30. In Letting Go of Status, I Am Liberated
By Hao Li, China
In August 2019, I took on a leadership position in the church. One time, right after I’d wrapped up my fellowship in a gathering, a sister said to me, “Sister Hao Li, your fellowship today was really enlightening. Listening to it, my problem has been solved.” Another sister chimed in and agreed with her. Seeing their looks of respect and admiration, I was thrilled, and couldn’t help feeling smug: “I must be better than the other brothers and sisters. Otherwise, why would they have elected me?” Since I successfully addressed some problems in gatherings, the others liked being around me, and they’d seek me out for fellowship when they had problems or difficulties. I felt like I was well qualified as leader. I couldn’t help but feel a little high and mighty, and I loved that sense of being esteemed and admired by others.
One day when I went to a deacons’ gathering as usual, Sister Wu Zhiqing mentioned that she’d been living within her arrogant disposition lately and always wanted to have the final say among those who worked with her. She knew that being that way wasn’t right, but she couldn’t forsake herself. She asked us to share some fellowship to help her out. Just as I was about to start, Sister Han Jingyi, our gospel deacon, started talking, sharing some relevant words of God and some of her own experience. I noticed that Zhiqing was listening intently and nodding her head, with a smile on her face. The sight of this made me really uncomfortable, and I thought, “I’m the leader here, and this should be my problem to deal with. Why are you snatching it away from me? You’ve made it look like I don’t know how to handle it. No way, I won’t let you steal my thunder, otherwise everyone will think that as a leader, I’m not even a match for a deacon. I need to change the topic right away.” So no sooner had Jingyi stopped speaking, without a second thought to whether Zhiqing’s problem had been satisfactorily addressed, I immediately said: “God’s main intention now is to spread and to testify the gospel of the kingdom, to let more people hear His voice and come before Him as soon as possible.” As I fellowshiped, I kept an eye on Zhiqing, and didn’t feel settled until I saw that she was listening to me attentively. As soon as I finished, Jingyi followed up with some relatively good approaches to take in sharing the gospel. What she was saying was very clear, and I noticed Zhiqing listening attentively to what she was saying, nodding her head while she did so. I felt really miffed, like it was an embarrassment for me. I thought, “I’m the leader, and you’re a deacon. How am I supposed to get my work done after you gain the upper hand this way? If everyone starts looking up to you, who will give me a second thought?” At this thought, I cut Jingyi off sternly, and started to share my own fellowship. It was a really awkward moment. That afternoon, Zhiqing mentioned that there was a lack of people working on watering, and she didn’t know how to solve the problem. Jingyi started fellowshiping on some practical approaches, integrating her own experience. Just then I saw Zhiqing once again nodding from time to time, and I felt really jealous. I thought, “I’m the leader. You think I don’t know how to fellowship with her? You seem to think you’re really capable, but you’re just blindly showing off.” I was very angry with Jingyi, thinking I’d better dig deeper into her work and cut her down to size, so she wouldn’t blindly show off. Thinking on this, I asked her, “Jingyi, the gospel work of the groups you’ve been managing hasn’t been very fruitful. Is it that you haven’t put your heart into it?” At this question, Jingyi looked a little awkward, then said, “Sister, I can accept that. After I’ve gone back I will sum up why it hasn’t been very successful, and reflect on myself.” I quickly followed up with, “Then when you get back, you need to urgently summarize and reverse the deviation. As a gospel deacon, you have to take a leading role. Otherwise, how will the brothers and sisters be motivated to spread the gospel?” In response, Jingyi nodded her head a little stiffly. Seeing her quietly hanging her head, I felt a little remorse, but I was also smug: “How about those airs you were putting on just now, as if I were no match for you? As soon as I inquire into your work, you don’t look so great. Not so smug now, are you?” So I regained my presence, speaking with authority once again and making arrangements for other work. It was already dark by this point, and Zhiqing and I had other tasks to discuss that evening. I’d originally wanted Jingyi to stay and discuss things with us, but then I was worried she would take the spotlight from me again. Wouldn’t that make me look incapable? I figured I would just have her go home. When I saw her walking off with an unhappy look on her face, I did feel a little guilty and wondered if she was feeling constrained by me. But at the time I just gave it a passing thought and didn’t reflect any further. I just let it pass.
