49. Those Days of Fighting for Name and Gain
By Zhao Fan, China
I took on responsibility for the church’s watering work in June, 2020. Because our work was being impacted by a lack of waterers, I was really anxious. I thought that if I didn’t make up for the lack, the leaders might think I didn’t do practical work. Just as I was fretting over it, a leader gave me a candidate, saying Sister Xiaodan, who’d just been transferred over, could do watering. I was thrilled and it really put my mind at ease. I set up a meeting with Xiaodan right away to arrange for her to water newcomers.
To get the sister trained and improve our watering work quickly, I found some people to familiarize her with circumstances of the newcomers. Before long, the leader sent a message that Sister Zhou Nuo, who was responsible for video work, needed Xiaodan to go help out with making videos, and Xiaodan was on board. I was stunned to see this: I had taken care of everything, from contacting her to arranging her duties, and I’d wanted to get her up to speed right away to improve our work, but Zhou Nuo barged in partway. I thought that if Xiaodan left I’d need to find someone else to help out, and if I couldn’t get a suitable person, then newcomers wouldn’t be watered. What would the leaders think of me if this happened? Would my previous training of Xiaodan be in vain? This wouldn’t do. I wanted to find a way to hold on to her. So I responded to the leader immediately, saying we were in dire need of waterers, and we should be weighing up the assigning of people based on the needs of work and people’s strengths. Moreover, I emphasized that Xiaodan had done watering work before, so I wanted the leader to talk to Zhou Nuo about letting Xiaodan continue doing watering work. I got a response two days later that Xiaodan had a foundation for video production. She was interested in it too, so overall, she was better suited to video production. I was really disappointed and thought that Xiaodan never would have thought of doing that if Zhou Nuo hadn’t asked her to. But it was a done deal, so I had to find someone else, and fast, or else our work would suffer and the leader would certainly say I wasn’t doing practical work. I reviewed the other church members and found a few sisters of good caliber who were good seekers, and would fit the bill. Among them, Sister Yang Mingyi was warm and easy to talk to, and newcomers liked gathering with her. She was a good fit for the position. I was really happy, and started training those sisters with a special focus on Mingyi. I thought I had to really stay on top of this and get her cultivated as soon as possible so everyone would see me as capable.
Although I had already found a few more sisters carrying out the work of watering, I still wanted Xiaodan back. In a gathering one day, another leader asked about Xiaodan and I felt secretly aggrieved and thought to myself: “I have to tell her about Zhou Nuo arranging for Xiaodan to make videos so she would deal with Zhou Nuo and help me get Xiaodan back. Then I will have another pair of hands for watering and we will be doing better.” So I told this leader all about Zhou Nuo having Xiaodan make videos and emphasized that I’d been training her first, but Zhou Nuo snatched her away from me. Unexpectedly, she said, “The church is a single unit and can’t be divided. Wherever she’s sent, it’s for our work, and video production needs more people, so we shouldn’t be fighting. Since Xiaodan has been assigned there, we need to submit.” I was disappointed to see the leader wasn’t taking my side.
Later, a couple of the newly cultivated sisters did end up taking on independent watering of newcomers, so I was happy and felt like my effort hadn’t been wasted and that when the leaders learned about the work, I would look good in their eyes. But to my surprise, one day my partner, Sister Li Xiangzhen, told me that Zhou Nuo wanted Mingyi for video production. Feeling a wave of annoyance in me, I said: “I’ve already trained Mingyi, so why is Zhou Nuo taking her to make videos? She’d taken Xiaodan first, and now Mingyi. She’s taking everything I’ve worked for and is leaving me with nobody. Isn’t my effort all for nothing?” I was in total turmoil, and snapped back at Xiangzhen, “Can’t you tell Zhou Nuo that Mingyi is already doing watering, and that she should find someone else?” Embarrassed, Xiangzhen said, “Both video production and watering are really important, and it is harder to find people for video production work. We should further discuss how upcoming work should be arranged.” I thought to myself, “Further discuss what? Zhou Nuo is taking the people I wanted. I can’t even hold onto my trainees, so what will everyone think of me? This won’t do. No matter what, this time I have to talk to leadership about it and get them to weigh in, or it will be really humiliating.”
