The Experience and Growth in Life, by Witness Lee

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Both the good and bad dispositions destroy our usefulness in the spiritual realm. Our usefulness firstly depends upon our capacity. In Matthew 25:14-15 the lord delivered his possessions to his servants according to their natural ability. Their natural ability equals their capacity. The Apostle Paul was a very capable person with perhaps the largest capacity. But if Paul had not opposed his disposition, his disposition would have destroyed his usefulness. How much the Lord can use you depends upon your capacity. But regardless of how much capacity you have, as long as you go along with your disposition, you are finished. Throughout church history, there have been many very capable brothers, such as Peter, Paul, Martin Luther, John Nelson Darby, and Watchman Nee. The Lord used these brothers very much. I can testify that Brother Nee was not only a capable person with a large capacity but also a person who learned to always be against himself.


The reason for much of the political turmoil in the world and the present turmoil among us is because of two factors: ambition together with a lack of capacity. Someone may have the ambition to be the president of a country, but not have the capacity to hold such an office. When such a person is frustrated from gaining the office of president, he may then cause trouble. On the other hand, a person may be very capable, but if he has ambition, his ambition will destroy his capacity, his usefulness.

Actually, ambition is a large element of our disposition. If a country is going to be a strong country, it must produce a number of capable persons, who have a large capacity. Yet these persons also must be against their dispositions, that is, against their ambition. A person who is capable and who is also against his or her ambition is the most useful person. If a country can produce twenty such persons in a generation, that country will be one of the top countries.


Capacity without ambition makes a person very useful. On the contrary, capacity with ambition damages a person’s usefulness. Throughout history, the persons who have damaged entire countries the most have been people who were very capable but who were too ambitious. Hitler was an example of such a person. He had a very large capacity, but along with his capacity, he had a terrible ambition. His capacity with his damaging ambition is the reason that Hitler damaged mankind so much. Capacity is good, but ambition is terrible.

The principle is the same in the Lord’s work. The most fearful thing in the Lord’s work is a capable person with ambition. On the other hand, one who is capable and without ambition is very useful in the Lord’s work. In my whole life, by His mercy, I met a person who was the best example of someone who was very capable but without ambition. That person was Brother Nee. I can testify from my conscience that he was not ambitious at all. His work was of the highest standard. He did such a work, yet he did not keep anything for himself.

In the church in Shanghai, another brother who was also very capable was Brother Yu, who was an eye specialist. He translated the mystical books by authors such as Madame Guyon and Brother Lawrence into Chinese. I can testify concerning him that he was also without any ambition. Brother Yu along with a few other brothers took the lead in the church in Shanghai and in the work, but there was never any problem with ambition among these brothers. As a result, the church was built up, and many saints were edified.

Capacity without ambition means capacity plus the cross. Everyone is ambitious. Ambition is the primary element of every fallen person’s disposition. Even the lowest persons with a very low capacity are ambitious. In the church life, some are very capable and ambitious, and others are not very capable, but they also are ambitious. Yet both can cause a great deal of trouble in the church life. How marvelous it would be if everyone in the church life was against ambition. If we all could be helped to live a life against our disposition, our ambition would be killed, and there would be no problems in the church life. Once ambition is killed in the church life, the usefulness of everyone, including those of limited capacity, will come out. But when the disposition of the saints is not dealt with, ambition comes out, resulting in turmoil, the usefulness of the saints is annulled, and a great deal of devastation is brought in.


If all the saints, especially those who are being trained to serve the Lord full-time, kill their disposition, everything will be very good. Otherwise, each trained one becomes a potential problem to the church. If we pick up the training and practice it with our ambition and capacity, trouble will be the result. If each trainee does not kill his or her disposition, each one is a problem and will be a problem. How useful you will be to the Lord or how much trouble you will make to the church depends upon how much your disposition is killed. Therefore, dealing with the disposition is a crucial matter.

(The Experience and Growth in Life, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)