52. Letting Go of My Domineering Ways
Last year, I was assigned to water newcomers. At first, I was managing two churches on my own. Later, for some reason, the leader arranged Sister Lillian and me to take charge of only one of the churches. Upon seeing such arrangement, I was a little upset. “I used to manage two churches on my own, now I’m just managing one, yet they give me a partner. Is that really necessary? Any accomplishments would definitely be seen as achieved by two people, and I wouldn’t be in the spotlight and no one would look up to me. If I handled it myself, then the brothers and sisters would see me as capable for taking on so much alone. They would definitely see me as being capable in that work, as being an indispensable backbone of that duty. That would be so admirable. Plus, with a partner, I couldn’t have final say, so wouldn’t I have half the power then? I’d have to get my partner’s opinion on everything, and I’d look inept.” Thinking that way made me really resistant to that arrangement and I wondered if the leader had made a mistake, or if she looked down on me. I knew all the other churches had two people in charge, but I felt like I was particularly capable, so I shouldn’t have been treated the same as the others. I was really brushing Lillian aside, and I didn’t even tell her about lots of things I did.
At one point, two groups needed to merge because there weren’t enough members in either group. I figured I could do something that simple on my own. I’d handled all that stuff on my own before, so there was no need for discussion with Lillian, and I went ahead and merged them. When Lillian inquired, I told her confidently that I’d taken care of it. Another time, the leader wanted us to see which of the newcomers could be cultivated to share the gospel, so I just directly formed a group of good candidates. When they were learning the principles for gospel sharing, I noticed one of them tended to be busy with his job. Without discussing it with anyone else, I transferred him out of that group and didn’t let him participate in sharing the gospel. When the brother who was in charge of gospel work found out, he dealt with me, saying I was being authoritarian and arbitrary, making decisions without involving my partner. At the time I just said he was right, but I didn’t believe at heart that my corruption was that serious.
After things like that had happened many times, one day Lillian sought me out and said, “We’re partners. Even if you can do things on your own, you should keep me in the loop so I also know how our work is progressing. Whenever something comes up with Reese, she always makes the effort to discuss things with her partner. They talk over everything together.” I thought, “If I tell you, you’ll just take my advice, so do we really need to go through that formality? Reese always asks because she doesn’t know how to do something. Why bother when I can manage just fine? Having a partner is such a hassle, having to talk to you about everything. It will look like I’m a subordinate reporting to a superior, making me look inept.” Later on, she mentioned this to me quite a few more times, but I kept doing things as before. Sometimes she’d ask me about specific things in our duties, but I snubbed her, thinking she was asking about things we’d just discussed. In our work discussions, sometimes I’d hear Lillian sighing over and over, and I wondered if she felt constrained by me. I did feel a little remorseful. But then I thought that I hadn’t done anything to her, so I didn’t take it seriously. One day she asked me if I could manage the church on my own. At the time I didn’t realize why she’d asked me that, and wondered if she was going to be transferred out. I thought that would be great, that I wouldn’t have to report things to her, and I could be in charge. So, I simply replied that I could. Upon hearing that, Lillian didn’t say a word. Later on, I learned that she did feel really held back by me, like she couldn’t do anything, and she even wanted to resign. At that time, I just acknowledged that I didn’t have a good attitude toward her, but I didn’t self-reflect.
The leader had Lillian focus some of her efforts on another project, so I was responsible for more of the church’s work. I was secretly pleased, thinking that now I could finally show off my skills and have full say. But things didn’t turn out that way at all. My duty obviously got a lot harder, and when the brothers and sisters encountered problems in their duties, I couldn’t see the essence of it, so I couldn’t resolve it from the root. After a while, more and more newcomers weren’t gathering regularly, and the leader told me that my work performance was the worst. Lillian also pointed out my problems many times, saying I was a lone wolf and didn’t consult with others, and I didn’t seek the truth in things. I was really obdurate at the time, and didn’t take it in or reflect on myself. My state got worse and worse after that, and I was always muddleheaded. One day, the leader said she wanted to chat with me, and set up a meeting with another sister. I’d heard that sister’s behavior was poor, so I interpreted that as meaning the leader believed I was just like her. When I thought this, I was quite frightened. Was my problem really that serious? Was I going to be dismissed? Everything was going fine when I had been managing two churches, and now with just one, doing work I was familiar with, that I’d done before, why wasn’t I doing well? There had to be something wrong with me. I came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me to reflect and understand my issue.
