90. The Principles of Being a Church Leader
(1) It is necessary to lead God’s chosen people as they learn to eat and drink of God’s words, to fellowship on the truth, and to use the truth to resolve problems, coming to act according to the principles;
(2) It is necessary to safeguard God’s work. Protect God’s chosen people from the deception and disturbance of antichrists, evil people, evil spirits, and every manner of satanic force;
(3) It is necessary to coordinate harmoniously with one’s co-workers. At all times, be faithful to God’s commission, be able to set fleshly interests aside, and do not conduct your own business;
(4) It is necessary to understand the essential work of leadership. One must never do things unrelated to the truth, much less interfere with the affairs of God’s chosen people.
Relevant Words of God:
As leaders and workers in the church, if you want to lead God’s chosen people into the reality of the truth and to serve as God’s witnesses, most importantly, you must have a deeper understanding of God’s aim in saving people and the purpose of His work. You must understand the will of God and His various requirements of people. You must be practical in your efforts; practice only as much as you understand and communicate only on that which you know. Do not boast, do not exaggerate, and do not make irresponsible remarks. If you exaggerate, people will detest you and you will feel reproached afterward; this is just too inappropriate. When you provide the truth to others, you don’t necessarily have to deal with them and scold them in order for them to attain the truth. If you yourself don’t have the truth and only deal with and scold others, they will fear you, but that doesn’t mean they understand the truth. In some administrative work, it’s fine for you to deal with and prune others and discipline them to a certain degree. But if you cannot provide the truth and know only how to be overbearing and to chide others, your corruption and ugliness will be revealed. With the passage of time, as people are unable to obtain the provision of life or practical things from you, they will come to detest you and feel disgusted by you. Those who lack discernment will learn negative things from you; they will learn to deal with and prune others, to get angry, and to lose their temper. Isn’t that tantamount to leading others onto the path of Paul, onto a path toward perdition? Is that not an evildoing? Your work should focus on communicating the truth and providing life to others. If all you do is blindly deal with and lecture others, how will they ever understand the truth? As time goes by, people will see you for who you really are, and they will abandon you. How can you expect to bring others before God in this way? How is this doing the work? You will lose everyone if you keep working in this way. What work do you hope to accomplish anyway? Some leaders are incapable of communicating the truth to resolve problems. Instead, they just blindly deal with others and flaunt their power so that others come to fear them and obey them—such people are of the false leaders and antichrists. Those whose disposition has not changed are incapable of performing church work, and are unable to serve God.
Excerpted from “Only Those With the Reality of the Truth Can Lead” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In their work, church leaders and workers must pay attention to two things: One is to do their work exactly according to the principles stipulated by the work arrangements, never violating these principles and not basing their work on anything they might imagine or on their own intentions. In everything they do, they should show concern for the work of God’s family, and always put its interests first. There is the other thing which is key, and that is that in everything they do, they must focus on following the Holy Spirit’s guidance and do everything in strict keeping with the word of God. If you are still capable of going against the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or if you stubbornly follow your own ideas and do things according to your own imagination, then your actions will constitute a most serious resistance against God. Frequently turning your back on the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit will only lead to a dead end. If you lose the work of the Holy Spirit, then you will not be able to work, and even if you do manage to work, you will accomplish nothing. These are the two main principles to abide by while working: One is to perform the work in exact accordance with the arrangements from the above, as well as to act according to the principles that have been set forth by the above. The other point is to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit within. Once these two points are grasped, you will not easily make mistakes. For you whose experience in this area is still limited, your own will adulterates your work more. At times, you may not understand the enlightenment or guidance from the Holy Spirit within; at others, you appear to understand it, but you are likely to ignore it. You always imagine or deduce in a human way, doing as you think appropriate, with no concern at all for the intention of the Holy Spirit. You go about your work solely according to your own ideas, setting aside enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. Such situations occur frequently. Inner guidance from the Holy Spirit is not at all transcendental. It is in fact very normal: The inner reaches of your soul know this is the right way to do it, and that this is the best way. Such an idea is very clear; it is not the result of cogitation, and sometimes you do not fully understand why to do it this way. This is often none other than enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. Such a situation is what occurs most commonly in most people. The Holy Spirit guides you to act in the most appropriate way. It is not the result of your consideration, rather you have a feeling in your heart and you intuit that this is the best way to do it. Perhaps this is from the Holy Spirit. One’s own will is often the result of the thought process and is colored by their own ideas: What’s in it for me, how I will benefit—these are part of anything that people determine to do