II. THE PERSON OF AN ELDER
We all know that to do anything, first there is the need of a person to do it. Next comes the method. The Chinese say that the kind of thing accomplished depends on the kind of person carrying it out. The method may be the same. But for you to do it, it will succeed. For me to do it, it may fail. For you, there may be a good result. For me, the result may not be very good. Hence, the problem is not the method but the person. Concerning the administration of the church by the elders, our emphasis is also not the method of administration. Rather it is the administrator that is important. It does not mean that with the right method the church will be managed well. Only when the person is right will the church be managed well. Hence, the foremost question is the person; the methods are secondary. Without the administrating person, the method amounts to zero. Only when there is the administrating person, plus the methods, will the result be beneficial. The person is the basis.
This shows us that whoever tries to consider the management of the church from the standpoint of methods is wrong. The matter must begin from the person of the elders. It is useless to change the method; the only way is to change the person. Perhaps some brothers have the thought that it is quite difficult to find some reference material concerning the elders’ management of the church, that there is no such book nor such testimonies, and that it is difficult to find out even from the Bible what this is all about. Many are really bewildered as to how the elders should manage the church. They may think that now that Brother Lee is going to talk about the way for the elders to manage a church, everything will be wonderful. Now everyone will know how to manage a church. Brothers, there is no such thing. Perhaps after this chapter on the elders’ management of the church, you will become more confused and more unclear. The more I speak, the more confused you will become. The more I speak, the more you will not know how to manage a church. The reason for this is that the management of a church firstly depends on the person. The method is secondary.
I would seriously warn the brothers that to manage affairs in the church, it is dangerous to use any method when the person is not right. What are methods? To put it in terms that are not so nice, methods are crafts. To be crafty is to be political. To administrate a church, you cannot be political. The work of all those who manage the church in a political way will result in vanity. The worldly politicians can play politics, but the elders in the church cannot play politics. The church is not a society; the church is a family. In a family, the head of the household cannot be crafty or play politics. The head of the household manages the family by his person. It is the person that manages the family, not a method that does it. In the same way, the church is the house of God. There is no need for a good method of administration; rather, there is the need of a good person for administration.
Take the problem of the heart as an example. The biggest need for one who manages the church is to have a broad heart. Concerning this point, perhaps I will speak more in the next chapter. Of course, there are many other aspects to an elder’s heart, but the most indispensable thing is a broad heart. If an elder has a narrow heart, trouble will immediately appear. I have personally seen this kind of thing happening in the church. When trouble breaks out in the church, the cause is the narrowness of the elders’ hearts. Strictly speaking, all those who have a narrow heart cannot be elders. Perhaps you would ask, what do I do if my heart is narrow by birth? You should then go home and pray. The Lord will change your heart. The elders’ hearts have to be so big that they can contain not only a fist, but the whole earth as well. An elder must have a broad heart.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)