REQUIREMENTS OF A WORKER
A Proper and Pure Spirit
One brother asked: When is it the time to say, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth" (1 Sam. 3:9)?
Brother Nee answered: In the past, the brothers in all the localities gave the co-workers quite a lot of headaches. Some people were quite zealous outwardly, and they wanted to work full-time. The brothers in those localities went ahead and acknowledged such ones as co-workers, and they received such ones as co-workers on our behalf. This brought us a lot of problems. We cannot recognize such acknowledgments. Those who serve with the ministry of the word ought to learn to touch others’ spirit. A servant of God ought to know, when others are speaking, whether the speaker’s spirit is in accord with him or is in contradiction to him. The spirit of some is improper or defiled. There is no way for us to remove their defilements. For example, you may come and tell me that Brother Suen is wrong. If Brother Hsu comes along and asks me how Brother Suen is doing, I cannot tell him Brother Suen’s mistakes. Even if I were to tell Brother Hsu the mistakes, he may not believe me. Hence, we hope that all those who wish to serve the Lord full-time will first learn some lessons in the church.
Waiting for Confirmation
I am not saying that those who want to give themselves to the work have to be perfect in any sense. However, their spirit has to be pure and simple before the Lord. You may not know the kind of spirit you have. Up to a certain point, everyone else may say that now is the time for you to drop your job. By that time, you should drop your job. Even though some have a heart to serve full-time, they should still wait in their jobs for a while. The question is whether or not the Lord wants such a one to drop everything to serve God at that time.
Our brother Philip Luan died because of our unfaithfulness. He left his job, but did not receive adequate care. Hardly can we find another brother who loved the Lord as much as he did. We did not have enough light. If we did, and we realized the hardship in the environment, we would have persuaded him to go back to his job. Everyone should have the same need in the preaching of the gospel. Brother Hsia Hsi-ling has a good job at the customs department. He has been working there for many years. He has not asked if he should drop that job, but we feel that he should drop it. Everyone has to offer up himself to the Lord. Those brothers and sisters who are in their jobs are not the first-class citizens. Unless everyone offers up everything, we have no way to go on.
Brother Suen Chang-ming asked: Everyone should be a priest. This kind of service is a matter of coordination. Now in our factory, we have to support one hundred workers, and the burden is already very heavy. In Acts 2 and 4, there were over eight thousand people that needed support. How did they do it?
"Offer Up Yourselves"
Brother Nee answered: After the war, the CBC Laboratory was worth eight hundred thousand dollars. Last year, it was worth only four hundred thousand. This year, it is worth 1.2 million. Yet we owe others seven hundred thousand dollars. We have no idea what will happen next year.
When we were going to buy the land from Mrs. Chow, some consecrated all they had by selling everything. I felt that that money was blood money. After I made the announcement the first and the second time, I dared not make any more announcements, because all the ones who were giving money were middle-class and lower middle-class saints. Those who had the money and who should have offered were slow to move.
After that first failure, I dared not ask others for money again. I told others that, should we have to build a meeting hall, I would do it myself. Sister Ruth Lee may have harbored some complaints against me, that I did not take care of so many works that were necessary, and that instead I went into business. But in order for the work to be done properly, some have to sacrifice themselves. I can say this word to you today: I have done my work, and I have sacrificed myself. Today, I am a part of those who are sharing responsibilities in the work, and I am also a part of those who are holding jobs. I am not an insensitive person. For you to go into business, there is no sense of shame. But for me to go into business, there is the sense of shame. I know that with this matter some have something to say about me, and I can tell you that some have come and questioned me. Yet, I risk bearing the shame of receiving no greetings on the street. I risk bearing the shame of "remarrying" myself as a widow, so much so that the children are gone, and I am left wondering why I was doing what I was doing, with a dead child in my arms. For eight years, I could not lift up my face and look into the brothers’ and sisters’ eyes. Do I not have the right today to say a word to you: "Offer up yourselves"? Why would you not offer up yourselves? Today is the time for all the working brothers and sisters to offer up themselves.
(Messages Given During the Resumption of Watchman Nee's Ministry (2 volume set), Chapter 57, by Watchman Nee/Witness Lee)