Are Bible Instructors a Vanishing Breed?

A Ministerial secretary interviews a Bible instructor regarding her feelings about her work, and the importance she attaches to it.

-Ministerial secretary for the South American Division at the time this article was written

Probably the first question that comes to the mind of most is, Why did you choose this work?

Because I consider it the front-line work in the cause. Perhaps it is not the easiest, but without doubt it is one that produces the most lasting satisfaction.

What is that satisfaction?

Many times I have read the inspired declaration that says that Christ would have come to this earth for only one soul. I do not believe this to be an exaggeration. In my work I see many lives and homes remade as a result of the reception of the truth. When I think of the happiness of having been used as an instrument for the accomplishment of this miracle, I consider that the fruits of the work extend for years and years to succeeding generations who will grow to manhood and womanhood with another vision in life.

What has been your experience in working under the direction of various pastors? Do you remember one in particular who is highlighted by his virtues or by the manner in which he carried out his work?

Yes. I especially remember the first one with whom I worked. What an inspiration it was for me in beginning my work to discover that the interests felt captivated by the genuine consecration of the pastor! One of them said, "This man could not occupy an other position. He was born to be a pastor." I have worked with other pastors who seemed like real fathers. They were concerned that the work be good and ofttimes helped me visit the people. They were interested in my health, my financial situation, and in general, were aware of all my necessities. They knew the value of my work, and this fact filled me with courage and strengthened me for the battle.

In a special way I remember a pastor whom I appreciated for his dedication to the work of God. On a very cold winter day, when it was almost in tolerable to stand in the street, he gathered the Bible instructors together and said to us: "My friends, the days are very cold. I understand all that. But the work entrusted to us is the greatest given to mortals, that of rescuing souls for Christ. We must do this work with love, loyalty, sacrifice, and pleasure even though it is cold. If someone does not have a sufficiently warm overcoat I will help that one to acquire such and she may reimburse me when she is able. I have sold some things that I didn't need and I can help you." That was unforgettable; it revealed the love and affection of a real pastor.

What are the positive qualities you expect in a pastor as they relate to his spiritual life?

There are many qualities that I appreciate. One is integrity. That is to say, that he live what he preaches and is a fount of inspiration for the Bible instructors. Others include purity in his thoughts and acts; love enough for the work to give it first place in his life; that he love souls, that he be open-minded, not legalistic, but faithful to the principles and norms; patient; without anger; and that he know how to be prudent during those difficult moments in his treatment of the Bible instructor and the church. Also, I believe that it is important for him to realize that the Bible instructor is a soul to whom he is obligated to watch over the same as any other member of the church.

There are principles of ethics that help to maintain good relations. Are these very important in the ministry? Which virtues in this area do you especially appreciate in a pastor?

The field of ethics is quite vast. It has to do with relationships with the church, with the committee meetings, as well as with the Bible instructors. As far as the brethren are concerned, impartiality is expected. Everyone must receive the same friendliness. In a special way this is essential in the application of ecclesiastical discipline. The pastor must be upright, applying it impartially as needed, not to timid brethren alone. Besides, he should not make promises he cannot fulfill, thus gaining fame as a liar. He must respect another's opinions, encouraging and inspiring good ideas without attaching undue importance as to where they come from.

In the treatment of his fellow laborers he should be faithful, frank, communicative, and balanced. He should have confidence in them, offering counsel and guidance. Reproof or suggestions for improvement should not be administered in the hearing of those they do not concern. By this appreciation of our work he must stimulate us to action, progress, and overcoming. He should be courteous and a gentle man, not a "professional type."

There are situations where a pastor has both an intern and a Bible instructor as his colleagues. What recommendations do you have that might help him to avoid possible friction or the spirit of rivalry?

The Bible instructor hopes that the pastor will recognize and acknowledge her work along with that of the intern. People at times underrate the work of the Bible instructor because the intern's work is more visible to the public. The Bible instructor, I believe, should be a member of the church board. As one who knows most of the members well, she can be a great help. One pastor, when presenting new members to the board, invited me to the meeting. As the meeting began, he asked their pardon for having invited ,me, explaining that "she knows the candidates." To me that seemed unjust.

What about the organization of the work in the church? What help should the Bible instructor expect from the pastor?

There are few things more discouraging than to have to work under a pastor who doesn't want to work. Bible instructors expect the work to be organized and delegated in a fair way; that the pastor not keep the most promising and leave them with the difficult.

