46. Can People Pleasers Win God’s Praise?
By Liu Yi, China
Before I was a believer, I was always careful not to offend other people, and I could get along with everyone. I’d help out whenever I saw someone going through a hard time, so I felt like I had good humanity, and that I was a good person. It was only by experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words that I realized that I was just safeguarding my relationships with others and I was devoid of a sense of justice. I was never able to uphold the principles of the truth or to protect the interests of God’s house when it was most critical. I saw I was a selfish, deceitful people pleaser who disgusted God. Filled with regret and detesting myself, I began to focus on practicing the truth, and I then began to change.
I used to work with Sister Li when I was the head of the church’s watering team. After a while I noticed that she wasn’t bearing any burden in her duty and wasn’t diligent in anything she did. She hardly ever helped brothers and sisters resolve their problems and sometimes she’d even mix up the times for gatherings. I wanted to bring these things to her attention, but then I thought about how she hadn’t been doing that duty for very long, so if I did say something, she might think I was too demanding and strict. She had a really good impression of me, so would she change her opinion of me if I mentioned these things? I decided to fellowship with her in private that evening so that she would not lose face. During our fellowship, I didn’t communicate the truth to resolve the problems she had, but instead advised her tactfully, “You haven’t been very effective in your duty recently. Have you reflected on this? If you are living in a wrong state that isn’t taken care of, then not only will you not do your duty well, but it can also get in the way of your life entry.” In fact, I knew that she was careless and inattentive in her duty and I should fellowship on the truth with her to dissect the nature of the problem, that I should deal with and expose her so that she could gain understanding of her issues. But if I was too heavy-handed and she couldn’t accept it, I was worried it would ruin our relationship and she might resent me. So, I just patiently fellowshiped with her.
I later saw that Sister Li was really competitive in her duty and was always trying to outdo others. She would sink into negativity when she couldn’t gain people’s admiration. I shared one-on-one fellowship with her quite a few times and she appeared to take it really well, but nothing ever changed. I thought about reporting the situation to the leaders, but I was afraid that would be stabbing Sister Li in the back. How could we get along after that if I offended her? We’d known each other all that time, and I felt that there are advantages to knowing each other well. I figured I’d keep trying to help her, and if she kept on that way, I’d still have time to talk to the leaders.
Sister Li’s performance in her duty continued to slip and she was unable to resolve brothers’ and sisters’ problems. One time, when trying to resolve new believers’ problems in a gathering, she shared fellowship that was off base. We set it straight together, but then later on she shared that same wrong fellowship when she ran into the same kind of problem. Not only did she fail to resolve new believers’ issues, but even misled them. I really blamed myself when I found out about it and I wanted to expose Sister Li as doing her duty in a disruptive way, but I found myself tongue-tied the moment I saw her. I just glossed over it, saying she had fellowshiped incorrectly with brothers and sisters. I was vague and beat around the bush, afraid of upsetting her and making her think badly of me if I was too hard on her. As a result, she didn’t gain any understanding of herself. I saw that she didn’t have a good understanding of things and wasn’t well-suited to watering duty, so according to the principles she should have been switched to another duty and I should have reported it to the leaders as soon as possible. But I changed my mind, afraid I’d offend her and after all that time of working together, we’d become enemies instead of friends. In the end, I didn’t uphold the principles of the truth, and I delayed reporting her to the leaders. I ended up in a terrible state myself because I wasn’t putting the truth into practice and I became blind to the problems in my work. I got used to Sister Li’s performance and was content as long as we got along well superficially. I wasn’t thinking about upholding the work of God’s house, and I didn’t tell the leaders about what was really going on.
Then one day, Sister Li found out she was being watched by Chinese Communist Party police informers, and if she kept doing her duty, then she could implicate other brothers and sisters. My heart raced when I heard this news. Knowing this was a really serious issue, I finally shared her situation with the leaders. The leaders wrote me a very stern response: “Sister Li is careless in her duty and her understanding is misguided. This has long been disruptive, but you didn’t report on this for a long time. You were just taking the middle road, and following the principles of being a people pleaser. This has delayed and damaged the work of God’s house. You really need to reflect on and know yourself.” They also included an excerpt from some sermons from the Above: “People pleasers fail to use their discernment. They know the principles of the truth well, but they do not uphold them. In anything that impacts their personal interests, they even cast aside the principles of the truth, only safeguarding their own personal gain. When a people pleaser sees an evil person doing evil deeds, they know that these deeds disrupt the work of God’s house and disturb the life of the church, but they do not say a word, afraid of offending them. They do not expose or report them. They completely lack any sense of justice or responsibility. People like this are not suited to carry out any duty in the church—they are good-for-nothings. People pleasers appear to be honest and others think they are good people of good humanity, and some leaders and workers even cultivate them. This is utterly foolish. Never try to cultivate a people pleaser, as they cannot accomplish anything. Essentially, they do not love the truth or accept the truth, to say nothing of putting the truth into practice. This is why God hates people pleasers above all. If such people do not truly repent, they will be eliminated” (Work Arrangements). Being so harshly pruned and dealt with by the leaders was gutting for me, particularly when I saw the words “people pleaser.” I couldn’t hold back my tears: How could I be a people pleaser? God detests people pleasers. They are good-for-nothings, and will be eliminated. I was incredibly upset and couldn’t bear to acknowledge the fact that I was a people pleaser, even though I really had done just what people pleasers do. Through my tears, I said this prayer to God: “Oh God, I’ve disrupted the work of God’s house by not practicing the truth. I’ve done evil, and the leaders were right to deal with me. But I still don’t have a deep understanding of myself. Please enlighten me and guide me to know myself.”
