90. Your Duty Is Not Your Career
Last year, I was responsible for the work of two churches. Sometimes people needed to be transferred from our churches to do a duty somewhere else. At first I was happy to cooperate and would provide people right away. But after a while I realized it was harder to get my work done when good people were being transferred out. I worried my performance might suffer, and the leaders would dismiss me for not getting results in my work, and my dignity and status would be in danger. Later, I wasn’t quite as ready and willing to provide people.
Not long ago, I’d noticed that a new believer, Sister Ranna, had good caliber and was eager in her pursuit. She often read God’s words and watched church videos, and would always ask me questions about practicing the truth and entering its reality. I thought about how our church needed a waterer, and I should foster her for that right away. In this way, not only would I be watering new believers, it would also show I was getting results in my duty, and the leaders would see I was really capable—it would be a win-win. For this reason, I provided her with lots of help so she’d understand more truths and be able to take on the watering work. Little did I expect that one day a leader told me another church needed someone to take on their watering work, and wanted Sister Ranna to take on that duty there. When I heard this, I was furious and felt really resistant to it, thinking that church wasn’t the only one in need of people. A few days later the leader once again brought up the idea of transferring Sister Ranna, saying she had good caliber and maybe could be trained for more responsibility. I grew more resistant the more I heard, and I thought, “You want to take her just like that? If our church’s work continues to suffer, I’ll be dismissed.” Upon realizing this, I lashed out, saying, “I was thinking she could stay here and be cultivated for a leadership position.” Actually, I knew there were quite a few newcomers in the other church and they had more of a need for watering. I didn’t dare say outright I wouldn’t let her go, but I was full of pent-up anger and felt awful, and I just couldn’t accept it. The leader had transferred two group leaders out of our churches not long before that, so I had been constantly cultivating new people and filling vacancies, and, most importantly, good candidates were not so easy to find. If I didn’t get good results in my work, I’d never get a chance to stand out, to show what I could do. I felt like I just couldn’t do that duty, and I grew more and more miserable. I felt so wronged, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. Seeing me like that, the leader fellowshiped with me on God’s will and the principles of the church for arranging duties, but it just went in one ear and out the other. Later, she said that by acting like that, I was impeding the work of the church, but I couldn’t accept that at all. I thought, “But isn’t this out of consideration for our church’s work? If you think I’m standing in the way, then you do it. Just dismiss me, so that I won’t cause any more problems.” I felt bad when I thought about it that way, so I prayed to God, saying, “God, I just can’t submit to what’s happening now. I feel so wronged. God, please guide me so I can understand what’s wrong with me.”
After the prayer, I reflected on why, when the leader needed to make normal changes, other people were fine with it, but I had a problem. I just had to fight it and hold it back, I had so much internal resistance to it. And it wasn’t just once or twice that I acted that way. Why was it so hard for me to submit? Then I remembered these words from God: “A duty is not managed by you—it is not your own career or your own work; instead, it is God’s work. God’s work requires your cooperation, which gives rise to your duty. The part of God’s work with which man must cooperate is his duty. The duty is a portion of God’s work—it is not your career, not your domestic affairs nor your personal affairs in life. Whether your duty is to deal with external or internal affairs, whether it involves mental or physical labor, this is the duty that you ought to perform, it is the work of the church, it forms one part of God’s management plan, and it is the commission God has given to you. It is not your personal business. So then, how should you treat your duty? At the very least, you must not perform your duty whichever way you please, you must not act recklessly” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well). “Just what is duty? It is a commission entrusted by God to people, it is part of the work of God’s house, and it is a responsibility and obligation that should be borne by every one of God’s chosen people. Is duty a kind of endeavor? Is it a personal family matter? Is it fair to say that once you have been given a duty, this duty becomes your personal business? That is absolutely not the case. So how should you fulfill your duty? By acting in accordance with God’s requirements, words, and standards, and by basing your behavior on the principles of the truth rather than on human subjective desires. Some people say, ‘Once a duty has been given to me, is it not my own business? My duty is my charge, and is what I am charged with not my own business? If I handle my duty as my own business, doesn’t that mean I will do it properly? Would I do it well if I didn’t treat it like my own business?’ Are these words right or wrong? They are wrong; they are at odds with the truth. Duty is not your own personal business, it is God’s business, it is part of God’s work, and you must do as God asks; only by performing your duty with a heart of obedience to God can you be up to standard. If you always perform your duty according to your own notions and imaginings, and according to your own inclinations, then you will never meet the standard. Only ever performing your duty as you wish is not performing your duty, because what you are doing is not within the scope of God’s management, it is not the work of the house of God; you are, instead, running your own operation, carrying out your own tasks, and so this is not remembered by God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well). I thought over God’s words and realized that a duty isn’t a career, and that it’s God’s commission to people. So it should be carried out according to the requirements of God. I shouldn’t just do whatever I want, based on my personal wishes and plans. If I did so, it may have seemed like I was doing a lot of work, but that wouldn’t have been doing a duty; it would have been running my own enterprise, and resisting God. Thinking back on my behavior, whenever I had been asked to provide people, I was worried that if I let go of the church members who were most effective at fulfilling their duties, then our churches wouldn’t get good results, and I could lose my position. In order to protect my reputation and status, I didn’t want to provide people. I knew in theory that my duty had been given to me by God, and this was my responsibility, but in practice, I treated it like my own business, my own job. Since I’d been given that job, I figured it was my business, so I had the final say. I was willing to help provide people only if it didn’t impact the results of my work, but the moment it did, I would definitely dig my heels in and not let anyone go. So when I found out Sister Ranna was going to be transferred, I was heartbroken and didn’t want to let her leave. I felt incredibly wronged, and even wanted to throw a fit, to stop doing my duty. How was that doing a duty? I was clearly disrupting and hindering the work of the church. I didn’t consider the big picture while fulfilling my duty, nor was I upholding the interests of the church, instead I was scheming for myself, using my duty as a chance to work for my own reputation and status. Was I not running my own operation? No matter how much work I might do, God would never commemorate such behavior. I should cooperate enthusiastically whenever a church needed someone. I couldn’t just think of my personal interests.
In a gathering the next day, a leader mentioned that it’s the job of church leaders to water brothers and sisters while also cultivating people so that everyone can do a duty that suits them. Upon hearing that, it was like I had awoken from a dream. She was right. Watering the brothers and sisters and helping find them the right duty was part of my job. But when another church needed someone, on the surface I didn’t dare refuse, yet in my heart I was fighting it, coming up with all sorts of excuses not to transfer them. That wasn’t doing my duty. I wasn’t fulfilling my responsibilities in that role, and even blamed the leader for putting me in a tough position. Nor did I reflect on myself, and instead just stood in the way of the church’s work. Was that kind of behavior not intentionally getting in the way of things, just like that sister had said? I remembered when I first took on the duty, I just wanted to do my humble part for the gospel work. But now I’d become an obstacle, a stumbling block. At this I felt some regret, and told myself that next time I must practice the truth, that I couldn’t just care about myself in such a selfish and despicable way.
A few days later, the leader sent a message asking me to transfer a couple of team members to another church. I was completely calm when I read that message, and saw that this circumstance came to me as a chance for me to practice the truth. But when I was evaluating team members, I did feel some hesitance, and wondered if I really had to let the two best sisters on the team go, or perhaps I could transfer two who weren’t quite as good. At that thought, I realized I was being selfish and making the same mistake again. Then I read a passage of God’s words: “The hearts of people who are deceitful and evil brim with their personal ambitions, plans, and schemes. Are these things easy to put aside? (No.) What should you do if you still wish to perform your duty properly but cannot put these things aside? There is a path here: The nature of what you are doing must be clear to you. If something concerns the interests of God’s house, and it is of especial importance, then you must not put it off, make mistakes, harm the interests of the house of God, or disturb the work of God’s house. This is the principle you should follow in performing your duty. If the interests of God’s house are not harmed, first put aside your ambitions and desires; your interests must be compromised somewhat, they must be put aside, but better you suffer a little hardship than God’s disposition be offended, which would be a redline. If you foul up the work of the church in order to satisfy your pathetic ambitions and vanity, what will be the ultimate consequence for you? You will be replaced, and may be cast out. You will have earned the wrath of God’s disposition, and may not have any more chances to be saved. There is a limit to the number of chances that God gives people. How many chances do people get to be tested by God? This is determined according to their essence. If you make the most of the opportunities you are given, and are able to put completion of the work of the church before your own pride and vanity, then you have the right mindset” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well). Upon reading this I realized that, at the bare minimum, I could not affect or hold back the work of the church, even if my personal dignity and benefit suffered. Previously, I’d always been worried that if the best church members were transferred out, our churches’ work would suffer, and I’d be dismissed. But who would be dismissed for upholding the interests of the church and caring for God’s will? No one. On the other hand, someone who’s selfish and despicable, who refuses to let go of good church members, impacting the work of the church and its interests would be the one to be dismissed and cast out. And even if I did hold on to those sisters, that doesn’t mean our churches would necessarily do well. If my motives were wrong, and I were protecting my own name and position, then I wouldn’t gain the work of the Holy Spirit, so how could I get good results in my duty without God’s guidance? These thoughts put my mind at ease somewhat, and I said to God in my heart, “God, I want to practice the truth and satisfy You, and to stop protecting my name and status.” After that, I offered the two team members with the best performance to the other church. Once I put this into practice, I felt really at peace. It felt good to be that kind of person.
