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Self supporting workers


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A paper that highlights the different lines of ministries in church

Published in: Education, Spiritual
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Self supporting workers

  1. 1. SELF-SUPPORTING WORKERS Study given by W. D. Frazee - May 3, 1969 We studied last evening that the religion of Christ is designed to make us fellow-workers with Him. He said, "As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." He came unto this world not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. As we accept the gospel, we are invited to share with Jesus in ministry and sacrifice, in service and devotion. If we have not accepted that call and entered into that experience, we need not be surprised if religion is sometimes on the tasteless and stale side. It takes the whole recipe to have it work. I called your attention to the fact that there are three great lines of service in the church of Christ. The first is that in which all members are invited by the Master to participate in. The individual is earning his living in one of the vocations of life, as a carpenter or brick-layer, a cook, a bookkeeper, or whatever. At the same time he is witnessing for God in his vocation. He is also spending time apart from his employment in working for souls. He is giving out literature, giving Bible studies, helping people in various ways in his home and in his community. He is turning in his tithes and offerings that the church may extend its witness to all the world. God calls every member of the church to this type of service. God has also called some to full time evangelistic ministry, and has arranged that the church shall support these workers through the tithe and offerings. Thus we have the ordained minister, Bible instructors, and other evangelistic helpers, that
  2. 2. spread the work, spread the witness of the church. lines of work are very important. Both of these God has arranged that the church shall be organized. And while God calls men individually to the ministry, God has also arranged that the church shall set it's seal upon those God calls. The church does this through ordination. The helpers are in various ways recognized as those who give their full time to the service of the church. This makes for united work. Beside these two great classes of workers there is a third class. We speak of these as self-supporting workers. By selfsupporting workers we mean those the Master has called to full time service for the Master, just as He called Matthew from his tax collecting and Peter and John from their fishing to spend their time with Him. So today God calls some men and women to leave ordinary vocations and put their time into service for Him. Why are they called self-supporting? Because they are not employed by the church organization, but look to God directly for the support that He sees fit to give them. They are self-supporting in contrast to church supported. Let me hasten to say that such an arrangement gives full opportunity for those who choose to call themselves self-supporting workers to exhibit whatever is in their hearts of loyalty or disloyalty to the church. If you have a piece of machinery and you shake it, if there is a screw loose it will rattle. I know of no better opportunity for showing what is in the hearts of men than for them to be in self-supporting work. If there is a screw loose it will rattle. Every now and then I hear that rattle, and it grieves me. But as Jesus said concerning offenses, it must needs be that offenses come. Something has to happen in every life to exhibit what is in the heart. While the self-supporting work offers abundant opportunity to exhibit disloyalty, non-cooperation, and a type of independence that is impudent, it also offers unusual opportunities to exhibit just the opposite. It offers opportunities to exhibit love and devotion, and a spirit of cooperation with the organized church. It is an opportunity that is unparalleled. Workers - page 2
  3. 3. I trust that everyone God calls to self-supporting work will seek Him for the spirit to reveal love rather than selfishness, and cooperation rather than impudence. Let there be no loose screws rattling and marring the harmony. We have as examples of self-supporting workers Jesus Himself, and His chosen band of twelve. When Jesus came and began His ministry, He called these fishermen and others to unite with Him. Notice that He called them from their usual vocations. What were Peter and Andrew doing when He called them? Fishing. What were John and James doing? They were fishing. What was Matthew doing? Collecting taxes. Mark you, Jesus didn't call these men from bootlegging or gambling. And there are a lot of other things He didn't call them from. They were engaged in legitimate business. He called them from those things not because those things were evil, but because He had something else for them to do. We must never get the idea that when God calls people from some other line of activity into this work that the thing they left behind is necessarily evil. It may be very good. It may be the very thing other people ought to do. But to the soul who hears the call of God, the only important thing is to answer that call. Let me say very clearly lest I be