76. The Lessons I Learned From Being Dismissed
By Owen, Spain
In 2018, I was in charge of video work. Sometimes several video tasks would come in at the same time, and they needed to be assigned to the right people for production. Every time, I would think quickly about how to allocate the work, but when I told my partnered brother and sister about my allocation plan, they always added addendums and improvements to my plan. Sometimes, they would point out where I was not thinking comprehensively, and I felt a little embarrassed when they had lots of suggestions. The way they pointed out my problems always made me feel as if my work ability wasn’t very good. It made me wonder what others thought of me as a team leader. Furthermore, one of my two partners had outstanding work ability. The other had a lot of professional experience and had also believed in God for a long time. Both of them considered problems quite comprehensively and weren’t giving me a chance to shine. I thought about how in time, my brothers and sisters may feel that aside from making a few videos, as a team leader, I wasn’t much use to the group’s work. The more I thought like this, the worse I felt, and I began to wonder, “If I could do the things my partners can’t take care of a little more, and a little better, then won’t I be able to stand out? My professional skills are fairly good in the group, and the brothers and sisters say I have good life entry, so if I spend more time resolving the states of my brothers and sisters, and share more of my professional knowledge, then they will definitely look up to me.” So, regardless of whether they needed it or had problems, I always went to talk with them about their states and fellowship with them. Also, I often looked up technical information and summarized professional techniques to share with them. Even when it delayed my video production work, I insisted on doing these things. I felt paying this price was worth it.
Because my intentions were wrong, I couldn’t grasp crucial work, the effectiveness of my work declined noticeably, and problems kept cropping up. Once, I made a basic mistake that not even a novice would likely make, which made me feel very ashamed. I thought, “It’s laughable that as a team leader, I made such a basic mistake. If I don’t do something to restore my image, how will I be able to go on as a team leader?” After that, to avoid being looked down upon, I buried myself in my work. I didn’t ask at all about the progress of work in the group, and every time I received a task, I’d just hastily assign it to the brothers and sisters and be done with it. This led to several times where I delayed the assignment of tasks because I didn’t follow up on work in time. I was so very numb at that time. When these things happened, I didn’t reflect on myself. Later, in accordance with work requirements, my partners and I trained several new team members. I thought Lauren, who I was training, had a stronger foundation than the others, and that if I could quickly cultivate her, I could prove that my ability to cultivate people was good. However, after a period of actual contact with her, I found that her caliber was average and that she progressed quite slowly. After that, I wasn’t as careful or thoughtful when I taught her. When she had questions, I muddled through the answer. Sometimes, when she didn’t understand my answers, it even felt like too much trouble to explain. As a result, after some time passed, she not only didn’t make progress, but it became more difficult for her to perform her duty. Later, my partner suggested that she teach Lauren techniques with me, and I thought, “Now you’re just attacking my image. At any rate, I’m team leader. Do you think I need your help to teach Lauren? That would make me look completely incapable, wouldn’t it?” But I realized my training was ineffective, so I couldn’t outright deny her. All I could do was reluctantly agree. To recoup some dignity, I wanted to find other opportunities to prove myself. Once, another group had some professional difficulties and asked me for help. I thought, “This is a rare opportunity. If I can take care of this problem properly, the brothers and sisters will definitely look up to me, and my good reputation might even spread to other groups too.” But once I actually looked into the situation, I found out it would take a lot of time and effort to deal with the problem. At the time, I already had plenty of problems in my own work that urgently needed solving, and the other group’s problem wasn’t all that urgent. I thought maybe I should just put aside their problem for now. But I thought this was a good chance for me to restore my image, so I couldn’t let it slip away. Besides, my partners could handle work in our group. They could do without me this time. Thinking this, I went ahead with complete confidence.
