Combining an Occupation With Service; Exercises to Fit for Service; the Lord's Work Combined With Secular Work

Acts 20:34-35
Dearest Brother,—I was glad to hear you were occupied and found openings. I judge any occupation, such as commercial traveler (which I mention because some one said you thought of it), would engross you, and lead you where divinely-given work might not be. All I should think of, supposing your time was not fully occupied, would be to do something which would fill it up, which you could relinquish when service called. In a wild country this is even easier than in an old one, only it requires a little faith and energy. If you found you were not called in your heart to work, that is a different question. It depends on our love to souls. God draws out our hearts after them when He moves us to serve Him in these things. Then it is a great matter to follow the Lord's leading where His Spirit is working, and, above all, self-sacrifice and devotedness: this, above all, I feel to be the great matter.
There is another thing that you will have to consider, that is, that true work is not like ordination to an office where a routine is to be gone through, and, if blessing comes, it is all well. There are exercises of soul; there is, even when we have the truest desire to serve, so much in us that has to be exercised to fit us for service. You might say, did not Paul preach at once? Yes; but he was then set aside for some years till Barnabas went to seek him. Moses was forty years thus set aside. Now I do not say that every one is thus, as to the form of it, set aside; but as to the flesh-making nothing of us-it is true. It may be by, as to men, a little valued exercise as to ministry, so as to be cast on the Lord, and our motives purified; or, where more-exercised gifts are, so that, though we may work with blessing in less conspicuous spheres, notice is elsewhere. This is not a question of gift exactly, but that maturing of the vessel which connects gift with the state of soul, so as to give on the one hand subjection, earnestness, and seriousness; and enables the laborer to connect truth with the souls of his hearers. Now when the Lord calls us and exercises us thus, we may often be occupied partially with other occupations, as not having our time filled. I should not feel happy at the thought of seeking one's mere livelihood, if called to serve the Lord, through anything like a want of faith. It mars faith for the work itself, just as mere worldly occupation or attention to men, however amiable. We are not our own; "occupy till I come" is the word. All I look for in the last case I have put s where work does not call. It is healthful not to charge the church. It is not healthful to neglect work where it does call, not healthful even to our own souls. Our heavenly Father knows we have need of all these things. We have also to consider the difference of gift. All is not public speaking; visits, reading meetings are as important in their own way as public discourses, sometimes work when other work cannot be done....
My earnest hope would be that the Lord has called you to work. But suppose (I do not in the least judge so, or the contrary) the Lord had given you more of a pastor's and teacher's work than an evangelist's, this naturally requires more maturity even for the teaching, still more for pastorship. During the process we might, in a measure, spare the burden to the church: if it dragged us out of the exercise of the gift or the service which matured for us, it would be a great pity. In a certain sense I believe I was put into official ministry immaturely; but I know God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him. You are perhaps as happily placed for growing up into ministry as may be. If anything which leaves you free you could do, as I said in my last, it would be so far a testimony. Elders (Acts 20), though counted worthy of double honor, are exhorted to labor for their temporal wants. A moving evangelist would find it very hard unless he had a Paul's energy. If brethren are scattered, not having a home is an advantage: one does not waste just half one's strength in returning to it. It greatly facilitates the work. I have largely worked in this way. If the work is local, save occasional visits to a distance, where one may stay a night, it is better to have one, a gite of some sort.
I trust the blessing continues at Hamilton, but there are first last, and last first. May He keep us doing "this one thing" and walking with Him.
Affectionately yours, dear brother.