V. HAVING A CONCERN FOR OTHERS
A person who has no concern for others cannot serve the Lord, much less be an elder. If an elder is afraid of being bothered, it is best for him not to be an elder. An elder is like a father or mother in a family. Parenthood is the most bothersome responsibility. The more an elder is willing to be bothered, the better he will function. If a brother comes to you today, a sister comes tomorrow, an unemployed person the third day, and if people come to you when they quarrel, when they are sick, when they need to buy a coffin, or a grave site, or when they do not know how to read the Bible or cannot have their prayers answered—if all these ones come to you—you are functioning quite well as an elder. But if no one ever comes to you, I think you should not be an elder any longer.
The secret to having others come to you is to have a concern for them. Once you have a concern for others, they will surely come to you. You have no idea how much help people need today. Strong ones never consider how the weak ones need help! Not only on important issues such as marriage, schooling, and employment, but even on trivial matters, the brothers and sisters need help. Some become ill and need to find a doctor. Even in the matter of finding the right doctor, there is the need of help.
The worldly people do not care much about fellowship, but we Christians are the people that care the most about fellowship. If you want to see a doctor and you can first have some fellowship with the elders, you will surely be blessed. If you want to rent a house and can first have some fellowship with the elders, you will also surely be blessed. Some brothers are really good elders; when others fellowship with them about renting a house, they can immediately ask a lot of questions. They may check to see if there is electricity and water, if transportation is convenient, if the place is close to the market, to the school, and what kind of people the neighbors are. They may check in detail on the kind of people living upstairs and those living downstairs, how is the entrance to the place and the exit from it, and how good is the security. If the brother says that there is a dance hall next door, the elder would at once reply, "How can you live next door to a dance hall? Do you want your children to learn to dance?" You can see that this is genuine help. Some do not have that much common sense and do not consider things thoroughly. Therefore, they need the help of an elder.
Some elders are really like parents. When you present a matter to such an elder, immediately he will consider everything for you. Perhaps you are considering the matter of marriage. While you are still getting acquainted with the other party, you decide to go to an elder. The elder will bring up many questions which are a great help to you. For example, he may discuss with you the kind of mate you should choose, the way you should contact the other party, and the circumstances under which you should contact the other party. These deal with the human side. In terms of godliness before God, he considers for you the proper way to maintain propriety. This is a very great help. If each local church can have more elders who are like this, it will truly be a blessing to all the brothers and sisters.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)