NO SIGN OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY
Speak no word, do no deed, that will confirm any in unbelief.
If anyone shall seek to draw the workers into debate
or controversy on political or other questions, take no heed
to either persuasion or challenge. Carry forward the work of
God firmly and strongly, but in the meekness of Christ and
as quietly as possible. Let no human boasting be heard. Let
no sign of self-sufficiency be made. Let it be seen that God
has called us to handle sacred trusts; preach the Word, be
diligent, earnest, and fervent.
DEBATING MINISTERS NOT GOOD SHEPHERDS
Some ministers who have been long in the work of
preaching present truth have made great failures in their labors.
They have educated themselves as combatants. They
have studied out argumentative subjects for the object of
discussion, and these subjects which they have prepared
they love to use. The truth of God is plain, clear, and conclusive.
It is harmonious and, in contrast with error, shines with
clearness and beauty. Its consistency commends it to the
judgment of every heart that is not filled with prejudice. Our
preachers present the arguments upon the truth, which have
been made ready for them, and, if there are no hindrances,
the truth bears away the victory. But I was shown that in
many cases the poor instrument takes the credit of the victory
gained, and the people, who are more earthly than spiritual,
praise and honor the instrument, while the truth of God
is not exalted by the victory it gained.
Those who love to engage in discussion generally lose
their spirituality. They do not trust in God as they should.
They have the theory of the truth prepared to whip an opponent.
The feelings of their own unsanctified hearts have
prepared many sharp, close things to use as a snap to their
whip to irritate and provoke their opponent. The Spirit of
Christ has no part in this. While furnished with conclusive
arguments, the debater soon thinks that he is strong enough
to triumph over his opponent, and God is left out of the matter.
Some of our ministers have made discussion their principal
business. When in the midst of the excitement raised
by discussion, they seem nerved up, and feel strong and
talk strong; and in the excitement many things pass with the people as all right, which in themselves are decidedly wrong
and a shame to him who was guilty of uttering words so
unbecoming a Christian minister.
These things have a bad influence on ministers who are
handling sacred, elevated truths, truths which are to prove
as a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death, to those
who hear them. Generally, the influence of discussions upon
our ministers is to make them self-sufficient and exalted in
their own estimation. This is not all. Those who love to debate
are unfitted for being pastors to the flock. They have
trained their minds to meet opponents and to say sarcastic
things, and they cannot come down to meet hearts that are
sorrowing and need to be comforted.
They have also dwelt so much upon the argumentative
that they have neglected the practical subjects that the flock
of God need. They have but little knowledge of the sermons
of Christ, which enter into the everyday life of the Christian,
and they have but little disposition to study them. They have
risen above the simplicity of the work. When they were little
in their own eyes, God helped them; angels of God ministered
unto them and made their labors highly successful in
convincing men and women of the truth. But in the training
of their minds for discussion they frequently become coarse
and rough. They lose the interest and tender sympathy which
should ever attend the efforts of a shepherd of Christ.
Debating ministers are generally disqualified to help the
flock where they most need help. Having neglected practical
religion in their own hearts and lives, they cannot teach it to
the flock. Unless there is an excitement, they do not know
how to labor; they seem shorn of their strength. If they try to
speak, they do not seem to know how to present a subject
that is proper for the occasion. When they should present
a subject which will feed the flock of God, and which will
reach and melt hearts, they go back to some of the old
stereotyped matter and go through the arranged arguments,
which are dry and uninteresting. Thus, instead of light and
life, they bring darkness to the flock and also to their own
This article is excerpted from the book The Voice in Speech and
Song, pp. 243-245 by Ellen G. White.