Mind, Character and Personality/Principles of Study and Learning
The Mind and Affections Must Be Trained—God has given reason, the mental faculties of the mind; but if left to themselves uneducated and untrained, they leave man as is revealed in the fierce heathen. The mind and affections require education and direction by teachers. It must be line upon line, and precept upon precept, to guide and train the human moral agent to work in cooperation with God. God works in the human agent by the light of His truth. The mind enlightened by the truth, sees truth in distinction from error.— Letter 135, 1898.
Highest Culture of Mind Receives God’s Fullest Approval—The human mind is susceptible of the highest cultivation. A life devoted to God should not be a life of ignorance. Many speak against education because Jesus chose uneducated fishermen to preach His gospel. They assert that He showed preference for the uneducated. Many learned and honorable men believed His teaching. Had these fearlessly obeyed the convictions of their consciences, they would have followed Him. Their abilities would have been accepted and employed in the service of Christ, had they offered them. But they had not moral power, in face of the frowning priests and (p.351) jealous rulers, to confess Christ, and venture their reputation in connection with the humble Galilean....
Jesus did not despise education. The highest culture of the mind, if sanctified through the love and fear of God, receives His fullest approval. The humble men chosen by Christ were with Him three years, subject to the refining influence of the Majesty of heaven. Christ was the greatest educator the world ever knew.
God will accept the youth with their talent and their wealth of affection if they will consecrate themselves to Him. They may reach to the highest point of intellectual greatness; and if balanced by religious principle, they can carry forward the work which Christ came from heaven to accomplish, and in thus doing be co-workers with the Master.—The Review and Herald, June 21, 1877. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 47, 48.)
Not Satisfied With Second-rate Work—The true teacher is not satisfied with second-rate work. He is not satisfied with directing his students to a standard lower than the highest which it is possible for them to attain. He cannot be content with imparting to them only technical knowledge, with making them merely clever accountants, skillful artisans, successful tradesmen. It is his ambition to inspire them with principles of truth, obedience, honor, integrity, and purity—principles that will make them a positive force for the stability and uplifting of society. He desires them, above all else, to learn life’s great lesson of unselfish service.—Education, 29, 30 (1903).
Mind to Be Carried Higher—I am instructed that we are to carry the minds of our students higher than it is now thought by many to be possible. Heart and mind are to be trained to preserve their purity by receiving daily supplies from the fountain of eternal truth. The Divine Mind and Hand has preserved through the ages the record of creation in its purity. It is the Word of God alone that gives to us an authentic account of the creation of our (p.352) world. This Word is to be the chief study in our schools. Here we may hold converse with patriarchs and prophets; here we may learn what our redemption has cost the One who was equal with the Father from the beginning, and who sacrificed His life that a people might stand before Him redeemed from every common, earthly thing and renewed in the image of God.— Letter 64, 1909.
True Education Combines Intellectual and Moral—The Lord has been waiting long for our teachers to walk in the light He has sent them. There is need of a humbling of self that Christ may restore the moral image of God in man. The character of the education given must be greatly changed before it can give the right mold to our institutions. It is only when intellectual and moral powers are combined for the attainment of education that the standard of the Word of God is reached.—The Review and Herald, September 3, 1908. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 527.)
True Piety Elevates and Refines—Our people everywhere allow their minds to take too low a range, too narrow a view. They allow the plans of human agencies to guide them and a worldly spirit to mold them, rather than Christ’s plans and Christ’s Spirit. I am instructed to say to our people, Look above the earthly to the heavenly. Numbers are no evidence of success; if they were, Satan might claim much. It is the degree of moral power that pervades our institutions, our schools, and our churches. It should be the joy of all, from the highest to the least, to represent Christ in Christlike virtues. Let all our teachers learn that true piety, love shown in obedience to God, will elevate and refine.— Letter 316, 1908.
Thoroughness Necessary—Thoroughness is necessary to success in character building. There must be an earnest desire to carry out the plans of the Master Builder. The timbers used must be solid; no careless, unreliable work can be accepted; it would ruin the building. The (p.353) whole being is to be put into this work. It demands strength and energy; there is no reserve to be wasted in unimportant matters. There must be determined human force put into the work, in cooperation with the Divine Worker. There must be earnest, persevering effort to break away from the customs and maxims and associations of the world. Deep thought, earnest purpose, steadfast integrity, are essential. There must be no idleness. Life is a sacred trust; and every moment should be wisely improved.—The Youth’s Instructor, February 19, 1903. (HC 84.)
