32. Doing Your Duty Responsibly Means Having a Conscience
By Sophia, Netherlands
One day last July, Sister Ellie reported to me that the team leader, Brother Brody, had been particularly arrogant. While communicating, he always demanded others listen to him, and when other brothers and sisters made reasonable suggestions, he refused to listen or accept, resulting in the progress of video work being delayed. I recalled I had been in contact with Brody before. He was indeed rather self-righteous and liked to do things his own way. When he didn’t think others’ suggestions were suitable, he wouldn’t accept them. I never imagined he would still be like this. If he continued insisting on having his own way and refused to change, then he wouldn’t be suitable as a team leader. So, I told Ellie that I would look into the matter. But then I thought to myself, “Video work is mostly my partner Pam’s responsibility. It’s not my job to determine whether this team leader is suitable and learn about how the work is progressing. Besides, if I interfere too much, I might come off as irrational. So I should have Pam look into it and handle it. I must devote my time and energy to my main responsibility, gospel work.” So, I told Pam about Brody’s problems and reminded her to pay attention to Brody’s performance of his duty. Afterward, I felt I had fulfilled my responsibility, so I didn’t follow up or investigate further.
After a while, I noticed the progress of video work was still very slow, and I learned from my brothers and sisters that Brody not only insisted on his own way and refused to accept others’ advice, he was also irresponsible in his duty. As soon as he came across difficulties, he shrank back and did not have the attitude of accepting such challenges, and he also made very little progress in performing his duty. I thought, “How can someone like him be allowed to be a team leader? Should we find someone else to replace him?” I told Pam about the matter. A few months later, I was surprised when the other brothers and sisters reported Brody’s problems to me. They were saying he was arrogant and self-righteous, demanded getting his way, and that when the brothers and sisters gave him advice, he always used reasons like “I don’t think it’s a problem” or “I don’t have the skills” to reject their suggestions, which caused his brothers and sisters to feel constrained and dare not give him further advice. They also said the progress of video work had been extremely slow, and that there were some videos that kept being sent back for edits. After hearing that, I was a little shocked. Even after so long, why hadn’t the problems caused by Brody been resolved? So, I told Pam about it right away. After she judged that he was an unsuitable team leader, he was dismissed.
Just a few days later, Ellie came to me and said it was too late to have dismissed Brody. She said, “I had reported Brody’s problems to you months ago, so why was he just being replaced now?” I hurriedly answered, “You know I’m not directly responsible for Brody’s work. I had to tell Pam about his problems first, as for whether or not to dismiss him, she had to consider and decide that. I couldn’t just dismiss him directly, and if I had done so, I would have seemed irrational. However, Pam was directly responsible for Brody’s work, and had frequent contact with him. Brody’s problems were so obvious, and I told her several times, but she didn’t dismiss him, so now the delay in work is mainly her responsibility. However, at the time, I merely told Pam about these issues, without following up on them or learning about the outcome, so I was also to blame.” After hearing me say that, Ellie was silent. Later on, I felt a little guilty. Actually, I had been completely aware of Brody’s problems, and my brothers and sisters had reported his problems to me many times. But I never followed up or tried to handle the matter. Clearly, I had been irresponsible, yet I came up with all kinds of reasons and excuses to let myself off the hook, and placed all the blame on Pam, to make others think she was the irresponsible one and that the delays in video work had nothing to do with me. I remembered that the people, matters, and things we encounter each day are allowed by God. Behind Ellie coming to ask me this question, there was God’s will. In the matter of Brody’s dismissal, I didn’t seek or reflect on what lessons I should learn, or whether I had revealed some corrupt disposition in myself that I hadn’t yet realized. So, I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me in reflecting on myself and knowing myself.
