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Mind, Character and Personality, volume 1

Chapter 10

Understanding

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A Work Requiring Discernment and Discrimination.-It is the nicest and most critical work ever given to mortals to deal with minds. Those who engage in this work should have clear discernment and good powers of discrimination.

True independence of mind is an element entirely different from rashness. That quality of independence which leads to a cautious, prayerful, deliberate opinion should not be easily yielded, not until the evidence is sufficiently strong to make it certain that we are wrong. This independence will keep the mind calm and unchangeable amid the multitudinous errors which prevail, and will lead those in responsible positions to look carefully at the evidence on every side and not be swayed by the influence of others, or by the surroundings, to form conclusions without intelligent, thorough knowledge of all the circumstances.-Testimonies for the Church 3:104, 105 (1872).

An Exacting Task.-Since man cost heaven so much, the price of God's dear Son, how carefully should ministers, teachers, and parents deal with the souls of those brought under their influence. It is nice work to deal with minds, and it should be entered upon with fear and trembling.

The educators of youth should maintain perfect self-control. To destroy one's influence over a human soul through impatience or in order to maintain undue dignity and supremacy is a terrible mistake, for it may be the means of losing that soul for Christ. The minds of youth may become so warped by injudicious management that the injury done may never be entirely overcome. The religion of Christ should have a controlling influence on the education and training of the young.

The Saviour's example of self-denial, universal kindness, and long-suffering love is a rebuke to impatient ministers and teachers. He inquires of these impetuous instructors: "Is this the manner in which you treat the souls of those for whom I gave My life? Have you no greater appreciation of the infinite price I paid for their redemption?"-Testimonies for the Church 4:419 (1880).

The Physician Encounters All Classes of Minds.-Dr. _____ should seek to add daily to his stock of knowledge and to cultivate courteousness and refinement of manners. ... He should bear in mind that he is associated with all classes of minds and that the impressions he gives will be extended to other states and will be reflected upon the Institute [Battle Creek Sanitarium].-Testimonies for the Church 3:183, 184 (1872).

Patience and Wisdom Needed.-Ministers should be careful not to expect too much from those who are still groping in the darkness of error. They should do their work well, relying upon God to impart to inquiring minds the mysterious, quickening influence of His Holy Spirit, knowing that without this their labors will be unsuccessful. They should be patient and wise in dealing with minds, remembering how manifold are the circumstances that have developed such different traits in individuals. They should strictly guard themselves also, lest self get the supremacy and Jesus be left out of the question.-Gospel Workers, 381 (1915).

The Love of Christ Wins Its Way.-Only He who reads the heart knows how to bring men to repentance. Only His wisdom can give us success in reaching the lost. You may stand up stiffly, feeling, "I am holier that thou," and it matters not how correct your reasoning or how true your words; they will never touch hearts. The love of Christ manifested in word and act will win its way to the soul when the reiteration of precept or argument would accomplish nothing.-The Ministry of Healing, 163 (1905).

With Compassion and Love.-All are not fitted to correct the erring. They have not wisdom to deal justly, while loving mercy. They are not inclined to see the necessity of mingling love and tender compassion with faithful reproofs. Some are ever needlessly severe and do not feel the necessity of the injunction of the apostle: "And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire" (Jude 1: 22, 23).- Testimonies for the Church 3:269, 270 (1873).

A Passionate Man Not to Deal With Minds.-A lack of firm faith and of discernment in sacred things should be regarded as sufficient to debar any man from connection with the work of God. So also the indulgence of a quick temper, a harsh, overbearing spirit, reveals that its possessor should not be placed where he will be called to decide weighty questions that affect God's heritage.

A passionate man should have no part to act in dealing with human minds. He cannot be trusted to shape matters which have a relation to those whom Christ has purchased at an infinite price. If he undertakes to manage men, he will hurt and bruise their souls; for he has not the fine touch, the delicate sensibility, which the grace of Christ imparts. His own heart needs to be softened, subdued by the Spirit of God; the heart of stone has not become a heart of flesh.-SpT Series A, No. 5, p 18, 1896. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 261.)

