A WORKER possessed of an excellent spirit is as unique as a spring in the desert. He is one who drinks daily of the living water and has become a fountain of life. A force of such workers is a great inspiration and a mighty power. Such men constitute a successful conference soul-winning program.
This excellent spirit is being seen and felt in certain quarters of the Lord's vineyard and contributes largely to the effectiveness of the work in these areas. Consequently this spirit is becoming increasingly the concern and object of discerning leaders.
Naturally the secret of this spiritual dynamic is good men. It follows then that such men are in demand. They always have been and they always will be. The Bible credits much of the appreciation shown to Daniel to his excellent spirit. "Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm" (Dan. 6:3).
So today, an excellent spirit in a worker is recognized by those in position of leader ship as a most important characteristic. Often when a committee is considering various men for an important and responsible assignment the spirit of the men is noted and usually carries the day. Whatever the responsibility—pastor, evangelist, Bible worker, or departmental man—the spirit of the individual is a most important qualification, often ranking above training or ability.
Attitude Toward Work
There are many traits that mark an excellent spirit in man. Heading the list is a factor that should need no emphasis; yet it does. It is hard work. A Christlike minister will always be a hard and faithful worker. The example left by our divine Example was one of ceaseless, self-sacrificing labor. "Throughout His life on earth, Jesus was an earnest and constant worker."—The Desire of Ages, p. 73.
The true spirit of a minister is often revealed by His attitude toward work. If a man is truly in love with his work, the brethren will seek to halt his driving pace rather than to pace his halting drive. The line separating a mediocre ministry and salutary service is usually crossed in the vehicle of extra effort. Leonardo da Vinci observed, "God gave us everything at the price of effort." He who works hard will never be without work and he who appreciates hard work will always be appreciated.
The discerning worker will always recognize the authority invested in conference leaders, and will strive to cooperate fully with them. This is not always easy. None of us like to be told what to do; however, the excellent spirit is a cooperative spirit.
Unnumbered forces often oppose a conference president and when a fellow worker joins this opposition the load be comes all the more unbearable. The conference president has a demanding and thankless task, but a minister can do much to uphold his hands and lighten his bur dens. Such a minister is like a glass of cold water to a thirsty traveler. Such a man is a prince and will be preferred above others as was Daniel.
Keeping God's work central in one's life is another important evidence of an excellent spirit. Inspiration and experience alike teach us to keep our avocations subordinate to our vocations. Situations some times develop that place us on a collision course with ministerial responsibility—get ting the young people to school, planning the vacation, et cetera. And circumstances may arise to take us away from our work at such a time as to bring us into conflict with the conference calendar. However, a wise worker will consider first his ministerial responsibilities. A conference leader is human and is disappointed and hurt when those in his charge fail to give their support. When he does not receive support he feels just as does a pastor when a key layman is missing at an important meeting or fails to give full support to a church program.
We realize that conference leaders are human and will make mistakes. Occasion ally a worker will be treated unfairly; how ever, this presents a golden opportunity for the demonstration of that excellent spirit. Should a worker be mistreated he will do well to bear it cheerfully and without complaint. Mrs. White speaks on this point:
We cannot afford to let our spirits chafe over any real or supposed wrong done to ourselves. Self is the enemy we most need to fear. No form of vice has a more baleful effect upon the character than has human passion not under the control of the Holy Spirit. No other victory we can gain will be so precious as the victory gained over self.—The Ministry of Healing, p. 485.
Abraham Lincoln understood this principle very well as illustrated in a letter to William H. Herndon on July 10, 1848: "There may sometimes be ungenerous at tempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed too if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about, and see if this feeling has not injured every person you have ever known to fall into it."
Finally, an excellent spirit will manifest itself in loyal support, publicly and privately, of conference goals and objectives. A man who comes to a workers' meeting unable or unprepared to report success in any program mitigates against the spirit of unity and cooperation among the entire working force. Bend every energy to realize your objective. Your work will be greatly appreciated and as a by-product your churches will develop a success complex that will carry them on to further achievements.
Conference leaders do expect too much of us and rightly so. This is the reason they are leaders, they lead. Weigh the following from the pen of inspiration:
Christian life is more than many take it to be. It does not consist wholly in gentleness, patience, meekness, and kindliness. These graces are essential; but there is need also of courage, force, energy, and perseverance. . . . Men of stamina are wanted, men who will not wait to have their way smoothed and every obstacle removed, men who will inspire with fresh zeal the nagging efforts of dispirited workers.—Ibid., p. 497.
Some who engage in missionary service are weak, nerveless, spiritless, easily discouraged. They lack push. They have not those positive traits of character that give power to do something—the spirit and energy that kindle enthusiasm.—Ibid.
The need for strong leadership is also expressed very clearly in the book Evangelism, page 19, "They must go as far and as fast as possible, with a determination to do the very things that the Lord has said should be done. They must have push."
Strong leadership is ordained of God. An aggressive program is God's design. Therefore depend on Him to give you more than success in every program and He will not fail. Some complain of too much pressure. Only a naive worker would declare there is no pressure. Our conference administrators are becoming increasingly concerned about pressures that stem from matters of secondary importance, and for the most part are seeking for means of eliminating these as much as possible. But the very nature of God's work is such that pressure will always be evident. To carry for ward the gospel against the accumulated evil of centuries will always demand the best of our energies, our thoughts, and our time.
God will enable us to be more than conquerors. He will do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. There is no need for any worker to become discouraged because of the burden of the work. If he does he is not trusting fully the Hand that knows not failure. Isaiah made this clear, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isa. 40:31).
May we all allow God to renew a right spirit—an excellent spirit—within us. When we do, the Spirit of God will totally possess our hearts. This Spirit will then permeate the hearts of our laity and the voice of a united church will swell the third angel's message to a loud cry. The dynamic spiritual power of this concerted effort will lighten the whole world with the glory of God's truth. Nothing will stand before. The work will go forward. It will be finished and Jesus will come to take the faithful of all ages home.