28. My Story of Collaboration
By Leanne, USA
I was responsible for the watering work in a church. As the gospel expanded and more people accepted God’s work in the last days, I wasn’t just watering newcomers, but also following up with the work of waterers, and helping them resolve their problems and difficulties. I couldn’t keep up with everything, so some new believers weren’t being watered in time and lost enthusiasm for gatherings. My leader decided to have Sister Carmen work with me, to prevent delays in work. I was happy to hear that, because Carmen could find problems with the work and took on a burden in her duty. She always got good results in watering. Partnering with her would make up for my shortcomings and also take some work pressure off of me.
Later, I added Carmen to the watering team. Some people on the watering team were fairly passive at the time, and Carmen started fellowshiping on God’s words to resolve their states. She responded immediately when team members asked questions. I felt uncomfortable to see all of that. I was thinking that when I was in sole charge of work-related things before, I was always the one to respond to their questions, but with her arrival she’d taken on a leading role, leaving me in the shadows. Plus, she had an illumination in her fellowship that I didn’t, so everyone was surely going to think she was better than me. This thought left me really uncomfortable. I felt like she was stealing my thunder, making me look inferior to her in every respect, and I didn’t feel great about her. I stopped reading the messages she sent to the team and didn’t actively communicate with her—I was deliberately isolating her. Since I wasn’t actively keeping Carmen up to date with our work, even after a few days she couldn’t figure out the true states of the brothers and sisters, and our work didn’t pick up. I knew I should have gone to talk to watering team members about their states and struggles to fellowship and resolve them right away. But then I thought about Carmen taking on a leading role and there being a tacit understanding among everyone that it was mainly her handling the watering work. I was afraid that if I resolved the team members’ problems and the work turned out well, some brothers and sisters who didn’t know the actual situation would say it was thanks to Carmen, and they’d look up to her even more. Then I’d be invisible. So, I didn’t fellowship with the watering team members. A few days went by and the effectiveness of our watering work kept declining. I saw that Carmen seemed anxious and she kept sending God’s words to the group for fellowship, but I was unconcerned, even reveling in it a bit. I felt like it was better the work wasn’t doing great, so the leader would say Carmen was no good and didn’t match up to me. I wasn’t really comfortable with these thoughts, but I didn’t seriously reflect on them at the time.
One day, a leader told me that our watering work hadn’t been doing well recently, that Carmen wanted to learn about newcomers, so I should add her to their gathering groups. My heart thumped when I heard the leader say this was to be arranged. I thought about how Carmen was more skilled than me, that if she joined those group gatherings, acquainted herself with and resolved the new believers’ issues really quickly, getting a handle on our work, I’d be outclassed by her. I didn’t want her to go to all the groups, and thought I could figure things out myself. So I found excuses to refuse. I felt guilty about it afterward and prayed to God. Through prayer, I realized that I was just protecting my own name and status by doing this, and that this wasn’t in line with God’s will. But I wasn’t happy to have Carmen in every gathering group right away, and I was afraid she’d eventually take my position away from me. Then I thought of how those religious clergy do everything they can to seal off the churches to protect their status and hold onto their livelihood, keeping believers tightly within their grasp, not letting them look into God’s work of the last days or welcome the Lord’s return. They go head-to-head with God and are the antichrists revealed by God’s work of the last days. I wasn’t letting Carmen get involved with our work so I could protect my reputation and status. Wasn’t I also keeping the brothers and sisters tightly within my grasp? I was opposing God, just like the clergy. I knew I had to change course right away and forsake my incorrect motives. The next day, I included Carmen in the gathering groups, and I felt a bit more at ease.
