89. Chasing Status Brings Misery

By Zheng Yuan, China

In 2017, I was selected as a church leader, and was partnered with two sisters to oversee the work of several churches. When my sisters saw that I worked faster than them and that I gave some reasonable suggestions when we discussed work, they were very envious, saying that I had good caliber and ability to work. I was very happy to hear my sisters say this. I thought, “In the past, my boss valued me at the company where I worked, and after I believed in God, my brothers and sisters had a good opinion of me. Now, I take charge of the church’s work, and my partners also look up to me. It seems I really do have a talent. When the leaders above me see my abilities, they will definitely say I’m better than my sisters.” Thinking on these things, I felt even more energetic in my duties. Gradually, most of the decisions about church work were made by me. My sisters did whatever I arranged for them, and I really enjoyed that feeling.

Later, the leaders arranged for Sister Chen Cheng to join us. At gatherings, I saw her fellowship was very practical. I felt I could benefit from being her partner, so I was very happy. But later I discovered that the brothers and sisters all listened to Chen Cheng’s fellowship so enthusiastically. Every time she fellowshiped, they all listened attentively, and once in a while they would nod in agreement. I started to worry, thinking, “I used to dominate gatherings and fellowship, but now everyone wants to hear her fellowship. Who will look up to me in the future?” I was very jealous of Chen Cheng, because I feared she would surpass me. After that, while she was partnered with me, I found that she had many strengths: When brothers and sisters had problems or difficulties in their duties, she could immediately offer fellowship to help them, and she implemented work very quickly. In the past, there was a group that hadn’t been set up because the right staff couldn’t be found. Chen Cheng didn’t take long to sort it out. When our leaders came to gatherings, she could also make good suggestions regarding church work. All this made me both jealous and envious: “If I had the same caliber, the brothers and sisters would look up to me more.” I even wished, “It would be best if our leaders transferred her elsewhere, so that no one would steal my limelight and the brothers and sisters would still see me as the best.” Later, several churches had elections and the leaders always asked Chen Cheng to help manage them. I felt especially lost. Those asked to manage elections are capable people who can discern others. Before, the leaders always asked me to help them. Now, they asked Chen Cheng. It seemed like she was very important to the leaders, and that I didn’t matter to them at all. Later, for several important church tasks, our leaders put Chen Cheng in charge, which made me feel even more uneasy.

Once, there was a church that needed to elect a new watering deacon. Chen Cheng didn’t know the details about personnel at this church, and the elected watering deacon was unsuitable. I knew clearly that this sister had been passive and negligent in her duties over a long period of time, and wasn’t fit to be watering deacon, but because I was jealous of Chen Cheng, I didn’t want to let her know. I thought, “You chose this sister, so it’s your fault for making the wrong choice. Let’s just see if the person you chose can actually do the work.” In the end, this sister served as watering deacon only for a few months before being blamed for incompetence and resigning. Later, Chen Cheng criticized me twice, for being a people-pleaser and not pointing out problems I was aware of. Although I didn’t argue, I thought to myself, “You are in charge of this work, and you get the credit when it’s done well. Why should I say so much?” During that time, Chen Cheng always bothered me, and I deeply resented her. I hated her for stealing my limelight, and I was miserable living in this state. Later, whenever Chen Cheng had a problem in her duty and asked for my opinion, I would just give a perfunctory answer. That way, outwardly, I was fulfilling my duties with her, but there was no communication about work or harmonious cooperation at all. Once, there were problems in the work Chen Cheng was responsible for, and our leader criticized her for it at a gathering. As Chen Cheng sobbed in self-blame, I gloated to myself, “Now the brothers and sisters see your real abilities. Everyone knows your problems, and it looks like my chance to show my talent is here.” But I was surprised to see how much our leaders still valued Chen Cheng—she was still responsible for several important tasks of the church. I completely broke down. I lost all interest in my duties, and started to lose hope. Another time, there were some difficulties in video work. Chen Cheng came to discuss them with me, and asked me to go and resolve them. I didn’t want to answer her. I thought, “If I do this, the credit will still go to you, and no one will see what I have expended. You’ve been responsible for this work since you came, so go handle it yourself. If you fail in your work it will be for the best. That way, no one will look up to you.” Thinking this, I said coldly, “I’m not going!” Chen Cheng sat there helpless and silent, and I felt a little uneasy, because I knew this was also my responsibility and was the work that I should do. Realizing this, I reluctantly agreed to go. But in dealing with the problems, I wanted to prove I was better than Chen Cheng, so my intentions were wrong. I lacked God’s guidance in my duties, and the problems of the work were never resolved. In that period, I lived in a state of fighting for fame and status, my spirit grew ever darker, and I kept hitting walls in my duties. I feared Chen Cheng looking down on me, so I didn’t dare speak out about my state. After that, a project I oversaw was ineffective. I was especially miserable, and felt that it was all Chen Cheng’s doing. Before she came, I performed my duties so well, my brothers and sisters supported me, and my partners usually listened to me. But since her arrival it was like I was good for nothing. That’s why I had become so abject. At that time, I felt disgusted when I saw Chen Cheng. I just wanted to get away so I didn’t have to see her again.