I spent all my time thinking about how to make others look up to me, so I wasn’t attentive to the group’s work at all, which caused video production work to move very slowly. Also, because I didn’t follow up on the work promptly, there was a backlog of tasks, and the effectiveness of work declined noticeably. I was one of the main supervisors, yet I didn’t know how to resolve these problems, and my state grew worse and worse. Although I was busy every day, I still didn’t produce good results. My leader dealt with me after learning about this situation, saying I was focusing on reputation and status in my duty and that I wasn’t resolving the specific problems in our work. After that, although I made some outward changes, I never genuinely tried to know myself, and when things happened, I still tried to protect my reputation and status first. Later, Lauren was transferred to another duty because she couldn’t produce videos independently. Before she left, she summarized some of the problems she had had from her time in this duty. She mentioned that when I taught her professional skills, she had many difficulties she couldn’t resolve, and that her professional skills only improved once another sister started teaching her. I was very angry when I saw what she had written. I thought, “If my leader or co-workers read what she has said, what would they think? Surely they’ll think I can’t do anything.” To protect my status and image, I went to my leader to report on Lauren’s problems, deliberately belittled her caliber, exaggerated how she muddled through her duties and often argued back, and I took pains to stress the deficiencies in her humanity. I was surprised when my leader said, “If that’s true, it might not be appropriate to let her water newcomers.” I never imagined my words could lead to such a consequence. If Lauren wasn’t able to water newcomers because of what I said, then I would truly be doing evil. I wanted to explain it to my leader, but I thought of how I already had a bad image in everyone’s mind. If I was honest about this, then beyond just appearing useless in my work, people would think I had bad humanity. So, I said ambiguously to the leader, “You should look into it.” Later, after investigating and verifying things, the leader discovered Lauren’s problems weren’t as serious as I had claimed and didn’t transfer her.
Because I stubbornly pursued reputation and status, and because I refused to change, based on my brothers’ and sisters’ evaluations of me, my leader said I was irresponsible in my duty, didn’t do practical work, only did things to make myself look good, and so dismissed me for these things. I couldn’t figure it out. I was so busy with my duty every day, and this was how things turned out. If my brothers and sisters found out the reason I was dismissed, they would definitely say I had bad humanity and that I wasn’t someone who pursues the truth. How would I face everyone in the future? Thinking of this, I felt an inexpressible sadness, but I knew that no matter what, before anything else, I had to obey. I had taken this path, and I had no one but myself to blame. During that time, I wanted to reflect on my problems, so I prayed to God and asked Him to guide me in knowing myself.
Later, I read some of God’s words and found a passage that described my state perfectly. Almighty God says, “Antichrists live each day only for reputation and status, they live only to revel in the trappings of status, this is all they think about. Even when they do occasionally suffer some minor hardship or pay some trivial price, this is for the sake of obtaining status and reputation. Pursuing status, holding power, and having an easy life are major things that antichrists always scheme for once they believe in God, and they don’t give up until they achieve their goals. If their evil deeds are ever exposed, they panic, as if the sky is about to fall on them. They can’t eat or sleep, and they seem to be in a trance, as if they are suffering from depression. When people ask them what was wrong, they make up lies and say, ‘Yesterday I was so busy that I didn’t sleep all night, so I’m very tired.’ But actually, none of this is true. They feel this way because they are constantly pondering, ‘The bad things I did have been exposed, so how can I restore my reputation and status?’ For a long time they can’t figure out what to do, and so they are depressed. Sometimes their eyes stare blankly at a single spot, and no one knows what they are looking at. The issue makes them rack their brains, exhaust every train of thought, and not want to eat or drink. Despite this, they still put on the appearance of caring about church work, and will ask people, ‘How is the gospel work going? How effectively is it being preached? Have the brothers and sisters gained any life entry recently? Has anyone been causing any disruptions or disturbances?’ These inquiries of theirs about the church’s work are meant as a show for others. If they did learn of problems, they would have no way to resolve them, so their questions are a mere formality that others are liable to see as care for the church’s work. If someone should make a report of the church’s problems for them to resolve, they would just shake their head. No scheme would avail them, and though they would wish to disguise themselves, they could not, and they would risk being exposed and revealed. This is the biggest problem antichrists face in their entire lives. … Anywhere antichrists exist, no matter the scope of their influence, be it a group or a church, as long as they hold power, church work and God’s will are hindered there. Why can’t the work arrangements of God’s house be implemented? The fact that this occurs proves that antichrists do not do practical work, but say and do all they can for the sake of prestige and status, without doing the least thing to safeguard the work of God’s house. So, what do antichrists do all day? They busy themselves with putting on performances and showing off. They only do things involving their own prestige and status. They are busy deceiving others, drawing people in, and when they have amassed their strength, they will go on to control more churches. They wish only to reign as kings and turn the church into their independent kingdom. They wish only to be the great leader, to have complete, unilateral authority, to control more churches. They don’t care in the slightest about anything else. They don’t concern themselves with the work of the church, or the life entry of God’s chosen people, much less do they care about whether God’s will is carried out. They are only concerned with when they can independently hold power, control God’s chosen people, and stand on an equal footing with God. The desires and ambitions of antichrists are enormous indeed! No matter how hard-working antichrists appear to be, they are only busy with their own endeavors, doing what they like to do, and with things related to their own prestige and status. They don’t even think about their responsibilities or the duty they should be performing, and they do nothing proper at all. This is the sort of thing antichrists are—they are the devil Satan, who disrupt and disturb God’s work” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). God’s word revealed that antichrists live only for reputation and status and never do any practical work whatsoever. To stop others from discerning them and seeing through them, they rack their brains to find ways to maintain their position, and they are happy to delay the work of the church to do so. I reflected on all my actions and behavior since becoming a team leader, and I saw that I had behaved the same as an antichrist. When I saw that my partners saw issues more comprehensively, and when they always pointed out the deficiencies in my work, I feared my brothers and sisters would think I had poor caliber and was incompetent in my work, so I tried to take every available opportunity to recoup my dignity. I spent time organizing information on professional skills so that everyone could see I bore a burden and understood these things. I even put aside and ignored urgent problems in my group that needed to be solved and instead spent my time solving the problem for another group to show off. After I made a mistake in my video, I feared my brothers and sisters would say my skills were poor, so I put the work of the group aside and buried myself in my own production tasks, hoping to do the tasks well enough to prove that I had ability. I also used cultivating others as a chance to prove myself, but when I found out Lauren wasn’t growing fast enough to show my own abilities, I began to act in a cold and perfunctory manner toward her, which made it impossible for her to master the skills. I only cared about pursuing reputation and status and doing things that benefited me, not doing actual work. I caused delays and harm to the work of the church. Wasn’t this behavior of mine exactly the same as that of an antichrist? Even after Lauren was transferred from her duty, I didn’t feel any guilt, and because she pointed out my shortcomings and deficiencies, I tried to justify and defend myself to protect my reputation and status, belittling and judging her, and almost causing her to be transferred again. I had been truly vicious, selfish, and despicable! Thinking of all the harm I caused to the work of the church and to Lauren, I felt especially miserable. These actions had tainted my path of belief in God! Later, I prayed to God to confess and repent.
