58. Exposing a False Leader: A Personal Struggle
By Zheng Yi, South Korea
Last year, I was doing my duty in a church out of town, but I came home after being replaced for not doing practical work. After that, I found that our leader, Sister Li, didn’t have anything enlightening to say about God’s words, but just preached literal doctrine. She never talked about knowing herself or shared her own experiences. She was imperious when helping others with their problems, like a master schooling their apprentice, and she couldn’t resolve anyone’s practical issues. She was always talking about how she’d worked and suffered in her duty so she’d be looked up to and adored. She was a law unto herself. There was a sister, new to the faith, who was scared, seeing the Communist Party arresting Christians. Sister Li didn’t fellowship on the truth to support her but just dismissed her from her duty. Some deacons and I gave her suggestions a number of times, but she’d just make excuses and argue with us. Based on the principles, a leader who doesn’t do things according to the principles of the truth and who won’t accept brothers’ and sisters’ oversight and pruning, isn’t someone who accepts and obeys the truth. Sister Li didn’t know herself, she lacked life entry, and couldn’t resolve others’ real problems. A church leader like that can only do harm to the church’s work and brothers’ and sisters’ lives. I was certain Sister Li was a false leader and wasn’t fit for church work and I wanted to report her. But I got cold feet when I was writing a letter to report her. I’d just been dismissed. I wasn’t doing my duty. If I reported Sister Li and the others couldn’t see what I saw, they could just turn it back on me: “Oh, look at Zheng Yi. She’s just been dismissed but can’t keep her head down. She should be looking at herself, not other people. It looks like she doesn’t have real self-knowledge or repentance.” If they said that, I really wouldn’t be able to hold my head up around them. As a false leader who had been dismissed, I felt I had the least room to talk. I especially thought about how that report would probably offend Sister Li, and being in the same church, we see each other all the time. How could we possibly get along after that? What if she kept her position and made things difficult for me? The more I thought about it, the more I felt boxed into a corner. I figured the report could offend her and I shouldn’t stick my neck out that way. I couldn’t afford to in light of my own circumstances, and a false leader in the church wasn’t an issue on my shoulders alone. Let someone else report her. I just wanted to keep going to gatherings and keep the peace.
I decided to put that issue out of my mind, but I still felt a nagging uneasiness. Lying in bed at night, my head would be full of thoughts of Sister Li bragging in gatherings and preaching by rote. That would be harmful for brothers and sisters if it went on. I felt bad about not speaking up. I later read these words from God: “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 path they follow and 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” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I saw in God’s words that a leader’s path not only affects them personally, but it has a direct impact on others’ life entry and the entire church’s work. Sister Li only ever preached empty words and couldn’t resolve brothers’ and sisters’ real-life difficulties. She was always showing off and misleading people and brothers and sisters looked up to her. On top of that, she was arrogant and dictatorial and she alone had final say in a lot of the church’s work. She didn’t seek the principles of the truth or accept others’ suggestions, but just handled things based on her own notions. There was no chance of her upholding the church’s work—she was outright hindering it. With a false leader like that in the church, brothers and sisters would be dragged down along with her. Seeing so many believers deceived by a false leader and their lives suffering because of it is very sad for God. I’d already discerned that Sister Li was a false leader and I’d seen the harm done to brothers and sisters and the church life by having a false leader in charge. But just because I was afraid of offending her, I watched the church’s work and others’ life entry be held back with my eyes wide open. I didn’t take a stand to expose and report her. I wasn’t righteous at all, and I wasn’t being considerate of God’s will. I was so unfeeling! I’d already damaged the church’s work by not doing real work in my previous duty. Now seeing a false leader deceive God’s chosen, but not standing up to report her or upholding the interests of the church was unconscionable of me! I felt more and more that I owed it to God, and that as a created being, I should take a stand, consider God’s will and uphold the church’s work. That was my duty, and it was a responsibility I had to fulfill! This thought gave me some strength and I told myself, “For the interests of the church and so God’s chosen people can live an authentic church life, I have to practice the truth and speak up about Sister Li’s issues. I can’t let a false leader lead brothers and sisters astray any longer!” Just as I was preparing to write a report, I heard that recently, after an older sister pointed out some of Sister Li’s issues to her, she stopped gathering with her. Hearing this made me so angry. I felt that she really refused to accept the truth. But at the same time, my worries cropped up again. She’d excluded that sister just for expressing some views. If she found out I’d reported her, would she bear a grudge against me and give me a hard time? If she started judging me and accused me of attacking leaders and workers, what would the others think? With her suppressing me I’d have no chance to do my duty and that would be even harder to bear. But I’d feel really guilty if I didn’t report her. There was a tug-of-war inside of me—I was in turmoil.
And so, I brought it before God in prayer and seeking. I read this in God’s words after that: “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). I felt every word was knocking on the door of my conscience, especially “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?” It felt like God was standing right next to me, asking me this question. I knew that Sister Li was a false leader and I knew it would harm the life entry of God’s chosen people if not resolved in time, but I was afraid she’d be offended and bear a grudge against me, or that I’d be isolated and expelled from the Church. I’d just upheld my own interests at every turn, not daring to uphold the principles and report her. This spiritual battle required me to stand witness at the key time, but I protected my own interests and was a people pleaser, disgusting God. I really hated myself. I didn’t want to be a people pleaser anymore. After that, I calmed down and reflected on myself. I was well aware that she was a false leader and I was willing to report her according to the principles. But when I heard she’d excluded someone for giving her some advice, why had I opted to protect myself instead of standing up for the church’s work? Why was I always protecting my own interests? I started to pray and seek on this particular issue.