Trivial Matters Enfeeble the Mind—The student who, in the place of the broad principles of the Word of God, will accept common ideas and will allow the time and attention to be absorbed in commonplace, trivial matters, will find his mind will become dwarfed and enfeebled; he will lose the power of growth. The mind must be trained to comprehend the important truths that concern eternal life.— Letter 64, 1909.
Temporal Affairs Not to Be Neglected—Life is too solemn to be absorbed in temporal and earthly matters, in a treadmill of care and anxiety for the things that are but an atom in comparison with the things of eternal interest. Yet God has called us to serve Him in the temporal affairs of life. Diligence in this work is as much a part of true religion as is devotion. The Bible gives no endorsement to idleness. It is the greatest curse that afflicts our world. Every man and woman who is truly converted will be a diligent worker.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 343 (1900).
The Quality of Men Called to Teach [See Chapter 22, “The School and the Teacher.”]—The cause of God needs teachers who have high moral qualities and can be trusted with the education of others, men who are sound in the faith and have tact and patience, who walk with God and abstain from the very appearance of evil, who (p.354) stand so closely connected with God that they can be channels of light—in short, Christian gentlemen. The good impressions made by such will never be effaced, and the training thus given will endure throughout eternity. What is neglected in this training process is likely to remain undone. Who will undertake this work?
We would that there were strong young men, rooted and grounded in the faith, who had such a living connection with God that they could, if so counseled by our leading brethren, enter the higher colleges in our land, where they would have a wider field for study and observation. Association with different classes of minds, an acquaintance with the workings and results of popular methods of education, and a knowledge of theology as taught in the leading institutions of learning would be of great value to such workers, preparing them to labor for the educated classes and to meet the prevailing errors of our time. Such was the method pursued by the ancient Waldenses; and, if true to God, our youth, like theirs, might do a good work, even while gaining their education, in sowing the seeds of truth in other minds.—Testimonies for the Church 5:583, 584 (1885).
Correct Habits Leave Impress on Character—The formation of correct habits is to leave its impress upon the mind and characters of the children that they may practice the right way. It means much to bring these children under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, training and disciplining them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The formation of correct habits, the exhibition of a right spirit, will call for earnest efforts in the name and strength of Jesus. The instructor must persevere, giving line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, in all long-suffering and patience, sympathy and love, binding these children to his heart by the love of Christ revealed in himself.— Christian Education, 153 (1893). (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 268.)
Characters Not Formed in One Mold—Teachers are to consider that they are not dealing with angels, but (p.355) human beings with like passions as they themselves have. Characters are not formed in one mold. There is every phase of character received by children as an inheritance. The defects and the virtues in traits of character are thus revealed. Let every instructor take this into consideration. Hereditary and cultivated deformity of human character, as also beauty of character, will have to be met, and much grace cultivated in the instructor to know how to deal with the erring for their present and eternal good. Impulse, impatience, pride, selfishness, and self-esteem, if cherished, will do a great amount of evil which may thrust the soul upon Satan’s battleground without wisdom to navigate his bark, but he will be in danger of being tossed about at the sport of Satan’s temptations until shipwrecked. Every teacher has his own peculiar traits of character to watch lest Satan should use him as his agent to destroy souls, by his own unconsecrated traits of character.— Letter 50, 1893. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 277, 278.)
Must Be Christlike in Dealing With Minds—It is a daily working agency that is to be brought into exercise, a faith that works by love and purifies the soul of the educator. Is the revealed will of God placed as your highest authority? If Christ is formed within, the hope of glory, then the truth of God will so act upon your natural temperament that its transforming agency will be revealed in a changed character, and you will not by your influence through the revealings of an unsanctified heart and temper turn the truth of God into a lie before any of your pupils; nor in your presentation of a selfish, impatient, unchristlike temper in dealing with any human mind, reveal that the grace of Christ is not sufficient for you at all times and in all places. Thus you will show that the authority of God over you is not merely in name but in reality and truth. There must be a separation from all that is objectionable or unchristlike, however difficult it may be to the true believer.— Christian Education, 148 (1893). (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 263, 264.) (p.356)
Continual Censure Bewilders the Child—Heavens sees in the child the undeveloped man or woman, with capabilities and powers that, if correctly guided and developed with heavenly wisdom, will become the human agencies through whom the divine influences can cooperate to be laborers together with God. Sharp words and continual censure bewilder the child but never reform him. Keep back that pettish word; keep your own spirit under discipline to Jesus Christ; then will you learn how to pity and sympathize with those brought under your influence. Do not exhibit impatience and harshness, for if these children did not need educating, they would not need the advantages of the school. They are to be patiently, kindly, and in love brought up the ladder of progress, climbing step by step in obtaining knowledge.— Christian Education, 147 (1893). (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 263.)