misunderstood, we need all three types of service in the church. We need hundreds of thousands of laymen who are witnessing for God in the ordinary vocations of life. We need hundreds and thousands of workers employed by the church as ministers and helpers to spread the evangelistic witness. And we also need thousands of self-supporting workers who have heard and answered the call of God to full time self-supporting missionary work. What is the difference between this first group I have spoken of and the third group? Also, what is the difference between the second group and the third group? I have already pointed out some of the differences. The second group are employed by the church, supported by the church, paid by the church. That is as God has planned it. They that preach the gospel should live of the gospel, Paul says. But selfsupporting workers are not paid by the church. If they were they wouldn't be self-supporting. They would be church supported. Workers - page 3
  4. 4. This is not to exalt either one of those groups. It is not to minimize the importance of either group. They work together. But each one should know what his call is, and work in harmony with it. Perhaps I can illustrate this by a statement that is quoted in the Review and Herald, December 1, 1955. This article is written by Elder W. H. Branson, for a number of years president of the General Conference. It is entitled, Our Expanding Selfsupporting Work. After speaking of Dr. Southerland and Dr. Magan, and others who pioneered in the self-supporting work, he says, "Hundreds should follow in their footsteps and go into the dark spots of the land, and there hold aloft the torch of truth." Then he quotes this inspired statement from the Spirit of Prophecy. Listen carefully as I read: "The Macedonian cry is coming from every quarter. Shall men go to the regular lines to see whether they will be permitted to labor, or shall they go out and work as best they can depending on their own abilities and the help of the Lord, beginning in a humble way and creating an interest in the truth in places in which nothing has been done to give the warning message? The Lord has encouraged those who started out on their own responsibility to work for Him, their hearts filled with love for souls ready to perish. A true missionary spirit will be imparted to those who seek earnestly to know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. The Lord lives and reins. Young men, go forth into the places to which you are directed by the spirit of God. Work with your hands that you may be self-supporting, and as you have opportunity proclaim the message of warning" Medical Ministry, pages 321,322. Last Friday night you heard an example of this in the work that Bill Dull and those associated with him are carrying on in West Virginia. I heard the secretary treasurer of the West Virginia Conference say last year that he and the president up there wished there were a hundred workers trained as Bill and Lois have been trained to go into various places in that one state and do a similar work. In addition to those workers who are paid by the church, there is a need for hundreds and thousands who don't have to drain the treasury in order to carry on their work. What is the Workers - page 4
  5. 5. difference between this and the ordinary layman who is engaged in his daily work? One difference is in the size of their bank accounts. God has given to some people the ability to carry on business work, vocations, in order to make money (Deuteronomy 8:18). Abraham was a rich man. He got it all honestly. There are men today who have been successful in business. Think of Brother Harris who gave the Harris Pine Mills to the denomination. The Lord blessed his business ability in building up a large business enterprise. As a wise steward, he made provision that the results of that should be a blessing in spreading the gospel. Brother Harris was a successful business man. Brother Bill Dull is not building up a business enterprise. He does work with his hands as a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, but that is incidental. He is there to hold branch Sabbath Schools, preach the message, and he and his wife to minister to the people in home nursing. Making a living has to come secondary. Meeting the needs of that community in a medical evangelistic way is first. Let me bring in another reference that will help us see the point I am making: "Self-supporting missionaries are often very successful. Beginning in a small, humble way, their work enlarges as they move forward under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Let two or more start out together in evangelistic work. They may not receive any particular encouragement from those at the head of the work that they will be given financial support; nevertheless let them go forward, praying, singing, teaching, living the truth. They may take up the work of canvassing, and in this way introduce the truth into many families. As they move forward in their work they gain a blessed experience. They are humbled by a sense of their helplessness, but the Lord goes before them, and among the wealthy and the poor they find favor and help. Even the poverty of these devoted missionaries is a means of finding access to the people" Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, page 23. This is a very interesting statement. Even the poverty of these devoted missionaries is a means of finding access to the Workers - page 5
