Stop Tinkering!

by Ty Gibson  |  December 3, 2013

Is there somebody in your family or in your church who is doing something you think they ought not to be doing?

Of course there is!

Are there people around you with defects of character that you can’t help but notice?


Do you find it natural to try and correct the defects you see in others?

If not, you need to read no further.

Okay, I see you’re still reading, so the following quotation is for you:

“Men make the work of advancing the truth tenfold harder than it really is by seeking to take God’s work out of His hands into their own finite hands. They think that they must be constantly inventing something to make men do things which they suppose these persons ought to do. The time thus spent is all the while making the work more complicated, for the great chief Worker is left out of the question in the care of His own heritage. Men undertake the job of tinkering up the defective characters of others, and only succeed in making the defects much worse. They would better leave God to do His own work, for He does not regard them as capable of reshaping character” (Ellen White, Testimonies to Ministers, p. 191).


If that smarts your conscience like it does mine, you won’t want to read it again. But you really should, and this time slower.

Words couldn’t be truer.

Stop and think about it: have your efforts to fix people by “tinkering up” their defective characters—by pointing out their defects, by subtly or not so subtly imposing guilt, by applying manipulative pressures—ever, even once, brought about positive changes in your “target”? I’d venture a guess that you can’t cite a single success story.

Nor can I.


Because the method itself is inherently flawed. People do not turn from their defects and sins when pressured to do so. In fact, the natural tendency of the human heart will be to resist or rebel when tinkering pressures are applied. God has a different method: He reveals His forgiving grace, and it transforms from the inside out.

So leave God to His work. Stop tinkering with people’s characters. Allow the Savior to do the saving. He’s good at it, and He’s the only one who knows how to approach each one with the best possible effect.

Ty Gibson Co-Director
Light Bearers
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  • Beautiful

    Amen this is right on point up my alley. Lord Jesus help me

  • cynthia jackson,cjn

    “Tinkering,” I have not heard that before, nor have I read the quote. But it is very encouraging to me. You see, I have been struggling now for a couple of years with thoughts of things I should say to someone, correcting their behavior or “unchristian delivery,” or perhaps they have been unkind to me…But in most cases I have prayed earnestly for God to give ME eye salve that I see no evil. And HE has been very gracious in changing MY thinking, and teaching me meekness through it all. I quote to myself, many times a day, the text, “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity, every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

  • cynthia jackson,cjn

    We want to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you, and your families at Light Bearers Ministry, May God continue to bless you! You are certainly a blessing to us, your audience.

  • Maryann Lee

    LOVE THIS!!!!! THANK-YOU! Lots of bullying goes on because of this. Use or force and nagging is not Christian like in any manner. Glad you are on tract 🙂

  • Danny Whatley

    Well spoken!

  • We want to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you, and your families at Light Bearers Ministry, May God continue to bless you! Light Bearers is very much appreciated.

  • Yvonne

    Hello Ty, So what is our job? I believe what she says is true but where is the balance? What about the watchmen on the wall? Please explain. I’m confused.

  • Oscar Belmo

    I agree wholeheartedly with every single word said, and I sincerely mean that. However, there is no way as a Christian, a follower of Christ that I can or should sit back and watch someone murder themselves with, say, cigarettes, liquor, or any drug of choice and not say something to them about it especially if I have a first hand knowledge of what the outcome could be. It just might be what God, may want me to do at that opportune time in that persons life. ( I say to my wife constantly and it does not mean that it is law, but ” you never know when you maybe saying I love you to some one you do love for the very last time. See what I am saying. ( Who can be like God, but God.)

  • Oscar Belmo

    When would Pastor David Asscherick, give the Seventh Day Adventist Community Praise Center Church in Alexandria, Virginia a visit. That would certainly be a tremendous blessing for every one involved. We love you brother Asscherick, and may God, continue to pour His blessings upon you.


  • Paul

    Inspiring and encouraging words to move in a positive direction .

  • Thank you for this wise counsel. Reminded me that all I have to do is pray and let God do all in His time and manner. God bless. Raquel

  • I do see what you’re saying and agree Ty, but I honestly have a question about something the Bible shows and Ellen White commented on, when is there the time for this..?

    Prophets and Kings:

    Page 140

    Today there is need of the voice of stern rebuke; for grievous sins have separated the people from God. Infidelity is fast becoming fashionable. “We will not have this man to reign over us,” is the language of thousands. Luke 19:14. The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impression; the trumpet does not give a certain sound. Men are not cut to the heart by the plain, sharp truths of God’s word.

