III. BEING DILIGENT
In addition, an elder must not be slothful. A slothful elder in a local church brings that church under a curse. It can be compared to what happens in a family; if the parents are lazy, it is a punishment to the children. The elders must have a diligent character. Anything in the hands of a slothful man will be delayed and cannot be depended on. All those who know how to work know that success in every task depends on the seizing of time. What is an opportunity? Opportunity is the seizing of time. When you seize the time, you gain the opportunity. When you let time slip by, you lose the opportunity. Whoever can seize time is a diligent person.
If you read through the Old Testament and then the New Testament, you will realize that everyone who serves the Lord has a distinctive character, one of diligence. If you want to manage the church well, you must exercise yourself to have a diligent character. Once a matter is placed in your hands, you should not place it on the shelf. Everything in our hands must be carried out diligently.
A diligent character is ninety percent developed through habit. Some people were not born lazy, but they have developed a lazy habit. As a result, they bear a lazy character. Slothfulness is a serious matter. If you allow slothfulness to have its way, it will make you more slothful. No wonder Solomon said that the sluggard buries his hand in the dish and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again. Consider the extent to which a person’s slothfulness may carry him! Whenever I read Solomon’s description of slothfulness in Proverbs, I cannot help but laugh. He described how a lazy man is good at finding excuses. For example, if you want such a man to run an errand down the street, he would say that he does not want to go down the street, for there is a lion on the street. Whenever I read this, I always laugh. This is truly a good excuse! You may remember another way he described a slothful man, that he wallows on his bed like the door turns upon its hinges. These are all Solomon’s descriptions. He showed us that if slothfulness becomes our habit, it can become very harmful.
I wish to tell the brothers and sisters that if you wish to overcome your slothfulness and develop the habit of diligence, you must start from your own personal matters, both great and small. In some places, I said this to the young people: "If I see that your shoes are unpolished and dusty, I know that you must be a lazy person." You may say that you do not have time. This is an excuse. I must tell you that you have time no matter how little time you have. It takes only a few seconds to clean a pair of shoes. There is an old saying: "Slothfulness and uncleanness are twin sisters." Wherever you find a place that is unclean, you know that a lazy man has been there. What is uncleanness? Uncleanness is to leave everything as it is. When you visit some churches, you will find the condition there is one that is unclean. By unclean, I do not mean that it is filthy or dirty; I mean that things there are messy, disorderly, and lacking in management. This condition simply proves that the elders there are lazy.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)