52. Farewell, People-Pleaser!
By Li Fei, Spain
Speaking of people-pleasers, I thought they were great before I believed in God. They had gentle dispositions, never became cross with anyone, everyone liked them, and they never offended anyone. I aspired to be this kind of person. It’s because since I was young, I was inundated through my education and by society with things like “Harmoniousness is a treasure; forbearance is brilliance,” “When you know something is wrong, it is better to say less,” “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes,” “Never take anything too seriously,” “When ignorance is bliss, it is foolish to be wise,” and “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship.” I took these ideas as my own words to live by. It didn’t matter if it was family and friends or just acquaintances, I didn’t offend anyone, and always went along with what others wanted. Everyone complimented me for being good with people and easy to get along with. I also felt that to survive in this dark, evil society takes forging good relationships with those around you, because that’s the only way to establish a place for yourself. It was only later, after I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days, experienced the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and understood some of the truth, that I finally saw that these principles of survival are satanic philosophies, satanic poisons, and not principles people should hold. I saw that living this way, I became more and more crooked, deceitful, selfish, and despicable, that I had no normal human likeness. I finally began to loathe myself, and I repented to God.
In 2018, I was elected as a district leader. At first, I didn’t know much about all the church’s work. My partner, Sister Liu, had been doing this duty for over a year, and she understood the various facets of church work, so I asked her about any problems or difficulties I had, and she helped me a lot. Later, I heard Sister Liu mention several times that the leader of a church she was responsible for, Sister Zhang, had just been going through the motions in her duties for a while, not doing practical work, spouting platitudes and doctrines at meetings, and was arrogant, self-righteous, and refused to accept others’ suggestions or help. At the time, I thought all these things might be manifestations of a false leader who doesn’t do practical work, and since Sister Liu knew about it, I wondered why she didn’t make some changes and dismiss Sister Zhang. I wanted to say something to her, but it occurred to me that I had just started performing this duty and I didn’t know Sister Zhang very well. If I said something directly, Sister Liu might criticize me for being rash and not treating others lovingly. With this in mind, I shared my thoughts with Sister Liu indirectly, but she didn’t make much of it and asked me to help Sister Zhang from a place of love. I thought, “Sister Liu must know the principles for replacing leaders, so if I mention this again, won’t she think I’m saying she doesn’t do practical work? And she’ll definitely think I cause too many problems and I’m hard to get along with. If this causes conflict between us, how will we do our duties as partners in the future?” At that point, I decided not to say anything more.
I fellowshiped with Sister Zhang several times to expose and analyze her issues. She not only refused to accept it, she argued with me. Soon after, some brothers and sisters started reporting that Sister Zhang wasn’t doing practical work. That was when I realized Sister Zhang’s problem was serious, and if we didn’t deal with it in time, it would delay church work and our brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. So, I raised the matter of dismissing Sister Zhang with Sister Liu again. But Sister Liu said, “These reports have been turned over to our superiors. Let’s wait until they get to the bottom of it before we dismiss her.” I thought, “Through the reports and looking into the situation, we can see that Sister Zhang hasn’t done practical work, has gone through the motions, and has just talked about platitudes and doctrines for a long time. We already know she’s a false leader, so according to principles, she should be dismissed as soon as possible. We are district leaders, and a false leader has appeared in the church, but instead of dealing with it promptly, we’re pushing it to our superiors. Isn’t this just stalling and allowing a false leader to continue harming our brothers and sisters? This is nothing short of standing with Satan and going against God! This is a very serious problem!” I wanted to speak about it again to Sister Liu, but I thought, “The last time I mentioned this, she didn’t want to replace Sister Zhang, and told me to treat her lovingly. It seems that they get along really well, so if I raise the issue of dismissing Sister Zhang again, Sister Liu might say I am too arrogant. Won’t she think I am just showing off, as the saying goes ‘People new to a job have to prove their mettle’? It’d be better not to say anything. At least our superiors are investigating and checking the facts. A few more days won’t hurt.” And so, I held back, with the words on the tip of my tongue. A few days later after our superiors investigated the matter, they dealt with us