27. How One Should Regard One’s Duty
By Zheng Ye, South Korea
Not long after becoming a believer, I noticed brothers and sisters who were leaders frequently holding gatherings and fellowshiping on the truth, and some had duties that required skills, like making videos, or singing and dancing. I really admired them and thought that was something to look up to. As for those doing hosting or handling church affairs, those duties weren’t much to speak of and were unskilled, so they’d never make a name for themselves. I thought that in the future, I wanted a duty that could make me look good. Two years later I was given the duty of writing. I was so happy, especially when, every time I went to the church to provide guidance on the writing work, all the brothers and sisters were really warm toward me and looked admiringly at me. I was really pleased with myself, and felt that my duty garnered more admiration than others did. In 2018, I was sent to another area to perform my duty. While there, one time when a brother found out what my duty was, he started chatting with me about it. Seeing how he looked up to me made me really happy, and I felt that performing that duty really was an honor.
I was in a constant state of smugness and self-admiration during that time. I was vying for name and gain in my duty and not taking it seriously. I was dismissed a couple months later because I hadn’t been achieving anything. That left me feeling really upset and a bit negative, so the leader fellowshiped with me on God’s will, and said, “God’s house needs people to work as stagehands for our films. You could do that. Whatever your duty is, you have to pursue the truth and put your all into doing your duty well.” I didn’t really know what that duty entailed, but I figured that I should just submit, because it was what the leader had arranged. After being a stagehand for a while I realized that most of it was hard physical work, moving all sorts of props around. There wasn’t any skill involved. It was just lots of legwork and odd jobs. I thought, “Before, my writing duty required me to use my brain. It was dignified and well-regarded. Moving all these set pieces around is physical labor. It’s dirty and tiring. Will the brothers and sisters look down on me?” My heart sank at this thought and I felt a bit resistant to doing that duty. From then on, I worked half-heartedly, and shirked it when I could. Sometimes when we lacked a prop and had to borrow it from a brother or sister, I’d have someone else go ask, afraid that if I was the one to do it, the brothers and sisters who knew me would find out that I’d been switched out of my previous duty, and that now I was doing lowly set work. Then what would they think of me? I didn’t want to work on the relevant skills either, afraid that if I learned more, I’d be doing that duty forever, and my day to stand out would never come. Sometimes while we were on set, the director would ask me to set up props in specific ways. This always made me really uncomfortable, like it was an embarrassment for me. I thought about how before, in my writing duty, others had respected me and followed my guidance, but now I was the one being told what to do. It was a real demotion. One time, a brother had me go outside to pick some rice straw for the set. I really didn’t want to do it. I thought, “Going out to do that is so embarrassing. If the brothers and sisters see that, they’ll definitely think I’m a lost cause, doing that sort of thing at such a young age.” But since it had to be done for my duty, I just waited until no one was around and steeled myself to go do it. I saw a brother coming over while I was gathering the rice straw. He was wearing leather shoes and white socks—he looked really clean. I, on the other hand, was dirty head to toe. I suddenly felt dejected and upset, thinking, “We’re the same age, but he’s doing a nice, clean duty, while I’m only able to do the dirty work like picking rice straw. What a huge gap! How embarrassing! I’m going to go back and tell the leader I don’t want to do this duty anymore, and ask him to assign me something else.”