After that experience I thought I’d changed a bit, but to my surprise, not much later I was completely laid bare again. One day, a leader said that she wanted me to provide a few more watering personnel, because we had quite a few bilingual newcomers at our churches. If that were the case, then I’d have to give up nearly everyone who was bilingual and had good caliber. At this point, I started to worry about my dignity and position again. If those people left, I feared that our churches’ gospel work could definitely be impacted. That evening, the leader sent me a message checking in on the situation. I felt a lot of resistance inside me. For every name she brought up, I just gave one-word answers: “Sure,” “Fine.” When she asked for details, I didn’t want to say anything. I thought, “I never wanted to give up these people to begin with, but you keep asking questions. You’re bleeding our churches dry of people who can do a duty. How am I supposed to do my job?” I was really resistant and couldn’t submit.
Later, in a gathering, I saw a video of a recital of God’s words that helped me understand my corruption. Almighty God says, “The essence of the antichrists’ selfishness and vileness is obvious; their manifestations of this kind are particularly prominent. The church entrusts them with a piece of work, and if this work doesn’t give them the chance to show their face, they are not interested; if it brings renown and benefits, and lets them show their face, they are very interested, and willing to accept it. If it is work that is thankless or involves offending people, or is of no benefit to their status or reputation, they have no interest, and will not accept it, as if this work has nothing to do with them, and is not the work they ought to be doing. When they encounter difficulties, there is no chance that they will seek the truth to solve them, much less give any consideration to the work of the church and try to see the bigger picture. For example, within the scope of the work of God’s house, based on overall work needs, there may be some personnel transfers. If a few people are transferred from a church, what would be the sensible way for that church’s leaders to treat the issue? What is the problem if they are concerned only with their own church’s work, rather than the overall interests? Why, as a church leader, are they unable to submit to the overall arrangements of God’s house? Is such a person considerate of God’s will and attentive to the work’s big picture? If they do not think of the work of God’s house as a whole, but only of their own church’s interests, are they not very selfish and contemptible? Church leaders should unconditionally submit to the sovereignty and arrangements of God, and to the centralized arrangements and coordination of God’s house. This is what accords with the principles of the truth. When required by the work of God’s house, no matter who they are, everyone should submit to the coordination and arrangements of God’s house, and absolutely should not be controlled by any individual leader or worker as if they belong to them. The obedience of God’s chosen ones to the centralized arrangements of the house of God is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth, and may not be defied by anyone. Unless an individual leader or worker makes an irrational transferal that is not in accordance with principle—in which case this may be disobeyed—all of God’s chosen ones should obey, and no leader or worker has the right or any reason to try to control anyone. Would you say there is any work that is not the work of the house of God? Is there any work that does not involve the expansion of God’s kingdom gospel? It is all the work of God’s house, each work is equal, and there is no ‘yours’ and ‘mine.’ … God’s chosen ones should be centrally allocated by the house of God. This has nothing to do with any leader, team head, or individual. Everyone must act according to principle; this is the rule of God’s house. When antichrists do not act according to the principles of God’s house, when they constantly scheme for the sake of their own status and interests, and make brothers and sisters of good caliber serve them in order to consolidate their power and status, is this not selfish and vile? Outwardly, keeping people of good caliber by their side and not allowing them to be transferred by the house of God appears as if they are thinking of church work, but in fact they are only thinking of their own power and status, and not about the work of the church at all. They are afraid that they will mess their work up, be replaced, and lose their status. When antichrists give no thought to the wider work of God’s house, think only of their own status, protect their own status with no compunction for the cost to the interests of the house of God, and defend their own status and interests to the detriment of the church’s work, this is selfish and vile. When faced with such a situation, at the very least one must think with their conscience: ‘These people are all of the house of God, they are not my personal property. I, too, am a member of the house of God. What right do I have to stop the house of God from transferring people? I should consider the overall interests of the house of God, instead of just concentrating on the work within the scope of my own responsibilities.’ Such are the thoughts that should be found in people who are possessed of conscience and sense, and the sense that should be possessed by those who believe in God. When God’s house has an especial need, what’s most important is to obey the arrangements of God’s house. False leaders and antichrists are not possessed of such conscience and sense. They are all selfish, they only think of themselves, and they do not think of the work of the church. They only consider the benefits before their very eyes, they do not consider the wider work of God’s house, and so they are absolutely incapable of obeying the arrangements of God’s house. They are extremely selfish and vile. In the house of God, they are even bold enough to be obstructive, and even dare to dig their heels in; these are the people most lacking in humanity, they are evil people. That is the kind of people the antichrists are. They always treat the church’s work, and the brothers and sisters, and even the assets of God’s house—everything under their authority—as their own private property. It is up to them how these things are distributed, transferred, and used, and the house of God is not allowed to interfere. Once they are in their hands, it is as if they are in the possession of Satan, no one is allowed to touch them. They’re the big shots, the head honchos, and whoever goes to their territory has to obey their orders and arrangements, and take their cue from them. This is the manifestation of the selfishness and vileness within the antichrist’s character” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Four (Part One)). God’s words revealed my own state. My wanting to keep the brothers and sisters under my control and not hand them over to other churches was selfish and despicable, and I was exhibiting an antichrist’s disposition. Throughout that time, I felt really resistant and unwilling whenever the leader wanted to transfer someone from our churches. I even lashed out, threw fits, and felt so wronged it drove me to tears. I didn’t agree to it until the leader fellowshiped to help me change my thinking, and said some nice things to me. I was like the head honcho God laid bare, wanting to have say over transfers from the churches I was responsible for. When people were needed, they could go if I said so, but without my permission no one could touch them. No one could proceed without a nod from me. I was keeping the churches firmly within my control, keeping everything under my command. Christ wasn’t in charge of the churches—I was. It was as if the newcomers who had been cultivated belonged to me. I wanted to use what they achieved in their duty to consolidate my own position. That was so shameless of me! Was I not on an antichrist’s path opposed to God? This situation also made me think of the pastors and elders in the religious world. They know that The Church of Almighty God bears witness that the Lord has returned and expressed many truths, but they fear their congregations will follow Almighty God once they see these truths, and they’ll lose their status, reputation, and livelihood, so they do everything within their power to keep the believers from the true way. They outright claim that the sheep are theirs and won’t let them hear God’s voice and follow Him. They treat believers like their private property, tightly controlling them and fighting God for them. Those pastors and elders are the evil servants, the antichrists exposed in the last days. How were my actions any different in their essence from those pastors and elders? I was controlling others to protect my dignity and position. I knew if I didn’t repent, I’d end up damned and punished by God along with the antichrists. God’s chosen people belong to God, not to any human being. Anyone who’s needed for a duty in other churches can be transferred as needed. I had no right to keep anyone in the churches I was managing. When leaders are arranging work and transferring people, it’s out of respect that they ask for my input, as well as for smoother cooperation. In fact, even directly transferring someone without my consent would be justifiable. I had no right to keep people under my control. I knew I couldn’t keep living so selfishly. God had given me my breath, so why was I fighting for myself? I may not be able to make a great contribution to the church, but at the very least I shouldn’t interfere. I had to do more to benefit the work of the church. After that, whenever necessary, I proactively helped out with transfers, and stopped thinking about my own name and position.
Later, a sister I’d transferred to another church sent me a message, saying she and other brothers and sisters had gotten so much out of their work in spreading the gospel there. I felt both overjoyed and ashamed. Why I felt overjoyed was that they could do their part in spreading the kingdom gospel. But what made me feel ashamed was that, if I had willingly provided people without standing in the way, then they could have been trained earlier. So I prayed to God, not wanting to live by my corrupt disposition anymore, but instead to provide good candidates, do my part for the gospel work, and fulfill my duty.