During my devotionals, I read God’s word revealing the selfish and despicable aspects of antichrists, which gave me a little understanding of my state. God’s words say, “How does the selfishness and vileness of the antichrists manifest itself? In anything that benefits their status or reputation, they make effort to do or say whatever is necessary, and they willingly endure any suffering. But where work arranged by God’s house is concerned, or where work that benefits the life growth of God’s chosen people is concerned, they utterly ignore it. Even when evildoers disrupt, interfere, and commit all kinds of evil, thereby seriously affecting the work of the church, they remain impassive and unconcerned, as if this has nothing to do with them. And if someone discovers and reports an evildoer’s wicked deeds, they say they saw nothing and feign ignorance. … Regardless of what work they undertake, the kind of person who is an antichrist never gives any thought to the interests of the house of God. They only consider whether their own interests will be affected, only think about the little bit of work in front of them that benefits them. For them, the primary work of the church is just something they do in their spare time. They don’t take it seriously at all. They simply make a perfunctory effort, only do what they like to do, and only do the work of maintaining their own position and power. In their eyes, any work arranged by God’s house, the work of spreading the gospel, and the life entry of God’s chosen people are not important. No matter what difficulties other people have in their work, what issues they have identified and reported to them, how sincere their words are, the antichrists pay no heed, they do not get involved, it’s as if this has nothing to do with them. They are utterly indifferent to the affairs of the church, no matter how major these affairs are. Even when the problem is right in front of them, they only address it perfunctorily. Only when they are directly dealt with by the Above and ordered to sort out a problem will they grudgingly do a little real work and give the Above something to see; soon after, they will continue with their own business. Toward the work of the church, toward the important things of the wider context, they are disinterested, oblivious. They even ignore the problems they discover, and they give perfunctory answers or use their words to brush you off when asked about problems, only addressing them with great reluctance. This is the manifestation of selfishness and vileness, is it not?” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Four (Part One)). “There is no God or church in the heart of an antichrist, and they certainly have no regard for God’s chosen people. Tell Me, where the brothers and sisters exist, and where God works, how can such places not be called God’s house? In what way are they not churches? But antichrists only think about things within their own sphere of influence. They don’t care about other places. Even if they discover a problem, they don’t care. What’s worse is that when something goes wrong and causes losses, they don’t pay attention to it. When asked why they ignore it, they offer up absurd fallacies, saying, ‘Do not comment on what is not your concern.’ Their words sound rational, they seem to understand boundaries in what they do, and they seem to have no outward problems, but what is the essence? It is their selfishness and vileness made manifest. They only do things for themselves, only for their own fame and status. They are not performing their duties at all. This is another archetypal characteristic of antichrists—they are selfish and vile” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Four (Part One)). Through God’s word, I realized that antichrists, to protect their reputation and position, will only do the work for which they are responsible, while they couldn’t care less about the overall work. As long as it is not their main responsibility and has nothing to do with their interests, no matter how much the work of the church is harmed, they will never take it seriously or try to solve the problem. I saw that antichrists are selfish and despicable, lack all conscience and reason, only care for their own reputation and status, and don’t consider the interests of the church whatsoever. I realized I had been the same way. I had thought that the video work wasn’t my responsibility, so when my brothers and sisters reported that Brody had problems, although I promised to resolve the issue, my “solution” was nothing more than reminding Pam and asking her to investigate and solve it. As for the final result, whether Brody was transferred or replaced, I was indifferent and didn’t follow up on the details. When I saw the video work produced no results, the most I did was simply remind Pam, but I felt no sense of urgency at the lack of results. On the other hand, I had been very attentive to the gospel work which was my responsibility, and paid close attention to the states of my brothers and sisters to see if they had problems and difficulties in preaching the gospel, and if they did, then I immediately went to the supervisors to solve them together. When I discovered supervisors and team leaders who were irresponsible in their duties, or when they were in a wrong state, then I would promptly fellowship with them, because I feared that if their states were unresolved, then the gospel work would be hindered. As a result, my leaders would think I had poor caliber, was incompetent, and couldn’t do practical work, which would put my position in danger. Both matters were the work of the church, but there was an enormous difference in the importance I attached to the two tasks. I racked my brain to protect my reputation and status, while being totally negligent toward work I wasn’t directly responsible for. I really was selfish and despicable! Beyond that, I used “Do not comment on what is not your concern” as an excuse, saying that the video work was Pam’s responsibility, that any personnel transfers had to be dealt with by her, and that if I had directly interfered in that work, I would have come off as being irrational. In this way, I found myself a justifiable excuse to ignore the matter. It was clear that I had performed my duty irresponsibly and had not solved this practical problem, resulting in the church work being affected. In the end, I used “rationality” as an excuse to shirk responsibility. I really was too cunning and deceitful! I thought of God’s words, “Where the brothers and sisters exist, and where God works, how can such places not be called God’s house? In what way are they not churches?” That’s exactly true. No matter what duty I’m performing, it’s the work of the church, and by focusing on my reputation and status in my duty, I was completely failing to uphold the church’s work. I had no humanity at all!