After getting back I felt really conflicted, wondering if I should say something to the leader. If I didn’t, I’d have to keep doing that duty, but if I spoke up and said I didn’t want to do it, that would be walking away from my duty. At this thought, I suppressed my feelings and said nothing. Not long after that, the leader arranged for the stagehands and the performers to attend gatherings together. I wasn’t happy about it at all, thinking, “They could make names for themselves and bask in the spotlight while I was doing menial labor. We just weren’t on the same level. Wouldn’t gathering together just highlight my inferiority?” Everyone actively engaged in fellowship in gatherings, but I didn’t want to share anything. In gatherings with the performers, I felt like I only served to make them look better. It was depressing. As time went on, the darkness in my spirit grew and I didn’t even want to go to gatherings anymore. I often reminisced about my time doing the writing duty, when I was greeted enthusiastically by brothers and sisters and valued by the leader. Since I was removed from that duty, I’d just been doing odd jobs, and no one looked up to me anymore. I was dejected and miserable, feeling more and more inferior and antisocial. I was constantly melancholy, and hardly felt like myself. I lost a lot of weight really quickly. One evening, as I was taking a walk by myself, I just couldn’t hold back the misery within me anymore. Crying, I prayed to God, “Oh God! I feel so much anguish in my heart. In the past, I was determined to pursue the truth and do my duty to satisfy You, but now that there’s no chance to show off in my duty, I always feel inferior to others. I’m really negative and weak, and I feel like I’m on the verge of betraying You at any moment. God, I don’t want to keep being so negative, but I don’t know what to do. Please guide me out of this state.”
After that, I read this in God’s words: “How does duty come into being? To speak broadly, it comes into being as a result of God’s management work of bringing salvation to humanity; to speak specifically, as God’s management work unfolds amongst mankind, various tasks arise that need to be done, and they require people to cooperate and complete them. This has given rise to responsibilities and missions for people to fulfill, and these responsibilities and missions are the duties God bestows upon mankind” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Whatever your duty, do not discriminate between high and low. Suppose you say, ‘Though this task is a commission from God and the work of God’s house, if I do it, people might look down on me. Others get to do work that lets them stand out. How can this task I’ve been given, which doesn’t let me stand out but makes me exert myself behind the scenes, be called a duty? This is a duty I cannot accept; this is not my duty. My duty has to be one that makes me stand out in front of others and allows me to make a name for myself—and even if I don’t make a name for myself or stand out, I still have to benefit from it and feel physically at ease.’ Is this an acceptable attitude? Being picky is not accepting what comes from God; it is making choices according to your own preferences. This is not accepting your duty; it is a refusal of your duty. As soon as you try to pick and choose, you are no longer capable of true acceptance. Such pickiness is adulterated with your individual preferences and desires; when you give consideration to your own benefit, your reputation, and so on, your attitude toward your duty is not submissive. Here is the attitude toward duty: First, you may not analyze it, nor think about who has assigned it to you; instead, you should accept it from God, as your duty and as what you should do. Second, do not discriminate between high and low, and do not concern yourself with its nature—whether it is done in front of people or out of their sight, whether it lets you stand out or not. Do not consider these things. These are the two features of the attitude with which people should approach their duty” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Reading this showed me that I held the wrong perspective and attitude toward my duty. God requires us to perform our duty, and it’s right and proper that we do it. We’re not supposed to have choice in the matter. But I let my preferences get in the way, only wanting a duty that is admired and esteemed. I was opposed to and rejected anything behind the scenes or unremarkable. I did not submit to God’s rule and arrangements. I was even slipshod, negative and refusing to work, and I was opposing God. I thought back on when I was new to the faith. I envied leaders, and brothers and sisters who were doing performances. I thought those duties really carried weight and were admired by others, and that the people doing less notable physical work had no real skills to speak of. That sort of duty was lowly, and people looked down on it, I thought. Since I was misguided in my thinking, I had categorized duties into different grades, so when I started as a stagehand I thought I was just doing menial odd jobs and it would damage my reputation and image. I was really resistant to it and didn’t want to submit. I didn’t take responsibility for my duty and didn’t want to learn the skills I should have learned. I even thought about throwing in the towel and betraying God. I saw that I only cared about my personal preferences in my duty, and that I thought only of my vanity and prestige, and of my own interests. I was totally lacking true obedience, much less was I being considerate of God’s will or performing my duty well. My attitude was so disgusting and odious to God! Realizing this was upsetting, and I reproached myself.