Some may ask, Is it the pastor's responsibility to provide the Bible instructor with work or should she look for it herself? We know that it is our duty to take advantage of each opportunity that presents itself to us, but sometimes we find ourselves in an almost agonizing situation, because we do not have interests and cannot see any preoccupation on the part of the pastor to secure any for us. For a Bible instructor, it is a tragedy not to have adequate work. We know that unless we have a great number of interests to study with it will be impossible to produce that which is expected of us. The pastor has other areas of output, but if we fail in this, our only area, we have nothing with which to justify our existence.

I believe that it is very important to respond immediately to the pleas for spiritual help from the interests. And it is gratifying to observe a pastor who does not look at his watch or his calendar before reacting to such cries for help. Even though the Bible instructor may have been the one most closely associated with these individuals, there are times when a visit from the pastor is necessary.

I like to work with a pastor who is on time for meetings and other appointments. In my opinion, this speaks well of him.

It is true that there are difficult moments in the experiences of all Bible instructors. Do you believe that the pastor can do something to help her in these crises?

In the duties of the Bible instructor can be found much happiness and satisfaction from rescuing souls for Christ. But there are also moments of discouragement and sadness that come when we realize that the harvest is not as great as it might have been. It is at these times that the Bible instructor needs the understanding and support of her superiors.

There is no doubt that our work is God's work, but it must not be forgotten that we are human and when we do the best within our capacity we like to be encouraged either personally or in some other way. Perhaps by way of a letter. There is nothing which motivates us to greater achievements in soul winning than a word of sincere appreciation. At the same time this brings to the church and to the interests a confidence in our work. There is no human being who is all good or all bad. And we are no exception. We know that we commit errors. But we also know that we get results.

Finally, an instructor wants to be a part of a team. We are daily surrounded by incredulity, doubt, problems, et cetera. How much we need to know that our pastor is interested in our work, so much so that he is willing to make visits with us. When there are triumphs they are ours, and when there are failures they also are ours. (Sometimes we feel that we are part of a team only when they want to know how many candidates we have for baptism.)

Do you believe there is something that could be done to augment the number of Bible workers?

1 believe there are two principal reasons why we do not have more women in this work. The first is that there are so few interested in using this method of saving souls. Then, too, the students in our colleges are attracted to other branches of work which they consider easier or offer greater financial returns, such as teaching, secretarial sciences, nursing, et cetera.

The second reason is, I believe, of a much more serious nature than the first. Too often there is not much demand for Bible instructors, and some finish college only to be employed in other occupations for which they have not really been trained or do not really have an interest or skills. What a paradox!

In my opinion, the solution is to inspire young women of talent and vocation to enter into the Bible ministry. This could be done through promotion campaigns in the local churches. At the same time measures could be taken to employ more Bible instructors, for, from the economical point of view, we are inexpensive; and from the output point of view, we are effective. Many souls have been brought to decisions through the instruction of Bible instructors. Ellen G. White, in commenting on their value, stated that we should have twenty where now there is only one.

There is a challenge here that should linger in the hearts of all of us. To the pastors who have the joy of a Bible instructor in their churches we recommend that they encourage her joyfully to fulfill her mission. To the administrators we would say, Make a place in the budget to have more consecrated women doing this holy work. And all of us can join in searching for those who could make the Bible instructors' work their life. We should urge them to receive a full preparation in college, then dedicate themselves to soul winning.

Let us not forget to pray often for these women of god, asking Heaven for strength and protection for them so that their mission might be completed.

Advertisement - Ministry in Motion 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
-Ministerial secretary for the South American Division at the time this article was written

February 1973

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Reverence or Sleep?

ONCE in a while an unfavorable comparison is made between our worship services with their crying babies, whispering adults, and irreverence, and another church that is noted for its absence of all three of these. A point does need to be made frequently that our services of worship are to be reverent, and common whispering and talking are entirely out of place. . .

Quotations From Prof. W F. Albright's Writings

SEPTEMBER 19, 1971, William Foxwell Albright died at the age of 80. With his passing the world of Biblical and archeological scholarship lost one of the greatest minds of recent times and probably the greatest orientalist who ever lived. . .

Seventh-day Adventists and the World Council

Since 1965 regular informal conversations have been taking place between Seventh-day Adventists and representatives of the World Council of Churches. From the very beginning it was made patently clear that there is no plan for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to become a member of the World Council. . .