themselves. Guidance from the Holy Spirit in no way contains such adulterations. It is necessary to pay careful attention to the guidance or enlightenment from the Holy Spirit; particularly in key issues you must be careful in order to grasp it. People who think too much, who like to act on their own ideas are most likely to miss it. Good workers, promising workers, pay attention to the work of the Holy Spirit. People who obey the Holy Spirit fear God and seek truth tirelessly. To satisfy God and bear witness for Him, one should investigate one’s own work for elements of adulteration and intentions, and try to see how much is motivated by personal wishes, how much is born of enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, and how much is in keeping with the word of God. You must constantly and in all circumstances examine your words and deeds. To practice often in this way will put you on the right track of serving God. It is necessary to have in command many truths to achieve service to God which is after His heart. People have the ability to make distinctions only after they have understood the word of God, and are able to recognize what emerges from their own will and the things that indicate their motivation. They are able to recognize human impurity, and what it means to act according to truth. Only then will you know how to obey more purely. Without truth it is impossible for people to make distinctions. A muddleheaded person might believe in God his whole life without knowing the meaning of revealing corruptions, nor does he know what opposing God means, because he does not have truth, this thought does not exist in his mind. This is like repairing an electric appliance. How can one repair it if he does not know which circuit is faulty? Within you there are also many circuits. Sometimes the malfunction is in your intentions, or where your own will is involved. Sometimes the malfunction is a distortion of your understanding or knowledge. Or it may be due to following your own will or to believing and being misled by others. Sometimes you follow the flesh as you try to protect your reputation or status. Malfunctions such as these occur frequently, thus putting work off course and bringing loss to the work of God’s family and to the life of the brothers and sisters. What is the value of this kind of work? It is simply interruption, disturbance, and destruction. In order to fulfill the work that God entrusts it is necessary to comprehend these two principles. You must strictly adhere to the work arrangements from the above, and you must pay attention to obeying guidance from the Holy Spirit. Only when these two principles are grasped can work be effective and the will of God be satisfied.
Excerpted from “The Main Principles of Work for Leaders and Workers” in Records of Christ’s Talks
What is the greatest taboo in man’s service of God? Do you know? Some people who serve as leaders always want to try to be different, to be head and shoulders above the rest, and to figure out some new tricks that will make God see just how capable they really are. However, they do not focus on understanding the truth and entering the reality of God’s words; they are always trying to show off. Is this not precisely the revelation of an arrogant nature? Some even say, “If I do this, I’m sure it’ll make God very happy; He’ll really like it. This time I am going to get God to have a look; I’ll give Him a nice surprise.” As a result of this “surprise,” they lose the work of the Holy Spirit and get eliminated by God. Do not just rashly do whatever comes into your mind. How can things be okay if you do not consider the consequences of your actions? When you offend God’s disposition and violate His administrative decrees, and are subsequently eliminated, there will be nothing left for you to say. Regardless of your intent, and whether or not you do it deliberately, if you do not understand God’s disposition or His will, you will easily offend Him and be liable to violate His administrative decrees; this is something against which everyone should be on guard. Once you have seriously violated God’s administrative decrees or offended His disposition, He will give no consideration as to whether you did it intentionally or unintentionally. This is a matter that you need to see clearly. If you cannot understand this issue, then you are bound to cause problems. In serving God, people wish to make great strides, do great things, speak great words, perform great work, hold great meetings, and be great leaders. If you always have such grand ambitions, then you will violate God’s administrative decrees; people who do this will die quickly. If you are not well-behaved, devout, and prudent in your service to God, then sooner or later, you will offend His disposition.
Excerpted from “Without the Truth, One Is Liable to Offend God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Those who can lead churches, supply people with life, and be apostles to the people must have actual experience; they must have a correct understanding of spiritual things and a correct appreciation and experience of the truth. Only such people are qualified to be workers or apostles who lead the churches. Otherwise, they can only follow as the least and cannot lead, much less be apostles who are able to supply people with life. This is because the function of apostles is not to rush about or to fight; it is to do the work of ministering life and leading others in transforming their dispositions. Those who perform this function are commissioned to shoulder a heavy responsibility, one that not just anyone can shoulder. This kind of work can only be undertaken by those with life being, that is, those who have experience of the truth. It cannot be undertaken by merely anyone who can renounce, who can rush about, or who is willing to expend themselves; people who have no experience of the truth, who have not been pruned or judged, are unable to do this type of work. People with no experience, who are people without reality, are unable to see reality clearly because they themselves are without this kind of being. So, this type of person is not only unable to do leadership work, but, if they remain without the truth for a long while, they will become an object of elimination.