I later read these words of God: “Humans are created beings. What are the functions of created beings? This touches upon people’s practice and duties. You are a created being; God has granted you the gift of song. When He uses you to sing, what should you do? You should accept this task that God has entrusted to you and sing well. When God uses you to spread the gospel, what, as a created being, do you become? You become an evangelist. When He needs you to lead, you should take up this commission; if you can fulfill this duty in accordance with the principles of the truth, then this will be another function you serve. Some people neither understand the truth nor pursue it; they can merely exert effort. So, what is the function of those created beings? It is to exert effort and render service” (“Only by Seeking the Truth Can One Know God’s Deeds” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Pondering God’s words, I understood that whatever duty someone does in God’s house, whether it seems remarkable or not, there are just different names and functions of duty, but their personal responsibility remains the same. A person’s inherent identity and essence don’t change—they will always be a created being. I was a created being in my writing duty, and I still was a created being in my stagehand duty. There’s no hierarchy in the duties within God’s house, and it’s all arranged based on what’s needed, and according to each individual’s stature, caliber, and strengths. No matter what duty it is, God’s will is that we genuinely put our all into our duties, that we’re unshakable in our pursuit of the truth, resolving our corrupt dispositions and doing our duties well. Just as it says in God’s words, “The functions are not the same. There is one body. Each does his duty, each in his place and doing his very best—for each spark there is one flash of light—and seeking maturity in life. Thus will I be satisfied” (“Chapter 21” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The church leader arranged for me to do the duty of a stagehand as that was what was needed for the church work and I should not be choosy or fussy based on my own preferences, but should submit to God’s rule and arrangements. I should set up the props as needed for the programs and do my bit for every production bearing witness to God. This was my function. I had a bit of a shift in my perspective after understanding God’s will and I let go of what had been burdening me for so long. I was also able to approach my duty correctly. From then on, I diligently looked for materials and reference information to work on the skills, and in gatherings with the performers, I no longer made comparisons between our duties, but instead I opened up about my rebelliousness and corruption. I fellowshiped on all the understanding I had. In my duty after that, sometimes my fear of being looked down on did come up, and I realized I was ranking duties high or low again, so I’d quickly pray to God and forsake my incorrect thinking, focus on my duty, and place satisfying God first. I felt so relaxed and relieved after practicing this way for a while. I no longer felt that working on sets and moving props around was a lowly duty. Instead I felt that God had entrusted me with a responsibility. I was honored and proud to be able to do this duty, and to do my part for the film productions of God’s house.
I thought I’d gained some stature after being exposed that way, that I’d be able to submit to God’s arrangements in my duty and I wouldn’t be negative and rebellious anymore because my duty was nothing special. But the next time I encountered a situation I didn’t like, that old issue cropped up again.
A couple months later when it was a really busy season for farmers, there were some brothers and sisters who were away doing their duties and couldn’t come back in time for harvest. The leader asked me if I could help with the farm work. I thought, “Whatever task I’m given, I should accept it from God and take it on as a duty.” But when I got into the fields, I saw that the other brothers there were in their 40s or 50s. There wasn’t a single person in their 20s, like me. I wasn’t too pleased. Just then, a brother came over and asked, surprised, “Brother, how do you have time to come work in the fields? Aren’t you doing your writing duty?” My face started burning immediately, and I quickly responded, “I’m just coming to help out temporarily.” After he walked away, I thought, “What will he think of me? Will he think that coming to do this kind of work at my age means I don’t have any real caliber or talent, and that I’m only here because I can’t take on an important duty? That’s a real downgrade!” I felt more and more aggrieved. Though I was physically doing the work, my mind was full of thoughts on what the brothers there thought of me, and whether they would look down on me. I just muddled my way through the work. When I got home, I saw some other brothers in front of computers doing their duties, and I suddenly felt like I was on a lower rung. I thought, “Other people’s duties are better than mine. Why do I have to go toil in the fields? Whatever the case, I’ve at least set foot on a university campus, and I worked hard in my studies. Wasn’t that to escape a farmer’s fate of working in the fields all day? I’m not going tomorrow.” I knew I shouldn’t be thinking that way, but I felt so wronged, thinking that having me work in the fields was a waste of my talent and a disgrace for me. I became more distraught as I thought about it, so I prayed to God, “God, I feel that toiling and sweating doing farm work is an inferior duty that others will look down on. I don’t want to do it anymore. I know my thinking on this is wrong, but I can’t help it. I’m really miserable. Please enlighten and guide me to understand Your will and obey.”
