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


What is the relationship between the younger workers and the older workers in the work? According to the Bible, the workers who come afterward should submit to the workers who were there before them. The younger should submit to the older. For example, Paul was clearly leading Silas, Timothy, Titus, and Onesimus. The younger ones were clearly taking Paul’s leading and were submissive to Paul.

Today in the denominations, there are two situations. On the one hand, some workers are completely controlled and bound by those above them, and all of the decisions arise from human ideas. At the other extreme, there are the so-called free-lance preachers. They come and go independently; they provide for themselves and do their preaching. They are not bound or controlled by anyone. However, neither kinds of people know the Lord. The first group places authority in the hands of others; they do not have the Lord. The second group keeps the authority in their own hand; they also do not have the Lord. When the authority is placed in the Lord’s hand, these two extremes are crossed out. A worker must not be controlled by others in the matter of money and must not hand this authority over to others.

Acts 8 tells us that Peter and John were sent by the church to preach in Samaria. Their footsteps were restricted by the church. Every worker is a restricted person. Many people think that they are under the control of no one. They are misled to think that a spiritual person is without restriction.

Concerning the perfecting of the young ones, the Bible does not speak of any seminary. Although some tried to start a school for the prophets in the Old Testament, it did not produce any prophets. Studying in a seminary will not make a person a worker. The training of a worker comes from following a pattern and from submission.

Timothy and Silas both followed Paul. In the Bible, we only see the way of apprenticeship; we do not see the way of scholarship. If a young worker does not learn the lesson of submission properly, he will not be able to learn any other lesson. This is something very important. Every young worker must go through great pressure in the hand of God before he can become useful. Everyone used by God has had to pass through strict dealings. One can see from the letter Paul wrote to Timothy that he was very strict in his instructions to the younger workers. He was not at all careless or loose with Timothy.


Many of the problems in the church today arise when men want to have the gifts but do not get them. They think that they are a certain kind of gift, but actually they are not. When matters are put into their hands, they spoil them. This does not mean that they do not want to handle the matters properly. It merely means that they do not have the capacity to handle them properly. A person with the gift of teaching can only do the work of discerning biblical truths, maintaining these truths, and discovering new truths; he cannot do anything else. Similarly, those who only have the gift of evangelism can only do the work of evangelism; they cannot replace the teachers to teach and ascertain the truth. They can only do the work within their limit. The problem is that no one in the world today is keeping to his own position or is satisfied with his own position. The evangelists want to be the teachers, while the teachers want to be evangelists. Everyone admires what they are not. This tendency of the natural man is the flesh. In the Body of Christ, every member has its distinct use. The ear cannot replace the eye, and the eye cannot replace the ear. Even if you put the ear in the position of the eye, the ear is still the ear; it still cannot see. This shows us the importance of standing firm in our position. Everyone of us has to learn to stand in our own position.

The younger workers must not only submit to the older workers personally but must also know where God has put them. After one understands his proper position, he will not fall into the flesh. In this way, he will experience deliverance in his work. If a young worker indeed has the gift of teaching and the older workers around him do not have this gift, in this circumstance, the older ones should submit to the younger one and receive his gift. However, every younger worker can always find someone who is more mature and more advanced from whom he can learn submission. There will always be some older workers to whom he can submit. Timothy was charged to consider what Paul said (2 Tim. 2:7) and know "from which ones you have learned them" (2 Tim. 3:14). Timothy had to go and find the ones from whom he had learned all the things. He had to find the workers who were ahead of him.

A young worker must also learn to accept unreasonable treatment. He must learn what it means to submit without reason. All true submission is without reason. Once there is a reason, it is not submission. In God’s work, no one can be independent and claim that he does not need to submit to anyone else. The younger ones should be this way and even the older ones are without an exception because no one can be independent. Even if God uses a worker to discover a certain truth, he cannot move independently; he must go on in mutual submission.

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