94. Leaders Mustn’t Hold Talents Back
By Cecilia, Spain
In August of 2020, I was elected as a leader and was overseeing the church’s video-related work. Being new to the job, I was unfamiliar with many of its principles, and ran into some difficulties while working. So I’d often seek out the team leader Sister Marsha for advice and counsel. Marsha was well acquainted with the principles and work. She was a big help to me. I noticed that she was meticulous, took her duties seriously, and had a sense of responsibility. Sometimes, when I got overloaded, I would pass off some of my work to her. We made a good team.
Later on, I gradually found that whenever brothers and sisters ran into problems, they’d all seek out Marsha and would even directly make decisions after meeting with her. I was pretty unhappy with this state of affairs. I thought to myself: “If this keeps up, won’t I lose my position as leader? This won’t do. In the future I’ll handle all of the work assigned to me myself and not ask Marsha for help. Otherwise, the others will all think she’s such a good, talented worker.” One time, Marsha found that one of the brothers was making slow progress in his video production work. When she looked into it, she discovered his skills weren’t up to par, and he didn’t seek the principles in his duties, so work often had to be redone. She assigned another, more talented brother to help him. I didn’t hear about this until later on. Marsha had made the right call, but I still felt a bit uncomfortable with the situation. I felt like it was a sign of disrespect to make such a major decision without letting me know. Was I just becoming an ornamental leader? Later on, I asked her why she hadn’t informed me about this. To my surprise, she said: “I got busy and forgot to tell you.” When I heard that, I lost my cool, and thought to myself: “You’re gaining more and more authority and making decisions without my approval. You don’t have any respect for me! Doesn’t that make it seem like the church doesn’t need me? If this keeps up, what will the brothers and sisters think of me? Of course they’ll think I’m useless. How could I serve as leader then?” When I realized this, my sense of panic became even more severe. Another time, Marsha told me that she had put together some study materials and was planning to get everyone together to study some skills. I felt uncomfortable when I heard this and thought: “Sometimes I’m the one reminding you to work on this stuff, and yet, when we’re done talking, you’re the one who gets to fellowship with and guide the others. No one knows the work I put in behind the scenes, and everyone must think you bear a greater burden than me. If this continues, how am I supposed to keep my place as leader?” Actually, I knew that it was Marsha’s responsibility to lead the brothers and sisters in studies and I knew this work could not be delayed, so I shouldn’t make a fuss about it. But I just didn’t want to let Marsha handle this work. I thought: “Marsha is getting involved in more and more projects, including some of the work that I’m responsible for. The others prefer to go to her when they have issues. Am I going to get replaced by her soon?” The thought of all this made me pretty unhappy. So I started picking out her flaws and issues in her work. I wanted to show the others that she wasn’t so skilled at her work and I was still more talented.
One day, during a discussion with an upper-level leader about our work, she casually mentioned that one of Marsha’s video projects was making slow progress. This was just what I wanted to hear and I immediately replied: “That’s right. She’s had a lot of projects assigned to her, but she can’t deal with all of them. Some of her projects haven’t been very effective as well. I think it’s best not to give her too much work. She shouldn’t be given this much authority.” Having said this, I felt a bit guilty: How could I say something like that? Duties are God’s commission. I was speaking as if I had assigned her these duties, as if I had granted her the authority to do these jobs and now I was taking it away. Wasn’t I in the wrong position? I couldn’t believe I could say something like that and felt quite horrified at myself. Also, some of that work really was part of Marsha’s duties, but I tried to keep her from doing it and kept picking out flaws in her work. I wanted everyone to see that she wasn’t a good worker and was inferior to me. How could I be so despicable?
