Extracted from “The Life of General William Booth – Chapter 25” (my emphasis)
Our first counsel is
(1) MAGNIFY IT.
Get to know definitely what it is you have to do. Think what it is to be an ambassador of Christ — to stand between the living and the dead, and to be the savour of life unto life, or death unto death. Consider what will be the outcome of the faithful discharge of your duty on the one hand, and what will follow the neglect of it on the other.
Read the 23rd chapter of Ezekiel, and the Acts of the Apostles; call up the memories of the holy, successful soul-winners who have gone through oceans of difficulties and led thousands to the Cross: lay aside every weight in the shape of worldly idolatry and self-indulgence, and then lay on the altar every power of body and soul, consecrating all you have, or ever hope to have, to the successful accomplishment of the greatest undertaking to which God could possibly have called you here.
To successfully manage a station you must
(2) LOVE IT
with a love that never falters, never swerves, never dies. You must have the same burning, unquenchable flame that Jesus had, or you cannot — will not — succeed; and your success will be just according to the measure of your affection for your people and for the perishing people around you. This love —this passion for souls — is the main-spring of religious activity and the principle which governs all real and lasting work for God. Love, rightly directed, makes a good parent, a good husband, a good workman; and nothing short of love, and a great deal of it, will make a good evangelist.
The secret of success is often inquired for; here it is: It is not in natural gifts, or human bearing, or exceptional opportunities, or earthly advantages, but in a heart consumed with the flame of ardent, holy, heavenly love.
Love will make a man study. He wants to save his people; his aim is to bless them, not to amuse them. He wants to lead them on to know God, to imitate Christ, to be meet for Heaven. This he sees is to be done through the truth. He has now one absorbing anxiety to persuade them to hear, to think, to feel, to yield, to be saved, to be holy. Here is work for him. He must have arguments that will convince, facts that will affirm, illustrations that will explain, and truths that will both awaken and interest, and convert.
He must range through earth, and Heaven, and Hell, for matter to make men flee to Christ, save their souls and bathe in the ocean of redeeming love. He has set his heart on this — not on studying, but on saving souls; but as souls are saved by preaching, and as he cannot preach unless he has something to say likely to accomplish his end, he becomes a real student, a thinker, and it is love that makes him one.
Love will make you pray. Love wants all the help it can command: and as it realizes that the great God is in sympathy, and willing to be a co-worker with any and every heart set on this mission of mercy, it will ever be knocking at the door of Heaven for countenance and co-operation. The love of souls will lead you into the spirit of ceaseless intercession with Him whose love for them was stronger than death.
Love will make you feel. A stony-hearted preacher makes a stony-hearted people. Perhaps there is no such monstrosity in the universe as a professed representative and resemblance of Jesus Christ who goes about his business in a cold, emotionless spirit.
There is a great cry in some directions for more intellect in the pulpit; it seems to me that there is a far greater need for more heart.
If there be one character which above another God must abominate, angels weep over, and devils despise, it must be the automatical preachers who can discourse by the hour about the love of Christ, the worth of souls, the terrors of judgment. and the sorrows of the lost, with a flinty indifference or a ranting fervour which hardly lasts the service over, and which all can see is put on for the occasion.
Oh, these ministerial machines, these mechanical preachers who are quite content if their salaries are paid and a round of meetings gone through, are the curse of Christendom and the wholesale manufacturers of backsliders and infidels. May God deliver us from them. Brethren, whatever other gifts you have, if you are to succeed, you must have hearts, and hearts that can feel.
Love will make you preach. A man cannot help but be an interesting talker on any theme on which his nature is powerfully stirred, and on which he has any measure of information. It is the stolid, indifferent, professional spouters of sermons that can get neither hearers nor souls.
Again and again in his autobiography, Finney, the great American Evangelist, says, “I let out my heart to my people”; and they wept and fell under the power of God. Of how many preachers can this be said? How often, alas! is it not just a got-off piece of intellectual stuff — and not much intellect either — that is let out.
The last thing the preacher thinks of or desires is the letting out of his heart, and consequently the heartless performance is met with a heartless response from those who listen, and who, after a few minutes’ wonderment, or, as it may be, admiration, forget the whole affair. Oh, if you love, you will pour out your souls before the people, and they will weep and feel in return.
Love will make you beloved. If you love your people they cannot help but love you in return. There are exceptions to all rules. There is a November time, perhaps, in every man’s history, when everything is gloomy, and nothing seems to bring sunshine to the people’s hearts so twisted and perverted may they have become.
Cross-currents will sometimes run so strongly that, try as you will, you cannot reach the desired haven of the people’s affections. But, as a rule, love will prove an invincible conqueror, and will bring the people to your feet. You can love your way through every difficulty. Hold on, then, even though the more you love the less you are beloved.
To manage a station effectively you must
(3) NURSE YOUR PEOPLE.
I don’t mean that you should cozen, and comfort, and encourage the old do-nothing members, if there are any, who come with their mouths open three times every Sabbath to be fed in idleness. No! Tip up their cradle. Make them question the ground of their religious hopes.
Make them understand that true godliness is practical benevolence, and that they must at once become followers of Jesus, and go in for a life of self-sacrifice in order to do good and save souls, or else give up all hope and title to being Christians.
Make the people see this, and keep on at it until they do. They will rub their eyes, and wake up, depend upon it, when they do see it; and though some may go off to other places where they can be edified without being constantly faced with their neglected responsibilities, others will go to work with a will, and you will soon see things move.
But I was saying that you must nurse your people, and there are two classes that seem to me to want specially your tender care.
There are the wanderers, England is full of backsliders, These should be hunted up, and brought back.
Nurse the converts, . . . My experience has taught me that the use of appropriate means is as indispensable to preserve the converts as it is to secure them.. . .
I leave the theology of this question to the doctors of divinity, I simply state the fact. If you fathers and mothers want to rear your children up to strong man- and womanhood, you feed and watch over them with all tender, loving care; and if you evangelists, and brethren, and sisters, in charge of God’s great family want to rear up for Him and for humanity the babes with whom you are entrusted, to perfect men and women in Jesus Christ, you must care for them; you must nurse them.
If you keep them, brethren, and if your returns from time to time show increases, you will prove in the most incontestable manner that you do wisely and lovingly watch them. But if, on the contrary, you do not — if you bring statements of large numbers of converts, and small or no increases in membership, you will leave it open for people to infer either that the conversions are not real, or that, being real, they are not properly looked after.