SHEPHERDING AND MINISTERING LIFE
Whenever a matter pertaining to the service is put in your hand, do not organize anything. Instead, exercise your spirit to pray and to minister life to others. The best shepherding takes place in the context of the church service. The reason for this is that all the leaders of the service groups spontaneously are shepherds. However, in practice, many of the leaders have functioned as organizers, not as shepherds. It is easy to organize, but to shepherd requires considerable exercise of spirit, patience, and love. It also demands that we minister life to others, even to those who are not so open. Do not neglect the ones you regard as useless. It is your responsibility to care for them, to make them living, and to help them to grow in life. In other words, you need to make them useful. This does not come by organizing; it comes by praying, shepherding, nourishing, and ministering life to them with patience. Do not concentrate on the ones you think are the best. Instead, pay attention to the ones who seem to be useless ones, even the worldly ones. The right way is to care for a certain worldly one, ministering life to him, until a transformation has taken place in him. This is not the way of organizing; it is the way of shepherding by praying and ministering life.
Some elders and co-workers still have the concept and attitude that they cannot do anything with those who do not seem to be promising. Sometimes I have asked the elders in certain places why they have not produced any useful ones. The reason for the lack is that they have not trained anyone. Forty years ago, in my home town of Chefoo we trained the brothers and sisters. We were like carpenters making furniture. If we could not obtain the best wood, we used whatever wood was available. And if there was no wood, we used cardboard. Likewise, if we do not have the most qualified people, we should train the people we have. If a carpenter knows his trade, he will be able to make tables out of almost any material. We need to be like this in the Lord’s recovery.
BEARING THE TESTIMONY
We have seen that the Levites between the ages of thirty and fifty were the ones who bore the testimony. They were qualified both in age and in training. To bear the testimony is to have the actual church life. Neither the fighting on the frontier nor the taking care of the young ones is the direct service of the testimony, the direct church life. However, in order to keep the church life, we need both the fighting and the caring for the little ones. Those fighting on the frontier keep the enemy away, and the little ones, forming a wall around the tabernacle, maintain the testimony. But those typified by the Levites between the ages of thirty and fifty carry on the direct church life. With them are a number of learners. A great many people are needed for the Lord’s testimony, all of whom are for the tabernacle either directly or indirectly. Presently we are seriously lacking those who know how to care for the tabernacle in a fine way in order to carry the Lord’s testimony. In the Lord’s recovery we need a group of experienced ones who have been trained to bear the testimony.
We are not here as part of Christianity; neither are we here to be another denomination or independent group. We are the Lord’s recovery. For this, we must be serious with the Lord and go on with Him according to our age. Then a strong testimony will be built up. There will be a clear testimony to the Christians, to the unbelievers, and to the principalities and powers in the air. We shall be able to testify to all that the Lord has fulfilled His prophecy in Matthew 16:18 concerning the building of the church. The clear picture of the type in the Old Testament helps us to see what we need today.
(All Ages for the Lord's Testimony, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)