Excerpted from “God’s Work and Man’s Work” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
What is the cause of the emergence of the category of people who are leaders and workers, and how did they emerge? On a grand scale, they are required for God’s work; on a smaller scale, they are required by the brothers and sisters, they are required by God’s chosen people, who are following God. Regardless of their status and identity, and regardless of the role they play, what is the one thing this category of people has in common with all people? Before God, their identity and status are the same as others’. Although among people they hold the titles of “leaders” and “workers,” and although their duty is different than that of other brothers and sisters, yet they are equally called created beings before God, and this will never change. The difference between their duty and that of other people is a matter of a special characteristic of theirs. What special characteristic is that? Its most prominent aspect is “leadership.” Suppose, for example, there is a team of people with a person leading them; if this person is referred to as a “leader” or as a “worker,” what is their function within the team? (The function of leadership.) What effect does this person’s leadership have on the people they lead and on the team as a whole? It affects the team’s direction and its path. This implies that if this person in a position of leadership walks the wrong path, then, at the very least, it will cause the people beneath them and the entire team to veer from the right path; beyond that, it might disrupt or destroy the entire team’s direction as they move forward, as well as their speed and pace. So when it comes to this group of people, the direction of the path they choose, the extent to which they understand the truth as well as their belief in God affect not only themselves, but all the brothers and sisters who are within the scope of their leadership. If a leader is a right person, one who is walking the right path and pursues and practices truth, then the people they lead will eat and drink properly and seek properly, and, at the same time, the leader’s personal progress will be constantly visible to others. So, what is the correct path that a leader should walk? It is being able to lead others to an understanding of the truth and an entry into the truth, and to lead others before God. What is an incorrect path? It is frequently to elevate oneself and to bear witness to oneself, pursuing status, fame, and profit, and never bearing witness to God. What effect does this have on the people beneath them? (It brings those people before them.) People will stray far from God and come under this leader’s control. Is it not obvious that people who are brought before their leader would be controlled by that leader? And, of course, this takes them far from God. If you lead people to come before you, then you are leading them to come before corrupt mankind, and you are leading them to come before Satan, not God. Only leading people to come before truth is leading them to come before God. These are the effects that these two types of people—those who walk the correct path and those who walk the incorrect path—have on those who are led.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
For example, if you have been chosen to be a church leader, then church leadership is your duty. If you see it as your duty, then how should you do it? (In line with God’s requirements.) Working in line with God’s requirements is a general way of putting it. What are the specific details? First, you must know that this is a duty, not an office. It will cause problems if you think you have assumed an office. However, if you say, “I’ve been chosen to be a church leader, so I need to be a grade lower than others; all of you are higher up than I am and greater than I am,” then this, too, is an incorrect attitude; if you do not understand the truth, then no amount of pretense will do you any good. Rather, you must have a proper understanding of it. Firstly, you must know that this duty is very important. A church has dozens of members, and you must think about how to bring these people before God and enable a majority of them to understand the truth and enter the reality of the truth. Furthermore, with weak, passive people, you must strive to make them stop being weak and passive so that they can actively fulfill their duties, and as to all those who are able to fulfill their duties, you should make them do so and perform to their utmost. Make them understand the truths related to fulfilling one’s duties so that they are not slipshod in fulfilling them, they fulfill them well, and they can have a normal relationship with God. There are also those who cause disruption and disturbances, or those who have believed in God for many years but have an evil humanity; of these people, those who should be dealt with will be dealt with, and those who should be purged will be purged. Appropriate arrangements will be made for each person according to their kind. It is also of importance that those few in the church with relatively good humanity, with a bit of caliber, who can take responsibility for an aspect of work, must all be cultivated. These are things that must be done to fulfill the duties of leadership, are they not? When you have accepted this duty, can you fulfill it properly without these things in your heart? (No.) Once you have accepted this duty, you must straighten these affairs out, one by one: First, cultivating talent; second, making all your brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life arrive at normality