78. What I Learned From Being Dismissed
By Riley, USA
The word of God says: “People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him. It is under the refinement of God’s words that people’s dispositions change. Only through the exposure, judgment, discipline, and dealing of His words will they no longer dare to act rashly but instead will become steady and composed. The most important point is that they are able to submit to God’s current words, and to His work, even if it is not in line with human notions, they are able to put these notions aside and willingly submit” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words). God’s words are very practical. Only by being judged, chastised, dealt with, and pruned by God’s words can we change our satanic dispositions and achieve obedience and faithfulness to God. I used to perform my duties with a corrupt disposition, always protecting my face and status. After being dismissed, I gained knowledge of my corrupt disposition from the judgment and revelation of God’s words. I felt remorse and despised myself, and when I got another duty, I did better than before.
Last August, I was elected as a church leader and was responsible for the work of the church alongside a few other brothers and sisters. I was mainly following up on watering work, while also participating in the decision-making for church projects. We’d divided up responsibilities, but I knew that the church’s work is one comprehensive unit, and that I had to cooperate with brothers and sisters to safeguard the interests of the church and perform my duties properly. At first, I was really attentive in our weekly meetings. I actively participated in the discussion, and put forward recommendations. Then one day in October, the watering of newcomers was almost delayed because I hadn’t followed up in time. The higher-ups harshly pruned and dealt with me. I thought to myself, “There was a problem in my work, so I was the one dealt with. If more problems come up, the leaders would see through me and say that I can’t do practical work, and I’d be dismissed. Then how could I show my face again? Who would look up to me? No, I have to put more effort into the work I am responsible for, and no more mistakes can be made.”
After a while, the scope of my responsibilities expanded. I wasn’t good at some things, so it required a lot of time to get the hang of the relevant principles, but there were so many things that needed to be discussed and decided on in every co-worker meeting, and this was taking up a lot of time. I wondered if it might affect the work I was responsible for after a while. If the work I was responsible for wasn’t effective and there were more problems, I’d definitely be dismissed, and then what would the others think of me? Other people were following up on other church projects. I figured they could have their discussions, but I had plenty of work. What’s more, them finishing their work had nothing to do with me and that wouldn’t gain me any praise. But I’d be directly responsible for problems if they arose within my scope, so I should just look after my own responsibilities. After that, I put more time and effort into the main work I was responsible for and treated other work like a burden. When church work needed to be discussed and decided on, I gave my viewpoint on anything involving my work, but I just occupied myself with my own tasks when it came to things outside that scope. I didn’t listen closely to the discussions, so when my stance or decision was needed, I just fell in line with everyone else. When important matters needed urgent discussion and deciding, as soon as I saw that they weren’t related to my duty, I’d disregard them and act indifferent.
After a while, I kept hearing from brothers and sisters that some matters hadn’t been seen to properly and they’d been dealt with by our leaders, and also that personnel arrangements weren’t in line with principles, creating losses for the work of the church. Some things required everyone to decide and sign off on them. Since they hadn’t been handled properly, this eventually harmed the interests of the church. Also, the purchase of goods for the church wasn’t seen to properly, resulting in the loss of the church’s money. Things like this kept happening. I figured it was a good thing there weren’t any major problems in my work, and that when a leader looked into who was to blame, the blame wouldn’t come back to me. This was the kind of irresponsible attitude I had toward my duty for quite a long time and I didn’t see anything wrong with it. One day, a sister I worked with said I wasn’t taking on a burden in my duty or seeing the bigger picture, but I was only paying attention to my own work, and I wasn’t being proactive in decision-making. She said that was dangerous and if I didn’t turn this around, I’d be cast out by God sooner or later. She said I should thoroughly reflect on my attitude toward my duty. After her fellowship, I still didn’t reflect on myself. Instead, I reasoned to myself: “Haven’t you seen all my suffering? It takes a lot to do this job well. If there are problems with the work I’m responsible for, that is on me, then what would the others think of me? They’d think I’m incapable and that I can’t do practical work. What’s more, isn’t anyone responsible for those other jobs? My participation in these decisions won’t affect anything.” And so, I had always been careless and irresponsible toward the work of the church, and I did not reflect or try to know myself.
