From "The Character of the Lord's Workman" by Watchman Nee
Subjectivity is another defect in the character of some of God's children, and in particular, of some workers for the Lord. If a person is subjective, he cannot do a good work.
What is the meaning of being subjective? Being subjective means to insist on one's own opinions and to refuse others' opinions. It means to have a preconceived idea before listening to others and to hold on to the idea even after hearing from others. Subjectivity means a reluctance to accept or to be corrected. It means to have one's own opinion from the very beginning and to always insist on this opinion. A subjective person arrives at his own judgment before he hears anything from the Lord, before the facts are unfolded, and before others present their opinions. He insists on his judgment even after hearing something from the Lord, after the facts are unfolded, and after others have presented their side of the matter. This is the meaning of being subjective. The root cause of subjectivity is a self that has never been broken. When a man's self is not broken, he has a stubborn view of things, and these opinions are hard to break and correct.
What are the problems resulting from subjectivity? What losses does it bring to a man? If a brother or a sister is subjective, he or she will not be able to listen to others. We can learn to not be subjective by listening to others. We must be empty within before we can take in the Lord's word or others' words. If we are subjective, it is difficult for us to take in anything. It is essential for every Christian worker to cultivate the ability to hear what people have to say; he has to know others' affairs and to understand others' problems. We have previously said that a great problem with God's workers is that they cannot listen to others. The chief reason behind not being able to listen to others is subjectivity. When a person is subjective, he is filled up with all sorts of things. His opinions become an impregnable fortress, and his ideas are unchangeable. He is always filled with his own arguments and preoccupations. When a brother or a sister comes to him and tries to share a frustration with him or to unload a burden to him, he simply cannot understand what they are saying, even after listening for half a day. He cannot listen to others. This is one problem associated with subjectivity.
Another damaging effect of subjectivity is an inability to learn. A subjective person is very confident and clear about everything. He has made up his mind about everything already. He has formed an opinion about everything, and he is confident about everything. It is difficult for him to learn anything. When some young people first join the work, it is more difficult to teach them than it is to feed a child medicine. It seems that some things almost have to be forced down their throat. They are full of ideas, proposals, and ways. They fancy that they know all there is to know. Although they dare not claim to be omniscient, they act as if they are omniscient. It is harder to teach them something than it is to feed them bitter medicine. If a man needs to be spoon-fed every meal, how long can he survive? When we meet some brothers, we cannot help but sigh in our heart, "My brother, how many things can a person like you learn from the Lord?" The biggest problem with a subjective person is his inability to learn. This one thing alone can cost him dearly. Every time you want such a one to learn something, it seems as if you almost have to fight with him. You may beat him down, and he may learn a little. But the next time you want him to learn something, you have to struggle with him all over again. This is a great frustration. One basic requirement of the Lord's worker is being able to remain objective; he has to be so objective that he can readily receive help from others. Brothers and sisters, our help comes from everywhere. There are so many things that we have to learn. Suppose we only learn one lesson a month, or one lesson every half a year, or one lesson a year. How long can we live? How many things can we learn in our lifetime? A subjective person finds it harder to learn as the years go by. His subjectivity increases as time goes by. Indeed, subjectivity is a big problem among us.
It is true that God's worker should be stable; his pathway should be straight and unwavering. But if his opinions, views, and judgments are also set and unyielding, he will have very little chance of learning any lesson, and his usefulness will be very limited. On the one hand, we need to be stable and unwavering before the Lord. On the other hand, we cannot be subjective. God's children should learn to not be subjective; they should learn to be flexible for God's move. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to learn. In order to know whether or not a person is subjective, one only needs to find out whether he learns quickly or slowly, or if he can learn at all. One can tell if a person is subjective by the amount of spiritual things he learns and how often he learns them. The obstacle to learning anything is subjectivity. Subjectivity affects a person's ability to learn; it even stops him from learning anything.
The basic requirement for spiritual advance is openness to God. Our heart, mind, and spirit must be wide open to Him. Being open to Him means that we are not subjective. The primary meaning of being open is not being subjective. Of course, in order for our spirit to be open to God, something deeper than not being subjective is involved. But not being subjective is the first condition. As soon as we are subjective, our gates are closed. Not being subjective means that we are sensitive to God, that we can learn, and that we can receive impressions. It is hard for many people to receive any impression from God. God has to use a rod or a whip or even a hammer to hit such ones before they receive any impressions from Him. We should learn to understand God's will as soon as His eyes turn. Many people are like horses and mules, who do not understand anything unless they are led by the bit and bridle. This is what it means to be subjective. A subjective person cannot pick up any signal from God. God may wrestle with him and allow him to come to a blind alley or a closed door, yet he is still arguing with God. He cannot quiet himself down to learn what he should learn. Many people are not meek and pliable enough before God. They are too hard and stubborn. They become a stumbling block to the work because they have not learned much or received much supply from the Lord all their life. They become a problem and a loss to the work.