The Elders' Management of the Church, by Witness Lee


Honesty here does not refer to the absence of lying and cheating. It refers to truthfulness and genuineness. It means to neither speak with twisting words nor exercise any tactfulness or manipulating. If things can be done, you simply do them. If they cannot be done, you simply do not do them. There is no maneuvering of tactfulness. In these years, I have seen many dishonest things among God’s children. Sometimes, even when a brother gives you a piece of clothing, he is not being honest. Do you understand what I am saying? He gives you that piece of clothing, not because he loves you and feels that you need some clothing, but because he wants you to do something for him. He is afraid that you may not fulfill his request. That is why he gives you the piece of clothing. Please remember that this is something that comes from a dishonest heart. Among the Gentiles it would not be considered deceitful, but in the church this is dishonesty.

Many times those who are elders are too seasoned. Forgive me for saying this. They are far too seasoned, to the point that they have become crafty. Inwardly, such a one may not be at all satisfied with you, but outwardly, he is smiling. It is right for him not to lose his temper with others even when he is not satisfied with them, but neither should he pretend outwardly to be happy. This is falsehood. Such a one should have a sober attitude before others; he should make the others realize that he is not pleased. This is the right way. It is right for you not to lose your temper, but it is not right for you to pretend with a smiling face. You must behave yourself from an honest heart. In any social organization, people may pretend, and may exercise politics, and use manipulating. But the brothers and sisters, especially those who are elders, should only be genuine. We must learn to have an honest heart before God. Our words, our expression, our attitude, and our contacts with the brothers and sisters must all be genuine.

Brothers, whenever you are not genuine, it means that you have a motive, and to have a motive means that you are being political. In typology this is the leprosy on the garment as mentioned in Leviticus 13. If I give something to a brother, it should be because I have such a burden, feeling, and love from the Lord. What I do outwardly comes from what I have within. This is very beautiful. But if I never had such a burden, guidance, or love, it is leprosy to give a brother something in order to obligate him to do something for me in return. This must never be done. It may be done in society, but not in the church. I must repeat this again and again: it is true that we cannot lose our temper whenever we like, and we cannot speak carelessly, but at the same time we must not try to manipulate. Our outward attitude should manifest the inward condition of our heart. Never consider this matter lightly. If you want to be a genuine elder, you will find this lesson quite difficult to learn. To refrain from being political yet at the same time not lose your discipline before God is not an easy thing to do.

Brothers, you have to forgive me for saying this: sometimes when you become too seasoned in handling matters, you have in reality become a two-faced person. One of the faces is light, while the other is dark. In other words, one face is black and the other is white. This is not right. No elder can behave himself this way. This is equivalent to an elder having a double tongue and speaking two different kinds of words. An elder can only have one expression and one manifestation inwardly and outwardly. I hope all the brothers would learn this lesson.

(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)