After that, I started looking for relevant passages of God’s words to resolve my state. I found a passage where God exposes antichrists that resonated with my state. God says, “One of the most obvious characteristics of the essence of an antichrist is that they are like despots running their own dictatorship: They do not listen to anyone, they look down on everyone, and regardless of people’s strengths, or what they say and do, or what insights and opinions they have, they pay no heed; it is as if no one is qualified to work with them, or to take part in anything they do. That is the kind of disposition of an antichrist. Some people say this is being of poor humanity—how could it just be commonplace poor humanity? This is entirely a satanic disposition; this kind of disposition is supremely fierce. Why do I say that their disposition is supremely fierce? Antichrists think of the interests of the house of God and the church as entirely their own, as personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. The only things they think about when doing the work of the church are their own interests, their own status, and their own image. They do not allow anyone to harm their interests, much less do they allow anyone who has caliber and is able to speak of their experiences and testimony to threaten their status and prestige. … When someone distinguishes themselves with a little work, or when someone is able to talk of true experiences and testimony in order to benefit, edify, and support the chosen ones, and earns great praise from everyone, envy and hate grows in the hearts of the antichrists, they try to alienate and undermine them. Also, under no circumstances do they allow such people to undertake any work, in order to prevent them from threatening their status. … The antichrists think to themselves, ‘There’s no way I’m going to put up with this. You want to have a role within my domain, to compete with me. That’s impossible, don’t even think about it. You’re more capable than me, more articulate than me, more educated than me, and more popular than me. You want me to work alongside you? What would I do if you stole my thunder?’ Are they considering the interests of the house of God? No. What are they thinking about? They think only of how to hold on to their own status. Though they know themselves to be incapable of doing real work, they do not cultivate or promote people of good caliber who pursue the truth; the only ones they promote are the people who flatter them, people who are apt to worship others, who praise and admire them in their hearts, people who are smooth operators, who have no understanding of the truth and are incapable of differentiation” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). In the past, I always thought this passage was exposing antichrists and didn’t apply to me, but then I realized that my antichrist disposition was quite severe. At first, I thought of how responsible and hardworking Marsha was, and I was happy to delegate some of my work to her, but once I realized the others admired her, went to her with many of their questions, and she went ahead with some projects without going through me, I worried she was stealing my thunder and felt that she constituted a threat to my status, so I tried to keep her from participating in more projects, including projects that were actually a part of her duties. I was worried that if she performed well, the brothers and sisters would admire her even more and I would look worse by comparison. I even misled the upper-level leader to keep her from giving Marsha more work. Reflecting on these behaviors, I saw I really lacked humanity and was clearly excluding others to preserve my own status. Antichrists value authority above all else and never consider the work or the interests of the church. Whatever work they do, they only care about their own status and when someone is more talented than them and threatens their status, they do everything they can to suppress and exclude them and keep them from playing an important role in any duty they have responsibility over. Was my behavior any different from an antichrist? I acted like the church’s work was my private property. When considering who to assign to which duties and how much work to assign them, I would always worry about whether they posed a threat to my status and reputation. I didn’t put the slightest thought into how this would affect the church’s work. I even suppressed and excluded people to preserve my own status, exposing my antichrist disposition. I was truly awful!