Then one day, I read this passage of God’s words: “When two people are responsible for something, and one of them has the essence of an antichrist, what is exhibited in this person? No matter what it is, they and they alone are the one who gets the ball rolling, who asks the questions, who sorts things out, and who comes up with a solution. And most of the time, they keep their partner completely in the dark. What is their partner in their eyes? Not their deputy, but simply window dressing. In the antichrist’s eyes, partners simply aren’t partners. Whenever there is a problem, the antichrist thinks it over, and once they have decided on a course of action, they inform everyone else that this is how it is to be done, and no one is allowed to question it. What is the essence of their cooperation with others? Fundamentally it is to have the final say, never discussing problems with anyone else, taking sole responsibility for the work, and turning their partners into window dressing. They always act alone and never cooperate with anyone. They never discuss or communicate about their work with anyone else, they often make decisions alone and deal with issues alone, and in many things, other people find out how things were finished or handled only after the deed is done. Other people tell them, ‘All problems have to be discussed with us. When did you deal with that person? How did you handle him? How did we not know about it?’ They neither provide an explanation nor pay any attention; to them, their partners have no use at all, and are just decoration or window dressing. When something happens, they think it over, make up their own mind, and act as they see fit. No matter how many people there are around them, it’s as if these people are not there. To the antichrist, they may as well be air. Given this, does anything real come from their partnership with others? Not at all, they are just going through the motions and acting a part. Others say to them, ‘Why don’t you fellowship with everyone else when you come across a problem?’ They reply, ‘What do they know? I’m the team leader, it’s up to me to decide.’ The others say, ‘And why didn’t you fellowship with your partner?’ They reply, ‘I told him, he had no opinion.’ They use other people having no opinion or not being able to think for themselves as excuses to obfuscate the fact that they are acting as a law unto themselves. And this is not followed by the slightest introspection. It would be impossible for this kind of person to accept the truth. This is a problem with the antichrist’s nature” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight: They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)). God’s words described my state perfectly. Every word felt like God was directly exposing me. I finally saw that always wanting final say in everything, treating Lillian like she didn’t exist, and not consulting with her with the excuse that I could do it, was being dictatorial and taking an antichrist’s path. In retrospect, I’d been doing my duty that way all along. When it came time to merge the two groups, I did it without discussing things with Lillian, nor did I even give her a heads up. When I saw a newcomer was busy with his job, I didn’t discuss the best course of action with her, but just kicked him out of the group and took away his duty. When Lillian asked about the progress of some projects and new believers, instead of responding patiently, I got annoyed and resistant, thinking it was like reporting to a superior, as if I were below her, so I was dismissive of her. I always wanted final say, I wanted to have authority. I was authoritarian and arbitrary in my duty, not wanting to work with anyone, and I held Lillian back. How was that doing my duty? It was disrupting the church’s work and acting as a minion of Satan!
