V. THE BOUNDARY OF TIMING
The elders must also be able to discern the timing of events. Some things can be done at a certain time. But if the time is changed, the same things cannot be done any longer. Some words can be spoken in one kind of meeting, but in another meeting, such words cannot be released. You cannot say that because a matter is announced in the prayer meeting it can therefore be released in the preaching meeting as well. No. Here is a boundary of timing. In everything related to the elders, they have to maintain the boundary of timing. If a matter is not done at a certain time, it can no longer be done. You have to learn to consider the matter of timing. In order for the elders to manage a church well, they have to keep to the boundary of timing.
For instance, in the situation we just mentioned, that of a couple about to have a divorce, when the elders hear about it, they may want to visit them and to help them. But when should they do it? Please remember that the timing is very important. The elders must study whether the matter has become open yet, and whether they can visit the couple in a proper way. Perhaps they should wait for another week and should watch the development of events. If there is no adequate consideration of the boundary of timing, the couple may be damaged. They must draw clearly the boundary of time, so that when they go, it will be just the right time.
In everything, there is the consideration of timing. Even when a brother is sick, or has developed a problem with the church, or has been enticed by some sins, you cannot take a brother and visit him right away after you hear the news. You cannot do this. You have to consider the time factor. You must find out what the most suitable time is. For some things the right time has passed, and there is nothing that can be done any longer. You should not try to do anything, or else the result will be even worse. You can only ask for the Lord’s forgiveness for your dullness, that you have not caught the proper time. Sometimes, it is not right to do anything yet; you have to wait for a few days, or a period of time, and watch the development or the result, before you can make any contact.
If an elder indeed has a heart to shepherd God’s flock and to build up Christ’s Body, he will see the importance of timing. It is like a physician who is preparing to operate on his patient; there is a question of timing involved. Any elder who cannot draw a boundary in the matter of timing will most certainly be unable to manage the church. Therefore, the elders must also consider the matter of timing.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)