The Work of the Pastor

by Ellen White

The words were spoken to me with impelling power: Wake up the watchmen to carry the word of warning to every city in America. Build up the waste places. The righteous judgements of God, with their weight of final decision, are coming upon the land. Do not hover over the churches to repeat over and over again the same truths to the people, while the cities are left in ignorance and sin, unwarned and unlabored for. Soon the way will be hedged up and these cities will be closed to the gospel message. Wake up the church members that they may unite in doing a definite and self-denying work. 10MR 216

We must not feel that we are compelled to hover over churches who have received the truth. We are not to spend our time doing detail work, but are to educate others, teaching them how to labour in right lines. We must not encourage the people to depend on ministerial help and labour to preserve spiritual life. Everyone who has received the truth must go to God for his individual self, and decide to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, and do true service for God. Those who have embraced the third angel's message must not make man their trust, depending upon the ministers to make their experience for them. They are to secure an individual experience by looking to God for themselves. 1NL 127

Some men have a special message from heaven. They are to be sent forth to waken the people, not to hover over the churches to their own detriment and the hindrance of the work of God. It does a church no good to have two or three ministers waiting upon it. Were these ministers to go forth to labour for those in darkness, their work would show some results. Let the experienced men take the young men who are preparing for the ministry and go forth into new territory to proclaim the message of warning. 2SM 156

Ministers in New York should have been far in advance of what they are. But they have not engaged in that kind of labour which called forth earnest effort and strong opposition. Had they done so they would have been driven to their Bibles and to prayer in order to be able to answer their opponents, and in the exercise of their talents would have doubled them. There are ministers in New York who have been preaching for years, but who cannot be depended upon to give a course of lectures. They are dwarfed. They have not exercised their minds in the study of the word and in meeting opposition, so that they might become strong in God. Had they, like faithful soldiers of the cross of Christ, gone forth "without the camp," depending upon God and their own energies, rather than leaning so heavily upon their brethren, they would have obtained an experience, and would now be qualified to engage in the work wherever their help is most needed. If the ministers generally in New York had left the churches to labour for themselves, and had not stood in their way, both churches and ministers would now be further advanced in spirituality and in the knowledge of the truth. 3T 049

Ministers of Christ should feel it a duty binding upon them, if they receive the hospitalities of their brethren or friends, to leave a blessing with the family by seeking to encourage and strengthen its members. They should not neglect the duties of a pastor, as they visit from house to house. They should become familiar with every member of the family, that they may understand the spiritual condition of all, and vary their manner of labour to meet the case of each. When a minister bearing the solemn message of warning to the world receives the hospitable courtesies of friends and brethren, and neglects the duties of a shepherd of the flock and is careless in his example and deportment, engaging with the young in trifling conversation, in jesting and joking, and in relating humorous anecdotes to create laughter, he is unworthy of being a gospel minister and needs to be converted before he should be entrusted with the care of the sheep and lambs. Ministers who are neglectful of the duties devolving on a faithful pastor give evidence that they are not sanctified by the truths they present to others and should not be sustained as labourers in the vineyard of the Lord till they have a high sense of the sacredness of the work of a minister of Christ. 3T 232

Ministers of God should be of good repute, capable of discreetly managing an interest after they have aroused it. We stand in great need of competent men who will bring honour instead of disgrace upon the cause which they represent. Ministers should be examined especially to see if they have an intelligent understanding of the truth for this time, so that they can give a connected discourse upon the prophecies or upon practical subjects. If they cannot clearly present Bible subjects they need to be hearers and learners still. They should earnestly and prayerfully search the Scriptures, and become conversant with them, in order to be teachers of Bible truth to others. All these things should be carefully and prayerfully considered before men are hurried into the field of labour. 4T 407

The people have not been educated to bear their testimonies as they should have been, although the Lord has been pleased to give much light upon this matter. There has been altogether too much preaching, and not enough pains taken to educate those who have newly come to the faith to speak and to pray, and learn how to do service for the Master. This kind of work is of far greater importance than is frequent preaching. It is a mistake for the preacher to do all the speaking. He should do faithful labour to teach the people who have not had an experience to learn how to speak, to learn how to pray in such a way that they may improve week by week.--Letter 54, 1894, pp. 10-12. (To Elder O. A. Olsen, June 10, 1894.) 5MR 350

[ Selection of Leaders ] The apostle Paul writes to Titus: "Set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God." It would be well for all our ministers to give heed to these words and not to hurry men into office without due consideration and much prayer that God would designate by His Holy Spirit whom He will accept.