After that, there were many problems in the churches I oversaw. Every aspect of church work was ineffective—it was almost paralyzed. I felt very guilty about this, but I never sought truth to resolve my state. Our leader asked us to reflect on why our work wasn’t effective, but I still lacked knowledge of myself, so I pointed my finger at Chen Cheng. I thought that before she came, when I was in charge, the results of our work weren’t so bad, but now she was the one in charge, so it was her who had made it this way. Once, as a sister and I were talking, I poured out my dissatisfaction with Chen Cheng, and said indirectly that Chen Cheng was no good. After that, I felt a little self-blame, “Aren’t I judging her behind her back? This is something God hates!” But at the time, it was just a passing thought, and I didn’t seriously reflect on myself. One day, our leader came to a gathering and said the effectiveness of various aspects of church work was in decline, and also that Chen Cheng and I didn’t cooperate well. I felt a little uncomfortable, but had no knowledge of myself, so I still believed that Chen Cheng was to blame. I thought our work only got this bad after she came. Seeing that I didn’t know myself, our leader dealt with me, saying I was always fighting for fame and status in my duties, that I didn’t reflect on myself despite my work being ineffective, that given my state I wasn’t suited to be responsible for the church’s work, and that I should stop doing my duty and self-reflect for a period.

Being dismissed was very painful for me. I was always wondering how my brothers and sisters would see me, I couldn’t quiet my heart before God, and I dozed off while reading His word. After a period of muddling through like this, I realized that I was in a terrible state. I prayed to God to ask for His guidance in knowing myself. One day, I saw two passages of God’s word. Almighty God says, “The antichrists consider their own status and reputation as more important than anything else. These people are not only devious, conniving, and wicked, but also extremely vicious. What do they do when they detect that their status is at risk, or when they have lost their place in people’s hearts, when they lose these people’s endorsement and affection, when people no longer venerate and look up to them, and they have fallen into ignominy? They suddenly change. As soon as they lose their status, they become unwilling to perform any duty, everything they do is shoddy, and they have no interest in doing anything. But this isn’t the worst manifestation. What is the worst manifestation? As soon as these people lose their status, and no one looks up to them, and no one is inveigled by them, out comes the hate, jealousy, and revenge. They not only have no fear of God, but also lack any shred of obedience. In their hearts, furthermore, they are liable to hate God’s house, the church, and the leaders and workers; they long for the work of the church to run into problems or come to a standstill; they want to laugh at the church, and at the brothers and sisters. They also hate anyone who pursues the truth and fears God. They attack and mock anyone who is faithful in their duty and willing to pay a price. This is the disposition of the antichrist—and is it not vicious? These are clearly evil people; antichrists are in their essence evil people” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). “What kind of disposition is it when a person sees someone who is better than them and they try to bring them down, spreading rumors about them, or employing despicable means to denigrate them and undermine their reputation—even trampling all over them—in order to protect their own place in people’s minds? This is not just arrogance and conceitedness, it is the disposition of Satan, it is a malicious disposition. That this person can attack and alienate people who are better and stronger than them is insidious and evil. And that they will stop at nothing to bring people down shows that there is much of a devil in them! Living by the disposition of Satan, they are liable to belittle people, to try to stitch them up, to make things hard for them. Is this not evildoing? And living like this, they still think they’re okay, that they’re a good person—yet when they see someone stronger than them, they are liable to give them a hard time, to trample all over them. What is the issue here? Are people who are capable of committing such evil acts not unscrupulous and willful? Such people only think of their own interests, they only consider their own feelings, all they want is to achieve their own desires, ambitions, and aims. They don’t care how much damage they cause to the work of the church, and they would prefer to sacrifice the interests of the house of God to protect their status in people’s minds and their own reputation. Are people like this not arrogant and self-righteous, selfish and vile? Such people are not only arrogant and self-righteous, they are also extremely selfish and vile. They are not mindful of God’s will at all. Do such people have any fear of God? They do not have the slightest fear of God. This is why they act wantonly and do whatever they want, without any sense of blame, without any trepidation, without any apprehension or worry, and without considering the consequences” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Five Conditions That Must Be Met to Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God). Reading these words pierced my heart. Antichrists value position and reputation above all else. They are jealous when they see others pursue the truth, so they attack and exclude them because they fear being surpassed. They will do any wickedness to maintain their status, even hoping the brothers and sisters fail in their duties and work ineffectively. The better the work of the church is, the worse they feel. They have ferocious dispositions and are devils. Looking at my behavior during this period, everything that I did was the same as an antichrist. When I saw that Chen Cheng had good caliber and did her work well, fellowshiped on the truth better than me, and earned everyone’s admiration, I was jealous of her and complained that she had stolen my limelight. I had hoped that the leaders would quickly transfer her away so that I could still stand out in the church. When I saw the leaders value and cultivate her, I became envious and upset. I knew she had just arrived, wasn’t familiar with church staff, and that the elected watering deacon wasn’t right for the job, but I said nothing. I just stood by and waited to mock her. When she tried to discuss work with me, I ignored her. I hoped her work would go badly and that she would be dismissed, so that no one would admire her. I even judged and tore her down behind her back, deliberately belittled her and exalted myself to realize my own objective of standing out. I saw that I hadn’t taken church work to heart, and that I’d spent all my time fighting for reputation and status. When I didn’t get them, it felt like losing my life, even causing me to be jealous and retaliate against my sister, and to neglect church work. I was so afraid of Chen Cheng getting the credit for work being done well that I was willing to harm the interests of the church to further my own. I had no place for God in my heart, nor did I have the slightest fear of Him. What I did was to act as Satan’s servant, disrupt and hinder the work of the church to the point of paralysis. I wasn’t performing my duty at all! I was like a fox in a vineyard, stealing grapes and trampling the vineyard. I thought of the antichrists around me who were expelled. They took advantage of their duties to show off and exalt themselves in the vain hope of possessing people’s hearts and securing their support. When they saw a brother or sister who surpassed them and threatened their status, they attacked and retaliated, and callously ruined the work of the church. I finally saw that chasing status is too dangerous! It was only when I realized this that I felt afraid. I prayed to God for His guidance in knowing myself, to be able to repent and change. After I prayed, I asked myself why I always fought for status and clung to my position and what the root cause was.