After a few more days passed, I mentioned the way I’d acted toward Jingyi to Sister Li Sixing, who worked alongside me. She dealt with me, saying, “This is an antichrist disposition. When you, as a leader, exclude and suppress someone who surpasses you, this is a problem of a very serious nature. Won’t the more talented members of the church be done in with you at the helm?” Hearing this was gutting for me, and very uncomfortable. Only then did I realize the gravity of the issue. I thought back over my interactions with Jingyi. I’d used her shortcomings to exclude her so that she wouldn’t come out ahead of me. Wasn’t I suppressing her? That was doing evil! The more I thought about my behavior, the more afraid I felt, and I came before God and prayed: “Oh God! Through Sixing dealing with me today, I’ve realized that by suppressing and excluding Jingyi I was revealing an antichrist disposition. With such an important work, if I don’t resolve this disposition, who knows how much evil I’ll commit! Oh God! I want to change—please guide me.”
After that, I read this in God’s words: “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. What causes them the most fear and anxiety is the people who pursue the truth and are possessed of true experiences and testimony, because people with experiences and testimony are the ones whom God’s chosen ones approve of and support the most, rather than those who blather on about doctrine. Antichrists do not possess true experiences and testimony, nor are they capable of practicing the truth; at best, they are capable of doing a few good deeds to curry favor with people. But no matter how many good deeds they do or how many nice-sounding things they say, these are still incomparable to the benefits and advantages that a good experiential testimony can bring to people. Nothing is a substitute for the effects of the provision and watering provided to God’s chosen ones by those who are able to speak of experiences and testimony. And so, when antichrists see someone speaking of experiences and testimony, their gaze becomes a dagger. Rage ignites in their hearts, hatred rises up, and they are chomping at the bit to shut the speaker up and stop them from saying any more. If they carry on talking, the antichrists’ reputation will be completely ruined, their ugly faces will be completely exposed for all to see, and so the antichrists find a pretext to disturb the person speaking testimony and undermine them. Antichrists only permit themselves to deceive people with words and doctrine, and they never allow God’s chosen ones to glorify God by speaking of their experiences and testimony, which indicates what kind of people the antichrists hate and fear the most. 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” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). I saw from God’s words that the main hallmark of an antichrist disposition is seeing power as their very life, always wanting a monopoly in their duty, and wanting to take charge. The moment someone surpasses them, threatens their status or power, they will exclude them and suppress them, even to the point of unscrupulously damaging the work of the church. Reflecting on myself since taking on a leadership position, I hadn’t been focused on what my responsibilities in my duty were and how I should do practical work, but on the prestige my status brought me. In order to protect my status, I hadn’t allowed anyone to outperform me. Jingyi’s fellowship on the truth resolved Zhiqing’s problem. That shows she assumed a burden, and that’s a positive thing, but I wasn’t happy that Zhiqing’s state had been resolved. Instead, I was afraid Jingyi would look better than me, and was anxious that I would lose my place in the others’ hearts, that they wouldn’t look up to me anymore. I deliberately changed the topic so as not to give Jingyi an opportunity to speak. When I saw her winning praise from others in her fellowship, I deliberately made things difficult for her by asking her about her work. I made her look bad and wouldn’t let it go until the others didn’t look up to her anymore. In order to consolidate my position, I’d actually used this evil, despicable tactic to suppress and exclude someone who was able to fellowship the truth. My nature was truly evil! Hadn’t I revealed the disposition of an antichrist? I thought of an antichrist the church had expelled just a few days before. He was constantly suppressing and excluding brothers and sisters who expressed different opinions, or who were better than him, giving no thought to the work of the church. He ended up being expelled for doing all sorts of evil. With all that I had done to Jingyi, what difference was there between me and that antichrist? I was walking the path of the antichrist.