In January 2021, a leader came to me and said, “The brothers and sisters have said you’re not bearing a burden in your duty, that during discussions of work, you rarely express your viewpoint, you aren’t putting forward substantive recommendations, and you don’t feel an ounce of responsibility toward the church’s work. You are not fit to be a leader. After discussion, everyone has decided you should be dismissed.” Listening to the leader, I felt entirely in a daze, on the verge of collapse. I thought, “I haven’t been participating much in the church’s overall work, but I’ve been incredibly busy every day with my own responsibilities and I’ve suffered so much. How could you say I’m not bearing a burden? Isn’t it enough that I’ve been completing my work without issue?” For a while I couldn’t accept this outcome, but I still believed that everything God did was good, and I wasn’t aware of it yet. I prayed to God and sought His guidance so I could reflect and know myself.
Later, I saw a passage from God’s words that moved me greatly. Almighty God says: “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 actions and intents of someone like that are clear to everyone: They pop out whenever there is an opportunity for honor or to enjoy some blessing. But, when there is not an opportunity for honor, or as soon as there is a time of suffering, they vanish from sight like a tortoise retracting its head. Does this kind of person have conscience and reason? (No.) Does a person without conscience and reason who behaves in this way feel self-reproach? Such people have no sense of self-reproach; the conscience of this kind of person serves no purpose. They have never felt reproach from their conscience, so can they feel the reproach or discipline of the Holy Spirit? No, they cannot” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Giving One’s Heart to God, One Can Obtain the Truth). I felt God’s words pierced my heart. I was exactly what God described. I’d been inattentive and aloof toward my duty, paying no attention to anything outside of my responsibilities. I’d only attended to my own work. I had only considered whether my desire for reputation and status could be satisfied. I hadn’t safeguarded the work of the church at all. During that time, when everyone was in discussions to make decisions, I thought that any successes outside of my own responsibility wouldn’t help me look good, and that if these things weren’t handled well the blame wouldn’t fall on me. So I wouldn’t participate if I could avoid it. I just went through the motions, going along with everyone else. That was careless and irresponsible. I was very diligent and hardworking in the work within my scope, afraid of being pruned and dealt with if there were a problem with it, or that I would be dismissed and absolutely discredited. In order to take care of my own work well and keep my status and image with others, I treated decision-making like a nuisance and a waste of time, keeping me from carrying out my own work. Reflecting on my behavior, I saw that the intent behind the performance of my duty had been to satisfy myself, and that all my suffering had been for myself. I hadn’t taken on any burden or sense of responsibility to safeguard the overall work or interests of the church. Had I not been devoid of humanity? I was totally unworthy of such an important job. It was then that I fully accepted my dismissal. Although I was aware that my actions were not in line with God’s will, I still didn’t understand my own nature and I didn’t know what exactly led to my lack of a burden for my duty, my fixation on reputation and status, and my total disregard of the interests of the church. I brought this problem before God in prayer after that, asking God to lead me to know the root and essence of my problem, to see my satanic disposition, so I could hate myself from the bottom of my heart.
