IV. IN PATIENCE
Patience is something that it is very difficult to talk about. I believe all of us know what patience is. But allow me to say this—nine out of ten people who think they are patient understand patience in an incorrect way. The patience that most people understand has to do with being slow and not being in a hurry. Patience to them is to do nothing when others offend you. If someone promises to come at twelve o’clock, and he has not come at 12:15, I exercise patience towards him. This is what most people understand patience to be, but this is not the patience we are speaking of here. The patience we are speaking of refers to having hope in others despite encountering many troubles. No matter how much work you have invested in others, and no matter how terrible the result is, you still have hope in them. No matter how much you have worked, and despite a lack of results after repeated labor, you are still not disappointed. A person looks hopeless today and tomorrow. He looks hopeless after a year or two years, but you still go to him. This is what we mean by patience.
I have met a brother who in some aspects is a typical patient man, but who in other aspects is a typical impatient man. On the one hand, this person is never in a hurry; he speaks slowly, acts slowly, and contacts people slowly. He is indeed a patient man. On the other hand, however, he does not have any patience. When he gives a message, he finishes it in three to five sentences. When he deals with the affairs of the church, whatever he can accomplish he accomplishes, and whatever he cannot accomplish he simply lets go. You may say that he is a very forthright person, but actually he is simply an impatient person. What is patience? It is not patience to do things slowly. It is not patience to wait. Patience is to be able to endure setbacks in your work. When you are repeatedly mistreated, yet you still hold on, this is patience.
There was a co-worker in Tsingtao who had really learned the lesson of patience. In 1934 he was led to work in Tsingtao. After staying there for half a year, there was no result. After one year, he still saw no result. In July and August of 1935, when Brother Nee went with a few of us brothers from Tsinan to Tsingtao, we saw that the condition there was completely barren; there was absolutely no result. All of us had the feeling that perhaps this brother should not remain in Tsingtao. It was too much a suffering for him to remain there all the time without seeing any result. At that time his circumstances were difficult. He rented a small room underneath the stairway of someone else’s house. There was only an old bed and an old chair. Nothing looked proper, and there were absolutely no results in his work. Everyone would tell him to go to another place. Yet he continued to stand fast there.
He persevered under this kind of condition for another three years. By that time there was some upturn in the work. The saints there found a house to meet in on the top of a hill. Everyone going to the meeting had to climb up the hill. I was only a little over thirty years of age at that time, but even I complained and said, "Are you going to ask people to climb a hill to come to the meeting?" That was all the result there was of three years of labor. I thought there were so many places that he could work. Why did he have to stay in Tsingtao? But he was still working enthusiastically there and was not discouraged at all.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)