Later on, I came across another passage of God’s words: “Although leaders and workers have partners, and everyone who performs any duty has a partner, antichrists believe they have good caliber and are better than ordinary people, so ordinary people are not worthy of being their partner, and are all inferior to them. This is why antichrists like to call the shots and don’t like to discuss things with anyone else. They think doing so makes them look stupid and incompetent. What kind of viewpoint is this? What kind of disposition is this? Is this an arrogant disposition? They think that to cooperate and discuss things with others, to ask them questions and seek answers from them, is undignified and demeaning, an affront to their self-respect. And so, in order to protect their self-respect, they don’t allow transparency in anything they do, nor do they tell others about it, much less discuss it with them. They think that to discuss with others is to show themselves as incompetent; that to always solicit other people’s opinions means they are stupid and incapable of thinking for themselves; that working with others in completing a task or sorting out some problem makes them appear useless. Isn’t this their arrogant and absurd mentality? Isn’t this their corrupt disposition? The arrogance and self-righteousness within them is too obvious; they have lost all normal human reason, and they aren’t quite right in the head. They always think they have abilities, can finish things by themselves, and have no need to coordinate with others. Since they have such corrupt dispositions, they are unable to achieve harmonious cooperation. They believe that to work with others is to dilute and fragment their power, that when work is shared with others, their own power is lessened and they can’t decide everything for themselves, meaning they lack real power, which for them is a tremendous loss. And so, no matter what happens to them, if they believe they understand and they know how to handle it, they won’t discuss it with anyone else, they will want to keep control over it. They will prefer to make mistakes over letting other people know, they will prefer to be wrong over sharing power with someone else, and they will prefer dismissal over letting other people interfere in their work. This is an antichrist. They would rather harm the interests of God’s house, would rather wager the interests of God’s house, than share their power with anyone else. They think that when they’re doing a piece of work or handling some matter, this isn’t the performance of a duty, but rather a chance to display themselves and stand out from others, and a chance to exercise power. Therefore, although they say that they will harmoniously cooperate with others and that they will discuss matters together with others when they occur, the truth is, in the depths of their heart, they are unwilling to give up their power or status. They think that so long as they understand some doctrines and are capable of doing it themselves, they don’t need to collaborate with anyone else; they think that it should be carried out and completed alone, and that only this makes them competent. Is this view correct? They don’t know that if they violate principles, they aren’t fulfilling their duties, so they aren’t able to carry out God’s commission, and are merely doing service. Rather than seek the truth principles when performing their duty, they exercise power according to their thoughts and intentions, show off, and parade themselves. No matter who their partner is or what they do, they never want to discuss things, they always want to act on their own, and they always want to have the final say. They are obviously playing with power and using power to do things. Antichrists all love power, and when they have status, they want more power. When they possess power, antichrists are liable to use their status to show off and parade themselves, to make others look up to them and to achieve their goal of standing out from the crowd. Thus do the antichrists fixate upon power and status, and will never relinquish it, ever” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight: They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)). When I read this, I reflected that the reason I had been so domineering and unwilling to work with others was that I was worried if more people were involved in the church’s work, my power would be dispersed and I wouldn’t get to be the only one in charge, calling the shots, or gain others’ admiration. I’d taken responsibility for church work before, and I thought I was experienced, had a good head for it, and was capable. I capitalized on this and became arrogant, thinking I was someone special and superior to others. Lillian wanted me to discuss things with her before doing anything, but I felt like doing so would make me look incompetent, so I’d just do things on my own. Occasionally I’d wonder if I should consult with her, but to show off and gain others’ admiration, I came up with a reason, thinking she wouldn’t have opinions to share, and even if I did discuss with her, she’d just agree with me anyway. I used this as an excuse not to work with Lillian. The church had arranged for the two of us to do the church’s work together. She had the right to partake in every project, to know its details and progress, but I pushed her aside to do things on my own, taking away her right to know things and speak, making her just a figurehead. I kept all the work within my own hands without letting her participate. Wasn’t the essence of my doing this the same as an antichrist setting up their own empire? I thought of the great red dragon’s dictatorship and its ultimate control, that people have to listen to it without question. As for me, I wanted to be in charge in everything I did, domineering and unwilling to discuss things with others. I was dictatorial in the church and had final control. How was I any different from the great red dragon? The more I thought about it the more I realized how serious my problem of refusing to cooperate with others was, and I felt kind of afraid. Christ and the truth hold power in the church. No matter what happens, we should seek the truth and do things according to principle. But I always wanted to have the final say in the church I managed. Didn’t I just want to be king of the hill? I wasn’t considering how to practice the truth and protect the interests of the church, instead I just considered whether my personal desires would be satisfied. In the end the church’s work became a total mess because of me, and I was just disrupting and standing in the way. It was God’s grace that I could do that duty. God’s will was that I’d really pursue the truth, work well with the brothers and sisters and water new believers properly so they could quickly find a foothold on the true way. But I took it as a chance to show off, exercise my power, and get others to look up to me. I was always imperious, showing off my skills. This not only stood in the way of the church’s work, it also hurt the brothers and sisters and brought harm to my own life.
