I wish that I could command language to express clearly the importance of the proper management of our schools. All should feel that our schools are the Lord's instrumentalities, through which He would make Himself known to man. Everywhere men and women are needed to act as channels of light. The truth of God is to be carried to all lands, that men may be enlightened by it.
As a people having advanced light, we should devise means by which to develop an army of educated missionaries to enter the various departments of the work of God. We need well-disciplined, cultivated young men and women in our schools, in our sanitariums, in the medical missionary work, in the offices of publication, in the conferences of different states, and in the field at large. We need young men and women, who, having high intellectual culture, are fitted to do the best work for the Lord. We have done something toward reaching this standard, but still we are far behind that which the Lord has designed. As a church, as individuals, if we would stand clear in the judgment we must make more liberal efforts for the training of our young people, that they may be better fitted for the various branches of the great work committed to our hands. As a people who have great light, we should lay wise plans in order that the ingenious minds of those who have talent may be strengthened and disciplined and polished, that the work of Christ may not be hindered by lack of skillful laborers who will do their work with earnestness and fidelity.
Some would be content with the thorough education of a few of the most promising of our youth; but they all need an education that they may be fitted for usefulness in this life, qualified for places of responsibility in both private and public life. There is great necessity for making plans that there may be a large number of competent workers, and many should fit themselves as teachers, that others may be trained and disciplined for the great work of the future. The church should take in the situation and by their influence and means seek to bring about this much-desired end.
Freedom from Debt
That our schools may nobly accomplish the purpose for which they are established, they should be free from debt. They should not be left to bear the burden of paying interest. In the establishment of training schools for workers, and especially in new fields where the brethren are few and their means limited, rather than delay the work it may be better to hire some money from the friends of the enterprise; but whenever it is possible, let our institutions be dedicated free from debt.
The Lord has means for His work in the hands of His stewards; and as long as our schools have debts which were incurred in their establishment, in the erection of necessary buildings, and in providing necessary facilities, it is our duty to present the case to our brethren and ask them to lessen these debts. Our ministers should feel a burden for this work. They should encourage all to labor harmoniously and to lift in proportion to their ability. If this work had been taken hold of with fidelity and diligence in past years, the debts on our older schools could have been lifted long ago.
In the erection of school buildings, in their furnishing, and in every feature of their management the strictest economy must be practiced. Our schools are not to be conducted on any narrow or selfish plans. They should be as homelike as possible, and in every feature they are to teach correct lessons of simplicity, usefulness, thrift, and economy.
The students are in our schools for a special training to become acquainted with all lines of work that should they go out as missionaries they could be self-reliant and able, through their educated ability, to furnish themselves with necessary conveniences and facilities. Whether men or women, they should learn to mend, wash, and keep their own clothes in order. They should be able to cook their own meals. They should be familiar with agriculture and with mechanical pursuits. Thus they can lighten their own expenses, and, by their example, inculcate principles of thrift and economy. These lessons can best be taught where economy in all things is conscientiously practiced.
Not only for the financial welfare of the schools, but also as an education to the students, economy should be faithfully studied and conscientiously and diligently practiced. The managers must guard carefully every point, that there may be no needless expense, to bring a burden of debt upon the school. Every student who loves God supremely will help to bear the responsibility in this matter. Those who have been educated to do this can demonstrate by precept and example to those with whom they come in contact the principles taught by our self-denying Redeemer. Self-indulgence is a great evil and must be overcome.
Some have felt reluctant to let the students know of the financial embarrassment of the schools; but it will be far better for the students to see and understand our lack of means, for they will thus be able to help in the practice of economy. Many who come to our schools leave homes that are unadorned and where they have been accustomed to eat simple food without a number of courses. What influence will our example have on these? Let us teach them that while we have so many ways in which to use our means; while thousands are starving, dying of the plague, of famine, of bloodshed, and of fire, it becomes every one of us to consider carefully, to get nothing that is needless, simply to gratify appetite or to make an appearance.
If our schools are conducted on right lines, debts will not be piling up, and still the students will be made comfortable, and the table will be supplied with plenty of good, substantial food. Our economy must never be of that kind which would lead to providing meager meals. Students should have an abundance of wholesome food. But let those in charge of the cooking gather up the fragments that nothing be lost.
Students should be taught to guard carefully their own property and that of the school. They should be made to understand the duty to bind about every needless expense at the school and while traveling to and from their homes. Self-denial is essential. We must heed the instruction given, for we are nearing the end of time. More and more shall we be obliged to plan, and devise, and economize. We cannot manage as if we had a bank on which to draw in case of emergency; therefore we must not get into straitened places. As individuals and as managers of the Lord's institutions we shall necessarily have to cut away everything intended for display and bring our expenses within the narrow compass of our income.
The financial management in some of our schools can be greatly improved. More wisdom, more brain power, must be brought to bear upon the work. More practical methods must be brought in to stop the increase of expenditure, which would result in indebtedness. In Battle Creek and College View altogether too much money has been invested in buildings, and more than was necessary has been spent in furnishing the school homes.
