IV. THE MANIFOLD GIFTS
A church is like a family. Not only does it have to have those who are capable in everything; it must have those who are gifted in all areas. The sisters who are housewives know the great needs there are in a family. The parents have to be able to do everything in the house. They have to know how to cook, to sew, to wash, to iron, to fix up the house, to teach, to correspond, and to send telegrams; they have to be the doctor, the nurse, and the coolie as well. Sometimes when there is the need to plant some flowers, they have to be gardeners. When the door or window is broken, they have to be carpenters. When the light goes out, or the fuse is burned out, and it is not convenient to find an electrician, they have to be electricians themselves. In a family, you cannot depend on craftsmen for everything; the parents have to learn to do everything on a daily basis. The same is true with the church. The elders cannot depend all the time on the so-called apostles and the specially gifted workers to do everything. Perhaps the apostles will not visit them for three or five years. In such a case, the elders have to do everything themselves. They have to help the brothers and sisters to read the Bible, to have spiritual pursuits, to learn to pray, to have dealings before the Lord, to learn to coordinate, to serve together, and to open up house after house for the gospel. All these things are what the elders should do. Sometimes the elders have to make business arrangements. Here, the question of capability and gifts is involved.
Some elders among us also have the ministry in the Word, but they do not have the gift of administration. These brothers should understand that they are profiting from the shining of others. Others have set up a framework for them. They are having a little work, a little bit of ministry of the Word, and a little bit of usefulness under the framework of an administration. But I am afraid that these brothers do not have this kind of feeling. They may feel that their ministry of the Word is everything. Little do they realize that when others’ ministry is removed, they will be totally stripped of everything. By that time they will realize that everything they have is up in the air and that none of what they have can be sustained without a framework.
On the other hand, those who are good in administration should also realize that their administration is but a framework; it is only a set of arrangements and guidelines. They should realize that they lack the living anointing and the rich word. All these things show us that before the Lord, gifts are varied. Every elder in the church should know his own portion and should respect others’ portions. Only in this way will the manifold gifts be manifested among the elders. This is a beautiful thing!
For some brothers, the minute they open their mouth, what comes out is the gospel. For some others, the minute they open their mouth, what comes out is perfecting. There is no way for others to imitate them; these are their gifts. Still some cannot open their mouths at all; yet they can contact others. Of course, this contact is not a matter of fostering natural relationships, but a matter of spiritual fellowship. No matter what kind of problem there is, as soon as these brothers go and fellowship, the problem is swallowed up by life. No matter what kind of weakness there is, as soon as these brothers pay a visit, the weakness goes away. No matter what kind of opinion there may be, when these brothers step in, the opinion is gone. No matter what kind of death, rumors, or criticisms are spread among the brothers and sisters, when these brothers go and fellowship, these things all disappear. These ones have such a gift. They cannot give a message, they cannot preach the gospel, they cannot administrate the church, but they have the specialty of being good at fellowship. Once they fellowship, life is supplied, and death is swallowed.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)