APT TO TEACH
In order to shepherd the saints, the elders must be apt to teach. In shepherding others by teaching, we do not give them lectures or messages. Rather, we give them edifying and nourishing instructions. We may not be eloquent, but we can still nourish others by instructing them.
According to Ephesians 4, the shepherds and the teachers are one category. This indicates that anyone who would be a shepherd must also be a teacher. Likewise, a good teacher is also a shepherd. Some so-called teachers, however, do not know anything about shepherding. They may give sermons, but they do not shepherd anyone. But in the Bible a shepherd is a teacher, and a teacher is a shepherd. Just as a mother shepherds her children by feeding them and caring for them, so we also need to shepherd God’s children. For example, some need help in knowing the church ground. In order for them to be clear about the ground of the church, someone needs to shepherd them by teaching them. Who will do this work? We all must rise up to do it. No matter how many elders we may have, they are not sufficient to fill the gap. For the shepherding, there is the need for all the brothers and sisters to function.
We teach others by what we do. Suppose a new one sitting next to you in a meeting cannot find the book of Haggai. By helping him find this book, you teach him. Perhaps someone else is not familiar with a certain term that is used. By having fellowship with him, you may help him understand the significance of this term. This is shepherding. All the weak ones, new ones, and young ones need a great deal of such teaching. Whenever someone renders them this kind of help, they are built up. Eventually, through receiving this kind of help, they also become useful. This is the way to build up the church.
In the previous chapters I encouraged the saints to open their homes. Now I encourage you all to do the shepherding. Sisters, some of you have been in the Lord and in the church life for years, and you have attended many conferences and trainings. Surely you have received something from the Lord. Now is the time to exercise yourselves to use the grace you have received and the gift you have been given to care for others.
The way to grow is not by grouping yourselves together in a selective way; it is by eating and working. My health comes from these two sources. I eat well, and I work with every fiber of my being. After I work, I rest. The more I work, the better I rest. Sisters, I encourage you to go to the weaker ones. If you do this, the church meetings will be full of joy and glory. Oh, so many sick ones, hurt ones, and young ones need to be taken care of! How can we come together and praise the Lord for our oneness if we are not willing to shepherd the saints? Whenever I hear this kind of praise, I wonder about the weak ones and the young ones and about those who do not come to the meetings. I wonder who is taking care of them. There is no need to tell me how much oneness you have. If you go to the weaker ones and shepherd them, then your oneness is genuine and practical. I thank the Lord that you all are for the Lord’s recovery. But we still need to be for the recovery in a practical way.
BRINGING BACK THE LOST SHEEP
I hope that in the coming days many lost sheep will be brought back. I can still remember my mother’s concern for her seven children. Whenever one of the children was out too late, my mother would tell me that I should have no peace or rest until that one was home. She told me that if I were not willing to go out after my brothers and sisters, I did not truly love them. Therefore, I had to go to look for the brother or sister who was not at home. My mother would not accept any excuse. In the same principle, how can we be at rest until our brothers and sisters have been brought back to the church life? You may be at rest, but I am not at rest, for I am concerned for those who are not with us.
(All Ages for the Lord's Testimony, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)