FIVE times I started this article—and five times I discarded the manuscript. Each time it was replete with well-chosen quotations, pointed suggestions, and logical conclusions. I was not satisfied, however, because it sounded too much like a sermon or a lecture. It did not sound convincing, and seemed a poor way to communicate with my fellow ministers. Almost in desperation I decided to share with you what the Spirit of Prophecy has meant to me and my ministry.
Too often I used the Spirit of Prophecy writings to silence an opponent, to stimulate and prod church members, to clinch an argument, or as reference material from which to gather statements in support of a doctrine. As you read my testimony in this article, however, I want you to realize how the Spirit of Prophecy has been a source of constant strength and encouragement to me. Only when I stopped looking for passages to quote or to read to others, and started to read it for what it might say to my own soul, did I find the enrichment promised by the Lord. I found its pages to be an unerring counselor and guide, a stimulus and revealer of hidden and unlovely things in my life, and a comfort and balm for my bruises and bumps. Moreover, I began to realize that it would actually help me to know myself and how to relate to my work, to problems, and to individuals all around me.
For Peace of Mind
It became clear why the prophet had said in 2 Chronicles 20:20: "Believe his prophets, and you will succeed" (R.S.V.). I wanted to succeed as a minister and to be contented and happy regardless of setbacks, failures, differences of opinion concerning policy or methods, et cetera. If the Spirit of Prophecy is designed to help me succeed, I asked myself, how specific is the instruction? I was amazed at what I discovered!
I found the servant of the Lord had clearly outlined how I could meet and conquer hostilities and frustrations, and how to adjust to circumstances without compromise of self-respect or principle or the need of psychiatric suggestion. What precious gems I found to stabilize my attitudes and offer therapeutic balm for a healthy outlook on life!
On the subject of healthful living, for instance, I found five invaluable volumes. Tested and effective ways to really live are offered for all who are willing. The value of exercise, fresh air, sunlight, water, trust in God, a vegetarian diet, resulting in clear minds, cheerful dispositions, good judgment, endurance and zest for living, a radiant face, calm nerves, and a sweet stomach are all emphasized. How reassuring to have instruction that keeps me from getting caught in the fires of fanaticism or the ice of indifference.
It Was All There
I found that the Spirit of Prophecy provided rich and practical guidance in methods of soul winning; how to make prayer meetings interesting; how to hold the youth in the church; what approaches to take in counseling; what to emphasize in preaching; how to be a shepherd and lead souls to a decision; how to schedule my day so as to find time for prayer and study; how to treat and train interns and young ministers; how to keep from being dismayed and overwhelmed by great metropolitan areas; how to assist those who are struggling with affliction, sorrow, or guilt; why we have so little influence on unconverted relatives and close associates; how to handle those who feel they are intellectuals and thought originators of new theories and new light; what part nature study should play in the life of a Christian; and what kind of illustrations to use so as to best interpret the incomprehensible mysteries of divine love, salvation, and eternal life. It was all there!
As an administrator I have found so much to make my ministry more effective, such as how to be thoughtful, kind, and fair; how to motivate toward great objectives and goals; what to do when men need to be disciplined; how to mix justice and mercy; how to keep from abusing authority; how to instill confidence, trust, loyalty, and a team spirit in workers and members; how to relate to government and laws of the land; what attitudes to have toward the wealthy, cultured, and influential of earth; how to keep clear the true purpose and scope of institutions; how to guard against the ever-present dangers of compromise and conformity; what position to take in connection with race relations, national customs, and the dignity and worth of a soul, regardless of color, language, religious background, or country of origin; and the fact that an administrator must also be a pastor and soul winner.
This is but a sample of what the Lord has provided to help me in making my ministry a success. How could I be anything but happy and optimistic? What other group of ministers has the security and benefit of a divine commentary designed to meet every emergency and every situation?
In Testimonies, volume 4, page 330, we are told that some men have more confidence in themselves than in the Spirit of Prophecy. Herein lies our peril. Most do not know or else have only a vague idea of the treasure we really have in the writings of Ellen G. White, messenger of the Lord. Let me. invite you, yes, urge you, to rekindle an interest to read and study, and thus sense anew the marvelous gift we have in these precious volumes. This is my simple but sincere affirmation of the truthfulness of the promise, "Believe his prophets, and you will succeed."