I saw a video reading of God’s words that turned my mistaken views around. Almighty God says: “Harmonious cooperation involves many things. At the very least, one of these many things is to allow others to speak and make different suggestions. If you are genuinely reasonable, no matter what kind of work you do, you must first learn to seek the truth principles, and you should also take the initiative to seek the opinions of others. As long as you take every suggestion seriously, and then work together to resolve problems, you will essentially achieve harmonious cooperation. This way, you will encounter far fewer difficulties in your duty. No matter what problems come up, it will be easy to solve and deal with them. This is the effect of harmonious cooperation. Sometimes there are disputes over trivial matters, but as long as these don’t affect the work, they will not be a problem. However, on key matters and major matters involving the work of the church, you must reach a consensus and seek truth to resolve them. As a leader or a worker, if you always think yourself above others, and revel in your duty like some government official, always indulging in the trappings of your station, always making your own plans, always considering and enjoying your own fame and status, always running your own operation, and always seeking to gain higher status, to manage and control more people, and to expand the scope of your power, this is trouble. It is dangerous to treat an important duty as a chance to enjoy your position as if you are a government official. If you always act like this, not wishing to work with others, not wanting to dilute your power and share it with anyone else, not wanting anyone else to have the upper hand, to steal the limelight, if you only want to enjoy the power on your own, then you are an antichrist. But if you often seek the truth, put aside the flesh, forsake your own motivations and designs, and are able to take it upon yourself to work with others, open up your heart to consult and seek with others, attentively listen to others’ ideas and suggestions, and accept advice which is correct and in line with the truth, no matter who it comes from, then you are practicing in a wise and correct manner, and you are able to avoid taking the wrong path, which is protection for you. 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. What effect will this harmonious cooperation achieve? The effect is huge. You will gain things you never had before, which are the light of truth and the realities of life; you will discover others’ virtues and learn from their strengths. There’s something else: You conceive of other people as stupid, dim-witted, foolish, inferior to you, but when you listen to their opinions, or other people open up to you, you will unwittingly discover that no one is quite as ordinary as you think, that everyone can offer up different thoughts and ideas, and that everyone has things to teach you. If you learn to harmoniously cooperate, beyond just helping you learn from the strengths of others, it can reveal your arrogance and self-righteousness, and avoid you imagining you are clever. When you no longer consider yourself smarter and better than everyone else, you will cease to live in this narcissistic and self-appreciative state. And that will protect you, will it not? Such is the lesson you should learn from and the benefit of working with others” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight: They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)). When I saw this, I realized that the reason I didn’t want to cooperate with Lillian—and why I was afraid to divide my power—was that I didn’t see the duty God gave me as my responsibility. Instead, I took it as my official post, as if it were my position and crown. I refused to cooperate with others, and was always high and mighty, wanting to stand out on my own. That was the wrong path. Actually, what that period of time revealed was that I had a shallow understanding of the truth and approach to problems. I also wasn’t considering our work in a holistic way, and did hardly any practical work. Helping the brothers and sisters with their problems in life entry was a struggle, and there was plenty of work I couldn’t do on my own. I needed someone else there to work with, discuss things with, and get feedback from, to learn from their strengths to bolster my own weaknesses. I thought of God incarnate expressing so many truths for mankind’s salvation, but He doesn’t exhibit the slightest arrogance. He listens to people’s suggestions in lots of things and never shows off. He’s always quietly expressing truths to water and sustain humankind. God’s essence is so kind and lovely. But I had been corrupted by Satan, full of satanic dispositions, and didn’t understand the truth. There was a lot I couldn’t understand. Yet even so I was still high and mighty, thinking I was something special, that I could take on a big pile of work on my own without a partner, having no regard for anyone else at all. I was incredibly arrogant and irrational. In fact, discussing things and fellowshiping more in our duty is reasonable and wise, not a display of incompetence. It’s gaining things from others that we can’t see or understand, and avoiding the wrong path because of our conceit. This is the only way to do a duty well and gain God’s protection. Now I understood God’s will. Discussing things, being cooperative, and bolstering each other’s weaknesses is the only way to do a duty well and please God.