Later, I read some of God’s words: “Some people do not understand many truths. They do not understand the principles in anything they do, and when they encounter problems, they do not know the proper way to handle them. How should people practice in this situation? The lowest standard is to act according to conscience—this is the baseline. How should you act according to conscience? Act from sincerity, and be worthy of God’s kindness, of God having given you this life, and of this God-given opportunity to attain salvation. Is that acting according to conscience? Once you have met this bare minimum of standards, you will have obtained protection and you will not commit grievous errors. You will not then so easily do things to disobey God or shirk your responsibilities, nor will you be so liable to act in a perfunctory manner. You will also not be so prone to scheming for your own position, fame, fortune, and future. This is the role that conscience plays. Conscience and reason should both be components of a person’s humanity. These are both most fundamental and most important. What kind of person is one who lacks conscience and does not have the reason of normal humanity? Generally speaking, he is a person who lacks humanity, a person of extremely poor humanity. Going into more detail, what manifestations of lost humanity does this person exhibit? Have a go at analyzing what characteristics are found in such people and what specific manifestations they present. (They are selfish and mean.) Selfish and mean people are perfunctory in their actions and stand aloof from anything that does not concern them personally. They do not consider the interests of God’s house, nor do they show consideration for God’s will. They take on no burden of testifying for God or performing their duties, and they have no sense of responsibility. What is it that they think about whenever they do something? Their first consideration is, ‘Will God know if I do this? Is it visible to other people? If other people don’t see that I expend all this effort and work industriously, and if God doesn’t see it either, then there is no use for my expending such effort or suffering for this.’ Is this not extremely selfish? It is also a base sort of intent. When they think and act in this way, is their conscience playing any role? Is their conscience accused in this? No. There are some people who do not take any responsibility regardless of the duty they are performing. They don’t promptly report problems they discover to their superiors, either. When they see people being meddlesome and disruptive, they turn a blind eye. When they see wicked people committing evil, they don’t try to stop them. They don’t give the slightest consideration to the interests of the house of God, nor to what their duty and responsibility is. When they perform their duty, people like this don’t do any real work; they are yes men who are greedy for comfort; they speak and act only for their own vanity, face, status, and interests, and are sure to devote their time and effort to anything that benefits them” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth). After reading the word of God, I felt a piercing pain in my heart. A person with a conscience and reason is considerate of God’s burden, shares God’s worries and concerns, and gives their all for the interests of the church. When something disturbs the church’s work or harms its interests, they step forward, and they’d rather their own interests suffer for the sake of protecting the church’s work. But in my case, when I saw Brody was unsuitable as a team leader and the work progress had been affected, I didn’t try to work with Pam to solve it, instead I allowed the work to be delayed. If it hadn’t been for the brothers and sisters once again reporting it, or if I hadn’t seen that the video work had already been seriously affected, then I would not have urged Pam to dismiss Brody right away. Now Brody had been dismissed, but after several months of delays, how could the loss of manpower and resources be recouped? God was gracious to me and allowed me the chance to practice as a leader, in the hope that I could pursue the truth, be responsible and loyal in my duty, quickly discover and solve various problems in church work, and carry out practical work. But I had lived by satanic poisons, things like “Let things drift if they do not affect one personally,” “Let every man skin his own skunk,” and “The less trouble, the better.” I had only concerned myself with the work I was responsible for. As for matters that were unrelated to my interests, reputation and status, I didn’t want to deal with them at all. In my duty, I only shielded my reputation and status, without any concern for the work of the church, and I didn’t care at all or try to help when I saw the interests of the church suffering. I was especially selfish and indifferent, and had no conscience or reason whatsoever! In fact, even if I did the work which was explicitly my task and fulfilled my responsibilities, everything I did was not to practice the truth, satisfy God, or to fulfill the duty of a created being, but to safeguard my own reputation, status, and personal interests. In the end, God would not approve of me. If I didn’t repent and change, sooner or later, I would be rejected and cast out by God. Once I realized this, I prayed to God to say I wished to repent.