    There are many professed Christians who, if they should express their real feelings, would say, What need is there of speaking so plainly? They might as well ask, Why need John the Baptist have said to the Pharisees, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to

    Page 141

    come?” Luke 3:7. Why need he have provoked the anger of Herodias by telling Herod that it was unlawful for him to live with his brother’s wife? The forerunner of Christ lost his life by his plain speaking. Why could he not have moved along without incurring the displeasure of those who were living in sin?
    So men who should be standing as faithful guardians of God’s law have argued, till policy has taken the place of faithfulness, and sin is allowed to go unreproved. When will the voice of faithful rebuke be heard once more in the church?

  • roger hernandez

    I loved it.

  • Craig

    Ty, enjoy that winter in Poland! Thank you so much for these encouraging thoughts! Craig

  • Pat Mudgett

    Dear Ty,

    Words were never so truly spoken! I just had an incident where I had asked a friend of our church, but not yet a member, to do the children’s story. She was exceedingly pleased to be asked as she works a daytime job with children and would certainly have resources that I had no access to. A friend called it to my attention that I shouldn’t have asked a non-member to do anything from the platform. I advised her to talk with the woman, and she declined, thrusting that job on me. I spoke with some of our elders, and got mixed reviews about what I should or shouldn’t do to resolve it. Reluctantly, I spoke with the woman, trying to cut out anything that sounded like a rebuke, and yet asking her to remove (temporarily) that item which offended the other person. She responded that she, being the stronger of the two should act on biblical principle and decline to do the story as it was clearly upsetting a weaker member. I felt sick to be put upon to do something I would otherwise have had nothing to do with. Part of my reason for inviting her to participate was that I had just asked her dear friend, a younger woman, to do the special music for the same week. My understanding from another person was that the non-member was absolutely tickled to be asked, and I felt that the opportunity would cause her to have a closer relationship with our church. Such was not to be the case, as she left the church right after I spoke with her, and her younger friend followed her out to the car, where the victim leaned against the car and sobbed over the consequence of the pharisaical accusation. I found out later that my pastor had been asked about what he would have done, and he responded that he would have let her tell the story. (Thank God for men who listen to the Spirit!) The lady sent me a Thanksgiving Day card from her and her younger friend, letting me know that they knew that I had also been victimized by the person who complained, who was unwilling to take responsibility for “tinkering” with something that I believe God was orchestrating. The greater loss was ours.

    Later, on thinking about how Jesus would have handled a similar situation, it occurred to me that He had surrounded Himself with an inner circle that included an impulsive fisherman, two brothers with a short fuse, a publically hated tax collector, and a traitor, among others, and He sent them all out, two by two, on missionary ventures where they all saw God perform miracles in their behalf. Judas also participated in these efforts, though later, he would become the one to betray his Lord with a kiss. Except for Judas, all of these men, under the direct tutelage of Jesus, became men of God for the work of His kingdom.

    Had I had time to think about it thoroughly, I should have told the complainer that unless she was willing to substitute for the woman and fill the gap as children’s storyteller, that she should keep her comments to herself. As it was, I did ask her to fill the vacated slot, and she said no.
    I should have expected that.

    I genuinely hope no one else falls prey to this kind of thing, as the people who complain the loudest are usually the first to run and hide when they are given the opportunity to speak for themselves to the one they’re griping about.

    Thanks for listening,

  • Mike Hanson

    Wonderful article, Ty. Reminds me of a familiar theme preached by my late father-in-law, Elder Wayne Thurber, who often lamented “the everlasting inspectors of warts and carbuncles,” presumably well-intentioned Christians who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, stop “tinkering” in other people’s lives. Your blog deserves to be printed and posted on the bathroom mirror for a daily review and reminder.

  • Ha. That’s funny, because I thought I could just that about the first year of my marriage, to my wife. Not. Character development is in God’s hands. Always.

  • Love the quote and the message of this blog. A thought: Understood outside of the greater context of inspiration this quote could be used by a person attempting to justify their apathy. Cain said he wasn’t his brother’s keeper. To disciple is to take responsibility and it’s the fool that hates correction because he’d rather feel good and look good than be good. The one who’s been broken loves to hear constructive criticism from a trusted brother. Psalms 141:5 Of course Ty understands this and i’m in no way suggesting his post is advocating for apathy. I’m just adding my 2 cents. I do hear the message though and praise God for it. God help me sigh and cry and like Christ take responsibility for my brothers but stop tinkering and allow you to be God!

  • Maryann

    I think it’s a good idea to try to let the person know how much God loves them…in different ways over time…..I find that works because the person already knows smoking and drinking isn’t good. Doubt he or she wants to be addicted to it; they feel stress relief from these substance so it forms a habit. If they knew the peace that only comes from God, they would have the stress relief from the right Source.

  • Dan & Linda Thompson

    Thanks, Brother Ty. Need to read this. Numbers 6:24-26!
    Dan & Linda