After praying, I read this in God’s words: “Some people always boast that they possess good humanity, claiming never to have done anything bad, stolen others’ possessions, or coveted other people’s things. They even go so far as to allow others to benefit at their own expense when there is a dispute over interests, preferring to suffer loss, and they never say anything bad about anyone just so that everyone else thinks they are good people. However, when performing their duties in God’s house, they are wily and slippery, always scheming for themselves. Never do they think of the interests of God’s house, never do they treat as urgent the things God treats as urgent or think as God thinks, and never can they set aside their own interests so as to perform their duties. They never forsake their own interests. Even when they see evildoers committing evil, they do not expose them; they have no principles whatsoever. This is not an example of good humanity. Pay no attention to what such a person says; you must see what he lives out, what he reveals, and what his attitude is when he performs his duties, as well as what his internal state is and what he loves. If his love of his own fame and fortune exceeds his loyalty to God, if his love of his own fame and fortune exceeds God’s interests, or if his love of his own fame and fortune exceeds the consideration he shows for God, then he is not a person with humanity” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Many people believe that being a good person is actually easy, and simply requires speaking less and doing more, having a good heart, and not having any ill intent. They believe that this will ensure that they will prosper wherever they go, that people will like them, and that it is good enough just to be such a person. They even go so far as to not want to pursue the truth; they are satisfied just to be good people. They think that the issue of pursuing the truth and serving God is just too complicated; it requires understanding many truths, they think, and who can accomplish that? They just want to take an easier path—being good people and performing their duties—and think that that will be enough. Is this position tenable? Is being a good person really so simple? 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 Christ’s Talks). Everything in God’s words hit the nail on the head for me, and I was utterly convinced. I saw that I was a people pleaser, a “nice guy” through and through. I walked on eggshells in my work with Sister Li in order to protect our relationship. When I saw she wasn’t bearing a burden in her duty and was constantly making mistakes, that she was always vying for name and gain and impacting the work of God’s house, I should have fellowshiped with her and pointed this out right away. But afraid of offending her, I just glossed over the issue with her. This wasn’t helpful or loving toward her—it was harmful. I knew her understanding was off and she wasn’t fit for doing watering duty, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and make her think ill of me, so I delayed reporting this to the leaders. I enabled a careless person with a skewed, faulty understanding to perform watering duty and hinder the work of God’s house. I had become one of Satan’s minions and seriously disrupted the work of God’s house. In my faith, on the surface I left my family and career behind, worked day and night and paid a price, but when issues arose, I just schemed for my own interests and didn’t safeguard the interests of God’s house at all. I believed in God, but I wasn’t of one heart and mind with Him. How could I call myself a believer? I wasn’t worthy of living before God! I was wracked with misery at this thought and filled with regret that I hadn’t been upholding the principles of the truth or protecting the interests of God’s house.
