Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), by Watchman Nee


Now we will consider the workers. How do we recognize whether or not a person is a worker?

(1)A worker must have gifts. There are many kinds of gifts. Evangelism is a gift. Prophesying is a gift. Shepherding and teaching is also a gift. Different gifts are for different functions. The gift of the evangelists is for unbelievers. The gift of the teachers is for ascertaining doctrines. The gift of the shepherds is for shepherding men, nurturing believers for their spiritual growth, and rendering help for the solution of personal problems and different matters.

A worker should have as many of these gifts as possible. However, he must have at least one of these gifts.

How can we tell if a person has a certain gift? If he has a gift, the brothers who are meeting with him should be able to testify and confirm this. Therefore, the recognition of a gift is in the Body. The Body knows. If a person has the gift of an evangelist, the Body can sense it. If he has the gift of teaching, the Body can also sense it. Even if he does not take preaching as a profession, he can still have these gifts and do the work that the workers are doing. These gifts are what the workers should have, but they are not limited just to the workers.

Many people think that if they cannot work in one locality, they can change to another locality and perhaps work there. Actually, inability to work in a locality is not a matter of the locality. If someone cannot work in one locality, neither can he work in another locality. The question is whether or not he has a gift. A person who does not have a gift will not have a gift wherever he goes.

(2)Although a worker may have the gifts, if his life is not proper, he still cannot work. His work depends not only on the gift but also on the grace. He must not only have sufficient gifts but also an abundance of grace. The result of a work is not only related to the gift of the worker but also is directly related to the life of the worker. Workers with different amounts of grace will have different results in the same work. The amount of grace a worker has determines the kind of work that he produces. This does not mean that one who has no grace cannot bring others to salvation. Perhaps he can bring others to salvation because he has the gift of evangelism. But if he does not have life, the more work he does, the more tearing down there will be. Today many workers are building their work with one hand and tearing it down with the other hand because there is a lack of life.

In Acts 16:2 all the brothers commended Timothy. As a result, verse 3 tells us that Paul took Timothy with him. This is the confirmation of the brothers. Timothy was confirmed not only in one place by the brothers but in at least two places. If one’s condition before the Lord is proper and the grace is adequate, the brothers who are meeting in the same locality will surely testify for him. Not only will spiritual brothers testify for him, even brothers who are not spiritual will also testify for him.


According to the Bible, every meeting should have three kinds of people. First, there are believers in the church. This is the basic group in a meeting. There is, at least, this first kind in every church. Second, there are those who serve in the material things. All of their responsibilities relate to business affairs, such as helping the brothers and sisters to do things, managing the arrangement and affairs concerning the meeting, etc. The Bible calls these people deacons, of whom some are brothers and some are sisters. Third, in addition to the above two kinds, there are a few brothers whose responsibilities are to take care of the main activities in the meetings, such as taking the lead in the meetings, making decisions, corresponding with those outside the church, and caring for the saints. The Bible calls these people elders.

A meeting should involve all of the above three types of people. There are no workers. Workers do not occupy a superior position in the church. Since a worker does not belong to another group of people, he must be in one of the above three groups. The workers do not become a fourth group in a meeting; they are within one of the other three.

The relationship among these three groups of people can be illustrated by an example. Suppose the brothers in a certain locality need to build a meeting hall. In the beginning, the elders make a proposal and decisions. After the matter has been decided, they will inform the brothers and assign various responsibilities to the deacons. The deacons, in turn, will ask all the brothers and sisters to provide the necessary labor. The workers can only do their share of the work. They can only fulfill their part of the work; they cannot control the whole work. The only difference between them and the other believers is that they bear a little more burden. This is the relationship between the workers and the local churches.

The position of the workers is similar to the position of the early apostles. They do the work of the apostles, but they do not have the authority of the apostles. On the other hand, if a worker has a certain commission, burden, or assignment from the Lord, the church should show its sympathy in the matter and support his endeavors. We cannot find one example in the Bible where the apostles had a burden and the church did not agree with it or where the work was under the control of a church. If this is the case, God’s work will be greatly hindered.

(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 11: The Present Testimony (4), Chapter 16, by Watchman Nee)