  6. 6. people. A self-supporting missionary must be prepared to accept the terms that Jesus offered His disciples, which were nothing. When Jesus called Matthew who had been making a good living, and doubtless had a good bank account as a tax collector, Jesus did not say to him, Matthew come and I will match what you have been getting. Matthew, would you be willing to take fifty percent of what you have been getting? He simply called him to leave all that and throw himself entirely with Jesus into soul-winning work. Did it work? Matthew thought it did. When at the end of three years Jesus said to Matthew and the other apostles, "When I sent you without purse or script or shoes, did you lack anything?" what did Matthew and the others say? They said, "Nothing." If you will read Acts of the Apostles, page 18, you will find they shared the frugal fare of Jesus. That doesn't mean ice-cream and cake. It doesn't even mean bread and butter every meal. You know what frugal means? A lot of people don't know a thing about what it means. Look it up in the dictionary. If you continue in this work long enough you will find what it means by experience. "They shared His frugal fare, and like Him were sometimes hungry, and often weary." Yet they got something in fellowship with Jesus that was worth more to them than the bank accounts and successful business enterprises they had left behind. "They are humbled by a sense of their helplessness." Every person ought to pray about what he is engaged in. If a man is running a barber shop, he ought to pray that God will help him to conduct his business in a way that will bring glory to God. But a barber doesn't need to kneel down every morning and wrestle with God to learn how to cut hair, does He? If he does, he had better not run a barber shop. A man can be a successful barber even if he doesn't know anything about prayer. Thousands are making a living, giving good haircuts, and providing for their families. But a self-supporting missionary is dealing with problems financial and spiritual that he has got to pray about, or else quit being a self-supporting missionary. It says they are humbled by a sense of their helplessness. This is what bothers some people about the self-supporting work. They can't understand it. They look out and see barbers Workers - page 6
  7. 7. and gasoline station men and lumbermen and plumbers and bankers, and others making a good living and making a success of life, and they say, What is the matter with self-supporting work that it seems so insecure? Well, you read this page and ask God why He arranged it this way. I will tell you why God has arranged it this way for some people. It is the only way some people can learn faith. Some people can learn it in other ways, but this is the way God has chosen for some people to learn it. If God calls you into the self-supporting work, remember that in a special way you are going to have to learn to live by faith. This brings me to a very important point. Just being in a self-supporting institution doesn't give you as an individual this self-supporting experience. You can be in a self-supporting institution and fill your place as a nurse, a bookkeeper, a farmer, a cook, or whatever, and you can be just as dependent on a paycheck, or whatever is the equivalent of that, as the person down the street who works for Standard Oil or General Motors or the 1st National Bank. And don't forget that. If you really want an experience in self-supporting work and will tell the Lord so, He may answer your prayer, but it may be in unexpected ways. May I suggest one thing that could happen to you? Some sudden financial need could strike you. Maybe because of sickness in the family. Maybe because of an accident. Maybe some other reason. And if you have not been trained in this philosophy of true self-supporting work, and if you don't understand these principles, do you know what you will think of? You will think of the institution as the place that ought to solve your problems. If that is the way your mind runs, then you are not a selfsupporting worker. You are merely an employee. Well, you say, What would a person do? Let's go back to what we were reading in Matthew. Let's look at that parable. The kingdom of heaven, Jesus says, is like a man that went out in the morning and hired some workers, and he agreed with them for a certain wage. They were to work all day long for a penny. A Roman penny. More than our penny today. It was a day's wage. Those men knew what to expect. They were to work all day and Workers - page 7
