Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), by Witness Lee

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All of us who are elders and co-workers must endeavor. We must learn from the Apostle Paul who labored day and night and who served the Lord with tears (Acts 20:31, 19). Paul indicated in his Epistles to both Timothy and Titus that they had to stay to teach and train the elders. In Brother Nee’s book Church Affairs, he points out that after the elders are established, they need to be perfected by the apostles who established them (pp. 14-21). He points out that there is the need to show the elders how to do the work. Brother Nee saw this and practiced it. One day when I was with him, he told me, "Witness, we have the blueprint in our hand." This meant that he had the plan for building up a local church. While I was with him in Shanghai, I saw something, I learned, and I received the perfecting. Then I went back to Chefoo and practiced what I saw. I stayed in Chefoo from 1940 through 1942, and at the end of 1942, a big revival broke forth. According to my observation of the situation of the churches in the United States, most of the elders are groping because they have not been perfected. Because I have been so busy in traveling to different churches and in the editing of many publications, I have not had the time to stay in one place to be with the saints for an extended period of time. I have had to put out many books to supply the churches with the spiritual food, the life supply.

What should we do in our present situation as elders and co-workers? By His mercy, we must see a clear view of how the Lord, in His New Testament economy, builds up the churches. He builds up the churches first by giving gifted persons to His Body. Then He uses these gifted persons to perfect all the saints, and the perfected saints do the direct building work. We elders and co-workers should be the gifted persons, yet we may not know how to perfect others. This is why we must endeavor to learn the truths and endeavor to fellowship with one another concerning how to perfect a new one. Immediately after someone gets baptized, we have to consider how we can keep him and perfect him. We may have baptized many new ones in the past, but very few of them remained because no one went back to them again and again to perfect them. To do this requires much labor.

Instead of laboring, we like to do a routine work. A company, a factory, or a corporation does not make money through its routine workers. I was told a story concerning the Honda corporation that illustrates this point. In one of their big office buildings, there were many Americans in a big office space doing routine work eight hours a day. That work helped the corporation, no doubt, but the real money was made due to the fact that a small number of Japanese in a back office stayed late into the night to labor. It is also true that in the best colleges, the professors must labor hard. There is a slogan in the universities that says, "Publish or perish." We need to put this slogan on our wall to remind us that we have to endeavor to learn something.

(Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)