From time to time this movement has witnessed some rather unfortunate, costly, and embarrassing actions on the part of workers called to labor for the salvation of perishing souls. Sad, but true, there have been occasions when a worker has seemed to appoint himself as a one-man committee to test and question the right or the wisdom of the God-ordained body to request his services in another territory. There have been cases where a minister has attempted to be successful through belittling the man who preceded him. Still other tragedies have resulted from a worker's "don't care" attitude in dealing with the members. This is often due to a poor philosophy that one will be moved again in two years or less so why be careful concerning worker-member relationships.
While we thank God that these unfortunate experiences do not occur often, yet their occurrence at all is disappointing and should not happen in this movement. Surely the heart of the Lord is pierced and the courts of heaven hushed whenever division, selfishness, or an uncooperative spirit are manifested within His church on earth. A mixed front is presented to the world, the cause of soul winning is delayed, and often funds are expended unnecessarily when one takes upon himself the responsibility given to the appointed committee.
We certainly would not want to leave the impression upon our readers that the individual person concerned in a committee action should have no say as to where he goes or the type of work he does. A committee composed of converted, consecrated, understanding, and sympathetic men will take into account not only the needs of the task at hand but also the needs of the worker and his family under consideration. The cause of God flourishes under a cooperative spirit on the part of both committee and worker concerned.
Let us now direct our attention to some very basic and vital principles which should be frankly and seriously considered when a call comes through a committee that has given prayerful study to the needs of the work within a given territory.
First—Calls come through committees. Committees are largely made up of men chosen because of their knowledge of the work and its needs. God works through committees. Solomon wrote, "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Prov. 11:14).
Through the Holy Spirit, God gives wisdom to sincere men as they meet to make decisions regarding the work of the church. Long ago the servant of the Lord wrote, "I have been shown that no man's judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any one man. But when the judgment of the General Conference, which is the highest authority that God has upon the earth, is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be maintained, but be surrendered."—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 492. No doubt this movement would reap a more abundant harvest if all who are on its payrolls would believe that God speaks through committees. Is a committee infallible? No, but neither is the man who is called. While the committee is made up of human beings who have their weaknesses and individual sins to overcome, it is much more logical to see how God's voice could be heard through a group of praying men rather than by a solitary voice.
So let us establish this first and most important fact that God speaks through committees. Therefore, every consecrated worker will desire to accept God's call and serve in whatever sector of the vineyard He appoints.
Second—Accepting a call to a new responsibility should be looked upon as a challenge. It should be a challenge to join hands with divine and human agencies to advance the work in that new area of labor. A true worker will never attempt to be successful in the eyes of the brethren by degrading, criticizing, or casting any reflection on the one who preceded him. Belittling another fellow worker, his methods, his decisions, and the fruitage of his sincere endeavors accomplishes nothing but evil for this movement and gives evidence of a narrow, selfish, and bigoted mind on the part of the one who indulges in such a low and questionable trade. Note carefully the following statement: "There are some who point to others' faults and failures to direct attention from their own, or to gain credit for great zeal for God and the church."—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 59.
A Spirit-filled minister accepts the new assignment as a challenge to growth. He will support his predecessor in his honest endeavors, knowing that no two men think and work alike. When it comes to any obvious mistake or errors committed, the new leader will be kind, sympathetic, and understanding, recognizing that "if he sees the mistakes and faults of others, he will be responsible before God . . . if he does not set a better example."—Ibid., vol. 4, p. 650.
The dedicated worker will pray, study, plan, and work to bring about honest growth of the church in his appointed place. His concern is not for self. He seeks no moment for comparison with another. He exalts Christ and lives to serve mankind in such a way that the Master can one day say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:21).
Third—A call to service is a life calling. Every appointment should be accepted and entered upon with an attitude that "I may be laboring in this section of the vineyard until. Jesus comes. Therefore, I will prepare the ground, sow the seed, water, cultivate, weed, dress, prune, and harvest it, knowing that I may be the last workman to labor in this place before the coming of the Lord."
No man should accept a call and go to a new field with the idea that it makes no difference how he relates himself to the brethren or the world, since the committee will move him again in a year or two. This philosophy is both dangerous and disastrous. It results in a weak program, and souls are lost that might otherwise have been garnered for the Lord.
So let every worker labor in each assignment as if he would be there until Jesus returns. In so doing he will be more careful in his relationships with the members, for he may live and work with them until the end of time. He will be more thorough in his program of soul winning, for there may be no other reaper sent to that field.
Fourth—The ministerial calling is the highest calling given by God to man. Note these words: "There must be no belittling of the gospel ministry. No enterprise should be so conducted as to cause the ministry of the word to be looked upon as an inferior matter. It is not so. Those who belittle the ministry are belittling Christ. The highest of all work is ministry in its various lines, and . . . there is no work more blessed of God than that of the gospel minister."Ibid., vol. 6, p. 411.
Brethren, ours is a high, yes, the highest calling God gives to mortals. To be a medical worker, businessman, or any other profession may be noble, but the noblest and most blessed of all is that of the ministry.
In the past and even today there have been some who labored with somewhat of an inferiority complex, feeling that the ministry was not so respected a calling as some other lines. True, it has not been so respected as it should, but who has not respected it? It is man who has failed to recognize its high place.
Perhaps some of us are a bit responsible for the attitude some brethren have had toward the ministry. We may even be responsible for some of our youth turning away from this calling to other lines of endeavor. It may be they have not heard from us or seen in us a true manifestation of our high calling.
Paul said, "They glorified God in me" (Gal. 1:24). Is it not time for every minister in this cause to live so the same words can be said of us? More seasons of prayer, a larger spirit of service, and an earnest desire to see the work finished in this generation should characterize the attitudes and labors of every Seventh-day Adventist minister.
John wrote, "These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand" (Rev. 2:1). God's ministers are instruments in His hand to accomplish an appointed task through His power. "Let those who are as stars in the hand of Christ remember that they are ever to preserve a sacred, holy dignity. They are Christ's representatives." —Ibid., p. 414. Under the power of the Holy Spirit may every worker arise and shine in the beauty and dignity of Christ. As we surrender our lives completely to His service, He will speak to us and through us. Souls will be warned and saved through the ordained cooperative effort of Christ, the committee, the brethren, and us.