22. Practicing the Truth Is the Key to Harmonious Coordination
By Dongfeng, the United States
In August 2018, my duty was to make movie props with Brother Wang. At first, I felt there was so much I didn’t know so I asked Brother Wang for help all the time. After a bit, I got a grasp on the job. Also, I’d studied interior design and I’d worked in construction and had some carpentry experience so I could make props on my own before long. Then I realized that Brother Wang was good at designing interior sets but making the actual props wasn’t his forte. So when we had different trains of thought in that regard, I didn’t want to listen to him. I always thought I was better at making props and my plans were better than his. Over time, we butted heads more and more and sometimes we’d bicker for ages over what to do with a little block of wood. I’d often just give in for the sake of our relationship but I always felt like I was right. After a while I felt really miserable and didn’t want to work with him at all.
One time we needed to make a thatched-roof house for a video but we didn’t have any durable wood for the posts, so we had to make them ourselves. We talked over our ideas for this. I said we should make a mold for the posts first, then pour concrete into that so they’d be sturdier. But Brother Wang said the columns would be too smooth, and not realistic enough. If we used some scrap cloth we could imitate the texture and shape of a tree trunk. I thought, “I’ve worked in construction but I’ve never seen cloth used on a cement post. No matter what it looks like, its thickness will be hard to control and it won’t be very sturdy.” So I shot down his idea, but he said he still wanted to try it. I was resistant when I saw he wasn’t accepting my suggestion. I thought, “Why won’t you just listen to me? It doesn’t matter—I’m right anyway. The results will speak for themselves. If it fails when it comes down to it, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” We couldn’t reach agreement, so we both went off and did our own thing. I worked for an afternoon and had a post made. I was wondering what Brother Wang’s post looked like, and if our posts would go together since we’d each done our own thing. I felt a little uneasy at this thought so I went to see his. When I got there, I saw his post really wasn’t any good. At the time I thought, “I told you that wouldn’t work but you wouldn’t listen to me, and now it’s clear that my idea was better than yours.” Then I said to Brother Wang, “Brother Wang, this post is kind of thick. The thatched house we’re making isn’t big, so will this fit? There are also a lot of cracks in it, it doesn’t look very sturdy. The posts we’ve each made look so different. How can we use these for filming? Don’t keep doing it this way. Shouldn’t we just go by my idea?” I was surprised to hear him say, “My post is a little thick, but it’s not really an issue. Your cement post doesn’t look like a tree trunk. It’ll need more work later.” When I saw he not only wasn’t receptive, but said I hadn’t done a good job, I felt really uncomfortable. I thought, “How can you be so hard to talk to? You’re impossible to work with!” I sat down at the computer after dinner and thought back over the day. I felt a little upset. I thought that Brother Wang was clearly in the wrong and he was always going head-to-head with me. I really didn’t want to work with him anymore. But then I figured I was avoiding the issue, that I hadn’t submitted. I felt more and more conflicted and upset, so I came before God in prayer, asking God to guide me to know myself so I could work well with Brother Wang.
I went to the Church website after that and read some words of God about service in coordination. God says: “These days, many people do not pay attention to what lessons should be learned while coordinating with others. I have discovered that many of you cannot learn lessons at all while coordinating with others; most of you stick to your own views. When working in the church, you say your piece and someone else says theirs, and the one has no relation to the other; you do not actually cooperate at all. You are all so absorbed in merely communicating your own insights or in releasing the ‘burdens’ you bear inside you, without seeking life in even the smallest way. You appear to only be doing the work perfunctorily, always believing that you should walk your own path regardless of what anyone else says or does; you think you should fellowship as the Holy Spirit guides you, no matter what the circumstances of others may be. You are not able to discover the strengths of others, and nor are you capable of examining yourselves. Your acceptance of things is really deviant and erroneous. It can be said that even now you still exhibit a lot of self-righteousness, as if you have relapsed into that old illness” (“Serve As the Israelites Did” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Cooperation among brothers and sisters is itself a process of offsetting one’s weaknesses with another’s strengths. You use your strengths to compensate for others’ shortcomings, and others use their strengths to make up for yours. This is what it means to offset one’s weaknesses with others’ strengths, and to cooperate in harmony. Only when cooperating in harmony can people be blessed before God, and, in this way, things become ever smoother and ever brighter, and one becomes ever more at ease. If you are always at loggerheads with others, and always unconvinced by others, who never wish to listen to you; if you try to preserve the dignity of others, yet they do not do the same for you, which you feel to be unbearable; if you back them into a corner over something they have said, and they remember it, and, the next time an issue arises, they do the same to you—can what you are doing be called offsetting each other’s weaknesses with your strengths and cooperating in harmony? It is called strife, and living by your hot blood and corrupt dispositions. It will not gain God’s blessing; it does not please Him” (“On Harmonious Coordination” in Records of Christ’s Talks). These words of God showed me that Brother Wang and I weren’t getting along because I was living within my arrogant and self-righteous disposition. I always wanted to have the final say in our duty. I always thought making props was a particular strong point for me, more so than Brother Wang, so I was always condescending and wanted him to listen to me, to do what I said. When he made a suggestion for the posts, I didn’t look into it, but rejected it outright. I even looked down on him and was dismissive. I thought he didn’t have any expertise, so his suggestions weren’t worth considering. When I saw his post was no good I thought I was right, so I subtly disparaged his work and wanted him to go along with me. When he pointed out the shortcomings in my plan I didn’t accept it or even try to find a solution with him. I was resistant and didn’t even want to work with him anymore. I was only speaking and acting to prove myself, to have him go along with me. That was entirely the satanic disposition of arrogance and self-righteousness. These words of God are particularly fitting: “Can what you are doing be called offsetting each other’s weaknesses with your strengths and cooperating in harmony? It is called strife, and living by your hot blood and corrupt dispositions. It will not gain God’s blessing; it does not please Him.” (“On Harmonious Coordination” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I could feel from His words that God is disgusted by people like that. God arranged for me to work with Brother Wang, hoping we could make up for the other’s shortcomings and do our duty well. But I just spoke and acted out of arrogance, always thinking I was right and should have the final say. I wanted others to follow my ideas as if they were the truth without accepting anyone else’s ideas. God detests that kind of disposition. I was filled with regret and guilt as I thought it over, so I came before God with this prayer: “Oh God, I haven’t been able to work well with others because of my arrogance and this has impacted my duty. God, I wish to repent. I want to put myself aside and work with my brother to do our duty well.”