Care in Suspending Students—Be careful what you do in the line of suspending students. This is a solemn business. It should be a very grave fault which requires this discipline.
Then there should be a careful consideration of all the circumstances connected with the case. Students sent from home a short distance or a long distance, thousands and thousands of miles, are away from, and deprived of, the advantages of home, and if expelled are refused the privileges of school. All their expenses have to be met by someone who has had hope and confidence in these subjects that their money would not be invested in vain. The student enters into or falls into temptation, and he is to be disciplined for his wrong. He feels keenly that his record is marred, and he disappoints those who have trusted him to develop a character under the influence of his training in his scholastic life, which will pay all that has been invested in his behalf.
But he is suspended for his foolish course of action. What will he do? Courage is at the lowest ebb, courage and even manliness is not cherished. He is an expense, and precious time is lost. Who is tender and kind and (p.357) feels the burden of these souls? What wonder that Satan takes advantage of the circumstances. They are thrust on Satan’s battleground and the very worst feelings of the human heart are called into exercise, and strengthen and become confirmed.— Letter 50, 1893.
Avoid Creating Feelings of Injustice—When you jostle against the elements manifested by those who have no Bible religion but only a profession, do not forget that you are a Christian. You greatly lower your influence and mar your own Christian experience when you lose your self-control and give them the least occasion to think that you have ill-treated them. Leave not this impression upon their minds if you can possibly avoid it. In this probationary time we are forming our characters for the future immortal life; but that is not all, for in this very process of character building we need to be extremely cautious how we build, for others will build after the pattern we give them.— Letter 20, 1892.
Mind Must Have Pure Food—The mind, like the body, must have pure food in order to have health and strength. Give your children something to think of that is out of and above themselves. The mind that lives in a pure, holy atmosphere will not become trifling, frivolous, vain, and selfish.— Letter 27, 1890.
We are living in a time when everything that is false and superficial is exalted above the real, the natural, and the enduring. The mind must be kept free from everything that would lead it in a wrong direction. It should not be encumbered with trashy stories, which do not add strength to the mental powers. The thoughts will be of the same character as the food we provide for the mind.—Testimonies for the Church 5:544. (Child Guidance, 188.)
Infidel Books [See Chapter 13, Food for the Mind.]—The study of books written by infidels does great harm. Thus tares are sown in the minds and (p.358) hearts of students. Yet this is the food often given to the brain, while many have little knowledge of subjects which pertain to eternal interests, which they ought to understand.
The talent of time is precious. Every day it is given to us in trust, and we shall be called upon to give an account of it to God. It is to be used to God’s glory, and if we would prolong our lives, if we would gain the life that measures with the life of God, we must give the mind pure food. No time should be wasted that might have been used to good account.— Manuscript 15, 1898.
Students to Learn to Obey God—I see that a great sentiment must be worked to, and out, under the divine direction in our schools. But the one great lesson the students must learn is to seek with all their heart, mind, and strength to know God and obey Him implicitly. The science of the salvation of the human soul is the first lesson of life. No line of literature or education in book knowledge is to become supreme. But to know God and Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent, is life eternal.
Let the students take the love and fear of God with them into their school life. This is wisdom more precious than words can express. Connected with God, it can be said of them, as of Daniel, God gave him wisdom and knowledge in all mysteries.
Learning is good. The wisdom of Solomon is desirable; but the wisdom of a greater than Solomon is far more desirable and essential. Through the learning in our schools we cannot reach Christ, but we can through Christ reach the highest end of the ladder in science; for the word of inspiration says, “Ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). Our first business is to see and acknowledge God, and then He will direct our path.— Letter 120, 1896.