Qualities Needed in Understanding Minds (counsel to a literature evangelist).-There are more difficulties in this work that in some other branches of business; but the lessons learned, the tact and discipline acquired, will fit you for other fields of usefulness, where you can minister to souls. Those who poorly learn their lesson and are careless and abrupt in approaching persons would show the same want [lack] of tact and skill in dealing with minds should they enter the ministry.-Manual for Canvassers, 41, 42, 1902. (Colporteur Ministry, 34.)

Meeting With Impulse, Impatience, Pride, and Self-esteem.-Dealing with human minds is the most delicate work ever entrusted to mortals, and teachers need constantly the help of the Spirit of God, that they may do their work aright. Among the youth attending school will be found great diversity of character and education. The teacher will meet with impulse, impatience, pride, selfishness, undue self-esteem. Some of the youth have lived in an element of arbitrary restraint and harshness, which has developed in them a spirit of obstinacy and defiance. Others have been treated as pets, allowed by overfond parents to follow their own inclinations. Defects have been excused until the character is deformed.-Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 264 (1913).

Patience, Tact, and Wisdom Needed.-To deal successfully with these different minds the teacher needs to exercise great tact and delicacy in management, as well as firmness in government. Dislike and even contempt for proper regulations will often be manifested. Some will exercise their ingenuity in evading penalties, while others will display a reckless indifference to the consequences of transgression. All this will call for patience and forbearance and wisdom on the part of those entrusted with the education of these youth.-Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 264 (1913).

A Course Which May Leave Irreparable Scars and Bruises.-A teacher may have sufficient education and knowledge in the sciences to instruct, but has it been ascertained that he has tact and wisdom to deal with human minds? If instructors have not the love of Christ abiding in their hearts, they are not fit to bear the grave responsibilities placed upon those who educate the youth. Lacking the higher education themselves, they know not how to deal with human minds. Their own insubordinate hearts are striving for control; and to subject the plastic minds and characters of the children to such discipline is to leave upon the mind scars and bruises that will never be removed.-Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 193 (1913).

The Finest Discrimination Required.-The Lord has presented to me, in many ways and at various times, how carefully we should deal with the young-that it requires the finest discrimination to deal with minds. Everyone who has to do with the education and training of youth needs to live very close to the Great Teacher, to catch His spirit and manner of work. Lessons are to be given which will affect their character and lifework.-Gospel Workers, 333 (1915).

Personal Element Essential.-In all true teaching the personal element is essential. Christ in His teaching dealt with men individually. It was by personal contact and association that He trained the Twelve. It was in private, often to but one listener, that He gave His most precious instruction. To the honored rabbi at the night conference on the Mount of Olives, to the despised woman at the well of Sychar, He opened His richest treasures; for in these hearers He discerned the impressible heart, the open mind, the receptive spirit. Even the crowd that so often thronged His steps was not to Christ an indiscriminate mass of human beings. He spoke directly to every mind and appealed to every heart. He watched the faces of His hearers, marked the lighting up of the countenance, the quick, responsive glance, which told that truth had reached the soul; and there vibrated in His heart the answering chord of sympathetic joy.-Education, 231 (1903).

Overwork Unfits to Deal With Others.-The teachers themselves should give proper attention to the laws of health, that they may preserve their own powers in the best possible condition and by example as well as by precept may exert a right influence upon their pupils. The teacher whose physical powers are already enfeebled by disease or overwork should pay special attention to the laws of life. He should take time for recreation. He should not take upon himself responsibility outside of his school work, which will so tax him physically or mentally that his nervous system will be unbalanced; for in this case he will be unfitted to deal with minds and cannot do justice to himself or to his pupils.-Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 83, 1890. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 147.)

Understanding Different Needs.-I was shown that the physicians at our Institute should be men and women of faith and spirituality. They should make God their trust. There are many who come to the Institute who have by their own sinful indulgence brought upon themselves disease of almost every type.

This class do not deserve the sympathy that they frequently require. And it is painful to the physicians to devote time and strength to this class, who are debased physically, mentally, and morally.