Even though I added her to the gathering groups, I didn’t seek her out to discuss the work, so each of us was still doing our own thing. A couple of weeks went by, and our watering work still wasn’t improving. When the leader asked me why this was, I didn’t know how to respond. I felt sort of guilty later on, and then I read these words from God in my devotionals and reflection: “People do not have a fundamental or essential understanding of themselves; instead, they focus on and devote their energy to their actions and outward expressions. Even if someone occasionally said something about understanding themselves, it would not be very profound. No one has ever thought that they are a certain type of person or have a certain type of nature due to having done a certain type of thing or having revealed a certain thing. God has revealed the nature and essence of humanity, but humans understand that their way of doing things and their way of speaking are flawed and defective; therefore, it is a strenuous task for people to put the truth into practice. People think that their mistakes are merely momentary manifestations that are revealed carelessly rather than being revelations of their nature. When people think in this way, it is very difficult for them to truly know themselves, and very difficult for them to understand and practice the truth. Because they do not know the truth and do not thirst after the truth, when putting the truth into practice, they only perfunctorily follow the rules. People do not view their own nature as being too corrupt, and believe that they are not so bad that they should be destroyed or punished. Yet according to God’s standards, people’s corruption is too deep, they are still far from the standard of salvation, because people only have some actions that do not outwardly violate the truth, whereas in fact do not practice the truth and are not obedient to God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Pondering this, I understood that for self-knowledge I should compare my thoughts, motives and perspectives to God’s words, that I should know and dissect my nature, essence, and the path I was on, and then seek to resolve that with the truth. That’s the only way to truly change and repent. If we just acknowledge we have corrupt dispositions or that we did something wrong without knowing our own nature and essence, without seeing how deeply corrupted we are, or how dangerous the state we’re in is, then we won’t long to seek the truth and pursue change, much less truly repent. I saw I’d just been acknowledging I was protecting my name and status, and how not wanting to let Carmen join the groups was resisting God, but I didn’t understand clearly at all what kind of disposition I was revealing, what its essence was, and what path I was on in my duty. Though I did end up adding her to the groups, it was just a change in behavior and I did not resolve my corrupt disposition. Plus I didn’t truly put my ego aside and collaborate with her. How could our work succeed in that way? I said a prayer when I realized that, asking God to guide me to truly know myself.
I saw these words of God in my devotionals one day: “There are some who are always afraid that others are better than they and higher than they, that others will be esteemed while they are neglected. This leads them to attack and exclude others. Is this not a case of being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is such behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious! Thinking only about one’s own interests, satisfying only one’s own desires, showing no consideration for others or the interests of God’s house—people like this have a bad disposition, and God has no love for them” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). “Antichrists think of the interests of the house of God and the church as entirely their own, as personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. The only things they think about when doing the work of the church are their own interests, their own status, and their own image. They do not allow anyone to harm their interests, much less do they allow anyone who has caliber and is able to speak of their experiences and testimony to threaten their status and prestige. And so, they try to undermine and exclude as competitors those who are able to talk of experiences and testimony, as well as who can fellowship the truth and provide for God’s chosen ones, and they desperately try to isolate them from everyone else, to drag their name through the mud, and to bring them down. Only then will the antichrists feel at peace. If these people are never negative, and are able to carry on performing their duty, speaking of their testimony, and supporting others, then the antichrists will turn to their last resort, finding faults with them, condemning them, framing them, fabricating lies to make things hard for them, until they are thrown out of the church. Only then will the antichrists completely relax. This is what is most insidious and vicious about the antichrists. … When someone distinguishes themselves with a little work, or when someone is able to talk of true experiences and testimony in order to benefit, edify, and support the chosen ones, and earns great praise from everyone, envy and hate grows in the hearts of the antichrists, they try to alienate and undermine them. Also, under no circumstances do they allow such people to undertake any work, in order to prevent them from threatening their status. People with the realities of truth accentuate and highlight the poverty, miserableness, ugliness, and wickedness of the antichrists when they’re next to them, so when an antichrist chooses a partner or co-worker, they never select someone with the realities of truth, they never select people who can speak of experiences and testimony, and they never select honest people or people who are able to practice the truth. These are the people the antichrists envy and hate the most, and they are a thorn in the side of the antichrists. No matter how much these people do that is good or of benefit to the work of God’s house, the antichrists will try their hardest to cover these deeds up. They will even twist the facts to claim the credit for good things while shifting the blame for bad things onto other people as a means to elevate themselves and belittle others. Antichrists have a great jealousy and hatred toward those who pursue the truth and are able to speak of experiences and testimony, they are fearful that these people will threaten their own status, and so they do all they can to attack and exclude them. They prohibit the brothers and sisters from going near them, from getting close to them, or supporting or praising these people who are able to speak of experiences and testimony. This highlights most of all the satanic nature of antichrists of being sick of the truth and hating God. And so, too, does it prove that the antichrists are an evil countercurrent in the church, they are the ones to blame for the disturbance to church work and impedance of God’s will” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). God says that antichrists especially treasure status, and when anyone appears that threatens their status within their sphere of work, they oppress and isolate that person. They don’t let them take on important or leading roles, and antichrists will even sacrifice the interests of the church to protect their own status. They’re especially selfish and malicious. Was my behavior not just like that of an antichrist? Since