LEARNING TO LISTEN TO OTHERS
Listening to Others Being
the Requirement for Service
In the meeting hall in Chefoo, there is a fixed place for everything, including the rags, the toilet paper, the pencils, and the nails. Nothing can be placed at random. There is a person in charge of every matter and every article. After a person is finished using any article, there are definite rules as to where the article should go. Sometimes we change the arrangements a few times a month. The purpose of this is to train the brothers and sisters to listen to others. Today, many people have never learned to listen to others. If we want to serve together, we have to fulfill this requirement in service. Once we are loose, we become "Sunday-Christians." To serve the Lord is different from doing any other piece of work. If you want to be a proper brother or sister, you have to declare that we who serve the Lord are people who would listen. We cannot work according to our own ways. Our own ways must be dropped. They must be dropped absolutely. When a decision has been made by the elders concerning ushering, none of the brothers can act any longer according to his own wish. A brother cannot come for a week and not come for another week. Once, in a certain church some chairs were moved. When I heard about it, I asked who had moved them. The one who gave the order said that the chairs were in the wrong place. I said, "It is not a question of the right place or the wrong place, but a question of who is giving the order." Later, the matter was decided in the elders’ meeting. If you can neither take orders nor give orders, then you can only be one that takes candies; you can only do what you like to do. I can testify that during the past year, I have been exercising myself in Shanghai in this way; I put myself under the direction of the "little" brothers and yield myself to the brothers’ arrangement to take a turn to serve in the fifteen districts.
Listening to Others Being Listening to the Lord
The church is not a place of dictatorship. Here we all learn to listen to others. The Lord is the Word. Hence, for us to listen to others’ words is actually for us to listen to the Lord. This is why we have to learn to listen to others’ words. There should be some persons responsible for every item of service in the church. There are responsible ones for the cleaning service, the ushering service, and the visitation service. There should be someone in charge of every item of service. This will make things easy to handle. In this way, those who practice submission will experience the joy and presence of the Lord.
In the church in Chefoo, the floors are cleaned by the brothers and sisters themselves. While the brothers and sisters were cleaning, they would pray that those who put their feet on that floor would be saved. Those who clean the chairs would also pray that those who sit on those chairs would be saved. All the brothers and sisters have a heart for the church, and everything was done for the Lord. Every item of service in the church was carried out through love for the Lord. Once a man passed by the meeting hall on a bicycle. When he saw the posted time for the meeting, he stopped and prayed. Afterwards, he went away. Later when we asked people to sign up for baptism, he came and asked to be baptized. He testified that he came to believe because he noticed how responsible the brothers and sisters were toward the church, and how they did everything for the Lord. He was touched by this and consequently asked to be baptized.
There was another sister whose husband had an unbelieving friend. The friend once had a dream in which he saw this sister in the meeting telling him that if he wanted to go to heaven he should follow her, and that if he would not follow, he would go to hell. He also saw that this sister’s husband was not in hell. Some time after that dream, the church had a gospel meeting, and this sister’s husband invited this friend to go to the meeting. When the friend stepped into the meeting hall, what he saw was exactly the same as what he experienced in his dream. As a result of this, he came to believe in the Lord.
On the one hand, the elders have to put matters before the Lord and consider the way to make the decisions. On the other hand, they have to learn to stir up the brothers and sisters to participate in the services.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 31, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)