Mind, Character and Personality/Dependence and Independence
(A) Dependence Upon God, Not Man
Dependence Upon God Is Absolute—God would have every soul for whom Christ has died become a part of the vine, connected with the parent stock, drawing nourishment from it. Our dependence on God is absolute and should keep us very humble; and because of our dependence on Him, our knowledge of Him should be greatly increased. God would have us put away every species of selfishness and come to Him, not as the owner of ourselves, but as the Lord’s purchased possession.— Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers 8, 1897, 8,9. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 324, 325.)
Depend Upon God, Not Man—God desires to bring men into direct relation with Himself. In all His dealings with human beings He recognizes the principle of personal responsibility. He seeks to encourage a sense of personal dependence and to impress the need of personal guidance. He desires to bring the human into association with the divine that men may be transformed into the divine likeness. Satan works to thwart this purpose. He seeks to encourage dependence upon men. When minds are turned away from God, the tempter can bring them (p.262) under his rule. He can control humanity.—The Ministry of Healing, 242, 243 (1905).
Make God your entire dependence. When you do otherwise, then it is time for a halt to be called. Stop right where you are and change the order of things.... In sincerity, in soul-hunger, cry after God. Wrestle with the heavenly agencies until you have the victory. Put your whole being into the Lord’s hands—soul, body, and spirit—and resolve to be His loving, consecrated agency, moved by His will, controlled by His mind, infused by His Spirit; ... then you will see heavenly things clearly.— Manuscript 24, 1891. (Sons and Daughters of God, 105.)
Make God Your Counselor—In the place of bearing your perplexities to a brother or a minister, take them to the Lord in prayer. Do not place the minister where God should be but make him a subject of your prayers. We have all erred on this point. The minister of Christ is like other men. True, he bears more sacred responsibilities than a common businessman, but he is not infallible. He is compassed with infirmity, and needs grace and divine enlightenment. He needs the heavenly unction to do his work with exactitude and success, giving full proof of his ministry. There are those who are ignorant of the way of life and salvation, and these will find in the godly minister one who will teach them what they shall do to be saved.
Those who know how to pray, who know what are the invitations of the gospel of Christ, who know the immutability of His promises, show dishonor to God when they lay their burden upon finite men. It is right, always, to counsel together. It is right to converse together. It is right to make the difficulties that present themselves in any enterprise plain before your brethren and your minister. But do not so greatly dishonor God as to depend on man for wisdom. Seek God for the wisdom that cometh from above. Ask your fellow laborers to pray with you, (p.263) and the Lord will fulfill His word, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).— Manuscript 23, 1899.
(B) Dependence and Independence in Working Relationships
One Man’s Mind—It is a mistake to make men believe that the workers for Christ should make no move save that which has first been brought before some responsible man. Men must not be educated to look to men as to God. While it is necessary that there be a counseling together and a unity of action among the laborers, one man’s mind and one man’s judgment must not be the controlling power.—The Review and Herald, August 7, 1894.
To Grow in Efficiency—God is the ruler of His people, and He will teach those who give their minds to Him how to use their brains. As they employ their executive ability, they will grow in efficiency. The Lord’s heritage is made up of vessels large and small, but each one has his individual work. The mind of one man, or the minds of two or three men, are not to be depended on as certain to be safe for all to follow. Let all look to God, trust in Him, and believe fully in His power. Yoke up with Christ and not with men, for men have no power to keep you from falling.— Letter 88, 1896.
Counsel to an Executive—Your dependence must be in God. You are not to let other men empty their minds into your mind. You are not to allow them by their persuasions to lead you into false paths. Put your trust wholly in Him who declares, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).— Letter 92, 1903.
Dependence Upon God Builds Confidence—When men cease to depend upon men, when they make God (p.264) their efficiency, then there will be more confidence manifested one in another. Our faith in God is altogether too feeble and our confidence in one another altogether too meager.— Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers 3, 1895, 48. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 214.)
Self-dependence Leads to Temptation—By earnest prayer and dependence upon God, Solomon obtained the wisdom which excited the wonder and admiration of the world. But when he turned from the Source of his strength and went forward relying upon himself, he fell a prey to temptation. Then the marvelous powers bestowed on this wisest of kings only rendered him a more effective agent of the adversary of souls.—The Great Controversy, 509 (1911).