After my prayer, I read this in God’s words: “What is true submission? Whenever God does something that goes your way, and you feel that everything is satisfactory and proper, and you have been allowed to stand out, you feel this is quite glorious, and you say ‘thank God’ and can submit to His orchestration and arrangements. However, whenever you are assigned to an unremarkable place where you are never able to stand out, and in which no one ever acknowledges you, then you stop feeling happy and find it difficult to submit. … Submitting while conditions are favorable is usually easy. If you can also submit in adverse circumstances—those in which things do not go your way and your feelings get hurt, that make you weak, that make you suffer physically and take a blow to your reputation, that cannot satisfy your vanity and pride, and that make you suffer psychologically—then you truly have stature. Is this not the goal you should be pursuing? If you have such a drive, such a goal, then there is hope” (God’s Fellowship).
I felt ashamed as I considered God’s words. They had revealed my own state precisely. When I thought I could show off while doing my writing duty, I was more than happy to accept it and submit, and I performed my duty enthusiastically. But when I was helping out in the fields, and my vanity and face were impacted, I became upset and unwilling to do it. Especially when I saw other brothers working at their computers, I felt like I wasn’t as good as them. I lost my equilibrium, thinking that since I was educated I should be doing a dignified duty that requires skills. I resisted and complained, and I didn’t want to keep doing farm work. In my duty, I didn’t consider what would benefit God’s house, nor was I considerate of His will. Instead, I thought about my own vanity at every turn. I was so selfish and despicable. I wasn’t seeing myself as a member of God’s house at all. A genuine believer who’s considerate of God’s will takes doing their duty as their personal responsibility, pitching in wherever they’re needed, even if it’s difficult, tiring, or compromises their reputation or interests. As long as it’s good for the church’s work, they take the initiative to do it well. Only people like that possess humanity, and stand with God’s house. I thought about my recent work on the fall harvest. Some brothers and sisters needed help, and a number of other people could have done it too, so why was it that God had this duty fall into my lap? It’s not that I could add particular value to that work, but that God was exposing my attitude toward my duty by having me do some dirty, tiring work so I could recognize my corruption and impurities while doing that duty, then seek the truth to resolve my corrupt disposition. But I didn’t understand God’s kind intentions. I was still finicky about my duty and always had my own preferences and demands. I couldn’t submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, but was rebellious and resisted God. I really hurt Him! I understood that God’s will was to expose and cleanse my corrupt disposition through that situation, and to rectify my attitude toward my duty. This was God’s love. It doesn’t matter if I’m assigned to dirty, tiring, or unimpressive work. As long as it benefits the work of the church, I should accept it unconditionally, submit, and put my all into it. Only that is being a person with a conscience and reason. As I came to this understanding, I gradually gained a sense of calm.