Said the inspired apostle: "Lay hands suddenly on no man." In some of our churches the work of organising and of ordaining elders has been premature; the Bible rule has been disregarded, and consequently grievous trouble has been brought upon the church. There should not be so great haste in electing leaders as to ordain men who are in no way fitted for the responsible work-men who need to be converted, elevated, ennobled, and refined before they can serve the cause of God in any capacity. 5T 617

The churches that have not life in themselves, that have lost their spiritual discernment, call for ministers to come to their help, to bring them the breath of life. But the ministers have other work to do. They must carry the message of truth to those who know it not. Those ministers who hover about the churches, who have not a clear cut message, which, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts both ways, will do the churches harm. They will not work for the salvation of souls that are in great peril because they know not the truth, and they will die spiritually themselves, and trouble and discourage those who try to help them. . . . 6MR 065

Instead of keeping the ministers at work for the churches that already know the truth, let the members of the churches say to these labourers: "Go work for souls that are perishing in darkness. We ourselves will carry forward the services of the church. We will keep up the meetings, and, by abiding in Christ, will maintain spiritual life. We will work for souls that are about us, and we will send our prayers and our gifts to sustain the labourers in more needy and destitute fields. 6T 30

There must be no belittling of the gospel ministry. No enterprise should be so conducted as to cause the ministry of the Word to be looked upon as an inferior matter. It is not so. Those who belittle the ministry are belittling Christ. The highest of all work is ministry in its various lines, and it should be kept before the youth that there is no work more blessed of God than that of the gospel minister.

Let not our young men be deterred from entering the ministry. There is danger that through glowing representations some will be drawn away from the path where God bids them walk. Some have been encouraged to take a course of study in medical lines who ought to be preparing themselves to enter the ministry. 6T 411

Elder H used to live here and preach to the people, but he was not a shepherd of the flock. He would tell the poor sheep that he would rather be horse-whipped than visit. He neglected personal labour, therefore pastoral work was not done in the church and its borders. The deacons and elders of the church have acted wisely and worked judiciously to keep the church in order, and we find the people in a much better condition than we had expected. We are happily disappointed. But when I look over the years, and think of what might have been done, if the man entrusted with the flock had been a faithful steward of God, watching for souls as one that must give an account, my heart is made sad. Had the preacher done the work of a pastor, a much larger number would now be rejoicing in the truth. 9MR 343

The Lord has given to some ministers the ability to gather and to hold large congregations. This calls for the exercise of tact and skill. In the cities of today, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts. Ministers of God's appointment will find it necessary to put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes. And when they succeed in bringing together a large number of people they must bear messages of a character so out of the usual order that the people will be aroused and warned. They must make use of every means that can possibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly. The testing message for this time is to be borne so plainly and decidedly as to startle the hearers and lead them to desire to study the Scriptures. 9T 109

Summoning a meeting of the believers, the apostles were led by the Holy Spirit to outline a plan for the better organisation of all the working forces of the church. The time had come, the apostles stated, when the spiritual leaders having the oversight of the church should be relieved from the task of distributing to the poor and from similar burdens, so that they might be free to carry forward the work of preaching the gospel. "Wherefore, brethren," they said, "look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." This advice was followed, and by prayer and the laying on of hands, seven chosen men were solemnly set apart for their duties as deacons. AA 089

[ Go Forward. ] --When we open up the work in one field, and gather out a company, we consecrate them to God and then draw them to unite with us in building a humble house of worship. Then when the church is finished, and dedicated to the Master, we pass on to other fields. Distinct and plain the word has come to us, "Go forward," and just as soon as the warning message has been given in one place, and men and women raised up to continue the work there, we pass to the unworked parts of the Lord's vineyard. --< Letter > 154, 1899. EV 381

[ < On to New Fields > ] [ Church Members Taught to Stand Alone. ] --As I travelled through the South on my way to the conference, I saw city after city that was unworked. What is the matter? The ministers are hovering over churches which know the truth while thousands are perishing out of Christ.

If the proper instruction were given, if the proper methods were followed, every church member would do his work as a member of the body. He would do Christian missionary work. But the churches are dying, and they want a minister to preach to them.

