Pastor L. C. Osborn how he prepared his sermons. This article is his very gracious reply.

The Bohemian Reformation

The Czechoslovakian, or Bohemian, people made as­tonishing contributions to the advance of the Protestant Reformation.

When to Take Advice

There is always someone ready and willing to give us advice on any decision we need to make. What should be our response to another's counsel?

What Darkness Cannot Dim

This article is one of a number supplied by the Ameri­can Bible Society in the promotion of its 16th annual world­wide Bible reading program. We believe in, support, and utilize the work of the great Bible societies. The pictures of Bible society colporteurs were also supplied by the American Bible Society.

Busy Here and There

God abhors excuses!

Music in the College and the Church

The study of music is an important part of the education given in our colleges, just as it was in the ancient schools of the prophets. But there are still strange misconceptions con­cerning the place of music in education.


Monthly pulpit pointer's by the Ministry staff.

A New Dawning in West Africa

An evangelistic report from West Africa

Alcoholism and the Seventh-day Adventist Church Part 1

One of a series of chapel talks given at Potomac Univer­sity while Dr. Beaven was dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

You are...

Is your life focused on soul winning?

Miraculous Healing

The monthly health evangelism column.

The Thrill of a Lifetime

What gives the pastor's wife the opportunity to be one of the happiest women in all the world?

The Continuity of the Weekly Cycle

How do we know that the day we now call the seventh is the same as the one that was ob­served as a rest day in Eden? Didn't it get lost somewhere along the line?

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated


Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (160x600)