I was going to write them a letter as soon as I got home, but I just didn’t know what to write. I figured, “Forget it. I should set up a time to chat directly with Mingyi and ask her to keep working in watering, so I can hang on to her.” Just as I was about to write to Mingyi, I drew a complete blank and didn’t know what to say. I felt really uneasy and thought back over everything that had happened. Why was I so angry when my trainees were transferred to Zhou Nuo and even wanted to complain to leadership? Why was I so set on getting Mingyi back? So I said a prayer to God and started to calm myself down, and then read a passage of God’s words: “In the house of God, as long as people pursue the truth, then they are united before God, and not divided, and share a common goal: fulfilling their duty, doing their work, acting according to the principles of the truth and God’s requirements, and satisfying the will of God. If your aims are not to this end, but for the sake of yourself, for the sake of satisfying your own selfish desires, then this is the outpouring of a corrupt satanic disposition. In the house of God, the performance of one’s duty is according to the principles of the truth. The actions of the unbelievers are governed by their satanic dispositions. These are two very different paths. Among the unbelievers, each person keeps their own counsel, each has their own aims and plans, each lives for their own interests. Thus are they compelled to fight for any advantage they can. They are divided and disunited, because they do not share a common goal. Yet the nature of their aims is the same—they all act for themselves. In this, the truth does not reign, the corrupt disposition of Satan holds total power and mastery, control of themselves has been wrested from them by their corrupt satanic dispositions—with the result that they are plunged ever deeper into sin. In the house of God, if the principle, method, motivation, and starting point of your actions were no different from those of the unbelievers, if your actions, too, were subject to the manipulation, control, and maneuverings of a corrupt satanic disposition, and the starting point was your own interests, pride, status and reputation, then your performance of your duty would be no different from the actions of the unbelievers” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Then I reflected on how I’d been acting recently. Wasn’t I in a state of fighting with others for my own face and status? As soon as I knew Xiaodan was coming to our church, my first thought was that after training her up, the team’s results could be improved and that I could thereby prove my skills, gaining the leaders’ approval. So I spared no effort in her training. When I found out Zhou Nuo had arranged for her to be transferred to video production, I was afraid of our work suffering if I couldn’t find another good candidate, then I’d look bad in front of leadership and lose my position. I became biased against Zhou Nuo and tried to get leadership to return Xiaodan to me. Then I snapped when I heard that Mingyi was going to be transferred, and even wanted to complain to leadership and get her back, all to maintain my name and status. I was acting just like an unbeliever, fighting for my name and status, living out a hideous satanic likeness. God’s house cultivates people so brothers and sisters can make use of their strengths and do their part in spreading the gospel. But I treated cultivating people as an outlet for my name and status, vying with others to protect my own face and status. That’s not normal humanity! I had to ask myself why I was always fighting for my face and status with other people. In my seeking, I read this in God’s words: “When antichrists compete for church leadership positions and fame among God’s chosen people, they use every means they can to attack others and elevate themselves. They do not consider how badly they may harm the work of God’s house and the life entry of God’s chosen people. They only consider whether their ambitions and desires can be satisfied, and whether there are any dangers to their own status and reputation. Their role in churches and among God’s chosen people is as demons, as the wicked, it is as lackeys of Satan. They are absolutely not people who genuinely believe in God, nor are they followers of God, let alone are they people who love and accept the truth. When their intentions and goals have yet to be achieved, they never reflect on themselves, they never reflect on whether their motivations and aims are in line with the truth, they never search for how to walk the path of pursuit of the truth to achieve salvation. It is not with an obedient state of mind that they believe in God and choose the path they ought to take; instead, they rack their brains: How to get in the position of leader or worker? How to compete with the leaders and workers of the church? How to dupe and control God’s chosen ones, and turn Christ into a mere figurehead? How to secure a place for themselves in the church? How to ensure they have a firm footing in the church, how to gain status, how to not allow themselves to fail in their fight to gain status, and how to ultimately achieve their goal of controlling God’s chosen and establishing their own kingdom? These are the things with which antichrists concern themselves, day and night” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). “Antichrists give serious consideration to how to treat the principles of the truth, God’s commissions, and the work of God’s house, or how to deal with the things they face. They do not consider how to fulfill God’s will, how to keep from damaging the interests of God’s house, how to satisfy God, or how to benefit the brothers and sisters; these are not the things they consider. What do antichrists consider? Whether their own status and reputation will be affected, and whether their prestige will be lowered. If doing something according to the principles of the truth benefits the work of the church and the brothers and sisters, but would cause their own reputation to suffer and cause many people to realize their true stature and know what sort of nature and essence they have, then they will definitely not act in accordance with the principles of the truth. If doing practical work will cause more people to think highly of them, look up to them and admire them, or enable their words to carry authority and make more people submit to them, then they will choose to do it that way; otherwise, they will never choose to disregard their own interests out of consideration for the interests of God’s house or of the brothers and sisters. This is the nature and essence of antichrists. Isn’t it selfish and vile? In any situation, antichrists see their status and reputation as of utmost importance. No one can compete with them” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). The word of God exposes antichrists as incredibly