But there is a class who have, through ignorance, lived in violation of nature's laws. They have worked intemperately and have eaten intemperately because it was the custom to do so. Some have suffered many things from many physicians but have not been made better, but decidedly worse. At length they are torn from business, from society, and from their families; and as their last resort they come to the Health Institute with some faint hope that they may find relief.

This class need sympathy. They should be treated with the greatest tenderness, and care should be taken to make clear to their understanding the laws of their being, that they may, be ceasing to violate them, and by governing themselves, avoid suffering and disease-the penalty of nature's violated law.-Testimonies for the Church 3:178 (1872).

Truth Not to Be Spoken at All Times.-But few who have moved in the society of the world, and who view things from a worlding's standpoint are prepared to have a statement of facts in regard to themselves presented before them. The truth even is not to be spoken at all times. There is a fit time and opportunity to speak when words will not offend. The physicians should not be overworked and their nervous systems prostrated, for this condition of body will not be favorable to calm minds, steady nerves, and a cheerful, happy spirit.-Testimonies for the Church 3:182 (1872).

Christ Understands.-He who took humanity upon Himself knows how to sympathize with the sufferings of humanity. Not only does Christ know every soul, and the peculiar needs and trials of that soul, but He knows all the circumstances that chafe and perplex the spirit. His hand is outstretched in pitying tenderness to every suffering child. Those who suffer most have most of His sympathy and pity. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and He desires us to lay our perplexities and troubles at His feet and leave them there.-The Ministry of Healing, 249 (1905).

Understanding Brings Closer Relationship to Christ.-Good deeds are the fruit that Christ requires us to bear-kind words; deeds of benevolence; of tender regard for the poor, the needy, the afflicted. When hearts sympathize with hearts burdened with discouragement and grief, when the hand dispenses to the needy, when the naked are clothed, the stranger made welcome to a seat in your parlor and a place in your heart, angels are coming very near, and an answering strain is responded to in heaven.

Every act of justice, mercy, and benevolence makes melody in heaven. The Father from His throne beholds those who do these acts of mercy and numbers them with His most precious treasures. "And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels" (Malachi 3:17). Every merciful act to the needy, the suffering, is regarded as though done to Jesus. When you succor the poor, sympathize with the afflicted and oppressed, and befriend the orphan, you bring yourselves into a closer relationship to Jesus.-Testimonies for the Church 2:25 (1868).

Christ Calls for Tenderness and Compassion.-True sympathy between man and his fellowman is to be the sign distinguishing those who love and fear God from those who are unmindful of His law. How great the sympathy that Christ expressed in coming to this world to give His life a sacrifice for a dying world! His religion led to the doing of genuine medical missionary work. He was a healing power. "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice," He said. This is the test that the Great Author of truth used to distinguish between true religion and false. God wants His medical missionaries to act with the tenderness and compassion that Christ would show were He in our world.-SpT . (MM 251.)

Sum of Life's Happiness.-A cultivated intellect is a great treasure; but without the softening influence of sympathy and sanctified love it is not of the highest value. We should have words and deeds of tender consideration for others. We can manifest a thousand little attentions in friendly words and pleasant looks, which will be reflected upon us again. Thoughtless Christians manifest by their neglect of others that they are not in union with Christ. It is impossible to be in union with Christ and yet be unkind to others and forgetful of their rights. Many long intensely for friendly sympathy.

God has given each of us an identity of our own, which cannot be merged in that of another; but our individual characteristics will be much less prominent if we are indeed Christ's and His will is ours. Our lives should be consecrated to the good and happiness of others, as was our Saviour's. We should be self-forgetful, ever looking out for opportunities-even in little things-to show gratitude for the favors we have received of others and watching for opportunities to cheer others and lighten and relieve their sorrows and burdens by acts of tender kindness and little deeds of love. These thoughtful courtesies that, commencing in our families, extend outside the family circle, help make up the sum of life's happiness; and the neglect of these little things makes up the sum of life's bitterness and sorrow.-Testimonies for the Church 3:539, 540 (1875).