I later read this in 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. ‘Everyone 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. Imagine asking someone who has been active in society for decades the following question: ‘Given that you have lived in the world for so long and achieved so much, what are the main famous sayings that you live by?’ He might say, ‘The most important one is, “Officials do not strike gift-givers, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing.”’ Are these words not representative of that person’s nature? Unscrupulously using any means to obtain position has become his nature, and being an official is what gives him life. 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 Christ’s Talks). What God’s words revealed showed me that, as a people pleaser, I had been misled and controlled by philosophies of Satan, like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “One more friend means one more path,” “A familiar face brings benefits,” “When you know something is wrong, it is better to say less,” and “Never hit people below the belt.” These satanic philosophies were deeply entrenched in me, and I lived by these things. I was becoming increasingly selfish and cunning. Back before I believed in God, I never did anything to displease anyone. In business, I said whatever people wanted to hear and felt that going by those satanic philosophies was a clever way to live, that to conduct myself that way showed capability, and I even showed off. After becoming a believer, I didn’t put the truth into practice, but kept living by these poisons of Satan. I saw Sister Li was showing corruption in her duty, but I didn’t point this out to her in fellowship. I particularly didn’t dare to expose or dissect her corruption, but just casually mentioned it to her, terribly afraid of damaging our relationship if I told the truth. When I saw her disrupting the work of God’s house, I didn’t report this to our leaders, but thought that sharing the situation with the leaders would be telling on her, stabbing her in the back. How absurd of me! Reporting a problem is upholding the work of God’s house—it is right and proper, and it is just. It also would have given the church a chance to arrange for Sister Li to take on a duty appropriate to her caliber and stature. This would have been beneficial for both Sister Li and the church, but I thought it was a bad thing. I realized what great harm these satanic poisons do to people. They had deceived and corrupted me to the point that my perspective on things was twisted and I didn’t know right from wrong, up from down. I was selfish and despicable, and only worked for my own interests. I did things entirely without principle, without a stance. I lacked a sense of justice and wasn’t remotely living out the likeness of a true human being. Realizing this filled me with disgust and loathing for these satanic philosophies and my own people-pleasing ideas. I really hated the way I had acted and didn’t want to be that way anymore, from the bottom of my heart. I didn’t want to be played for a fool and harmed by Satan anymore. I also felt how precious it is to practice the truth, and so I immediately began seeking the truth to resolve my problem of being a people pleaser.
I read this in God’s words in my seeking: “There must be a standard for having good humanity. It does not involve taking the path of moderation, not sticking to principles, endeavoring not to offend anyone, currying favor everywhere you go, being smooth and slick with everyone you meet, and making everyone feel good. This is not the standard. So what is the standard? It includes treating God, other people, and events with a true heart, being able to take responsibility, and doing all this in a way that is evident for everyone to see and feel. Moreover, God searches people’s hearts and knows them, each and every one” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Is someone who is a natural yes-man a genuinely good person? What kind of person is seen by God to be a genuinely good person who possesses the truth? First and foremost, one must understand God’s will and understand the truth. Secondly, one must be able to put the truth into practice, based on one’s understanding of it. … That is, the moment this person discovers they have a problem, they are able to come before God to resolve it, and are able to maintain a normal relationship with Him. Such a person may be weak and corrupt, as well as rebellious, and may reveal all manner of corrupt dispositions such as arrogance, self-righteousness, crookedness, and deceitfulness. However, once they have self-reflected and become aware of these things, they can resolve them in a timely manner and make a turnaround. This is one who loves the truth and who practices the truth; such a person, in God’s eyes, is a good person” (“Having a Human Likeness Requires Fulfilling Your Duty Properly With All Your Heart, Mind, and Soul” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I then thought of another passage of Almighty God’s words: “In the church, stand firm in your testimony to Me, uphold the truth; right is right and wrong is wrong. Do not confuse black and white. You shall be at war with Satan and must completely vanquish it so that it never rises again. You must give everything you have to protect My testimony. This shall be the goal of your actions—do not forget this” (“Chapter 41” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Through God’s words, I came to understand that a truly good person doesn’t maintain perfect harmony with others and say nothing to offend anyone. Instead, a good person is honest and upright, clearly distinguishes love from hate, and can set aside their own personal interests when the interests of God’s house are involved. They uphold the principles of the truth, they aren’t afraid of offending other people, and they safeguard the interests of God’s house. Only that kind of person is someone with a sense of justice, someone who can win God’s praise. Once I’d understood God’s requirements, I said a prayer and resolved that from then on, I would practice the truth and protect the interests of God’s house; I would say goodbye to the old people pleaser in me, and make myself anew.
The leaders later looked into the issue and confirmed that Sister Li needed to be removed from her duty, and they asked me to go fellowship with her. I thought, “Why me? If she finds out that I was the one to tell the leaders about her and that’s why she’s being replaced, she’ll definitely resent me and that will ruin our relationship.” At this thought, I remembered the damage I’d done to the work of God’s house by failing to practice the truth and I knew had to stop being a people pleaser. Having me share fellowship with Sister Li was God testing me, to see if I could practice the truth and handle matters in accordance with the principles. I kept praying to God the whole way there, asking for His guidance. I was also aware that if I didn’t clearly fellowship with Sister Li on her issues and she didn’t come to understand them, then this wouldn’t be helping her at all, but hurting her. At this thought, I became determined to never be a people pleaser again. And so, I fellowshiped with Sister Li and dissected the nature and consequences of her carelessness in her duty, and I laid bare all of her behavior that had disrupted the work of God’s house. When she heard all this, she was willing to submit and reflect on herself. I felt so much better and at peace after practicing the truth.