I couldn’t help but reflect on myself: Why had I been so resistant and upset when I had to do an unremarkable duty? Why hadn’t I been able to truly accept it and submit? In my seeking, I read these words from God: “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. … 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” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words helped me understand that being disobedient and picky about my duty was because I’d been indoctrinated and corrupted by Satan’s poisons such as “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Those with brains rule over those with brawn,” and “It’s only the wisest or the most foolish who never change,” and because I’d been seeking to stand out, to be better than others. I thought back to when I was in school. My teachers and parents always told me to work hard so I could get into a good university and escape the life of a farmer, that it would be the only way to get ahead. That was why I studied hard from the time I was little, hoping that I could get a good degree and find a respectable job as a supervisor or manager—something admirable that others would look up to. After becoming a believer, I still evaluated the duties in God’s house with the eyes of an unbeliever, ranking duties high or low. I thought that being a leader or doing something skill-based was respectable, and brothers and sisters would esteem such duties, while the behind-the-scenes, hard physical duties were lowly and would be looked down on. I saw that these satanic poisons had become my own nature, dominating my thoughts, getting me to bullheadedly pursue name and status, always wanting to be someone special. When something threatened my prestige and status, I was negative and resistant. I just couldn’t obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements, nor accept my place and do my duty as a created being. I lacked all conscience and reason. I knew that if I kept living by these satanic toxins, not seeking the truth, and not doing my duty as God requires, I’d not only be unable to gain truth and life, but I’d disgust God and be eliminated. After realizing all of this I resolved to forsake my flesh and satisfy God. I didn’t want to live by Satan’s poisons any longer. I went to work in the fields again the next day.
I later read some words from God. “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this” (“Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Ultimately, whether or not people can attain salvation is not dependent on what duty they fulfill, but on whether they have understood and gained the truth, and on whether or not they can submit to God’s orchestrations and be a genuine created being. God is righteous, and this is the principle by which He measures all mankind. This principle is immutable, and you must remember this. Do not think about finding some other path, or pursuing some unreal thing. The standards God requires of all who attain salvation are forever unchanging; they remain the same no matter who you are” (“The Attitude Man Should Have Toward God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I could see God’s righteous disposition within His words. God doesn’t determine a person’s outcome and destination based on what duty they do, how much work they’ve done, or how much they’ve contributed. He looks at whether they can submit to His rule and arrangements and do a created being’s duty, and whether they’re ultimately able to gain the truth and change their life disposition. Without pursuing the truth in my faith, then no matter how amazing or impressive my duty might seem to others, I’d never be able to gain the truth, much less gain God’s approval and His full salvation. I thought of an antichrist that our church had expelled. She had performed some important duties and had worked as a leader, and some new church members thought highly of her. But she didn’t pursue the truth or dispositional change in her duty, instead she vied for name and status and clung to the antichrist’s path. She did all sorts of evil and disrupted the work of God’s house. That’s why she was ultimately kicked out. I also saw that there were some brothers and sisters doing regular duties, which didn’t seem like anything special, but they just quietly did their duties without any complaints. When they ran into problems, they’d seek the truth and God’s will. They had the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and guidance in their duties, and they did better and better in their work. They lived out a human likeness more and more. This showed me that in faith, gaining the truth has nothing to do with what someone’s duty is. Regardless of what duty someone does, pursuing the truth and dispositional change are key. That’s the only right path to take. Now, whether the leader has me work as a stagehand or a farmhand, it’s all God’s rule and arrangements, and it’s what I need for my life entry. I should always embrace it and submit to it. In my duty, I should seek the truth, practice God’s words, and act on the principles of the truth. Only that is in line with God’s will. Realizing all of this left me with a sense of freedom. The leader later assigned me to more commonplace duties, which I accepted calmly. I even offered to help brothers and sisters with housework in my free time. When I practiced in that way I found that whether I was helping with cleaning, planting trees, or digging a ditch, there was always a lesson to learn. God wasn’t biased against me because I was doing physical labor. As long as I put my heart into it, sought the truth, and put God’s words into practice, I could reap a harvest in anything.
After experiencing this I truly realized that regardless of what my duty is, it was what God had arranged for, and it was what I needed for my life entry. I should always accept it and obey, fulfill my duty and responsibilities, and seek the truth and dispositional change throughout this process. Even though I had always ranked different duties, and had resisted when faced with a duty I didn’t like, becoming full of rebellion and opposition to God, He still didn’t treat me based on my transgressions. Instead, He guided me step by step with His words, allowing me to understand some truth and to know a created being’s responsibilities and mission, so I could approach my duty properly and begin to obey Him. Thanks be to God!