After that, I read a passage of Almighty God’s words, “Antichrists have no conscience, sense, or humanity. Not only do they lack any shame, but they have another hallmark, too: They are uncommonly selfish and vile. The literal sense of their ‘selfishness and vileness’ is not hard to grasp: They are blind to anything but their own interests. Anything concerning their own interests gets their full attention, and they will suffer for it, pay a price, engross themselves in it, devote themselves to it. Anything not related to their own interests they will turn a blind eye to and take no notice of; others can do as they please—they don’t care if anyone is being divisive or disruptive, and to them, this has nothing to do with them. Put tactfully, they mind their own business. But it is more accurate to say that this kind of person is vile, sordid, wretched; we define them as ‘selfish and vile.’ 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. But if someone reports them and exposes that they don’t do practical work and only pursue reputation and status, they see red. Meetings are hurriedly convened to discuss how to respond, investigations are held into who went behind their back, who the ringleader was, who was involved. They will not eat or sleep until they have gotten to the bottom of it and the matter has been completely put to rest; sometimes they are only happy once they’ve taken down everyone involved in reporting them. This is the manifestation of selfishness and vileness, is it not? Are they doing church work? They are acting for the sake of their own power and status, pure and simple. They are running their own operation. 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)). God’s words pierced my heart. Antichrists only work for their own reputation and status, and they’re diligent in anything involving their own interests. They can suffer, and expend all their mental and physical energy for that. They ignore anything that won’t benefit them. They are particularly selfish and contemptible. I saw that my behavior had been the same as an antichrist’s, and that I’d only been working for my own reputation and status. “Let things drift if they do not affect one personally” and “The less trouble, the better” were satanic philosophies I’d lived by. I’d only been paying attention to work that I was responsible for, and that could impact my reputation and status, and I ignored work that didn’t fall within my scope of responsibility. This resulted in severe losses for the work and money of the church. I saw that I’d been a selfish, self-interested, contemptible degenerate, and I wasn’t worthy of confidence. Thinking back on that time, a series of problems cropped up in the church’s work, and the leaders dealt with the other brothers and sisters for not doing the work properly. I wasn’t directly criticized, but I was also a church leader, and had a responsibility that could not be shirked. If I had diligently tended to and participated in work discussions, perhaps I might have discovered some of the problems. But to save my own face and status, I only saw to my own little set of responsibilities, and I didn’t consider at all the overall work or interests of the church. Seeing my various transgressions in my duty and the irreparable losses I caused in the work of the church, I was filled with regret and self-blame. God exalted me and showed me grace, allowing me to perform such an important duty and giving me a chance to hone myself, so that I could understand the truth more quickly. I had enjoyed the watering and sustenance of God’s words for many years, yet I repaid this with ingratitude and didn’t want to do my duty properly or repay God’s love. All I thought about was how to protect my own image and status and my own little sphere so I wouldn’t be dealt with. I was careless and irresponsible with this important work and just stood idly by as the interests of the church suffered and the work of the church was impacted. I was indifferent and lacked any sense of conscience. How could I even be considered human? When a family feeds a dog, the dog will be unfailingly loyal. I was truly worse than even an animal. The more I thought about it, the more I felt I was unworthy of enjoying God’s grace. At this time, I came before God and prayed: “Oh God, I’ve only considered my own reputation and status in my duty without safeguarding the work of the church whatsoever. I was devoid of humanity, and I was selfish and self-interested. My dismissal is the coming of Your righteousness, and even more, it is Your love and salvation of me. I’m ready to repent.”
Afterward, I read a passage of God’s words: “What is the standard by which a person’s deeds are judged to be good or evil? It depends on whether or not they, in their thoughts, expressions, and actions, possess the testimony of putting the truth into practice and of living out the reality of the truth. If you do not have this reality or do not live this out, then without doubt, you are an evildoer. How does God see evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts do not bear testimony for God, nor do they put Satan to shame or defeat it; instead, they shame God, and are riddled with marks that cause God to be ashamed. You are not testifying for God, not expending yourself for God, nor are you fulfilling your responsibility and obligations to God; instead, you are acting for your own sake. What does ‘for your own sake’ mean? To be exact, it means for Satan’s sake. Therefore, in the end, God will say, ‘Depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’ In God’s eyes, you have not done good deeds, but rather your behavior has turned evil. It will not only fail to gain God’s approval—it will be condemned. What does one with such a belief in God seek to gain? Would such belief not come to naught in the end?” (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). From God’s words, I saw that His disposition is righteous and tolerates no offense. God sees into the depths of people’s hearts, and if people carry out their duties with intentions other than satisfying God, lack the testimony of practicing truth, satisfy themselves in every respect and pursue their own reputation and status, this is not commended by God. No matter how much someone suffers in this, God does not commemorate it, but they are condemned by God as a wicked person. My intentions in my duty were wrong. They weren’t to satisfy God, but I was running my own enterprise. I was willing to suffer and expend effort for the work I was responsible for, but it was to protect my status and image in the eyes of others. I wanted to be admired for appearing to suffer and work hard, to gain people’s praise and a place in their hearts. It was through God’s grace that I could serve as a leader and have that chance to hone myself. Leaders are responsible for the church’s overall work, and there are plenty of problems, difficulties and issues that need to be resolved. That requires seeking the truth and principles a lot. They may make mistakes in the work and they could be pruned or dealt with, but through constant review, correction, and reflection, they will gain a lot. It’s all practical knowledge, whether it’s about God’s righteous disposition or their own corrupt disposition. God allows people to gain the truth through performing a duty, but I wasn’t considering God’s will or taking my duty seriously. I was treating it like an inconvenience, losing so many chances to gain the truth. In such an important duty, not being responsible or collaborating with others, and not playing a role in decisions and supervision, how was I really doing my duty? I was fooling and cheating God. I was doing evil!