One day, I read a passage of God’s word: “When God asks that people put aside status and prestige, it is not that He is depriving people of the right to choose; rather, it is because, while pursuing prestige and status, people disrupt and disturb the work of the church and the life entry of God’s chosen people, and can even have an influence on others’ eating and drinking God’s words, understanding the truth, and thus achieving God’s salvation. This is an indisputable fact. When people pursue their own prestige and status, it is certain that they will not pursue the truth and that they will not faithfully perform their duty. They will only speak and act for the sake of prestige and status, and all the work they do, without the least exception, is for those things’ sake. To behave and act in such a way is, without question, to walk the path of the antichrists; it is a disruption and disturbance of God’s work, and all its various consequences are hindering the spread of the kingdom gospel and the free flow of God’s will within the church. So, one may say with certainty that the path walked by those who pursue prestige and status is the path of resistance against God. It is intentional resistance against Him, naysaying Him—it is to cooperate with Satan in resisting God and standing in opposition to Him. This is the nature of people’s pursuit of status and prestige. The problem with people pursuing their own interests is that the goals they pursue are the goals of Satan—they are goals that are wicked and unjust. When people pursue personal interests such as prestige and status, they unwittingly become a tool of Satan, they become a channel for Satan, and, moreover, they become an embodiment of Satan. They play a negative role in the church; toward the work of the church, and toward the normal church life and normal pursuit of God’s chosen people, the effect they have is to disturb and impair; they have an adverse and negative effect” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). After I read God’s word, I finally realized that when I pursued status and protected my personal interests, in essence, I was acting as Satan’s servant and disrupting the work of the church. I knew my work ability and professional skills weren’t as good as my partners. If I had been able to humbly learn from them and cooperate harmoniously with them, then not only would I have made some progress in my skills, I would have also been able to understand some principles of truth. This would have been a good thing for me. But I didn’t know what was good for me. The title of “team leader” made me completely lose my head. I didn’t spend my time doing my actual duty or expend effort on my main work. Instead, I contrived ways to disguise myself and show off to make others admire me. I occupied the position of team leader without actually doing practical work, and I hindered and delayed the progress of our work. God hates and detests the things I did. My dismissal showed God’s righteous disposition and God’s protection for me. Thinking of the harm I caused to the work of the church, I felt especially guilty. I prayed to God, “God, my desire for status is too strong! Without this revelation, I don’t know how long I would remain numb. I want to use this failure to properly reflect on myself and resolve my problem.”
Later, as I sought the path of practice, I read two passages of God’s words: “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; do not consider the interests of man, and give no thought to your own pride, reputation, or status. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have been loyal, fulfilled your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of the church. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently and figure them out, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). “If people only pursue status and prestige—if they only pursue their own interests—then they will never gain the truth and the life, and ultimately they will be the ones who suffer loss. God saves those who pursue the truth. If you do not accept the truth, and if you are incapable of reflecting upon and knowing your own corrupt disposition, then you will not truly repent, and will have no entry into life. Accepting the truth and knowing yourself is the path to your life’s growth and to salvation, it is the chance for you to come before God to accept God’s scrutiny and to accept the judgment and chastisement of God and gain the life and the truth. If you give up on pursuing the truth for the sake of pursuing status and prestige and your own interests, this is tantamount to giving up on the opportunity of receiving God’s judgment and chastisement and attaining salvation. You choose status and prestige and your own interests, but what you give up is the truth, and what you lose is life, and the chance to be saved. Which means more? If you choose your own interests and forsake the truth, are you not stupid? To put it bluntly, this is a great loss for a small advantage. Prestige, status, money, and interest are all temporary, they are all ephemeral, whereas the truth and the life are eternal and immutable. If people resolve their corrupt disposition that causes them to pursue status and prestige, then they have hope of attaining salvation. Moreover, the truth people gain is eternal; Satan cannot take it away from them, nor can anyone else. You have relinquished your interests but what you have gained are the truth and salvation; these results belong to you. You gained them for yourself. If people choose to practice the truth, then even if they have lost their interests, they are gaining God’s salvation and eternal life. Those people are the smartest ones. If people benefit at the expense of the truth, then what they lose are life and God’s salvation; those people are the stupidest” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Knowing One’s Disposition Is the Foundation of Changing It). God’s word made me understand that in our duty, we must forsake our incorrect intentions and desires. Instead of our reputation and status, we must always put the interests of the church first in everything. Only practicing like this accords with God’s will, and this is the bare minimum that a person with conscience and reason should do. Recognizing these things, I consciously forsook my flesh, no longer paid attention to reputation and status, and focused on the proper performance of my duty. Aside from completing my own production tasks, I also wrote down the frequent problems and deviations in my own and others’ work, and brought them before the team leaders and my brothers and sisters to discuss and find solutions. Practicing like this benefited everyone, and we were able to make progress in our professional skills. When I saw this result, I was very grateful to God. This was the result of everyone performing their duties with one heart and one mind. In the past, I always tried to protect my reputation and status. I always did things to improve my image and show off in my duty, I didn’t solve any practical problems, and all I left behind were transgressions. But once I stopped thinking about my reputation and status, and instead took the initiative to reveal the shortcomings and mistakes in the work, not only did my brothers and sisters not look down on me, they discussed and coordinated with me, and we found a better way to do our duty. Only then did I see how foolish I was to disguise myself and show off. If I had practiced this way earlier, I wouldn’t have delayed the work.