Later, I came across another passage of God’s words, which made me find the path to follow. God’s words say: “When you are cooperating with others to fulfill your duties, are you able to be open to differing opinions? Are you able to let others speak? (I am, a little. Before, a lot of the time I wouldn’t listen to the suggestions of the brothers and sisters and would insist on doing things my own way. Only later, when the facts proved I was wrong, did I see that most of their suggestions had been correct, that it was the resolution that everyone discussed that was actually suitable, and that by relying on my own views I was unable to see things clearly and that I was lacking. After experiencing this, I realized how important harmonious cooperation is.) And what can you see from this? After experiencing this, did you receive some benefit, and understand the truth? Do you think anyone is perfect? No matter how strong people are, or how capable and talented, they still are not perfect. People must recognize this, it is fact, and it is the attitude that people should have to correctly approach their own merits and strengths or faults; this is the rationality that people should possess. With such rationality, you can properly deal with your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others, and this will enable you to work alongside them harmoniously. If you have understood this aspect of the truth and can enter this aspect of the truth reality, then you can get along harmoniously with your brothers and sisters, drawing on their strong points to offset any weaknesses you have. In this way, no matter what duty you are performing or what you are doing, you will always get better at it and have God’s blessing” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). It’s true. No matter how great and capable you are, you are not a perfect person. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and they should be approached properly. We have to learn to listen to others’ suggestions and bolster each other. Only by having such good sense can we cooperate well with others. Previously, I’d just been paying attention to watering new believers, while Lillian took on the gospel work. If I’d taken charge of all that work, there’s no way I could have managed it or done it well. And my perspective was limited in lots of things in my duty. I was rash. Whenever our leader asked me about my work, she pointed out many mistakes and things that weren’t done quite right. I realized I really couldn’t fulfill my duty well without a partner. I had never understood that before, and I didn’t know myself. I was arrogant, always wanted to be in charge, and couldn’t work with others. This held up the church’s work. Realizing this, I felt incredibly guilty, so I silently prayed to God, saying I did not want to live in corruption anymore, and was ready to work well with Lillian in my duty.
In our work together after that, I saw Lillian had many strengths. She was more considerate than I was and sought the truth principles when issues came up. She was detailed in her fellowship on the truth. I hadn’t been a leader very long, so I just had a vague idea of how to manage the church’s work. When it came to the details of how to do the work and how to fellowship on the truth to solve problems, I somewhat lacked clarity. I didn’t match up to her in those ways. And she was more loving than me; when helping newcomers out, she’d fellowship over and over. When I thought she’d already done a great job, she’d say she needed to do better. I thought about how I hadn’t been cooperating with her, but treated her as superfluous. She’d been negative at times, but she’d quickly turn her state around and keep doing her duty actively. Even though I’d been dismissive of her, she kept asking questions again and again. She was loving and patient, and took on genuine responsibility for her duty. All of these were qualities I lacked. I felt really terrible when I realized that. I saw how much my corrupt disposition had hurt Lillian and the church’s work. If I’d been eager to cooperate with her from the very start, discussing everything with her, things wouldn’t have turned out that way. I was full of regret, and came before God and prayed, “God, I can see my corruption and flaws, and now I understand Your will. I’m going to cooperate with Lillian from now on and live out a human likeness.”
In my work with Lillian after that, I made sure to ask her things like, “Does this look okay to you? Do you have any other suggestions?” One time when we were discussing our work, she asked me how the watering of newcomers was going. I thought to myself, “We just talked about it a couple days ago, why go over it again? If there’s any problem, I can handle it.” I wanted to brush her off again. Then I realized my old problem was rearing its head again, that I wanted to be in charge. I said a prayer quickly, asking God to guide me so I wouldn’t act out of corrupt disposition. After my prayer I thought of all my failures along the way, how I was dictatorial and domineering, always wanting to do things my own way and show off. It was entirely an expression of Satan. I had to forsake myself and practice God’s words, and cooperate with her. So, I earnestly shared everything I knew about my work with her, and when I was done, Lillian shared her own thoughts. I learned some things from her fellowship and felt that it was a wonderful way to do a duty.
After that, when I encountered problems in my duty, I’d seek her out to discuss them, and we’d seek the truth and fellowship on these issues together. After a while of this, my state improved and my performance in my duty improved. I’m so grateful to God. And I’ve seen that only by letting go of myself in my duty, working well with others and making up for each other’s deficiencies can I receive God’s guidance.