Sometimes, after these workers have borne the burden and the heat of the day, and by patient, persevering effort have established a school or a sanitarium, or some other interest for the advancement of the work, the decision is made by their brethren that some other man might do better, and therefore that he is to take charge of the work they have been doing. In some cases the decision is made without giving due consideration and due credit to those who have borne the disagreeable part of the work, who have laboured, and prayed, and striven, putting into their efforts all their strength and energy.
God is not pleased with this way of dealing with His workers. He calls upon His people to hold up the hands of those who build up the work in new and difficult
places, speaking to them words of cheer and encouragement.
In their ardour, their zeal for the advancement of the cause, these workers may make mistakes. They may, in their desire to get means for the support of needy enterprises, enter into projects that are not for the best good of the work. The Lord, seeing that these projects would divert them from what He desires them to do, permits disappointment to come upon them, crushing their hopes. Money is sacrificed, and this is a great grief to those who had fondly hoped to gain means for the support of the cause.
While the workers were straining every nerve to raise means to help them over an emergency, some of their brethren were standing by, criticising and surmising evil, putting a prejudicial construction on the motives of the heavily burdened labourers, and making their work more difficult. Blinded by selfishness, these faultfinders did not discern that their brethren were sufficiently afflicted without the censure of men who had not borne heavy burdens and responsibilities. Disappointment is a great trial, but Christian love can turn the defeat into victory. Reverses will teach caution. We learn by the things we suffer. Thus we gain experience.
Let care and wisdom be shown in dealing with workers who, though they have made mistakes, have manifested an earnest, self-sacrificing interest in the work. Let their brethren say, "We will not make matters worse by putting another in your place, without giving you opportunity to retrieve your mistake, and to stand on vantage-ground, free from the burden of unjust criticism." Let them be given time to
adjust themselves, to overcome the difficulties surrounding them, and to stand before angels and men as worthy workers. They have made mistakes, but would those who have questioned and criticised have done better? To the accusing Pharisees Christ said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone." [1 JOHN 8:7.]
There are those who are premature in their desire to reform things that to them appear faulty. They think that they should be chosen to take the place of those who have made mistakes. They undervalue what these workers have done while others were looking on and criticising. By their actions they say: "I can do great things. I can carry the work forward successfully." To those who think they know so well how to avoid mistakes, I am instructed to say, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." [2 MATT.7:1.] You might avoid mistakes on some points, but on other things you are liable to make grave blunders, which would be very difficult to remedy, and which would bring confusion into the work. These mistakes might do more harm than those your brethren have made.
The instruction given me is that the men who lay the foundation of a work, and who, in the face of prejudice, fight their way forward, are not to be placed in an unfavourable light, in order that others may take their places. There are earnest workers who, in spite of the criticisms of some of their brethren, have moved forward in the work that God said should be done. Should they now be removed from their position of responsibility, an impression would be made that would be unjust to them, and unfavourable to the work,
because the changes made would be looked upon as a justification of the unjust criticisms made and the prejudice existing. The Lord desires that no move shall be made which would do injustice to those who have laboured long and earnestly to build up the work given them.
Many changes are made that might better never be made. Often, when workers become discontented, instead of being encouraged to stay where they are and make a success of their work, they are sent to another place. But they take with them the same traits of character that in the past have marred their work. They will manifest the same unChristlike spirit; for they have not learned the lesson of patient, humble service.
I plead for a different order of things. Changes must be made in the groups of workers in our conferences and institutions. Men of efficiency and consecration must be sought for and encouraged to connect with the burden-bearers as helpers and co-labourers. Let there be a harmonious union of the new and the old, in the spirit of brotherly love. But let not changes of management be made abruptly, in such a way as to bring discouragement to those who have laboured earnestly and successfully to bring the work to a degree of progress. God will not sanction anything done to discourage His faithful servants. Let the principles of justice be followed by those whose duty it is to secure the most efficient management for our publishing houses, our sanitariums, and our schools.
God calls for workers. The cause needs men who are self-made, who, placing themselves in the hands of the Lord as humble learners, have proved
themselves workers together with Him. These are the men that are needed in the ministry and in the school work. Let those who have shown themselves to be men move out, and do what they can in the Master's service. Let them step into the ranks of workers, and by patient, continuous effort prove their worth. It is in the water, not on the land, that we learn to swim. Let them fill with fidelity the place to which they are called, that they may become qualified to bear still higher responsibilities. God gives all opportunity to perfect themselves in His service. . . .
God has endowed some of His servants with special talents, and no one is called upon to disparage their excellence. But let none use their talents to exalt self. Let them not regard themselves as favoured above their fellow-men, nor exalt themselves above other sincere, earnest workers. The Lord looks upon the heart. He who is most devoted to God's service is most highly esteemed by the heavenly universe.
Heaven is watching to see how those occupying positions of influence fulfil their stewardship. The demands upon them as stewards are measured by the extent of their influence. In their treatment of their fellow-men, they should be as fathers,--just, tender, true. They should be Christlike in character, uniting with their brethren in the closest bonds of unity and fellowship.-- "Testimonies for the Church," Vol. VII, pages 277-282 .