They should be taught to bring a faithful tithe to God, that He may strengthen and bless them. They should be brought into working order, that the breath of God may come to them. They should be taught that unless they can stand alone, without a minister, they need to be converted anew, and baptised anew. They need to be born again.--< Manuscript > 150, 1901. EV 381

[ Aggressive Work Called For. ] --Our ministers should plan wisely, as faithful stewards. They should feel that it is not their duty to hover over the churches already raised up, but that they should be doing aggressive evangelistic work, preaching the Word and doing house-to-house work in places that have not yet heard the truth. . . . They will find that nothing is so encouraging as doing evangelistic work in new fields. --< Letter > 169, 1904. EV 382

[ Conference Workers Called to New Fields. ] --As a general rule, the conference labourers should go out from the churches into new fields, using their God-given ability to a purpose in seeking and saving the lost.--< Letter > 136, 1902. EV 382

If the ministers would get out of the way, if they would go forth into new fields, the members would be obliged to bear responsibilities, and their capabilities would increase by use.--< Letter > 56, 1901. EV 382

[ Ministerial Forces Exhausted on Established Churches. ] --Our people have had great light, and yet much of our ministerial force is exhausted on the churches, in teaching those who should be teachers; enlightening those who should be "the light of the world"; watering those from whom should flow springs of living water; enriching those who might be veritable mines of precious truth; repeating the gospel invitation to such as should be scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth, communicating the message of Heaven to many who have not had the privileges which they have enjoyed; feeding those who should be in the byways and highways heralding the invitation, "Come; for all things are now ready." Come to the gospel feast; come to the supper of the Lamb; "for all things are now ready." EV 382

Just as soon as the workers in California stop doing aggressive work, and hover over a few churches, treading on one another's heels, their light will go out. If you wish to retain the tithe in California, not using it in foreign fields, you must do aggressive work at home. You are not to be merely consumers, but producers. You should not merely absorb. You should sustain the work in every part of the world. GCB 04-05-01

I wish to tell you that soon there will be no work done in ministerial lines but medical missionary work. The work of a minister is to minister. Our ministers are to work on the gospel plan of ministering. It has been presented to me that all through America there are barren fields. As I travelled through the South on my way to the Conference, I saw city after city that was unworked. What is the matter? The ministers are hovering over churches, which know the truth, while thousands are perishing out of Christ. If the proper instruction were given, if the proper methods were followed, every church member would do his work as a member of the body. He would do Christian missionary work. But the churches are dying, and they want a minister to preach to them. They should be taught to bring a faithful tithe to God, that he may strengthen and bless them. They should be brought into working order, that the breath of God may come to them. They should be taught that unless they can stand alone, without a minister, they need to be converted anew, and baptised anew. They need to be born again. GCB APR.12,1901

My heart has been filled with sadness as I have looked over the field and seen the barren places. What does this mean? Who are standing as representatives of Jesus Christ? Who feels a burden for the souls who can not receive the truth till it is brought to them. Our ministers are hovering over the churches, as though the angel of mercy was not making efforts to save souls.

God holds these ministers responsible for the souls of those who are in darkness. He does not call you to go into fields that need no physician. Establish your churches with the understanding that they need not expect the minister to wait upon them and to be continually feeding them. They have the truth; they know what truth is. They should have root in themselves. These should strike down deeply, that they may reach up higher and still higher. They must be rooted and grounded in the faith. GCB APR.16,1901

Do not, my ministering brethren, allow yourselves to be kept at home to serve tables; and do not hover around the churches, preaching to those who are already fully established in the faith. Teach the people to have light in themselves, and not to depend upon the ministers. They should have Christ as their helper, and should educate themselves to help one another, so that the minister can be free to enter new fields. An important work is to be done in the world. New fields are to be opened; and the zeal and the missionary spirit that Christ manifested are greatly needed. Oh that the power of God would set the truth home to every heart! Oh that all might see the necessity of having a living connection with God, and of knowing and doing his will from day to day! HS 139

Our ministers are displeasing God by their feeble efforts to let the truths of His word shine forth to the world. Nothing so strengthens the churches as to see the work progressing in other portions of the vineyard. When the ministers understand the great blessing to be derived from labouring for those who know not the truth, they will leave the churches, after impressing upon them the importance of devising plans and methods whereby they can do within their borders the same kind of work that the ministers of the gospel are doing in the regions beyond. MM 317

Oh, what a work there is before us! Our ministers are not to hover over those who have received the message. With Christ's love burning in their hearts, they are to go forth to win sinners to the Saviour. Beside all waters God's messengers are to sow the seeds of truth. Place after place is to be visited; church after church is to be raised up. Those who take their stand for the truth are to be organised into churches, and then the minister is to pass on to other equally important fields. PUR 04-24-02

God has no use for those who seek a safe and easy place. By an unreserved consecration we are to prepare ourselves for God's service. Our ministers are not to hover over the churches, regarding the churches in some particular territory as their special care. Believers are to have root in themselves, striking firm root in Christ, that they may bear fruit to His glory. As one man, they are to strive to attain one object,--the saving of souls. Mrs. E. G. White. PUR 08-28-02