harshly for not promptly handling a false leader, saying we disrupted and disturbed church work and delayed the life entry of our brothers and sisters. They said this was acting as accomplices of Satan and harming our brothers and sisters. Hearing this, I felt miserable. I realized that I hadn’t practiced truth that I clearly knew, and I hadn’t upheld principles. I really had shielded a false leader. I was covering up for her. So, I lost no time in dismissing her. But afterward, I only felt a little self-reproach and discomfort, and I didn’t take the opportunity to reflect on myself any further. I later discovered that Sister Liu always spoke in platitudes and doctrines at meetings, and that she couldn’t resolve brothers’ and sisters’ problems and difficulties. When I pointed out some of her problems and deficiencies, she refused to accept them, and tried to argue and debate with me. Nothing was achieved in the work she was responsible for, and when our superiors pruned and dealt with her, she refused to accept it. She became negative and slack in her work, mired in complaints and misunderstandings. At the time, I wanted to expose her state, but I realized that as her partner, I was also responsible if we didn’t do our work well, and if I analyzed her problems, she’d say I wasn’t being understanding, so I didn’t dare. Instead, I just tried to console her and encouraged her not to be negative. But after that, I realized Sister Liu still hadn’t changed a bit. She had no self-awareness at all! If things continued like this, it would only delay church work and harm our brothers and sisters. I realized I had to report these things to our superiors as soon as possible. The church happened to be doing a general opinion survey, and our superiors asked me to write an appraisal of Sister Liu. I was getting ready to write it, but remembered that most brothers and sisters lacked discernment toward her and really supported her. So, if I stuck my neck out to report on Sister Liu’s problems, would they say I was scheming and wanted her removed, so I could have full say over everything? Beyond that, we were partners in our duties, and she had done a lot to help me. If she was really dismissed, wouldn’t she hate me? I went back and forth in my mind and finally decided that I would gloss over the details of her not doing practical work or accepting the truth. But after submitting my appraisal, I couldn’t quell the unease in my heart. I knew I was concealing the facts and deceiving God, and I felt ever more spiritual darkness. I was always nodding off when I read God’s words, and I gained no enlightenment or illumination from fellowship in gatherings. I couldn’t discover any of the problems my brothers and sisters had. I muddled through every day without the slightest energy, and I felt God had abandoned me.
Our superiors later looked into things, and Sister Liu was dismissed as a false leader who didn’t do practical work. I felt a great deal of shame and self-reproach at the time, especially when I thought of God’s words, “You will find plenty of good people in society speaking in a very lofty manner, and even though they outwardly seem not to have done any great evil, deep down they are deceitful and slippery. In particular, they are able to see which way the wind blows, and they are smooth and worldly in their eloquence. As I see it, such a ‘good person’ is a false one, a hypocrite; such a person is merely pretending to be good. All those who stick to a happy medium are the most sinister. They try not to offend anyone, they are people-pleasers, they go along with things, and no one can figure them out. A person like that is a living Satan!” (“Only by Putting the Truth Into Practice Can One Cast off the Shackles of a Corrupt Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words reveal that people-pleasers are the most sinister and cunning, that they are living Satans. I realized that is what I was. I had known for a while that Sister Liu was a false leader, but to protect my relationship with her and myself, I chose instead to offend God and didn’t practice the truth. I had covered up for a false leader again, offended God’s disposition, and committed a transgression. I felt that I was finished, that God wouldn’t save someone like me. I lived in misery and negativity for a few days. I lost all interest in doing anything. But later, I remembered God’s words: “No matter what wrongs you have committed, no matter how far you have strayed or how seriously you have transgressed, do not let these become burdens or excess baggage that you have to carry with you in your pursuit of understanding God. Continue marching onward. At all times, God holds man’s salvation in His heart; this never changes. This is the most precious part of the essence of God” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I contemplated these words of God over and over, and I felt that each word and line carried mercy and hope for me. Even though my wickedness had offended God’s disposition, God still used His words to comfort me, encourage me, and tell me to keep moving onward. I felt immensely grateful, and told myself I could no longer be negative. Wherever I failed, I had to pick myself up from the ground. I should reflect, understand my problems, and seek the truth to resolve them.