Carmen came to work with me, I saw she was better at that work and at fellowshiping the truth than I was. I was upset by that, and I took her as my enemy, my adversary. I thought with her arrival, she was taking on a leading role and stealing all my thunder, and that if she further improved our work performance, it would make me look incompetent. Because of this I intentionally isolated her instead of actively collaborating with her and familiarizing her with our work. When I saw that our watering work was suffering, I didn’t perform follow-up work or resolve the problems, rather I was afraid that if I resolved the problems and we did better as a result, then Carmen would get the credit. Even worse, when I saw the effectiveness of our work kept declining, I wasn’t worried, and even reveled in it. I was pleased that the work was suffering, and I thought the leader would think I was better than her because of this, and that my position would be secure. I only cared about my own name and status and didn’t remotely consider her struggles or what the consequences would be if it resulted in newcomers being poorly watered. I was so selfish and malicious! When the leader had me bring Carmen into the groups, I dug my heels in even more. I felt like she was about to surpass me or even replace me, so I found reasons to refuse. To maintain my position, I ostracized her and treated the church like my personal territory. Within my own realm of responsibility, I didn’t give her any chance to stand out or let her strengths shine. I was being a dictator. Wasn’t this revealing an antichrist’s disposition? I was kind of shocked. I never thought I could be so arrogant and malicious, that I could be so ostracizing just to maintain my own status. I wasn’t considering newcomers’ watering or whether the work of the church was suffering at all, and I just wanted to satisfy my own wild ambitions. I was truly drunk on name and status.
Then I read this passage of God’s words: “If someone says they love the truth and that they pursue the truth, but in essence, the goal they pursue is to distinguish themselves, to show off, to make people think highly of them, to achieve their own interests, and the performing of their duty is not to obey or satisfy God, and instead is to achieve prestige and status, then their pursuit is illegitimate. That being the case, when it comes to the work of the church, are their actions an obstacle, or do they help move it forward? They are clearly an obstacle; they do not move it forward. Some people wave the banner of doing the work of the church yet pursue their own personal prestige and status, run their own operation, create their own little group, their own little kingdom—is this kind of person performing their duty? All the work they do essentially interrupts, disrupts, and impairs the work of the church. What is the consequence of their pursuit of status and prestige? First, this affects how God’s chosen people eat and drink God’s word and understand the truth, it hinders their life entry, it stops them from entering the right track of faith in God, and leads them onto the wrong path—which harms the chosen ones, and brings them to ruin. And what does it ultimately do to the work of the church? It is dismantlement, interruption and impairment. This is the consequence brought about by people’s pursuit of fame and status. When they perform their duty in this way, can this not be defined as walking the path of an antichrist? When God asks that people put aside status and prestige, it is not that He is depriving people of the right to choose; rather, it is because, while pursuing prestige and status, people disrupt and disturb the work of the church and the life entry of God’s chosen people, and can even have an influence on others’ eating and drinking God’s words, understanding the truth, and thus achieving God’s salvation. This is an indisputable fact. When people pursue their own prestige and status, it is certain that they will not pursue the truth and that they will not faithfully perform their duty. They will only speak and act for the sake of prestige and status, and all the work they do, without the least exception, is for those things’ sake. To behave and act in such a way is, without question, to walk the path of the antichrists; it is a disruption and disturbance of God’s work, and all its various consequences are hindering the spread of the kingdom gospel and the free flow of God’s will within the church. So, one may say with certainty that the path walked by those who pursue prestige and status is the path of resistance against God. It is intentional resistance against Him, naysaying Him—it is to cooperate with Satan in resisting God and standing in opposition to Him. This is the nature of people’s pursuit of status and prestige. The problem with people pursuing their own interests is that the goals they pursue are the goals of Satan—they are goals that are wicked and unjust. When people pursue personal interests such as prestige and status, they unwittingly become a tool of Satan, they become a channel for Satan, and, moreover, they become an embodiment of Satan. They play a negative role in the church; toward the work of the church, and toward the normal church life and normal pursuit of God’s chosen people, the effect they have is to disturb and impair; they have an adverse and negative effect” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). I was trembling with fear after I read that. God reveals that our pursuit of name and status is the running of our own enterprise, and that it is taking an antichrist’s path. In essence, it’s acting as Satan’s minion, and it is disrupting the work of the church. It offends God’s disposition. I got more nervous the more I thought about it. The gospel work was at a peak, and more and more people were accepting God’s work in the last days. Being in charge of watering, I really should have been thinking of God’s will, immediately supporting and watering newcomers, and helping with their notions and confusion, so they could quickly lay a foundation on the true way. But I was chasing name and status instead of attending to my work. I wasn’t putting effort into my duty, paying a price or thinking about how to best water newcomers, and I didn’t even want anyone else involved. Wasn’t I disrupting the work of the church? Wasn’t I a stumbling block for God’s salvation of others? I was Satan’s tool, playing a negative role, and I was walking an antichrist’s path against God. I was responsible for the watering work, but couldn’t handle it on my own, so the leader arranged for Carmen to help me, which was a good thing, and any conscientious or reasonable person would have actively collaborated with someone else to offer support and watering for new believers as soon as possible. But I wasn’t thinking of the work of the church whatsoever. To maintain my name and status, I excluded Carmen, kept her from the brothers and sisters, and prevented her helping them resolve their problems, which was a serious hindrance to our watering work and delayed the life entry of the brothers and sisters. That wasn’t doing my duty. It was clearly doing evil. If I still didn’t repent, I knew God would expose and cast me out as an antichrist. This was a terrifying thing for me to realize, and I really regretted all of my actions and conduct. I said a prayer, “Oh God, I’ve been pursuing name and status, disrupting the church’s work. I am without any humanity. Everything I do is against You. God, I want to repent to You….”