Later, I saw a passage of God’s word. Almighty God says: “The source of man’s opposition and rebelliousness against God is his corruption by Satan. Because of Satan’s corruption, man’s conscience has grown numb; he is immoral, his thoughts are degenerate, and he has a backward mental outlook. Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words after hearing them. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, man’s original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. Thus, he has lost his obedience and love toward God. Man’s sense has become aberrant, his disposition has become the same as that of an animal, and his rebelliousness toward God is ever more frequent and grievous. Yet man still neither knows nor recognizes this, and merely opposes and rebels blindly. Man’s disposition is revealed in expressions of his sense, insight, and conscience; because his sense and insight are unsound, and his conscience has grown supremely dull, thus his disposition is rebellious against God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God). After reading God’s word, I had found the source of the problem. I was so corrupted by Satan that I didn’t know how to live or how to be a human. I only knew how to pursue fame and status, and viewed things like “Stand out above the rest,” “Only I reign supreme,” “There can only be one alpha male,” and “Men should always strive to be better than their contemporaries,” these satanic philosophies, as laws to live by. When I saw that Chen Cheng surpassed me in all aspects, that the brothers, sisters, and leaders all looked up to and valued her, I thought she robbed me of the limelight, and I treated her like a thorn in my side. When she asked me to discuss work, I wanted to ignore her. I even judged her behind her back, tore her down, and deliberately belittled her. I hoped she would be dismissed for bungling her duties, and I was indifferent to how the work of the church might suffer. I lived by these satanic philosophies and poisons, becoming increasingly arrogant, selfish, vicious, and devoid of humanity. I would do anything for reputation and status, like the officials of the great red dragon. If anyone surpasses them or threatens their status, they will call them political enemies and ruin them. God, who is supreme, came incarnate and expresses the truth to save humankind, but the CCP fears that if people accept the true way and follow Almighty God, no one will follow or worship them anymore, so they began to frantically hunt Christ and cruelly persecute Christians in the futile hope of creating a godless zone where people only worship and obey the CCP. Checking myself against the great red dragon’s evil, tyranny, brutality, and violence, I felt terrified. Was there any difference between the disposition I had revealed and that of the great red dragon? In my fight for status, I had excluded my sister and lost my conscience and reason. I became negative and negligent when I couldn’t surpass my sister or gain fame and status, which seriously damaged the work of the church. I really was negligent in my duty and walking the wrong path! I reflected then, and realized my viewpoint was mistaken. I always thought having status in the church made me a useful person and would allow me to be saved and perfected, but I didn’t know that God doesn’t look at your status in the church or whether people admire you. God looks at your heart, at whether or not you can pursue the truth, and your devotion to your duties. In God’s house, if you can accept the truth, have the right intentions and act with principle in your duties, and obey and be loyal to God, only then will God approve of you. I really was ignorant. I didn’t seek God’s will, always lived by satanic philosophies and views, always pursued fame and gain, and always wanted high status. But seeking those things is a mistake. I was walking the path of the antichrists, and if I didn’t turn back to God, I would be cast out and destroyed by God! My being dismissed was the coming of God’s righteousness, and, moreover, His protection of me. God repeatedly used His words to awaken my numb heart and make me see clearly the truth of my corruption. This is when I realized God’s good intentions. All that God does is to lead me toward the right path. In my heart, I prayed to God to repent and ask Him to guide me in changing my ways.

