MRS. BALLINGTON BOOTH relates the story of her little boy looking at a copy of the Salvation Army War Cry. He was fascinated by the picture of a boat in the midst of the sea. All around it were frantic, struggling, gasping, sinking men and women. In the rear of the boat stood General William Booth reaching out his hand to the drowning. His grandson, who was only a few years old, looked and looked at the picture, deeply interested in it. At last, he said, "Mamma, what is Grandpa doing? Is he trying to get people into the boat, or is he shaking hands with them?"
I have often asked myself that question: "Why was I ordained anyway—to shake hands with people or to get them into the boat?" There are many things we can do to keep more than busy in our work, but there is one thing we're appointed to do.
Fordyce Detamore tried never to leave a home without prayer when he was engaged in evangelistic visiting. There was one day, however, that almost proved to be the exception to his rule. He drove up to a home where there were many cars in the driveway and people out in front. Obviously friends or loved ones were visiting and although he had made a covenant with the Lord never to leave a home without prayer, there is always the exception to the rule, he thought, and perhaps this time he'd better make an exception. After completing his visit he decided to go ahead and pray anyway. The woman he had come to visit later shared with Elder Detamore what transpired after he had departed. One of the people who had been visiting at that home that day made this confession. "When my minister comes to visit he cracks jokes; but when your minister left your place he prayed for you! I appreciate that." What if Fordyce Detamore had made an exception to the rule that one time? Paul made it plain, "This one thing I do."
One conference president who was for years a successful evangelist tells of an experience he and a local pastor had as they came to the home of a backslid den Adventist wife during the course of an afternoon's visits. As the two men approached the house, the evangelist said to the pastor, "Now, why don't you lead out here this time?" The two men entered the home and for a few minutes the pastor beat around the bushes. The nonbelieving husband was seated nearby and the evangelist could see that he was getting nervous. Feeling that the interview was failing, he quickly interrupted the proceedings and spoke directly to the wife. "Have you ever thought of coming back to the church?" "Yes," she said, "I have.' As a consequence of the evangelist's kind but direct approach to the problem the woman was rebaptized. Later he saw her again and asked this question, "When we visited you that day were you shocked that we were so direct with you?" "Oh, no," she re plied. "1 knew just where you stood and what was on your mind."
We need to know exactly where we stand and what we're doing as workers for God. Especially to day, when increasing numbers of Protestant and Catholic pastors are leaving the ministry and their holy calling, we, as the "ordained of God," need to re-evaluate our priorities. Many of these pastors who are giving up their calling are simply tired of trying to do the impossible any longer—trying to raise all the goals and chair all the committees. They never really feel that they are doing that which they were ordained to do—and they throw in the sponge discouraged and defeated!
One Seventh-day Adventist minister puts it this way: "If I were ever asked to go back into pastoral work again, I would first have a meeting with the church board. I would confess a common sin that characterizes so much of the Adventist ministry, thinking that we can do every job in the church better than anyone else can do it. I would tell them that I would be happy to spend an entire day every week teaching the members to lead people to Jesus Christ in the homes! I would take members to the homes with me so they could see it happen! I want this to be a working and soul-winning church. You men are businessmen. All right, I am requesting that you put your most qualified layman in as chairman of the church board. Another qualified man is to act as chairman of the school board, and so on. There are perhaps half a dozen men on this board today who can do it better than I —so why don't we untie your hands and let you go to work?"
We believe that most church boards would respond to the challenge of a pastor who would share his passion for lost souls and state flatly but kindly that he intended to leave the business of the church to the better-qualified laymen.
Let us pray that our grandsons will not ask when they see us in action, "Mamma, what is Grandpa doing? Is he trying to get people into the boat, or is he shaking hands with them?"