and, based on your understanding of the truth and the sermons you have listened to, enabling them all to enter the reality of these truths—this is the aspect of entry into life; third, having most of those who are capable of fulfilling their duties actually do so, and ensuring their fulfillment of their duties is not done in a slipshod way, but yields results; fourth, the timely handling and limitation of those who cause disruption and disturbances; and fifth, being able to discern all kinds of people, which remains necessary. For example, some people’s negativity and weakness are temporary; you cannot paint in broad strokes, treating and handling their cases as you would chronic negativity and weakness. You must make the most of every person, taking full advantage of their individual capabilities and arranging suitable duties for them according to what they can do, the quality of their caliber, how old they are, and how long they have believed in God. You must come up with a tailor-made plan for each type of person and vary it from person to person, so that they can fulfill their duties in God’s house and exert their functions to the greatest extent. If you have these things in your heart, your burden has arisen, so you must always pay attention and be observant. Observant of what? This does not mean looking to see who is pretty and then spending more time interacting with that person, nor does it mean looking to see who is ugly and then rejecting that person, and less still does it mean looking to see who defies you and then punishing them. Rather, it means looking at what God’s requirements are of each kind of person, then having each of them take their proper place. First, take a moment to arrange these people in the church in your head; organize those of good caliber into one sort, and those of poor caliber into another. Create separate categories for people who can devote themselves to their duties full-time, part-time, or not at all, and set as a category those who are constantly disruptive, always negative, and who constantly spread rumors. After that, you must contemplate and pray frequently, and then interact with these people. After a while, you will have gained insight into the various states and degrees of stature of each type of person. This arises from a burden, does it not? Is this not the correct attitude toward your duty? Once you have such a proper attitude and your burden has arisen, you will be able to do your work well.
Excerpted from “What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Church leaders should be able to guide all their brothers and sisters so that they know how to eat and drink God’s words. This is the responsibility of every single church leader. Be they young or old, all should regard the eating and drinking of God’s words as of great significance and should have His words in their hearts. Entering into this reality means entering the Age of Kingdom. Today, most people feel that they cannot live without eating and drinking the words of God, and feel that His words are fresh regardless of the time. This means that they are beginning to set upon the right track. God uses words to do His work and provide for man. When everyone yearns after and thirsts for the words of God, humanity shall enter into the world of His words.
God has spoken a great deal. How much have you come to know? How much have you entered into? If a church leader has not guided their brothers and sisters into the reality of God’s words, then they will have been derelict in their duty, and will have failed to fulfill their responsibilities! Whether your understanding is profound or superficial, regardless of the degree of your understanding, you must know how to eat and drink His words, you must pay great attention to His words, and understand the importance and the necessity of eating and drinking them.
Excerpted from “The Age of Kingdom Is the Age of Word” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You need to have an understanding of the many states that people will be in when the Holy Spirit performs work on them. In particular, those who coordinate in service to God must have an even stronger grasp of the many states brought about by the work that the Holy Spirit performs on people. If you only talk about a lot of experiences or ways of attaining entry, it shows that your experience is overly one-sided. Without knowing your true state and grasping the principles of the truth, it is not possible to achieve a change in disposition. Without knowing the principles of the Holy Spirit’s work or understanding the fruit it bears, it will be difficult for you to discern the work of evil spirits. You must expose the work of evil spirits, as well as the notions of man, and penetrate straight to the heart of the issue; you must also point out many deviations in people’s practice and problems they might have in their faith in God, so that they may recognize them. At the very least, you must not make them feel negative or passive. However, you must understand the difficulties that objectively exist for most people, you must not be unreasonable or “try to teach a pig to sing”; that is foolish behavior. To resolve the many difficulties people experience, you must first comprehend the dynamics of the work of the Holy Spirit; you must understand how the Holy Spirit performs work on different people, you must have an understanding of the difficulties people face and of their shortcomings, and you must see through to the key issues of the problem and get to its source, without deviating or making any errors. Only this kind of person is qualified to coordinate in service to God.