Dependence on Others May Mean Immaturity—Men who ought to be as true in every emergency as the needle to the pole have become inefficient by their efforts to shield themselves from censure and by evading responsibilities for fear of failure. Men of giant intellect are babes in discipline because they are cowardly in regard to taking and bearing the burdens they should. They are neglecting to become efficient. They have too long trusted one man to plan for them and to do the thinking which they are highly capable of doing themselves in the interest of the cause of God. Mental deficiencies meet us at every point.
Men who are content to let others plan and do their thinking for them are not fully developed. If they were left to plan for themselves, they would be found judicious, close-calculating men. But when brought into connection with God’s cause, it is entirely another thing to them; they lose this faculty almost altogether. They are content to remain as incompetent and inefficient as though others must do the planning and much of the thinking for them. Some men appear to be utterly unable to hew out a path for themselves. Must they ever rely upon others to do their planning and their studying, and to be mind and judgment for them? God is ashamed of such soldiers. He (p.265) is not honored by their having any part to act in His work while they are mere machines.—Testimonies for the Church 3:495, 496 (1875).
Independent Men Are Needed—Independent men of earnest endeavor are needed, not men as impressible as putty. Those who want their work made ready to their hand, who desire a fixed amount to do and a fixed salary, and who wish to prove an exact fit without the trouble of adaptation or training are not the men whom God calls to work in His cause. A man who cannot adapt his abilities to almost any place if necessity requires is not the man for this time.
Men whom God will connect with His work are not limp and fiberless, without muscle or moral force of character. It is only by continued and persevering labor that men can be disciplined to bear a part in the work of God. These men should not become discouraged if circumstances and surroundings are the most unfavorable. They should not give up their purpose as a complete failure until they are convinced beyond a doubt that they cannot do much for the honor of God and the good of souls.—Testimonies for the Church 3:496 (1875).
Unsanctified Independence Springs From Selfishness—The evils of self-esteem and an unsanctified independence, which most impair our usefulness and which will prove our ruin if not overcome, spring from selfishness. “Counsel together” is the message which has been again and again repeated to me by the angel of God. By influencing one man’s judgment, Satan may endeavor to control matters to suit himself. He may succeed in misleading the minds of two persons; but when several consult together, there is more safety. Every plan will be more closely criticized; every advance move more carefully studied. Hence there will be less danger of precipitate, ill-advised moves, which would bring confusion, perplexity, and defeat. In union there is strength. In division there is weakness and defeat.—Testimonies for the Church 5:29, 30 (1882). (p.266)
The Hazards of Personal Independence—Ever remember what is due to our Christian profession as God’s peculiar people; and beware lest in the exercise of personal independence your influence may work against the purposes of God, and you, through Satan’s devices, become a stumbling block, directly in the way of those who are weak and halting. There is danger of giving our enemies occasion to blaspheme God and heap scorn upon believers in the truth.—Testimonies for the Church 5:477, 478 (1889).
Independence of Spirit—There have ever been in the church those who are constantly inclined toward individual independence. They seem unable to realize that independence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren, especially of those in the offices that God has appointed for the leadership of His people. God has invested His church with special authority and power, which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising; for he who does this despises the voice of God.—The Acts of the Apostles, 163, 164 (1911).
Concert of Action—One point will have to be guarded, and that is individual independence. As soldiers in Christ’s army, there should be concert of action in the various departments of the work.... Each laborer should act with reference to the others. Followers of Jesus Christ will not act independently one of another. Our strength must be in God, and it must be husbanded, to be put forth in noble, concentrated action. It must not be wasted in meaningless movements.—Testimonies for the Church 5:534, 535 (1889).
Self-sufficiency Exposes Us to Wiles of Satan—We are living amid the perils of the last days, and if we (p.267) have a spirit of self-sufficiency and independence, we shall be exposed to the wiles of Satan and be overcome.—Testimonies for the Church 3:66 (1872).
(D) Moral Independence
The Law of Mutual Dependence—We are all woven together in the great web of humanity, and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others will reflect in blessing upon ourselves. The law of mutual dependence runs through all classes of society. The poor are not more dependent upon the rich than are the rich upon the poor. While the one class ask a share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon their wealthier neighbors, the other need the faithful service, the strength of brain and bone and muscle, that are the capital of the poor.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 534, 535 (1890).