I later read another passage of God’s words: “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading God’s words, I felt an agony that pierced my heart. I saw that I was nothing but a slippery, crafty people-pleaser. Faced with an issue, I did everything I could to protect myself and didn’t consider the interests of God’s house, and I didn’t have any sense of responsibility or burden in my duties. I should have promptly handled it when false leaders appeared, but instead, to protect myself and for fear of offending Sister Liu, I was too afraid to practice the truth or expose and report it. I intentionally concealed the truth, and covered it up to protect her. The result was that every facet of church work was impacted and my brothers and sisters lacked a normal church life. God’s house entrusted me with such an important duty, but when false leaders appeared in the church, I betrayed the principles of the truth to protect my own interests, time and again standing with Satan and shielding them. I was well aware church work would suffer, but I didn’t practice the truth or uphold righteousness. Whenever I could possibly offend someone, I abandoned the principles of the truth. I was acting selfishly, in my own interest. Wasn’t doing things this way disturbing and disrupting the work of God’s house and acting as Satan’s accomplice? I didn’t dare practice the truth or uphold principles; I had no sense of righteousness. How was I fit to be a church leader? I was selfish, despicable, slippery, deceitful, and petty! It especially stung when I considered that God’s words say God loathes and despises people-pleasers, and doesn’t save them, and the sermons say time and again that God’s house resolutely refuses to accept people-pleasers as leaders, because they have evil hearts and can only harm God’s house and their brothers and sisters. By shielding and covering up for false leaders, I had already offended God and offended His disposition, so I went before God and prayed to Him: “God, time and again I have violated Your will. I clearly knew the truth but didn’t practice it, and harmed the church’s work in the process. I am willing to accept Your curses and punishment. No matter how You treat me in the future, I’m willing to obey and repent to You.”
I began to wonder why I tried to please people and couldn’t practice the truth when things happened to me. What was it that was controlling me? I later read a passage of God’s words: “Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of national governments and of the famous and great. Their devilish words have become man’s life nature. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’ is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone, and that has become man’s life. There are other words of philosophies for living that are also like this. Satan uses each nation’s fine traditional culture to educate people, causing mankind to fall into and be engulfed by a boundless abyss of destruction, and in the end people are destroyed by God because they serve Satan and resist God. … There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their conduct and behavior; they possess almost no truth at all. For example, their philosophies for living, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are all filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. Thus, all things that flow through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan. All of those officials, those who hold power, and those who are accomplished have their own paths and secrets to success. Are such secrets not perfectly representative of their nature? They have done such big things in the world, and no one can see through the schemes and intrigues that lay behind them. This shows just how insidious and venomous their nature is. Mankind has been profoundly corrupted by Satan. Satan’s venom flows through the blood of every person, and it can be seen that man’s nature is corrupt, evil, and reactionary, filled by and immersed in the philosophies of Satan—it is, in its entirety, a nature that betrays God. This is why people resist God and stand in opposition to God” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s word, I found the root of why I acted like a people-pleaser. It was because since I was young, I had been educated by the Chinese Communist Party, and I was filled with all kinds of worldly philosophies, logic, and rules, such as “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Men are not saints; how can they be free from faults?” “When you know something is wrong, it is better to say less,” “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes,” “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” and so on. These things were implanted deep in my heart, and I lived by them. I became more arrogant, self-righteous, selfish, despicable, slippery, and deceitful all the time. I made these things my life mottos. In getting along with people I carefully observed every word and expression of others, and I handled my relationships with everyone gingerly. I was a people-pleaser, I walked the path of mediocrity, I didn’t offend anyone, I didn’t dare speak the truth or uphold righteousness, and I lived without a shred of dignity. When false leaders appeared in the church, afraid to offend Sister Liu, I abandoned my principles, chose to be a coward, and allowed them to harm my brothers and sisters and obstruct the work of God’s house. How could I call myself a good person? I was black-hearted, a “nice guy,” a despicable slave of Satan. I lacked any sense of courage or righteousness. If I had helped and analyzed Sister Liu earlier, she might not have made so many transgressions, the work of God’s house and the life entry of the brothers and sisters might not have been hindered, and I might not have offended God’s disposition. So then, I finally saw that living by these satanic worldly philosophies and being a people-pleaser could only harm people or ruin them, and do the same to myself. From what the facts revealed, I could finally see that these satanic worldly philosophies, logic, and rules can only deceive and corrupt people. They are in enmity to God’s words and the truth. When we live by these satanic philosophies, no matter how kind, gentle, or agreeable we seem, we are still slippery, deceitful, despicable, and pathetic. If we don’t practice the truth, repent, and change, we will definitely be abandoned and eliminated by God.