Whether or not you are able to grasp the key issues and see many things clearly depends on your individual experiences. The manner in which you experience is also the manner in which you lead others. If you understand letters and doctrines, then you will lead others to understand letters and doctrines. The way that you experience the reality of God’s words is the way in which you will lead others to attain entry to the reality of God’s utterances. If you are able to understand many truths and clearly gain insight into many things from God’s words, then you are capable of leading others to understand many truths, too, and those whom you lead will gain a clear understanding of the visions. If you focus on grasping supernatural feelings, then those whom you lead will do the same. If you neglect practice, instead placing emphasis on discussion, then those whom you lead will also focus on discussion, without practicing at all or attaining any transformation in their dispositions; they will only be enthusiastic superficially, without having put any truths into practice. All people supply others with what they themselves possess. The type of person someone is determines the path onto which they guide others, as well as the type of people that they lead. To be truly fit for God’s use, you not only must have an aspiration, but you also need a great deal of enlightenment from God, guidance from His words, the experience of being dealt with by Him, and the refinement of His words. With this as a foundation, in ordinary times, you should pay attention to your observations, thoughts, ponderances, and conclusions, and engage in absorption or elimination accordingly. These are all paths for your entry to reality, and each one of them is indispensable. This is how God works. If you enter into this method by which God works, you can have opportunities every day to be perfected by Him. And at any time, regardless of whether your environment is harsh or favorable, whether you are being tested or tempted, whether you are working or not, and whether you are living life as an individual or as part of a collective, you will always find opportunities to be perfected by God, without ever missing a single one of them. You will be able to discover them all—and in this way, you will have found the secret to experiencing God’s words.
from “What an Adequate Shepherd Should Be Equipped With” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The requirement made of you today—to work together in harmony—is similar to the service Jehovah required of the Israelites: Otherwise, just stop doing service. Because you are people who serve God directly, at the very minimum you must be capable of loyalty and submission in your service, and must also be able to learn lessons in a practical way. For those of you working in the church especially, would any of the brothers and sisters below you dare to deal with you? Would anyone dare to tell you of your mistakes to your face? You stand high above everyone else; you do reign as kings! You do not even study or enter into these sorts of practical lessons, yet you still talk of serving God! At present, you are asked to lead a number of churches, but not only do you not give up yourself, but you even cling to your own notions and opinions, saying things like, “I think this thing should be done this way, as God has said that we should not be restrained by others and that nowadays we should not submit blindly.” Therefore, each of you holds to your own opinion, and no one obeys each other. Though you clearly know that your service is at an impasse, you still say, “As I see it, my way is not far off the mark. In any case, we each have a side: You talk of yours, and I will talk of mine; you fellowship about your visions, and I will speak of my entry.” You never take responsibility for the many things that should be dealt with, or you simply make do, each of you venting your own opinions and prudently protecting your own status, reputation, and face. None of you is willing to humble yourself, and neither side will take the initiative to give yourself up and make up for each other’s deficiencies so that life may progress more rapidly. When you are coordinating together, you should learn to seek the truth. You may say, “I do not have a clear understanding of this aspect of truth. What experience do you have with it?” Or, you may say, “You have more experience than I with regard to this aspect; could you please give me some guidance?” Would that not be a good way of going about it? You have listened to a lot of sermons, and have some experience with doing service. If you do not learn from each other, help each other, and make up for each other’s shortcomings when doing work in the churches, then how can you learn any lessons? Whenever you encounter anything, you should fellowship with each other so that your lives can benefit. Moreover, you should carefully fellowship about things of any sort before making any decisions. Only by doing so are you taking responsibility for the church rather than simply acting perfunctorily. After you visit all the churches, you should gather together and fellowship about all the issues you discover and any problems encountered in your work, and then you should communicate about the enlightenment and illumination that you have received—this is an indispensable practice of service. You must achieve harmonious cooperation for the purpose of the work of God, for the benefit of the church, and so as to spur your brothers and sisters onward. You should coordinate with one another, each amending the other and arriving at a better work outcome, so as to care for God’s will. This is what true cooperation is, and only those who engage in it will gain true entry. While cooperating, some of the words you speak may be unsuitable, but that does not matter. Fellowship about it later, and gain a clear understanding of it; do not neglect it. After this sort of fellowship, you can make up for your brothers’ or sisters’ deficiencies. Only by moving ever deeper in your work like this can you achieve better outcomes. Each of you, as people who serve God, must be able to defend the interests of the church in everything you do, instead of simply considering your own interests. It is unacceptable to act alone, always undermining each other. People who behave like that are not fit to serve God!
Excerpted from “Serve As the Israelites Did” in The Word Appears in the Flesh