Later, I thought about God’s fellowship on the responsibilities of leaders. One of them is, “Keep abreast of the circumstances of supervisors of different work and personnel responsible for various important jobs, and promptly reallocate or replace them as necessary, so as to prevent or mitigate losses due to putting people to unsuitable use, and guarantee the efficiency and smooth progress of the work” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). There were two more passages of God’s word that left a deep impression on me. God says, “Different work supervisors and staff responsible for important work: is whether they possess the reality of the truth, are principled in their actions, and can do the church’s work well—is this critical, and of great importance? If leaders and workers gain an accurate understanding of the situation of the main supervisors in charge of various projects, and make suitable adjustments in personnel, it is like standing guard over each work program. It is the equivalent of fulfilling their responsibility and duty. If these personnel are not correctly arrayed and a problem arises, the work of the church will be greatly impacted. If these personnel are of good humanity, possess a foundation in faith, are responsible in handling matters, and are able to seek the truth to resolve problems, then putting them in charge of work will save a lot of trouble. What is important is that the work can progress smoothly. But if the supervisors of teams are not dependable, are of poor humanity and not well-behaved, and do not put the truth into practice—and, furthermore, are liable to cause disturbances—then it will have a negative impact on the work for which they are responsible and on the life entry of the brothers and sisters whom they lead. Of course, that impact may be large or small. If the supervisors are merely unserious or neglectful of their obligations, this could cause delays in the work; the progress will be somewhat slower, and the work somewhat less efficient. If they are an antichrist, however, the problem is serious: This is not a problem of the work being a little inefficient and ineffective—they will disturb and damage all of the work they are responsible for. And so, staying informed of the status of every project’s supervisor and other important personnel, and making timely adjustments and dismissals, is not an obligation that leaders and workers can dodge—it is very serious, very important work. If leaders and workers can keep abreast of the personality of various supervisors and major personnel, and their attitude toward the truth, as well as their state and manifestations at every stage and can promptly adjust or address these things according to the circumstances, then work can proceed steadily. On the contrary, if these people run amok and do not do real work in the churches, and the leaders and workers are not prompt in identifying this and making adjustments, but wait until serious problems of all sorts have cropped up, incurring substantial losses on the work of God’s house, before addressing them and before trying, casually, to make adjustments, and rectify and redeem the situation, then those leaders and workers are wastrels. They are genuine false leaders who must be replaced and cast out” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “False leaders never inform themselves about or keep track of the status of group supervisors’ work, nor do they inform themselves about, keep track of, or attempt to grasp the situation regarding life entry, as well as the attitude toward work and duty and the attitude toward belief in God, the truth, and God, of group supervisors and personnel responsible for important work; false leaders do not inform themselves about their transformations, their progress, or the various issues that emerge during their work, particularly when it comes to the effect, on the church’s work and on God’s chosen ones, of mistakes and deviations that occurred during various stages of work. False leaders know nothing about whether these mistakes and deviations have been addressed. Knowing nothing about these details, they become passive when problems appear. However, when false leaders work, they don’t care at all about these details. They simply arrange group supervisors, and then assume their task is finished after handing off the work. They believe that with this, their job is done, and any subsequent problems have nothing to do with them. Because the false leaders fail to supervise, guide, and follow up with the supervisors of each group, because they fail to fulfill their responsibilities in these areas, the work is ruined. This is what it means to be negligent as a leader or worker. God looks upon man’s innermost being; people lack this ability, so when they work, they have to be more diligent, and should pay more attention, and should often go to where the work is being carried out to check up on things, and supervise, and provide guidance, for only then can they ensure that church work is proceeding as normal. Obviously, false leaders are irresponsible in their work. They are irresponsible from the beginning, when they arrange the work. They never supervise, follow up, and offer guidance. As a result, certain supervisors who are unable to resolve various problems when they arise and simply unequipped to succeed in their work remain in their supervisory roles. In the end, work is repeatedly delayed, all kinds of problems remain unresolved, and the work is ruined. This is the result of the false leaders’ failure to understand, supervise, and follow up with the supervisors. It is entirely caused by the false leaders’ dereliction of duty. As for whether the supervisors are doing their job properly and whether they have done actual work, because false leaders do not carry out inspections, do not often keep themselves informed of what is happening, and do not have an up-to-date grasp of the situation, they have no clue as to just how well the supervisors are working, what progress they are making, and whether they are doing practical work or just shouting mantras and using certain superficial phenomena to perfunctorily handle the Above. When asked about the work of a certain supervisor and what work specifically they are engaged with, they reply, ‘I don’t know, anyway, they attend every meeting, and every time I communicate with them about work, they don’t say there are any problems or difficulties.’ This is the extent of the false leaders’ knowledge; they mistakenly believe that as long as the supervisor has not shirked their responsibilities and is constantly on call, then this supervisor has no problems. This is how false leaders work. Is it an indication of falseness? Are they or are they not failing to fulfill their responsibility? This is a grievous dereliction of duty” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). From God’s word, I understood that one of leaders and workers’ main tasks is to place the right person in charge of each project, because only when the right person is in charge can each project proceed smoothly. This is what it means to fulfill one’s responsibility and duty. If the person in charge is of poor caliber, can’t do practical work or solve practical problems, or if they have some caliber but neglect their duties, don’t walk the right path, or don’t properly perform their duty, then this will hinder the work of the church, and the brothers and sisters within their sphere of responsibility will also be affected. If the person in charge is an evildoer or antichrist and is not replaced in time, then in the end they will only cause serious disturbance and harm to the work of the church, or even completely paralyze the work. So, after leaders and workers select the people in charge, they must follow up on and supervise their work regularly, learn about the deviations and problems in their duties, and offer timely fellowship on the principles of the truth and help them resolve these problems, so as to reduce the impact on work due to deviations and problems. People in charge who are not suitable should also be promptly transferred or dismissed to ensure that work can proceed normally. This is the responsibility as a leader. If a leader waits until after the unsuitable person in charge has caused great damage to the work before they dismiss them, then they will have been derelict in their duty. In hindsight, I realized that even though I had not been directly responsible for Brody’s work, as a church leader, since my brothers and sisters had reported problems about him to me, I had a responsibility to investigate and follow up to safeguard the church’s work. However, I had maintained an irresponsible attitude and ignored the situation, which delayed resolution to the problem and caused the work to suffer. Wasn’t this precisely the behavior of a false leader? At the same time, I thought back on Pam. She had been in charge of Brody’s work and had been in constant contact with him. During this period, I reminded her a few times that Brody had problems. But did she investigate Brody’s situation? If she had, she should have seen that Brody was not suitable to be the team leader, so why hadn’t she replaced him? If she knew Brody had problems and didn’t replace him, wasn’t she one of the false leaders revealed by God? So, I asked Pam about the situation. But she claimed she had no discernment about Brody, and that when I had reminded her before, she didn’t take it seriously, nor did she look into Brody’s performance in detail. I realized that Pam had absolutely no responsibility in fulfilling her duty, nor did she solve any practical problems. This was serious negligence. It was at this time that my leaders sent me two evaluations of Pam from a brother and a sister. They reported that she had performed her duties without any sense of burden, sometimes dozed off during gatherings with the brothers and sisters, and didn’t follow up on work in a timely manner, which seriously impacted the progress of the work. When these problems arose, she didn’t reflect on herself. After reading these evaluations, I felt even more that Pam was a false leader. I knew I had been selfish, despicable, and irresponsible regarding Brody’s situation, and my failure to dismiss him in time had caused delays in the video work. Now that Pam’s problems were so obvious, I could no longer ignore the matter.
I thought of God’s words: “No matter what duty you are performing, only when you persist in acting according to the principles of the truth, will you have truly fulfilled your responsibility. Going through the motions according to the human way of doing things is to be perfunctory and slapdash; only adhering to the principles of the truth is properly performing your duty and fulfilling your responsibility. And when you fulfill your responsibility, is this not the manifestation of loyalty? This is the manifestation of loyalty toward your duty. Only when you have this sense of responsibility, and this will and desire, when there is found in you the manifestation of loyalty toward your duty, shall God favor you, and look upon you with approval. If you don’t even have this sense of responsibility, God will treat you as an idler, a fool, and will despise you. From a human point of view, it means disrespecting you, not taking you seriously, and looking down on you” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s words are very clear. Only those with serious and responsible attitudes toward their duty, who perform due diligence, can be said to treat their duties loyally and be trustworthy. Some people serve as leaders but do not do practical work, are irresponsible in all they do, act carelessly, and slack off. Such people not only have bad humanity, but also lack credibility. They are completely untrustworthy, and God despises such people. From God’s words, I also found a path of practice. When faced with various problems in church work, I should promptly handle them according to principles, and proactively fulfill my responsibilities and duties. This is in line with God’s will. More recently, the brothers and sisters had reported that Pam didn’t do practical work. If this was true, then not only would it affect the progress of the work if she remained the leader, it would also harm the life entry of my brothers and sisters. I had to quickly learn about Pam’s usual performance of her duties, and evaluate whether she was qualified to be a leader based on principles. So, I went to discuss the matter with my leaders, who had also just happened to learn about Pam’s behaviors. Together, we verified the reports, and concluded that the reports of her problems were true. Pam was a false leader who had consistently failed to do practical work, so we dismissed her that very day. After practicing in this way, I felt particularly at ease.
Through this experience, I saw that I had been very selfish. I was not of one heart with God in my duties, I considered my own interests in all things, and I was still so far from meeting God’s requirements. Without the revelation of God’s word and what the facts had exposed, I would never have realized my shortcomings and deficiencies, nor would I have ever achieved repentance and change. At the same time, I also understood that only if we are responsible and loyal in our duties and protect the interests of the church can we be said to have conscience and humanity, and thus gain God’s approval, and that only in this way can we feel true peace and joy. Thanks be to God!