I later read more of God’s words: “In essence, God is faithful, and so His words can always be trusted; His actions, furthermore, are faultless and unquestionable, which is why God likes those who are absolutely honest with Him” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “That God asks for people to be honest proves that He truly loathes those who are deceitful, and that He does not like deceitful people. The fact that God does not like deceitful people means that He dislikes their actions, disposition, and motivations; that is, He does not like the way they do things. Therefore, if we are to please God, we must first change our actions and the way in which we exist” (“The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). “Once you have faith, when you come before God but are still living in the same old manner, is your belief in God meaningful? Is it of value? The goals and principles of your life and the way you live have not changed, and the only thing that places you above unbelievers is your acknowledgment of God. You seem to be following God, but your life disposition still has not changed one bit. In the end, you will not be saved. That being the case, is this not but an empty belief and an empty joy?” (“Only by Putting the Truth Into Practice Can One Cast off the Shackles of a Corrupt Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s words, I saw that God is faithful in essence. God likes honest people and hates deceivers. When I lived by these satanic philosophies, my views on things and how I conducted myself didn’t change at all. I was just like the unbelievers. No matter how many years I believed in God that way, I would never gain the truth or salvation. Only those who practice the truth, who are honest people, who have no deceit in their hearts, who have the courage to uphold the principles of the truth, who have a sense of justice, and who stand on God’s side in all things and are considerate of God’s will are the ones He loves, and who can be saved by Him! After understanding what God requires, I prayed to God and swore an oath that I would repent, practice the truth, and be an honest person.
A few months later, I found that my new partner Brother Li always spoke in platitudes and doctrines, and showed off at gatherings. I fellowshiped with him about it several times, but didn’t see any improvement, so I told our superiors about it. But then, they asked me to dissect and expose his behaviors, and I began to feel timid. I felt tongue-tied about these things, because Brother Li had been performing his duties there longer than anyone. He was seen as a sort of elder, and he had helped me with my work in the past. If I exposed his state, what would he think of me? Would he be offended? Then, I read this passage of God’s words: “If you have the motivations and perspective of a ‘nice person,’ you will always fall down and fail in such matters. What, then, should you do in those situations? When faced with such things, you must pray to God. Ask Him to grant you strength and enable you to abide by principle, do what you should do, handle things according to principle, stand your ground, and prevent any harm from coming to the work of God’s house. If you are able to forsake your self-interests, reputation, and the standpoint of a ‘nice person,’ and if you do what you should do with an honest, undivided heart, then you will have defeated Satan, and will have gained this aspect of the truth” (“Only When You Know Yourself Can You Pursue the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). Reading this passage of God’s word gave me internal clarity that this had come upon me because God was testing me and giving me an opportunity to repent. God wanted to see how I would handle the matter. I couldn’t allow myself to protect my relationships with others as I had before. I had to put church work first, practice the truth, and uphold righteousness. If Brother Li was someone who pursued the truth, he could use the fellowship and analysis to reflect on and understand himself, which would help his life entry, and then avoid making more transgressions. And so, I went to see Brother Li, and exposed and dissected his states and behaviors one by one using God’s words. What surprised me was that he not only didn’t resent me, but actually said with repentance, “If you didn’t expose and dissect me this way, I would never know about my problems. I really do need to reflect on myself.” Hearing Brother Li say those words was very moving for me. I had been worried that exposing him would make him resent me, but that was entirely my own imagination. At that moment, I truly experienced that practicing the truth and being an honest person brings calm and peace of mind, and brings us closer and closer to God. I also genuinely experienced that the only way to protect the work of God’s house is to practice the truth and handle things according to principles. This is also the only way to actually help our brothers and sisters. Through God’s judgment and chastisement, some of my mistaken views were changed, and my slippery and crafty satanic disposition was changed a bit. Now, when I see my brothers and sisters display corruption, or when things are handled in ways that betray the principles of the truth, I no longer cover them up, shield them, or try to protect my relationships with people. I can consciously practice the truth, fellowship, help, point things out, and expose things. Even though sometimes I still hesitate and am afraid of offending others, I can pray to God, forsake myself, practice according to the principles of the truth, and no longer live by satanic philosophies. With this kind of practice, I feel so much more calm and steadiness. It’s very freeing. Achieving these changes and gaining all this was entirely the result of the judgment and chastisement of God’s words.