I read another passage of God’s words after that. “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; do not consider the interests of man, and give no thought to your own pride, reputation, or status. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have been loyal, fulfilled your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of the church. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently and figure them out, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well. If you are of poor caliber, if your experience is shallow, or if you are not proficient in your professional work, then there may be some mistakes or deficiencies in your work, and the results may not be very good—but you will have put forth your best effort. In everything you do, you do not satisfy your own selfish desires or preferences. Instead, you give constant consideration to the work of the church and the interests of the house of God. Although you may not perform your duty well, your heart has been rectified; if, on top of this, you can seek the truth to solve the problems in your duty, then your duty will be up to standard and you will be able to enter into the reality of the truth. This is bearing testimony” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). Reading God’s words was enlightening for me. In a duty, the interests of the church have to come first, and we should put everything we have into the duty. We shouldn’t calculate things for name and status, and we have to cooperate and be of one heart and mind with our brothers and sisters, do our utmost to work according to principles so we can gain the Holy Spirit’s work and get results from our work with ease. So I went to talk to Carmen and opened up to her about my corruption I had revealed and talked about what I’d learned about myself. I felt so much freer after our fellowship, and I was ready to collaborate with her on our watering work.
Before long, I found out a couple of new believers who’d been reluctant to go to gatherings had gotten Carmen’s help, resolved their notions, were now regularly attending gatherings, and wanted to take on a duty. I felt a little displeased again. I hadn’t really understood their issues before, but Carmen took care of it. Didn’t that make me look inferior to her? At that thought, I realized I wasn’t thinking about it properly, and I remembered something God said: “Cooperation among brothers and sisters is a process of offsetting one’s weaknesses with another’s strengths. You use your strengths to compensate for others’ shortcomings, and others use their strengths to make up for your insufficiencies. This is what it means to offset one’s weaknesses with others’ strengths and to cooperate in harmony. Only when cooperating in harmony can people be blessed before God, and, the more of this one experiences, the more reality they possess, and their path grows brighter as they walk it, and they become ever more at ease” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. On Harmonious Cooperation). Carmen was better than me at fellowshiping the truth and solving problems, so I needed to learn from her. So, I asked her how she fellowshiped and resolved the newcomers’ issues, and with her fellowship she gave me some insight into how to handle their problems. I felt like it was great working with her, that she could make up for my faults and that this was God’s grace. After that, when I noticed some brothers and sisters were passive in their duty, I sought out Carmen for discussion to see what the root of their negativity was and what kind of truth we should fellowship with them to resolve this. We quickly found the relevant words of God to fellowship with them. They became more active in their duty after this fellowship. Some were watering new believers, some were sharing the gospel. Gradually, more people were doing a duty in the church. Through some support and watering, more newcomers gained a foundation on the true way, and most of them were gathering regularly and doing a duty. After that, when I had problems in my duty, I’d discuss them with Carmen right away, and when she saw that the brothers and sisters were having issues in their duties, she’d tell me about them immediately so that I could follow up on the matters and resolve them. We worked with one another, with one heart and one mind, and I felt much more at peace.
This experience showed me that pursuing name and status is walking an antichrist’s path, working as Satan’s minion, and disrupting the church’s work. Were it not for the judgment and revelation of God’s words, I never would have been aware of the corruption I was revealing or my antichrist disposition, and I would never have let go of my desire for status and collaborated with Carmen. I’m deeply grateful for God’s salvation!