selfish, putting their own interests above all else. If anyone impacts their name and status, they’ll rack their brains to fight with them, without any thought to what would benefit the church and brothers and sisters. I reflected on myself and realized I was acting just like an antichrist. I wanted to arrange for Xiaodan and Mingyi to water newcomers, using them to improve my work performance and gain the leaders’ approval. When Zhou Nuo transferred them, I worried about my work results being impacted, in turn endangering my name and status, and so I wanted to go head-to-head with her to get the two sisters back, without thinking about whether my behavior might harm the interests of the church. I was only thinking of my own name and status. It was so selfish, totally lacking in humanity and reason. Brothers and sisters are no one’s private property. Their caliber and strengths were all determined by God, and given to them for His own work. There’s no “This one is mine, that one is yours” or “First come, first served.” People should go wherever they’re needed in the church. That’s clearly right. It was reasonable and proper that Zhou Nuo was following the principles and training people for the church based on their strengths. But I thought that because I’d chosen to train those two sisters up first, no one should touch them. I even waved the flag of training people for the church, using brothers and sisters like my personal assistants, using them to fulfill my own ambitions and desires to get people to admire me. When Zhou Nuo’s actions impacted my name and status, I tried tactics to stand in her way, and vented my frustration. Wasn’t that just like church clergy who claim “These are my sheep, and no one can steal them”? Pastors and elders do their best to resist and condemn God’s work in the last days to protect their status and keep their living, keeping believers from investigating the true way, keeping congregants firmly controlled within their grasp. I wanted to keep those I’d trained firmly within my grasp for the leaders’ approval and church members’ esteem, treating them like my own personal property, and not letting them be transferred. How was I any different from those clergy members? Wasn’t I on an antichrist’s path against God? I broke out in a cold sweat when I realized this. I saw how selfish and despicable I was, that I wasn’t upholding the interests of the church at all, but just my own status. I was blinded by my desire for name and status—how dangerous. I thought of the antichrists who were expelled because they unrepentantly pursued name and status and ended up doing too much evil. If I kept on that path, I knew I’d end up the same way.
I read this passage of God’s words: “When you have the constant urge and desire to compete for status, then you must realize what bad things this kind of state will lead to if left unsolved. So waste no time in searching for the truth, eliminate your desire to compete for status before it grows and matures, and replace it with practicing the truth. When you practice the truth, your desire to compete for status will be diminished, and you will not interfere with the work of the church. In this way, your actions will be remembered and praised by God” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). The word of God gave me a path of practice. When I was fighting for my personal interests, I had to pray to God right away and forsake myself, to let go of my own desires, seek principles of the truth, and follow them. In fact, no matter where Xiaodan and Mingyi were assigned, it was to cultivate people for the church, and the end goal was to bring out the strengths of each of them so they perform duties as best as possible and bear witness to God. I should be happy, not fight for my own name and status. And cultivation in the church is principled. It’s done based on the needs of the church’s work, and according to people’s individual strengths. People’s suitability for any duty should be weighed based on their strengths. If someone has multiple talents, then they should be put into duties in accordance with where they are most needed, which duty needs more people, which job needs urgent cooperation, and also which duty they are willing to fulfill. There aren’t many people with the strengths for video production. But for watering, people with pure understanding who are clear about the truths that involve the visions of God’s work, who are loving and patient, can do well. We have more candidates for watering work than video production. Xiaodan had experience in image editing, so she had some skills for video production. She also liked making videos, so it was reasonable for her to be put in that duty. Even though I lost Xiaodan and Mingyi, I could still find other brothers and sisters to cultivate within the church. It just needed a little more time and effort. I prayed to God after understanding all that. I was ready to correct my motives, follow principles in my duty, and stop my struggle with Zhou Nuo for my own face and status.
Zhou Nuo sent out a message a couple days later saying another church had transferred a couple people for her, so she could let Xiaodan and Mingyi return. She said they could be reassigned to other duties according to their strengths. Hearing this news, I felt deeply ashamed. After that, I arranged for those two sisters to come back to water newcomers. Not long after, I heard the church leader was going to arrange for Mingyi to draw pictures. I thought to myself, “Mingyi is so good at watering, so why would she be sent off for that duty? If she is transferred, won’t I have wasted my effort in training her up? I need to talk with her and ask her to stay in watering.” When these thoughts surfaced, I realized I was fighting for name and status again, so I quickly said a prayer before God, asking Him to guide me to forsake myself and put the interests of the church first. Wherever Mingyi was sent, it would certainly be for what the church needed. I couldn’t work for name and status, but I should submit. I felt much more at ease when I thought about it that way. I saw that leader later and she said that Mingyi was good at drawing pictures, so based on the principles, she was more suitable for that duty. I wasn’t angry or disappointed to hear that, but I smiled and said, “Thank God! Before, I know I would have fought for my name and status, but through what’s revealed in God’s words, I’ve realized how selfish I’ve been, how it disgusts God, and I know that no matter what arrangements are made by the church, it’s done based on the principles. Mingyi is good at drawing pictures, so putting her in that duty is according to principles, and I don’t mind.” The leader smiled after hearing me say that.
This experience really showed me that considering the interests of the church and brothers and sisters instead of fighting for my name and status leaves me feeling at ease, and at peace in my heart. Thank God!