Later, I read this in God’s words: “No matter what you do, whether it be important or not, there should always be someone there to help you, to give you pointers, advice, or to do things in cooperation with you. This is the only way to ensure that you will do things more correctly, make fewer mistakes and be less likely to go astray—it is a good thing. Serving God, in particular, is a big deal, and not resolving your corrupt disposition could put you in danger! When people have satanic dispositions, they can rebel against and resist God in any time and at any place. People who live by satanic dispositions can deny, resist, and betray God at any time. The antichrists are stupid, they don’t realize this, they think, ‘I had enough trouble getting hold of my own power, why would I share it with anyone else? Giving it to others means I won’t have any for myself, doesn’t it? How can I demonstrate my talents and abilities without power?’ They do not know that what God has entrusted people with is not power or status, but a duty. They only accept power and status, they put their duties aside, and they don’t do practical work. Instead, they pursue fame and status and enjoy the benefits of status. Doing things this way is very dangerous—this is resisting God! Anyone who pursues fame and status rather than properly performing their duty is playing with fire and playing with their life. Those who play with fire and their lives can doom themselves at any moment. Today, as a leader or a worker, you are serving God, which is no ordinary thing. You are not doing things for some person, much less working to pay bills and put food on the table; instead, you are performing your duty in the church. And given, in particular, that this duty was entrusted to you by God, what is the significance of performing it? You are accountable to God for your duty, whether you do it well or not; ultimately, an account must be given to God, there must be an outcome. What you have accepted is God’s commission, a hallowed responsibility, so no matter how important or minor it is, it is a serious business. How serious is it? It directly relates to your future and fate, to your end; if you commit evil and resist God, you will be condemned and punished. Everything you do when you perform your duty is recorded by God, and God has His own principles and standards for how it is scored and evaluated; God determines your end based on all that is manifested by you as you perform your duty” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). I learned from God’s words that being a leader or worker is important work that can’t be taken lightly. You can’t be arrogant or willful. It requires reverence for God and harmonious cooperation with other brothers and sisters. You need to seek the truth more and listen to others’ suggestions so you’re not likely to take the wrong path. God gives everyone a different caliber and each person has their own understanding. A single person has limited experience and can only see things from one perspective. Achieving good results in our duty requires everyone’s cooperation, and that we make up for what each other lacks. Jingyi suggested some good approaches to practice that perfectly made up for what my fellowship was lacking. That was a good thing! But my status was more important to me than anything, so I just wanted to show off and get others to look up to me, to worship me. Seeing Jingyi fellowship well, taking me out of the spotlight, I just excluded her and suppressed her. Wasn’t I living by Satan’s poisons like “In all the universe, only I reign supreme” and “There can only be one alpha male”? I didn’t care if our gatherings were fruitful or if the brothers and sisters could find solutions to their states. I didn’t even consider whether Jingyi felt constrained or hurt. I had single-mindedly pursued the satisfaction of my own ambitions and desires. How despicable I was! I was serving as a church leader but failing to bring the brothers and sisters before God. I wasn’t helping the others gain knowledge of God, but I wanted to have them controlled within my grasp, to get them to look up to me and revolve around me. That was going against God, taking the path of an antichrist! If I didn’t repent, I’d be sure to offend God’s disposition and be cast out.
Thinking back over how I’d treated Jingyi, I saw how malicious my disposition was, how devoid of humanity I was. I felt sickened, and despised myself. I wanted to seek a path of practice to resolve my satanic disposition as soon as possible. I later watched a video of the reading of God’s words. Almighty God says, “There is a principle to God’s actions. He is protective of people, considerate of them, He loves them, and wishes the best for them; this is the source and original intention behind all that God does. Satan, meanwhile, flaunts itself, it forces things on people, then makes them worship it, people are duped and degraded by it, and little-by-little, they become living devils. Once you attain salvation, you will escape the influence of Satan, and so this will not be your end. Satan does not wish the best for people, it cares not whether they live or die, it thinks only of itself, of its own profit and satisfaction, it has neither love nor compassion, much less tolerance or forbearance. Only God has these things. God has done so much work in man—but has He ever spoken of it, has He ever tried to explain Himself, to vindicate Himself? No. No matter how people misinterpret God, He never provides any extra explanation…. God is humble and hidden, and Satan flaunts itself. Is there a difference? Showing off versus humility and hiddenness: which are positive things? (Humility and hiddenness.) Could Satan be described as humble? (No.) Why? Judging