Later on I read a passage from God’s words: “For all who fulfill their duty, however profound or shallow their understanding of the truth, the simplest way of practice by which to enter the reality of the truth is to think of the interests of God’s house in everything, and to let go of selfish desires, individual intentions, motives, pride, and status. Put the interests of God’s house first—this is the least one should do. If a person performing their duty cannot do even this much, then how can they be said to be performing their duty? This is not performing one’s duty. You should first consider the interests of God’s house, be considerate of God’s will, and consider the work of the church, and put these things first and foremost; only after that can you think about the stability of your status or how others see you. Do you not feel that it gets a little easier when you divide it into these steps and make some compromises? If you practice like this for a while, you will come to feel that satisfying God is not difficult. In addition, you should be able to fulfill your responsibilities, perform your obligations and duties, set aside your selfish desires, set aside your own intents and motives, have consideration for God’s will, and put first the interests of God’s house, the work of the church, and the duty you should perform. After experiencing this for a while, you will feel that this is a good way to conduct yourself. It is living straightforwardly and honestly, without being a base person or a good-for-nothing, and living justly and honorably rather than being despicable and mean. You will feel that this is how a person should live and act. Gradually, the desire within your heart to gratify your own interests will lessen” (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). God’s words gave me a path to practice. The interests of the church have to come first in our duties. We have to accept God’s scrutiny and focus on seeking the truth, put aside our face, status, and personal interests, and safeguard the work of the church in all respects. This is the only way to act in line with God’s will and to live openly and honorably. I’d always thought that participating in decision-making for the church’s work would delay my own work, but that’s an absurd idea. In fact, as long as you focus on seeking the principles of the truth, maintain a sense of priority, and take care of critical tasks, then work won’t be delayed. And by participating in decision-making, you’ll grasp more principles, benefiting your duty and yourself. God’s house has each church elect a few leaders to be jointly responsible for the church’s work so each person can complement, supervise and keep each other in check. Especially in some complicated issues where they act as decision makers, this can prevent losses to the work of the church as a result of arbitrary decision-making and lack of insight, but I was careless and negligent in such an important duty. I was truly unworthy of confidence, and I deserved to be dismissed and cast out. When I figured this out, I resolved that in the future, no matter if something is my main work responsibility, if it’s work of the church or involves its interests, that’s my responsibility and duty, and I should do my best to safeguard the work of the church.
Later on, I was selected as a leader for another church. I knew that this was God’s exaltation. I’d been selfish and contemptible, but the church still allowed me to perform such an important duty. I swore I’d do it properly, that I wouldn’t selfishly only consider my own work. I was one of three leaders at that church, and each one was responsible for one portion of work. I saw a lot of things in the work I was responsible for that I did not understand, that needed time and effort to learn. Every day I had a full work schedule, and sometimes I felt I didn’t have enough time. One day, a sister I worked with came to me and said she wanted me to help her handle some problems. I thought, “A few days before, an upper leader reviewed my work and said there was a lot I hadn’t done properly. My time is so precious. If I go and help her and my work is delayed, and this keeps me from getting results, what will the leader think of me? Will she say I’m incompetent and can’t do practical work? Will I be dismissed again?” At that thought, I realized I was thinking of my face and status again, that the work of the church is a whole and I can’t divide it. If I only attended to my own responsibilities and disregarded everything else, wouldn’t that be selfish and contemptible, and safeguarding my own interests? I couldn’t do that. I had to put aside my own interests and cooperate with this sister to resolve the church’s problems. So, I agreed to help her handle the problems. When I did this I felt at peace and felt the freedom that comes from practicing the truth. Although being dismissed was very painful for me, it also gave me a valuable lesson. It gave me a practical awareness of God’s righteous disposition that tolerates no offense. Also, I’ve somewhat corrected my mistaken views and careless attitude toward my duty. I thank God for saving me.