How to Lead the Young People, by Witness Lee


First of all, I have already said this earlier, but now I want to say it again: If you want to help the young people, you must have an interest in them. I was in a place where there was a group of brothers and sisters who were forty and fifty years of age. None of them had anything good to say about the young people. Some of them told me, “Brother Lee, look at the young people among us. Do they look proper? They don’t know the difference between the elderly and the young, between seniors and juniors. They give us a cold shoulder when they see us on the street. They stare at us when they see us at the entrance of the meeting hall. Brother Lee, you have to give a message to render some help to these young people so that they will know the difference between seniors and juniors, between the elderly and the young.” At another time a brother in his fifties came to see me and said, “Brother Lee, look at the young people among us. They are so improper. When they walk, their steps are flying and their eyes are wandering. They are really out of order.” Some time later while I was with a group of elderly brothers, one of them asked me to give a message that would teach the young people to be obedient. He said, “Our young people simply do not obey the elderly ones.” That day I felt it was a good opportunity to say a word to them. Therefore, I said, “Brothers, you have mentioned to me many times how wrong the young people are. I would like to ask you, if the young people are right, then what need is there for you, the older ones? No doubt they are wrong, but what kind of example have you given them?” I spoke at some length to them that day with the intention to incite them to help the young people and have an interest in them. Do not find their faults at first. If you do, you cannot help them.

Some have a special liking for the young people whom they consider good, but they purse their mouths and shake their heads when they see those whom they think are not good. This is wrong. Often times God will prove to you that your evaluation of those whom you think are good is inaccurate. Instead, those whom you consider not good may be greatly used by God. Therefore, it is hard to say that those whom we feel are good now will be good in the future, and those whom we feel are bad today will be bad tomorrow. We should never trust in our own judgment. This applies even to our evaluation of ourselves. We may be good today, but that does not guarantee that we will be good to the end. We may be bad today, but the Lord may turn us to be good tomorrow. Likewise, regardless of whether the young people are good or bad, we need to treat everyone the same, and we need to like them and be concerned for them. Do they walk as if they are flying? Then you should fly with them. Are their eyes wandering? You should also let your eyes wander. Are they playing ball? Play a game with them, and then talk to them about the Lord Jesus when the game is over. This is genuine capability. However, if you cannot talk to them about the Lord Jesus because He is gone after you play ball, then your spirituality is false.

Let me give you another example. Suppose you run into a young brother on the street. You ask him where he is going, and he says, “I am going to a movie because I am very bored.” Never rebuke him with a long face, saying, “Why are you going to watch a movie? How can you do that?” If you do this, you will not be able to help this young man. It is better for you to have a little conversation with him. Ask him what movie and which theater he is going to. Then walk with him for a short distance or call a taxi and ride with him. While you are on the way to the theater, you can talk to him about some of the things that are on your heart. You may ask him, “Brother, did you enjoy reading the Word in the last couple of days?” In this way you can begin to talk to him about reading the Bible. You can also talk to him about prayer and ask him if he has prayed recently. When you get to the theater, you may tell him, “Brother, here we are. You go in, and I’ll pay for the taxi. I have to go to a meeting. Ten minutes before the end of the movie I will come back and be here waiting for you.” Instead of being impatient with him, you are fully interested in him. If you have some money with you, you may ask him, “Brother, do you have your cash ready? Is it enough to buy the ticket? If not, I can give you some.” Brothers and sisters, if you can do this, see whether or not you can lead him! I am afraid that you may be like a “lawyer” with an expressionless face, teaching him sternly and even condemning him. After being condemned by you, he may not be able to be delivered from movies for the rest of his life—he will not be able to live without watching movies. His going to the movies for the rest of his life will be due to your provoking. Do not think that I am talking nonsense. I know what I am talking about.

This is what the Lord Jesus did that day on the way to Emmaus. The Lord asked the two disciples, saying, “What are these words which you are exchanging with one another while you are walking?” (Luke 24:17). One of them replied, “Do You alone dwell as a stranger in Jerusalem and not know the things which have taken place in it in these days?” (v. 18). Of course, the Lord Jesus was very clear, but He still asked them, “What things?” (v. 19). They talked a great deal, and the Lord Jesus just listened patiently. They were walking downhill, and the Lord Jesus just walked with them. In the end, however, the Lord opened their eyes, and they turned around. Brothers and sisters, I believe that you all know what I mean by these words. Do you want to help the young people? Then, first of all you need to be interested in them. Do not be concerned first about their mistakes; do not condemn them at all. You should give them a feeling that you are their good friend, that you sympathize with them, and that you are interested in them and in their affairs. This is the chief point.

(How to Lead the Young People, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)