  8. 8. get their day's wage. How much did they get? Did they get it? Yes. Read the story. They got just what they had agreed on. Later in the day the same man, the owner of the vineyard, went out into the market place and found some other people idle, and he said, Come into the vineyard and whatever is right I will give you. Did they know what they were going to get? They knew that if the man kept his word they would get whatever was right. By Brother Brother kind of the way, who paid them? The man that called them. If Frazee calls you, Brother Frazee ought to pay you. But Frazee long ago quit calling people. I don't have that bank account. My good friend who sang for you awhile ago, Brother Niel, says, "I work for the Lord and I wouldn't work for anybody else." I advise you, friends, if you really want to have an experience with God, find out what God wants you to do and do it, and then look to the One who called you to pay you. And remember, He promised to pay you whatever is right. By the way, who decided what was right? The people who picked the grapes? No. The owner of the vineyard. And if Jesus has called you, He is the one to decide what is right. For years and decades I have been proving these promises personally, and with dozens and scores, yes hundreds of others, and I have seen God keep His word lo these many years. I have never seen God let anyone down. If you want the security of the permanent job and the settled income and the assured security of social security, and all the different arrangements today, then self-supporting work as we are describing it is not for you. And God doesn't call everybody into this type of work anymore than He calls everybody into the church supported paid ministry. Remember, we need all three types of work. Nobody should waste one minute comparing these different lines of work and exalting any one of them at the expense of others. Let me illustrate what I mean. Suppose somebody comes up to you and says, Which do you think is more important, your heart or your lungs or your brain? If you had to give up two and keep one, which one would you keep? Well, suppose you only had to give up Workers - page 8
  9. 9. one and keep the other two, which one would you let go? That question is silly, but the application I am making is not silly. Let no one please, for Jesus' sake, ever waste one minute criticizing any of these three lines of work. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who called for all three. All three lines were in the early church, and all three lines are in the remnant church, placed here by the gift of prophecy. We need all three. Let us uphold one another's hands. I am going to read another statement on this. The name of this chapter is Workers from the Ranks. Listen carefully. "In the future, men in the common walks of life will be impressed by the Spirit of the Lord to leave their ordinary employment and go forth to proclaim the last message of mercy" Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, page 27. They were in class one, and the Spirit of God impressed them to go into class three. As I mentioned last night, these numbers don't mean anything. They are just different ways of describing the three classes. Here are men who have been in ordinary employment, but they are impressed by the Spirit of the Lord to leave their ordinary employment and go forth to proclaim the last message of mercy. "As rapidly as possible they are to be prepared for labor, that success may crown their efforts" Ibid. Do people need a preparation when they leave their ordinary means of employment and get into self-supporting medical missionary soul winning work? That is what this says. Do you know what is the most important thing they need to learn? They need to learn to be self-supporting. In the little tract, Appeal for the Madison School, Sister White writes concerning the students at Madison: "They have been learning to become self-supporting, and a training more important than this they could not receive." It means something to learn the philosophy of self-supporting work, and the practical application of the principles in selfsupporting work. It isn't something that is learned by breezing into an institution and looking over the ground and saying, Well, I have seen that. I guess I could go out and do that. Workers - page 9
  10. 10. "In the future men in the common walks of life will be impressed by the Spirit of the Lord to leave their ordinary employment and go forth to proclaim the last message of mercy. As rapidly as possible they are to be prepared for labor, that success may crown their efforts. . . . No one is authorized to hinder these workers" Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, page 27. Does this indicate there might be people who will try to hinder them? Yes. "They are to be bidden Godspeed as they go forth to fulfill the great commission. No taunting word is to be spoken of them. . . . Their persevering prayers will bring souls to the cross" Ibid. If you have given your heart to Jesus, then He is definitely using you, or wants to use you, in one of these three lines. And the highest place in all the world is the place you belong. If God has called you to be busy making a living for yourself and your family in one of the common vocations of life, ask God to help you to be just as faithful in that as Jesus was when He did that as a carpenter for many years in Nazareth. Jesus spent more years as a carpenter in Nazareth than He did as a medical missionary in public work. You know that, don't you? And every man who is called to the common vocations of life can look to Jesus as his example. There may be some here that God is calling to give their time to the church supported, church directed work. There may be some that God is calling here tonight to think seriously about, and to answer the call to this self-supporting work. Let the Holy Spirit impress your hearts. Copyright 1994, by Pioneers Memorial P.O. Box 102, Wildwood, GA 30757-0102 Workers 10 - page