Who will now carry this burden? In view of the great needs all about us, who can be content to hover over our own churches, neither gaining nor imparting strength? Let those who have a living connection with God, go out and labour for unbelievers. We do not call for those who are half asleep to go in their present condition, but we beseech them to awake, to lay hold of the arm of infinite strength, and then go forth speaking the words of life. RH 07-16-08

The great object of our work is to carry the light to those who are in darkness. Our work is world-wide. God's delegated messengers are not to hover about the people who have been long in the truth. Altogether too much labour is devoted to the churches. God's people are not to depend on others to do their work for them. Let the Lord's messengers carry the triumphs of the cross into the regions beyond, calling upon the members of the church to send their prayers as sharp sickles into the harvest-field. Let the church appoint pastors or elders who are devoted to the Lord Jesus, and let these men see that officers are chosen who will attend faithfully to the work of gathering in the tithe. If the pastors show that they are not fitted for their charge, if they fail to set before the church the importance of returning to God his own, if they do not see to it that the officers under them are faithful, and that the tithe is brought in, they are in peril. They are neglecting a matter which involves a blessing or a curse to the church. They should be relieved of their responsibility, and other men should be tested and tried. RH 12-01-96

Soldiers of Christ are now wanted to push the battle to the front. Marshall under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, wear his armour, and press the battle to the gate. The gospel of the kingdom of Christ must go into new countries, and enter new provinces. We are labourers together with God. Brethren and sisters, why hover about the churches? Study the parable of the lost sheep, and go forth as true shepherds, seeking the lost one who is in the wilderness of sin. Rescue the perishing. RH 12-12-93

For the accomplishment of all that God calls for in warning the cities, His servants must plan for a wise distribution of the working forces. Often the labourers who might be a power for good in public meetings, are engaged in other work that allows them no time for active ministry among the people. For the conduct of affairs at the various centres of our work, those in responsibility must endeavour, as far as possible, to find consecrated men who have been trained in business lines. There is constant necessity of guarding against the tendency to tie up at these centres of influence men who could do a larger and more important work on the public platform, in presenting before unbelievers the truths of God's Word. RH APR. 7,1910

It is important that the minister should have the spirit of Jesus. His teachings should show that he feeds on Christ, that he lives up to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God; and in his familiarity with the word of God, he will be instant in season and out of season to bring from the treasure-house of God things new and old. He will reveal that a solemn sense of the value of souls is upon him, and that self is lost sight of as he presents the sacred truths of God to the people. He will not give the impression that he is seeking to make a display of intellect, but to hold up Jesus Christ, and him crucified, before the people. Every one who is seeking to open the Scriptures to others should have an abiding sense of their accountability to God, and should realise that they are standing before a congregation of souls whom they will have to meet again at the Judgement seat of Christ, and that their message will prove a savour of life unto life or of death unto death. Present before your hearers in simple language the claims of God's law upon men, while your own heart is softened and subdued by his Spirit. This is our message. God has given to man his rule of life in his holy law, to guide and control his words and actions. This law permits no neutrality. It has a bearing upon every man's life, and will not relax its hold until every case is decided for life eternal or for perdition. RH FEB.22,1887

Sermons have been in great demand in our churches. The members have depended upon pulpit declamations instead of on the Holy Spirit. Uncalled for and unused, the spiritual gifts bestowed on them have dwindled into feebleness. If the ministers would go forth into new fields, the members would be obliged to bear responsibilities, and by use their capabilities would increase. RH FEB.25,1902

In various places small companies are to consecrate themselves to God, body, soul, and spirit; and laying hold of the throne of God by faith they are to work zealously, keeping their souls in the love of God. The vital current of his love will make itself felt, and will be recognised as from heaven in the good works of his people. Those little companies who know the truth, with one voice should bid their minister go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. RH JAN.08,1895

Our ministers are not to be encouraged to hover about the churches to repeat to the believers week after week the same truths. We have a truth that is saving and precious. The Word of God must be planted in many hearts; the bread of life must be dealt out to many hungering souls. . . . It is a blessed work to lift up Christ before the world. UL 264

The Lord desires you to be soul winners. Do not try to reveal your smartness as theologians, even of Bible truth, for by so doing you will speak to many words that will be as little understood by them as Greek. ... Connect yourself firmly with Christ, and present the truth as it is in Him. Work as Paul worked. Wherever he was, whether before scowling Pharisees or Roman authorities, rich or poor, learned or ignorant, the cripple at Lystra or the convicted sinners in a Macedonian dungeon, he lifted up Christ as One who hates sin and loves the sinner, the One who bore our sins that He might have full power and authority to impart to us His righteousness. UL 342