When the managers of a school find that it is not meeting running expenses, and debts are heaping up, they should act like levelheaded businessmen and change their methods and plans. When one year has proved that the financial management has been wrong, let wisdom's voice be heard. Let there be a decided reformation. Teachers may manifest a Christlike excellence in serious, solid thinking and planning to improve the state of things. They should enter heartily into the plans of the managers and share their burdens.
In some of our schools the price of tuitions has been too low. This has in many ways been detrimental to the educational work. It has brought discouraging debt; it has thrown upon the management a continual suspicion of miscalculation, want of economy, and wrong planning; it has been very discouraging to the teachers; and it leads the people to demand correspondingly low prices in other schools. Whatever may have been the object in placing the tuition at less than a living rate, the fact that a school has been running behind heavily is sufficient reason for reconsidering the plans and arranging its charges so that in the future its showing may be different. The amount charged for tuition, board, and residence should be sufficient to pay the salaries of the faculty, to supply the table with an abundance of healthful, nourishing food, to maintain the furnishing of the rooms, to keep the buildings in repair, and to meet other necessary running expenses. This is an important matter and calls for no narrow calculation, but for a thorough investigation. The counsel of the Lord is needed. The school should have a sufficient income not only to pay the necessary running expenses, but to be able to furnish the students during the school term with some things essential for their work.
Debts must not be allowed to accumulate term after term. The very highest kind of education that could be given is to shun the incurring of debt as you would shun disease. When one year after another passes, and there is no sign of diminishing the debt, but it is rather increased, a halt should be called. Let the managers say: "We refuse to run the school any longer unless some sure system is devised." It would be better, far better, to close the school until the managers learn the science of conducting it on a paying basis. For Christ's sake, as the chosen people of God, call yourselves to task and inaugurate a sound financial system in our schools.
Whenever it becomes necessary to raise the prices at any school, let the matter first be laid before the patrons of the institution, showing them that the fees have been placed at too low a figure and that, as a result, debts are accumulating upon the school, thus crippling and hindering its work. Properly increasing the tuitions may cause a decrease in the attendance, but a large attendance should not be so much a matter of rejoicing as freedom from debt.
One of the results of low tuition at Battle Creek has been the gathering together in one place of a larger number of students and a larger number of families than was wise. If two thirds of the people in Battle Creek were plants of the Lord in other localities, they would have room to grow. Greater results would have appeared if a portion of the time and energy bestowed on the large school in Battle Creek to keep it in a healthy condition had been used for schools in other localities where there is room for agricultural pursuits to be carried on as a part of the education. Had there been a willingness to follow the Lord's ways and His plans, many plants would now be growing in other places. Over and over again the word of the Lord has come to us that plants both of churches and of schools should be made in other localities, that there were too many weighty responsibilities in one place. Get the people out of the large centers and establish interests in other places, is the instruction given. Had this instruction been heeded, had there been a distribution of means and facilities, the money expended on the extra college buildings at Battle Creek would have abundantly provided for two new plants in other localities, and the tree would have grown and borne such fruit as has not been seen, because men choose to follow their own wisdom.
Our brethren say the plea comes from ministers and parents that there are scores of young people in our ranks who need the advantages of our training schools, who cannot attend unless tuitions are less. But those who plead for low tuitions should carefully weigh matters on all sides. If students cannot of themselves command sufficient means to pay the actual expense of good and faithful work in their education, is it not better that their parents, their friends, the churches to which they belong, or large-hearted, benevolent brethren in their conference, should assist them than that a burden of debt should be brought upon the school? It would be far better to let the many patrons of the institution share the expense than for the school to run in debt.
Methods must be devised to prevent the accumulation of debt upon our institutions. The whole cause must not be made to suffer because of debt which will never be lifted unless there is an entire change and the work is carried forward on some different basis. Let all who have acted a part in allowing this cloud of debt to cover them now feel it their duty to do what they can to remove it.
Assisting Worthy Students
The churches in different localities should feel that a solemn responsibility rests upon them to train youth and educate talent to engage in missionary work. When they see those in the church who give promise of making useful workers, but who are not able to support themselves in the school, they should assume the responsibility of sending them to one of our training schools. There is excellent ability in the churches that needs to be brought into service. There are persons who would do good service in the Lord's vineyard, but many are too poor to obtain without assistance the education that they require. The churches should feel it a privilege to take a part in defraying the expenses of such.
Those who have the truth in their hearts are always openhearted, helping where it is necessary. They lead out, and others imitate their example. If there are some who should have the benefit of the school, but who cannot pay full price for their tuition, let the churches show their liberality by helping them.
Besides this, in each conference a fund should be raised to lend to worthy poor students who desire to give themselves to the missionary work; and in some cases they should even receive donations. When the Battle Creek College was first started, there was a fund placed in the Review and Herald office for the benefit of those who wished to obtain an education but had not the means. This was used by several students until they could get a good start; then from their earnings they would replace what they had drawn, so that others might be benefited by the fund. The youth should have it plainly set before them that they must work their own way as far as possible and thus partly defray their expenses. That which costs little will be appreciated little. But that which costs a price somewhere near its real value will be estimated accordingly.
