Now, if you can...give up all competition with respect to other objects, if you can stand aside from the race which too many other ministers are running and say, from your heart, “Let those who choose to engage in such a race divide the prize; let one minister run away with the money, and another with the esteem, and a third with the applause, etc. I have...a different race to run; be God’s approbations the only prize for which I run, let me obtain that, and it is enough.” If you can, from your heart, adopt this language, you will find most of your difficulties and sufferings vanish.
But...it is almost impossible to persuade any man to renounce the race, without cutting off his feet....This God has done for me; this He has been doing for you. And you will, one day, if you do not now, bless Him for all your sufferings as I do for mine. I have not suffered one pang too much. God was never more kind than when I thought Him most unkind—never more faithful than when I was ready to say, “His faithfulness has failed....”
Anything is a blessing which prevents us from running the fatal race, which we are so prone to run—[anything] which first convinces us we are nothing, and then makes us willing to be so.
—Edward Payson, early in the 1800s, letter of advice to a fellow minister, in They Knew Their God, Lillian G. Harvey, Vol Six, p. 68