by its wicked nature and essence, it is a worthless piece of trash; it would be extraordinary for Satan to not flaunt itself. How could Satan be called ‘humble’? ‘Humility’ is said of God. God’s identity, essence, and disposition are lofty and honorable, but He never shows off. God is humble and hidden, He does not let people see what He has done, but as He works in such obscurity, humankind is unceasingly provided for, nourished, and guided—and this is all arranged by God. Is it hiddenness and humility, that God never divulges these things, never mentions them? God is humble precisely because He is able to do these things but never mentions or divulges them, does not discuss them with people. What right have you to speak of humility when you are incapable of such things? You didn’t do any of those things, yet insist on taking credit for them—this is called being shameless” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven (Part Two)). This passage of God’s words showed me how humble and hidden God is. God is the Creator, constantly doing His work, guiding mankind and providing us with everything we need to survive, but He never shows Himself off. He just quietly expresses the truth, working to save mankind. God’s essence is so lovely, so good! As for me, I wanted to show myself off everywhere I went. Once I’d taken on a leadership position, I put myself on a pedestal that I refused to come down from. When my sister fellowshiped on good approaches to practice, I didn’t seek the truth with an open mind. I wouldn’t let anyone outdo me. I was so arrogant! I was a leader, but I wasn’t cultivating or recommending those who pursued the truth, instead I excluded and suppressed them. I thought only of how to protect my own status, make others look up to me and think highly of me. I truly knew no shame, and was of despicable character! I hastened before God in prayer: “Oh God! My antichrist disposition is extremely serious. I want to repent to You, to take my rightful place and do my duty with my feet on the ground.” Then I went and met with every group, to fellowship with everyone on Jingyi’s approaches to spreading the gospel. Following that, I laid bare and dissected my exposure of corruption in contending for status with her, as well as my antichrist disposition. Putting this into practice made me feel very calm and at peace.
After that, when I found myself in a state of contending with others over status, I would consciously practice the truth. I was in a gathering with a few group leaders one day, and Sister Yang Guang, who was pretty outgoing, seemed quite energetic from the start and was actively engaged in responding to others’ questions. She was the focal point the entire time. At one point when we were talking about how to split up gatherings for new believers, Yang Guang made a different suggestion the moment I was done talking. Even though I felt that she was right, when I saw all the brothers and sisters agreeing with her and that everyone’s gaze had shifted to her, I felt like I’d lost face. I thought, “Yang Guang has become the focal point, and I’m playing a supporting role. I’m the leader, but aren’t I just like a prop?” As soon as this occurred to me, I realized I was vying for status again, fighting to take center stage. I silently prayed to God, saying that I was willing to put myself aside and work well with Yang Guang, and that I needed His guidance to change my incorrect state. I recalled a passage of God’s word: “You must let go of leadership titles, let go of the filthy air of status, treat yourself as an ordinary person, stand on the same level as others, and have a responsible attitude toward your duty. If you always treat your duty as an official title and status, or as a kind of laurel, and imagine that others are there to serve your position, this is troublesome, and God will despise and be disgusted with you. If you believe that you are equal to others, you just have a little more of a commission and responsibility from God, if you can learn to put yourself on an even footing with them, and can even stoop to asking what other people think, and if you can earnestly, closely, and attentively listen to what they say, then you will work in harmony with others” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). This passage of God’s words provided me with a path of practice. The church had given me the chance to serve as a leader, not to give me status, but to enable me to work harmoniously with everyone to perform the duty properly. I couldn’t keep fretting over my reputation and status, or contend for name with others. Yang Guang’s suggestion was right, so I should accept it. That would be best for the work of the church. Once she’d finished, I expressed my agreement and told the other brothers and sisters to proceed in accordance with her suggestion. I was no longer in competition with her in my heart. In that gathering, everyone openly shared their own opinions and it was a really productive meeting. I was so happy to see this, and really grateful for God’s guidance. I realized that cooperating well with others, without being reined in by the strictures of status, is really very freeing.
It was through this experience that I saw how I’d been excluding and suppressing people to bolster my status. I saw how I’d been living according to a satanic disposition, able to do evil and resist God at any moment. Not pursuing the truth is incredibly dangerous! God’s words of exposure, and the revelation of the facts, let me see clearly that I was on the wrong path and enabled me to change a little. I also truly felt that, so long as we wholeheartedly pursue the truth and work to resolve our corrupt dispositions, God will lead the way. Thank Almighty God!