Youth Spearhead Mormon Growth

BRIGHT young men in conservative dress slacks, white shirts, and ties, clean-shaven, hair trimmed well above the collar and ears, rigorously trained in the culture and language of the country, two by two (elder with elder), going from door to door; and likewise two by two (sister with sister), modestly dressed young women these are the missionary young people of the Mormon Church in all parts of the world. . .

Faith and Order, andthe New Ecumenical Approach

IS THE World Council of Churches, and in particular its Faith and Order Commission, shifting from a "churchly" ecumenical orientation to a more social-activism form of ecumenism? Has the Faith and Order Commission, traditionally concerned with doctrinal and theological issues, set a new course away from an essential interest in faith in God and unity of the church toward an over-preoccupation with ethical action programs in the world?

The Broadcast Interest

ONE of the most challenging and rewarding phases of evangelistic ministry is the spiritual fol low-up of the interest created by our use of the mass media. For Seventh-day Adventist pastors and lay men this is, specifically, the broadcast interest aroused and developed through the programs of Faith for Today, Voice of Prophecy, It Is Written, and other denominationally sponsored broadcasts. . .

Today's Religious Music Scene

THERE have always been varied opinions and tastes regarding music and its use for the many purposes of the church. Long be fore the Protestant Reformation the church fathers were struggling to maintain the purity of church music against what they felt to be secular elements. . .

Sermons From the Life and Teachings of Chirst

NEXT to a familiarity with the Bible itself as a source for sermons we have the Spirit of Prophecy books that help to illuminate the Bible. One called to preach can ill afford to be without these valuable volumes. Several of the books by Mrs. White can be especially helpful in the preparation of sermons. . .

Using Group Dynamics to Increase Baptisms

NUMEROUS experiments have shown that group discussions lead to better results than good lectures. People tend to make up their minds better when they talk things over than when they are told what to do. . .

Laodicea and the Latter Rain

YEARS come and go, decades pass into history, and still the long-sought harvest rain does not fall. Where is the latter-rain promise? What has happened to the prayers of our fathers? Will our own prayers never be effectual? Have we preached a message in vain? The answer lies in the heart of the Laodicean message . . .

The Church's Expectation of Medicine and Religion

IN THIS time of specialized medicine and of increasingly exacting spiritual ministry, very few individuals are qualified effectively to encompass both fields. This fact offers a challenge for Christian ministers and physicians to unite their special talents and continue the work of their Master who "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."1

Losing With Leo

FOR the first three weeks this past month everything really went well. I lost two pounds per week and almost began to think that it was going to be easier than it seemed at the start to follow the plan of losing gradually. People who lose more rapidly are more likely to regain lost weight quickly because it's harder to stay on the more drastic programs. My goal, as you may remember, was to lose five pounds a month, and I had bettered that in the first three weeks. . .

Are You Fit For the Ministry? (Part 2)

IT IS worth re-emphasizing that the purpose of an exercise program for the minister is not that of being able to outrun or out-swim a competitor, nor to develop a set of biceps or leg muscles of which we can be proud. The psalmist tells us that the Lord "delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man." 1

"Ye Are Not Your Own"

IN A thought-provoking article entitled "It's My Life, Isn't It?" in the October, 1968, Reader's Digest, Author Evan Hill proposed that one's life isn't entirely one's own. . .

What She Means to Me

I DISCOVERED many years ago that in the husband-wife team my wife was at least 50 percent of our effectiveness. Many men have succeeded in the ministry because a good wife stood by them and gave her full support to the pro gram of the church. Other men who tried and failed might have made it if only the home front had been secure. You and I have known husbands in both these categories. . .

Help Save Our Children

PARENTS, teachers, and ministers all wonder why we lose so many of our youth. Many theories have been offered, but as a teacher I have been impressed recently with the conviction that it is because we do not begin early enough the business of saving their souls. . .

More on Colossians 2:14 (Conclusion)

IN THE presentation last month did we not have an adequate back ground for an appraisal and understanding of the texts involved in Colossians and Ephesians? Were not the expressions Paul used familiar to those to whom he wrote? Did they not have their Old Testament Scriptures to confirm his words of counsel? Was he not putting in script the very language they understood? If so, they would know what the apostle meant when he mentioned that something was to be abolished. . .

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

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600