Some time later, my leader arranged for me a part-time job watering newcomers. She said that because some newcomers still had not set down a foundation upon the true way, they were becoming passive, weak, and not attending gatherings when they faced difficulties or when pastors disturbed them, and so they urgently needed support through watering. Although I knew this duty was very important, I was still a little reluctant. This was mostly because it was a part-time job, so no matter how well I did, no one in our group would know. So I thought I might as well spend more time on my main work. I could spend my spare time improving my professional techniques. If I became more effective in my main work, my brothers and sisters would look up to me. So for that reason, I didn’t want to work too hard on watering newcomers. But over the next few days, I felt that my state was a little off, so I opened up and fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters, and it was then I realized I was still pursuing reputation and status. I read in God’s word, “Though most people say they happily pursue the truth, when it comes to putting it into practice or paying a price for it, some people just give up. This is betrayal in essence. The more crucial a moment is, the more you are needed to give up fleshly interests and cast aside vanity and pride; if you are unable to do so, you cannot gain the truth, and it shows that you are not obedient toward God. If the more crucial a moment is, the more able people are to submit and let go of their self-interests, vanity, and pride, and perform their duties properly, only then will they be remembered by God. Those are all good deeds! Irrespective of what duty people perform, or what they do, which is more important—their vanity and pride, or God’s glory? Which should people choose? (God’s glory.) Which are more important—your responsibilities, or your own interests? Fulfilling your responsibilities is what is most important, and you are duty-bound to them” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). After reading God’s word, I saw clearly that no matter whether I was looked up to, this was my duty, which meant it was my responsibility and a commission from God. I should accept it and treat it sincerely. I couldn’t keep calculating for the sake of my reputation and status anymore. Personnel were needed to do watering work, and if I didn’t want to do this duty just because it didn’t offer a chance to show off, was I not being unconscionable and unreasonable? That evening, I heard a hymn of God’s word. The lyrics were, “God cherishes the love of every man. Toward all who love Him, His blessings are redoubled, for man’s love is so hard to come by, and there is so little of it” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs, Are You Willing to Give God the Love in Your Heart?). I was very moved. The more the work of the church needs to be protected, the more I should fulfill my duty and responsibility. I couldn’t disappoint God again. Although I had many deficiencies as I watered the newcomers and encountered many difficulties, when I set my motives right and relied on God, I saw God’s guidance, and before long some of the newcomers I was watering were able to attend gatherings normally.
Before long, the church placed me in charge of another task. This time, no matter how busy I was with my work, I kept track of the group’s progress and assigned tasks in a timely manner. For a while I also went over our work together with the brothers and sisters to resolve their difficulties, and for things I didn’t understand, I found people with good skills to help us solve them. Gradually, the results of the work significantly improved. I knew this was all thanks to God’s guidance and blessings. In the past, I only cared about reputation and status. Now I can somewhat let go of the pursuit of status, consciously protect the work of the church, and perform my duty in a down-to-earth manner. These are the results achieved by God’s words. Thanks be to God!