I came across this passage: “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. This is what they often do, and how they have always behaved. What is the nature of such behavior? To put it lightly, such people are far too jealous and have too strong a desire for personal fame and status; they are too deceitful and treacherous. To put it more harshly, the essence of the problem is that such people’s hearts are not even the slightest bit God-fearing. They do not fear God, they believe themselves to be of utmost importance, and they regard every aspect of themselves as being higher than God and higher than the truth. In their hearts, God is not worthy of mention and insignificant, and God does not have any status in their hearts at all. Can those who have no place for God in their hearts, and who do not revere God, put the truth into practice? Absolutely not. So, when they typically go around merrily keeping themselves busy and exerting quite a lot of energy, what are they doing? Such people even claim to have abandoned everything to expend for God and suffered a great deal, but actually, the motive, principle, and objective of all their actions are for the sake of their own status and prestige, of protecting all of their interests. Would you or would you not say that this sort of person is terrible? What kind of people have believed in God for many years, yet have no fear of God? Are they not arrogant? Are they not Satan? And what things most lack the fear of God? Apart from animals, it is the wicked and the antichrists, the ilk of the devils and Satan. They don’t accept the truth at all; they are bereft of the fear of God. They are capable of any evil; they are the enemies of God, and the enemies of His chosen ones” (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 through God’s words, I felt as if He was right there judging me. There were clearly no big issues with the work Marsha oversaw, but because she posed a threat to my status, I found a way to suppress her, seizing the opportunity to disparage her in front of the upper-level leader, hoping to mislead her into giving Marsha less work so she wouldn’t replace my position. I suppressed and punished others to cement my own status. Did I have any fear of God in my heart? I lived by satanic toxins like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “There can only be one alpha male,” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme.” I was so selfish and arrogant. I thought of the tyrannical and autocratic CCP, which suppresses and excludes anyone that poses a threat to its position. Was I not the same? I suppressed any brothers and sisters that were talented and effective in their work. I tried to establish my authority in the church and make the brothers and sisters only admire me and have me in their hearts. I was walking the path of an antichrist! I thought of those antichrists who used any means possible to punish and abuse people in order to maintain their status, treating those that threatened their status like thorns in their flesh, wrongfully accusing them, punishing them, and never giving up until they are expelled. After doing all kinds of evil, those antichrists ultimately were expelled from God’s house. If I continued like that and failed to repent, wouldn’t I ultimately meet the same fate? God has been fellowshiping on how to discern antichrists, and how to avoid walking the path of an antichrist. God has fellowshiped very clearly on this aspect of the truth, so that we will have discernment of antichrists, reflect on our own antichrist-like behaviors, and pursue the truth, repentance and transformation. But I didn’t focus on resolving my own antichrist disposition in my work, didn’t ponder over how best to fulfill my duties and protect the work of the church. Instead, I vied for status, treated my duty like my own personal enterprise, like a means of securing status and the admiration of my brothers and sisters, and wanted all the authority in my duty. I got carried away by my desires.
One time during devotionals, I came across two passages of God’s word that were very helpful. God’s words say, “As a leader or a worker, if you always think yourself above others, and revel in your duty like some government official, always indulging in the trappings of your station, always making your own plans, always considering and enjoying your own fame and status, always running your own operation, and always seeking to gain higher status, to manage and control more people, and to expand the scope of your power, this is trouble. It is dangerous to treat an important duty as a chance to enjoy your position as if you are a government official. If you always act like this, not wishing to work with others, not wanting to dilute your power and share it with anyone else, not wanting anyone else to have the upper hand, to steal the limelight, if you only want to enjoy the power on your own, then you are an antichrist. But if you often seek the truth, put aside the flesh, forsake your own motivations and designs, and are able to take it upon yourself to work with others, open up your heart to consult and seek with others, attentively listen to others’ ideas and suggestions, and accept advice which is correct and in line with the truth, no matter who it comes from, then you are practicing in a wise and correct manner, and you are able to avoid taking the wrong path, which is protection for you” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). “No matter what you do, whether it be important or not, there should always be someone there to help you, to give you pointers, advice, or to do things in cooperation with you. This is the only way to ensure that you will do things more correctly, make fewer mistakes and be less likely to go astray—it is a good thing. Serving God, in particular, is a big deal, and not resolving your corrupt disposition could put you in danger! When people have satanic dispositions, they can rebel against and resist God in any time and at any place. People who live by satanic dispositions can deny, resist, and betray God at any time. The antichrists are stupid, they don’t realize this, they think, ‘I had enough trouble getting hold of my own power, why would I share it with anyone else? Giving it to others means I won’t have any for myself, doesn’t it? How can I demonstrate my talents and abilities without power?’ They do not know that what God has entrusted people with is not power or status, but a duty. They only accept power and status, they put their duties aside, and they don’t do practical work. Instead, they pursue fame and status and enjoy the benefits of status. Doing things this way is very dangerous—this is resisting God! Anyone who pursues fame and status rather than properly performing their duty is playing with fire and playing with their life. Those who play with fire and their lives can doom themselves at any moment. Today, as a leader or a worker, you are serving God, which is no ordinary thing. You are not doing things for some person, much less working to pay bills and put food on the table; instead, you are performing your duty in the church. And given, in particular, that this duty was entrusted to you by God, what is the significance of performing it? You are accountable to God for your duty, whether you do it well or not; ultimately, an account must be given to God, there must be an outcome. What you have accepted is God’s commission, a hallowed responsibility, so no matter how important or minor it is, it is a serious business. How serious is it? It directly relates to your future and fate, to your end; if you commit evil and resist God, you will be condemned and punished. Everything you do when you perform your duty is recorded by God, and God has His own principles and standards for how it is scored and evaluated; God determines your end based on all that is manifested by you as you perform your duty” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). In the past, I saw my position as a leader as a status symbol. Only after reading God’s words did I realize my duty is a commission granted to me by God. It is a responsibility and has nothing to do with status and authority. In doing one’s duty in the church, there is no distinction of high or low status. Everyone fulfills their responsibilities in their own posts. After becoming a leader, I gained many opportunities to practice, and I was gradually learning how to act according to principles and coming to understand some truths. God also assigned talented brothers and sisters who understood principles to work with me so that I could perform at my very best in my duties, and do the church’s work well. But I didn’t pursue the truth or work harmoniously with others. Instead, I cherished status and even suppressed and excluded others to keep my status, robbing my brothers and sisters of the chance to practice. I’d not only harmed my brothers and sisters, but also impacted the work of the church. Given all my behaviors, I really wasn’t fit to be a leader. I didn’t want to keep going down this mistaken road. I just wanted to honestly and practically carry out my responsibilities, to fulfill my duties. After that, I started to apply myself more in performing my duty and when I saw the others going to Marsha with questions, I didn’t feel quite as bad anymore, and stopped worrying that they’d look up to her instead of me. I only thought of how best to work with Marsha to fulfill our duties. When I noticed Marsha having problems in her work, I would communicate with her and help her get back on track. When certain projects were progressing slowly, I would discuss with her how to increase efficiency. If I lacked insight or didn’t know how to handle a certain issue, I would also seek her out for fellowship. As time went on, we began working better and better together and I felt so grounded and free.
I also thought of this passage of God’s words: “To be a church leader is not merely to learn to use the truth to resolve problems, but also to discover and cultivate people of talent, whom you absolutely must not envy or suppress. Practicing in this way is beneficial to the work of the church. If you can cultivate a few pursuers of the truth to cooperate well with you in all the work you do, and in the end, all of you have experiential testimonies, then you will be a qualified leader. If you grow able to act in all things according to the principles, you will then be living up to your loyalty. There are some who are always afraid that others are better than they and higher than they, that others will be esteemed while they are neglected. This leads them to attack and exclude others. Is this not a case of being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is such behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious! Thinking only about one’s own interests, satisfying only one’s own desires, showing no consideration for others or the interests of God’s house—people like this have a bad disposition, and God has no love for them. If you are truly capable of being considerate of God’s will, then you will be able to treat other people fairly. If you recommend a good person and let them undergo training and perform a duty, thereby adding a person of talent to God’s house, will your work not then be easier to do? Will you not then have lived up to your loyalty in this duty? This is a good deed before God; it is the minimum of conscience and sense of which one who is a leader should be possessed” (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 knew that cultivating talents is the responsibility of a leader and is the need of the work of the church. This experience helped me realize how meaningful this work really is. In one way, it’s beneficial for the overall work of the church, allowing more people to put their talents to play in fulfilling their duties, and advancing the work of the church even more. In another way, it also gives the brothers and sisters more practice, which benefits their life entry. These are all good deeds and will be commemorated by God. Thinking back, Marsha had been a big help to me. She helped me grasp some principles and make some progress and our work went along much more smoothly. I saw how crucial it is to follow God’s demands and learn to work with others to fulfill duties. Only in this way can we do the work of the church and fulfill our duties well.
Through this experience, I gained some understanding of my satanic disposition and absurd views, and was able to let go of my desire for name and status and fulfill my duty. This was God’s salvation for me. Thanks be to God!