There were some words of God that I read in a devotional one time. “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; they do not possess the life of the truth within them. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus causing the work of God’s house to suffer losses, and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? It is none of these; it is that you are being controlled by several kinds of corrupt dispositions. One of these dispositions is cunning. You think of yourself first, thinking, ‘If I speak up, how will it benefit me? If I speak up and displease someone, how will we get along in the future?’ This is a cunning mentality, right? Is this not the result of a cunning disposition? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? Why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. Even if I see it and hear it happen, I don’t need to do anything. It’s not my responsibility—I’m not a leader.’ Such things are inside you, as if they had sprung from your unconscious mind, and as if they occupy permanent positions in your heart—they are the corrupt, satanic dispositions of man. These corrupt dispositions control your thoughts and bind your hands and feet, and they control your mouth. When you want to say something in your heart, the words reach your lips but you do not say them, or, if you do speak, your words are roundabout, leaving you with room to maneuver—you do not speak at all clearly. Others feel nothing after hearing you, and what you have said has not resolved the problem. You think to yourself: ‘Well, I spoke up. My conscience is at ease. I’ve fulfilled my responsibility.’ In truth, you know in your heart that you have not said all you should, that what you have said has had no effect, and that the detriment to the work of God’s house remains. You have not fulfilled your responsibility, yet you say overtly that you have fulfilled your responsibility, or that what was happening was unclear to you. Are you not then completely under the control of your corrupt, satanic dispositions?” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Through God’s words, I realized that I only thought about myself in the face of a problem. I was selfish and deceitful. I followed satanic philosophies like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes,” “When you know something is wrong, it is better to say less,” and “Never lift a finger without a reward.” They were rooted in my very nature, keeping me firmly shackled so that practicing the truth was incredibly hard. I knew I should report her according to the principles for the sake of the church’s work, but when I was about to, I was afraid of offending her and being judged and mistreated by her. At that thought, my sense of obligation, responsibility, and duty just disappeared and I felt that a false leader in the church wasn’t my personal problem. I didn’t want to make any waves so I could avoid offending her and protect myself. I went against the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment over and over until I didn’t even feel guilty. I was entirely shackled by my satanic corruption. I’d committed a similar transgression in my duty before, living by satanic life philosophies. I discovered an arrogant leader with a skewed understanding of the truth who should be dismissed. But then I saw she had some caliber and was good at preaching literal doctrine and deceiving people. Seeing lots of brothers and sisters didn’t have discernment about her, I was afraid they would judge me and say I was coldhearted if she was replaced. So I put it off for over two months before getting her dismissed. This was incredibly disruptive for the church’s work. I saw a false leader in the church but I made the same old mistake. I wanted to stay out of it. The way I performed my duty showed I was really selfish and deceitful and I couldn’t practice the truth when it impacted my own interests. I’d repeatedly violated the truth and lost my testimony. It was a mark of shame. Realizing this, I prostrated myself before God and prayed: “Oh God! Now I’ve seen how deeply Satan has corrupted me. I’m a selfish, despicable people pleaser. I’m lowly and filthy. God, please save me from the bonds of my corrupt disposition.”
I later read in a fellowship that Satan rules out in the world, but God and the truth rule in the church, they are two different worlds, and that in God’s house, even if some evil person or someone of poor humanity is selected as a leader, they won’t last long without the reality of the truth. This proves that the truth reigns in God’s house. Satan holds the world in darkness and people have to speak and act based on its philosophies. Flattery is the only way to get ahead. Being honest and offending someone leads to punishment. Whether it’s among regular people or the powerful, being honest gets you bullied and excluded, and a lot of people even lose their lives over it. But the truth and righteousness rule in God’s house. God blesses and likes those who pursue the truth, and honest people with a sense of justice. Those who protect the church’s interests and God’s chosen people, who dare expose false leaders and antichrists, can be accepted, saved, and perfected by God. They also get others’ approval and support. Those who don’t submit to the truth, but go against it, no matter how lofty their name or status, will end up abandoned and eliminated by the Holy Spirit, just like the antichrist Yang who was kicked out of the church last year. She suppressed and excluded any dissenters when she was a leader and put her family and friends in important positions. She tried to build her own empire in opposition to God and even stole offerings. She thought she’d surrounded herself entirely with family and friends so her evil deeds wouldn’t be exposed. But God sees all things, and in His wisdom, He uses Satan’s tricks to His benefit. He set up an environment to get those with a sense of justice to report and expose her evil. After the church’s investigation and verification, not only did she have to return everything she’d stolen, but she was permanently expelled from the Church. This shows that no matter what someone’s duty or status is, no one who does evil or doesn’t pursue the truth can escape God’s righteous judgment! God’s house is not like the world. Nothing that runs counter to the truth can thrive in God’s house. Anyone who discovers something against the truth can stand up to expose and stop it. This shows that the truth reigns in God’s house. As for reporting Sister Li, I didn’t understand God’s righteousness or realize that He sees and rules over all. False leaders and antichrists can’t gain a foothold in God’s house. Whether I had a duty to do and what my fate and outcome would be were all in God’s hands, not any leader’s. I couldn’t be held back by her anymore. So, I made a factual report about Sister Li’s issues. A leader came to our church soon after to look into the situation. It was determined that Sister Li was a false leader based on the principles, and she was dismissed. After that, Sister Li gained some self-knowledge through devotionals and reflection and she wanted to repent and change. The next leader chosen was a sister who pursued the truth and all of the church’s work gradually picked up. I also saw God’s righteousness and that the truth rules in God’s house. God exposes our selfishness and deceit and cleanses our corruption through us reporting false leaders. This really is God saving and perfecting us!