By precept and example, teach self-denial, economy, largeheartedness, and self-reliance. Everyone who has a true character will be qualified to cope with difficulties and will be prompt in following a "Thus saith the Lord." Men are not prepared to understand their obligation to God until they have learned in Christ's school to wear His yoke of restraint and obedience. Sacrifice is the very beginning of our work in advancing the truth and in establishing institutions. It is an essential part of education. Sacrifice must become habitual in all our character building in this life if we would have a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Through erroneous ideas regarding the use of money the youth are exposed to many dangers. They are not to be carried along and supplied with money as if there were an inexhaustible supply from which they could draw to gratify every supposed need. Money is to be regarded as a gift entrusted to us of God to do His work, to build up His kingdom, and the youth should learn to restrict their desires. Teach that none may prostitute their powers in self-pleasing and self-gratification. Those whom God has endowed with ability to acquire means are under obligation to Him to use that means, through heaven's imparted wisdom, to His name's glory. Every shilling wasted on self-indulgence, or given to special friends who will spend it to indulge pride and selfishness, is robbing God's treasury. The money expended for garments to make a pleasing show is so much that might have been used to advance the cause of God in new places. Oh, that God would give all a true sense of what it means to be a Christian! It is to be Christlike, and Christ lived not to please Himself.
Duty of our Conferences
Our conferences look to the schools for educated and well-trained laborers, and they should give the schools a most hearty and intelligent support. Light has been plainly given that those who minister in our schools, teaching the word of God, explaining the Scriptures, educating the students in the things of God, should be supported by the tithe money. This instruction was given long ago, and more recently it has been repeated again and again.
Wherever schools are established, wise managers must be provided, "able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness," men who will do their very best in the various responsibilities of their positions. Business ability they should have, but it is of still greater importance that they walk humbly with God and are guided by the Holy Spirit. Such men will be taught of God, and they will seek counsel of their brethren who are men of prayer.
The managers of our schools must labor with pure motives. In their unselfishness they will remember that other parts of the great harvest field will require the same facilities that are provided for the school under their care. In every plan they will remember that equality and unity are to be preserved. They will carefully estimate the expense of every undertaking and will endeavor not to absorb so large an amount of money as to deprive other fields of necessary facilities.
Too often ministers have been brought in to carry responsibilities which they were in no way fitted to bear. Lay these responsibilities upon men who have business tact, men who can give themselves to business, who can visit the schools and keep an account of the financial condition, and who can also give instruction regarding the keeping of the accounts. The work of the school should be inspected several times each year. Let the ministers act as counselors, but lay not on them the financial responsibilities.
Inspection by General Conference Auditor
The light given me by the Lord is that wise men, men of financial ability, should visit our schools in every country and keep an account of their financial standing. This matter should not be left to ministers or committee-men, who have no time to take this burden. The teachers are not to be left with this responsibility. These matters of school business call for talent which has not been provided.
If the leaders had exercised clear-sighted judgment in past years, the discouraging financial conditions that have so hindered the cause in recent years would never have been permitted to exist.
If our educational work had been carried on in accordance with the instruction given for our guidance, the dark shadow of heavy debt would not today be hanging over our institutions.
The Church Schools
The same principles which, if followed, will bring success and blessing to our training schools and colleges, should govern our plans and work for the church schools. Let all share the expense. Let the church see that those who ought to receive its benefits are attending the school. Poor families should be assisted. We cannot call ourselves true missionaries if we neglect those at our very doors who are at the most critical age and who need our aid to secure knowledge and experience that will fit them for the service of God.
The Lord would have painstaking efforts made in the education of our children. True missionary work done by teachers who are daily taught of God would bring many souls to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, and children thus educated will impart to others the light and knowledge received. Shall the members of the church give means to advance the cause of Christ among others and leave their own children to carry on the work and service of Satan?
As church schools are established, the people of God will find it a valuable education for themselves to learn how to conduct the school on a basis of financial success. If this cannot be done, close the school until, with the help of God, plans can be devised to carry it on without the blot of debt upon it. Men of financial ability should look over the accounts once, twice, or thrice a year, to ascertain the true standing of the school and see that enormous expenses, which will result in the accumulation of indebtedness, do not exist. We should shun debt as we should shun the leprosy.
Many of our youth who desire to obtain an education feel too unconcerned in regard to becoming involved in debt. They look upon a study of books as the principal means of an education. They do not realize the value of a practical business education and are content to be carried through years of study on the means of others rather than to work their own way. They do not look critically at the outcome of this. They do not study from cause to effect.
Often the result of such a course is a disproportionate development of the faculties. The student does not understand the weak points of his character; he does not realize his own deficiencies. By depending on others he loses an experience of practical life that it will be difficult for him to recover. He does not learn self-reliance. He does not learn how to exercise faith. True faith will enable the soul to rise out of an imperfect, undeveloped state and understand what true wisdom is. If students will develop brain, bone, and muscle harmoniously, they will be better able to study and better qualified to cope with the realities of life. But if they follow their own erroneous ideas as to what constitutes education, they will not become self- made, all-round men and women.
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is everyone that retaineth her." Proverbs 3:13-18.