God set up another situation to test me after that. After getting to know a younger sister for a little while, I realized she had an arrogant disposition and was reluctant to accept the other sisters’ suggestions, which led to a number of them feeling constrained by her. I and Sister Liu, another sister who worked with me, went to share fellowship with her and expose the way she’d been acting, but she wouldn’t accept it. She even argued her own case and pulled a long face. I felt a little held back by this, thinking that she had to have a poor opinion of me. How could I face her after that? Something else happened to come up right then, so we had to leave. On the way back I was thinking about how this younger sister was somewhat willful and that she found it hard to accept the truth. Without proper fellowship, our relationship would definitely become strained. I figured next time I’d have my partner share fellowship with her. I saw her again a couple days later and she was perfectly amicable toward me. I realized that we hadn’t really sorted out her problem through fellowship last time, so I’d need to fellowship with her again, and if she still refused to accept the truth, she’d have to be exposed and dealt with. But when she got a chair for me and asked after my health, I felt like my mouth had been zipped shut. I wanted to say something in fellowship, but I just couldn’t open my mouth. I felt that the moment I opened up in fellowship, it would just ruin our relationship and destroy that friendly atmosphere. If she had the same attitude as before and wouldn’t accept the truth, I’d be in a really awkward position. I figured I could choose my words wisely, avoid being harsh, and employ a bit of wisdom. Just then, I realized I had the urge to be a people pleaser again and protect my interpersonal relationships. I quickly prayed to God and asked Him for strength. I thought of this passage of Almighty God’s words after my prayer: “Your satanic, corrupt disposition is controlling you; your mouth is moving in spite of you. Even if you want to give voice to honest words, you are both unable and afraid to say them. You are not able to commit even one ten-thousandth of the things you should do, the things you should say, and the responsibility you should take; your hands and feet are bound by your satanic, corrupt disposition. You are not in charge at all. Your satanic, corrupt disposition tells you how to speak, and so you speak that way; it tells you what to do, and so you do it. … You do not seek the truth, much less do you practice the truth, yet you keep on praying, building up your determination, making resolutions, and swearing oaths. And what has come from all of this? You are still a yes-man: ‘I won’t provoke anyone, nor will I offend anyone. If a matter is none of my concern, then I’ll stay away from it; I won’t say anything about things that have nothing to do with me, and this goes without exception. If anything is injurious to my own interests, my pride, or my self-regard, I still will pay none of it any heed, and will approach all of it cautiously; I mustn’t act rashly. The nail that sticks up gets hit first, and I’m not that stupid!’ You are totally under the control of your corrupt dispositions of wickedness, cunning, hardness, and detesting the truth. They are running you into the ground, and have grown harder for you to bear even than the Golden Hoop the Monkey King wore. Living under the control of a corrupt disposition is so exhausting and excruciating! Tell Me, if you do not pursue the truth, is it easy to cast off your corruption? Can this problem be resolved? I tell you, if you do not pursue the truth and are muddled in your belief, listening to however many years of sermons will be of no use, and if you persist in this way to the very end, then, at best, you will be a religious fraud and a Pharisee, and that will be the end of that. If you are even worse than this, then there may come an event wherein you fall into temptation, and you will lose your duty and betray God. You will have fallen. You will be always on the edge of a precipice! Right now, nothing is more important than pursuing the truth. It is useless to pursue anything else” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words totally laid bare the truth of me being a people pleaser. When I saw that young sister was somewhat willful and found it hard to accept the truth, I didn’t want to fan the flames or fall on my face, but just wanted to tiptoe around the problem. I even wanted to have someone else fellowship with her just to protect my relationship with her. I was still being a people pleaser! I thought about the damage I’d done to the work of God’s house before because I hadn’t practiced the truth. I’d missed my chance to practice the truth that time, and this time I knew I couldn’t be left with regrets. Before I knew it, I felt a surge of strength: Practicing the truth was paramount, and I couldn’t fall short again. I mustered up my courage and fellowshiped with this sister, exposing what she’d been doing and the nature of her actions. She heard me out and accepted it, and was willing to repent. I felt an indescribable joy in my heart. I’d finally been able to practice some truth, and I felt a sense of peace and joy in my spirit. That felt like an upright way to live, like I had a human likeness.
Thinking back over the many small things that God did to work in me, I can see that God’s judgment and chastisement truly were exactly what was needed to change my corrupt disposition. If He hadn’t set up situation after situation to expose me, and if it hadn’t been for the judgment and revelations of His words, I never would have known what kind of person I actually was. I never would have known the pathetic truth of how I had been living by Satan’s poisons. I came to appreciate how practical God’s salvation and transformation of mankind are, and how hard-won they are! My ability to practice some truth and live out some human likeness today is all thanks to God’s judgment and chastisement. I’m so grateful for God’s salvation for me!