Duty to Obey Individual Religious Convictions—Many are the ways by which Satan works through human influence to bind his captives. He secures multitudes to himself by attaching them by the silken cords of affection to those who are enemies of the cross of Christ. Whatever this attachment may be—parental, filial, conjugal, or social—the effect is the same; the opposers of truth exert their power to control the conscience, and the souls held under their sway have not sufficient courage or independence to obey their own convictions of duty.—The Great Controversy, 597 (1911).
Individual Judgment Stifled—Though reason and conscience are convinced, these deluded souls [professors of religion in the popular churches] dare not think differently from the minister; and their individual judgment, their eternal interests, are sacrificed to the unbelief, the pride and prejudice, of another.—The Great Controversy, 597 (1911). (p.268)
Independently to Stand for Right—It will require courage and independence to rise above the religious standard of the Christian world. They do not follow the Saviour’s example of self-denial; they make no sacrifice; they are constantly seeking to evade the cross which Christ declares to be the token of discipleship.—Testimonies for the Church 5:78 (1882).
Moral Independence When Opposing the World—Moral independence will be wholly in place when opposing the world. By conforming entirely to the will of God, we shall be placed upon vantage ground and shall see the necessity of decided separation from the customs and practices of the world. We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world’s standard; but we are to make the line of demarcation decidedly apparent.—The Review and Herald, January 9, 1894. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 289.)
Moral Independence a Virtue—Our only safety is to stand as God’s peculiar people. We must not yield one inch to the customs and fashions of this degenerate age but stand in moral independence, making no compromise with its corrupt and idolatrous practices.—Testimonies for the Church 5:78 (1882.)
(E) Independence of Mind
True Independence Not Stubbornness—True independence of mind is not stubbornness. It leads the youth to form their opinions on the Word of God, irrespective of what others may say or do. If in the company of the unbelieving, the atheist, or the infidel, it leads them to acknowledge and defend their belief in the sacred truths of the gospel against the cavilings and witticisms of their ungodly associates. If they are with those who think it is a virtue to parade the faults of professed Christians and then scoff at religion, morality, and virtue, real independence (p.269) of mind will lead them courteously yet boldly to show that ridicule is a poor substitute for sound argument. It will enable them to look beyond the caviler to the one who influences him, the adversary of God and man, and to resist him in the person of his agent.—The Review and Herald, August 26, 1884. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 88, 89.)
Individual Independence Needed—There are men who flatter themselves that they might do something great and good if they were only circumstanced differently, while they make no use of the faculties they already have by working in the positions where Providence has placed them. Man can make his circumstances, but circumstances should never make the man. Man should seize circumstances as his instruments with which to work. He should master circumstances, but should never allow circumstances to master him. Individual independence and individual power are the qualities now needed. Individual character need not be sacrificed, but it should be modulated, refined, elevated.—Testimonies for the Church 3:496, 497 (1875).
How Far to Go in Independence—God would have His people disciplined and brought into harmony of action that they may see eye to eye and be of the same mind and of the same judgment. In order to bring about this state of things, there is much to be done.... The Lord would not have us yield up our individuality. But what man is a proper judge of how far this matter of individual independence should be carried? ...
Peter exhorts his brethren: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” The apostle Paul also exhorts his Philippian brethren to unity and humility: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of (p.270) one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”—Testimonies for the Church 3:360 (1875).
God’s Power Our Dependence—Brethren, I entreat you to move with an eye single to the glory of God. Let His power be your dependence, His grace your strength. By study of the Scriptures and earnest prayer seek to obtain clear conceptions of your duty, and then faithfully perform it. It is essential that you cultivate faithfulness in little things, and in so doing you will acquire habits of integrity in greater responsibilities. The little incidents of everyday life often pass without our notice, but it is these things that shape the character. Every event of life is great for good or for evil. The mind needs to be trained by daily tests that it may acquire power to stand in any difficult position. In the days of trial and of peril you will need to be fortified to stand firmly for the right, independent of every opposing influence.—Testimonies for the Church 4:561 (1881).