After that, I saw another passage of God’s word. Almighty God says: “Status and reputation are not easily put aside. For those who are somewhat gifted, have some degree of caliber, or are possessed of some work experience, putting these things aside is even harder. … When they have no status, their competitive urge is in the nascent stage. Once they acquire status, when the house of God entrusts them with some important task, and particularly if they have worked for many years and have a lot of experience and capital, the urge is no longer nascent, but has already taken root, blossomed, and is about to bear fruit. They have the constant desire and ambition to do great things, to become famous, to become some great figure, and once the consequences of their wicked deeds take effect, they’re completely finished. And so, before this leads to great calamity, while there is still time, you must quickly turn the situation around. Whenever you do anything, and in whatever context, you must seek truth, practice being someone who is honest and obedient to God, and put aside the pursuit of status and reputation. 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. So what am I trying to emphasize? It is this: You must rid yourself of your desires and ambitions before they come to fruition and lead to great calamity. If you don’t address them while they are still in their infancy, you will miss a great opportunity; and once they have led to great calamity, it will be too late to solve them. If you lack even the will to renounce the flesh, it will be very difficult for you to set foot upon the path of pursuing the truth; if you encounter setbacks and failure in your pursuit of prestige, and you do not come to your senses, then this is dangerous: There is a possibility that you will be cast out. When those who love the truth encounter one or two failures and setbacks in terms of their reputation and status, they are able to utterly forsake status and reputation. They can see clearly that reputation and status have no value at all, and they are determined that even if they may never have status, they will still pursue the truth and perform their duty properly, and they will still speak of their experiences and testimony, thereby achieving testimony to God. Even when they are an ordinary follower, they are still capable of following to the very end, and all they want is to receive God’s praise. Only these are people who genuinely love the truth and have determination. After seeing the house of God cast out many antichrists and wicked people, some who pursue the truth behold the failure of the antichrists and reflect on the path taken by the antichrists. From this, they gain an understanding of God’s will, resolve to be ordinary followers, and focus on pursuing the truth and doing their duty well. Even if God says they are service-doers or degenerates, they are content to be someone who is lowly in God’s eyes, a small and insignificant follower, but one who is ultimately called an acceptable creature by God. Only this kind of person is good, and only this kind of person is someone God will praise” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). From God’s words I saw that He requires us to be ordinary people, to be the smallest followers, and fulfill the duties of created beings. This is the most important thing. In the past, I didn’t know myself or pursue the truth. I always felt I was talented and wanted to be admired and valued. I had been blinded by ambition and desire, fighting everywhere for fame and status. I was clearly inferior but couldn’t bear seeing others surpass me. I was so arrogant that I lost all reason. Having read God’s word I also understood that when my desires and ambitions for fame and status appeared, I had to pray to God, consciously forsake myself and practice truth, and then my ambitions and desires would decrease. Understanding this, I prayed to God and told Him that I didn’t want to fight for fame and status anymore, and that I wanted to cooperate well with my brothers and sisters in my duties. In fact, my partners at any given time are decided and arranged by God and there are lessons for me to learn. Chen Cheng had good caliber, experience, and could fellowship on the truth to solve problems, which was helpful to the work of the church and the life entry of our brothers and sisters. I should have learned from her strengths to make up for what I lacked and worked harmoniously with her to do church work. But I had neglected my work and hadn’t walked the right path. I had always been comparing myself to her, or contending with her. I hadn’t yet learned my lesson. If God gave me another chance, I would be sure to do my duty well with my brothers and sisters. Soon, the leader arranged for me to be the watering deacon. At a co-worker meeting, I sought out Chen Cheng and opened up to her about my revealed corruption during this period. She not only didn’t look down on me, she also shared fellowship on relevant words of God with me. I felt a great sense of release. Following that, I actively sought her out to discuss things with her and did my best to cooperate with her. When I focused on my duty, I felt God’s guidance. I started to get better results in areas of my work, and I felt grateful to God.

After being dismissed, I saw that God’s love is very practical. The judgment and revelation in God’s word made me realize my corruption. It allowed me to clearly see the nature and consequences of chasing fame and status. Otherwise, I still wouldn’t know myself, I would still fight others for fame and status, and I would be toyed with by Satan as I did evil and resisted God. Thanks be to God for saving me!

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