I read another passage of God’s words after that. “At times, when cooperating to fulfill a duty, two people have a dispute over a matter of principle. They have different viewpoints and they have come to different opinions. What can be done in that case? Is this an issue that occurs frequently? It is a normal phenomenon, caused by differences in people’s minds, calibers, insights, ages, and experiences. It is impossible for two people’s heads to have precisely the same contents, so that two people might come to differ in their opinions and views is a very common phenomenon and a most regular occurrence. Do not tie yourself in knots about it. The critical question is how, when such an issue arises, you should cooperate and seek to achieve unity before God and unanimity of opinion. What is the goal of having a unanimous opinion? It is to seek the principles of the truth in this regard, and not to act according to your own or someone else’s intentions, but together to seek the intentions of God. This is the path to achieving harmonious cooperation. Only when you seek God’s intentions and the principles He requires will you be able to achieve unity” (“On Harmonious Coordination” in Records of Christ’s Talks). After reading God’s words I saw that to reach accord in our cooperation, we can’t just follow one person’s ideas, but we have to strive for the principles of the truth. Truly harmonious cooperation means seeking the truth and working according to principle. Since Brother Wang and I had different experiences, knowledge, and technical skills, it was normal to have different perspectives in our work. I had to learn to put myself aside and seek the principles alongside him. We had to submit to the truth and uphold the work of God’s house so that we could gain the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our duty. Realizing this, I planned to open up to Brother Wang in fellowship the next day so we could figure out that prop together. I was surprised when he came to seek me out and said he had been too obstinate and that his plan was no good. He had even broken down the post he’d made and was ready to go with my idea. I felt ashamed when I heard him say this. I opened up to Brother Wang as well about my own state and my understanding and when we both let go of our egos, the barrier between us disappeared. I saw my own inadequacies in my duty after that. The post I’d made really was too smooth and it didn’t look like a real tree trunk. It needed one more round of changes. I went to discuss it with Brother Wang and we found a solution really quickly. We each made up for the other’s weaknesses and then finished three posts in one day. Before, we’d spent most of a day to make only two posts, and neither one was right. This was much more efficient. I realized how important it is to practice the truth and cooperate with brothers and sisters in my duty. But I was so arrogant and self-righteous that before long, I had other problems working with others.
Once, I was working with Brother Li to set up a tent to shelter brothers and sisters from the rain on location. I suggested an approach in our discussion that he really liked. At that moment I thought, “I’ve worked in construction before, so I definitely understand this better than you.” But then right after that, he mentioned a concern. He said, “We only have 16 metal posts now. Do we have enough for this plan? Would it be sound? Would it be safe?” I thought, “This is a triangular structure. Haven’t you learned about the stability of triangular structures? It’ll be really sound, no problem.” So I responded dismissively, “There’s no 100% guarantee there won’t be a problem, but as long as we don’t have a category 10 hurricane, it’ll be fine.” Then he wanted me to sketch out a blueprint and explain the details and I lost my patience, saying, “No need. The sketch is in my head and I’ll make sure it’s done right.” Nothing more was said. The next afternoon when we started building the tent, another brother suggested that we put two metal posts up first to secure the roof, then erect the sides. When I heard this I thought, “That will definitely take more time. I’ve thought this over many times and my way has to be the best approach. You’re new here and you weren’t involved in the discussion. My plan is definitely better.” So I said to him, “That would be too slow. Those two posts would have to be taken down later, so building it from the back will be faster.” He didn’t say anything more when he saw I had no intention of accepting his idea, so I started to build the tent based on my own plan. When I got to the top of the ladder I saw the clasp on a metal post suddenly came loose and the post fell. Luckily it just fell on the grass, not on a person or anything. My heart skipped a beat. “What happened?” I wondered. “I definitely tightened it, so how could it just fall? Someone probably didn’t hold it up straight so the clasp couldn’t tighten properly.” My thinking was that simplistic and I didn’t take it to heart. I just kept building it by my own plan. Just then, the post that had been put up fell toward me right onto the ladder I was standing on. I fell more than six feet down off the ladder. It’s lucky I wasn’t injured. Then I realized that these two mishaps weren’t random. If it hadn’t been for God’s care and protection, the consequences of being hurt by any of those posts would’ve been terrible. I felt guiltier and more afraid as I thought about it and I quickly came before God in prayer. “Oh God, things have been going wrong today. I know Your good will is behind it and there’s a lesson for me to learn, but I don’t know what I should seek. Please guide and enlighten me to know Your will.” I thought of God’s words after praying: “Whenever you do anything, it always goes awry, or you hit a wall. This is God’s discipline. Sometimes, when you do something that is disobedient and rebellious toward God, nobody else may know of it—but God does. He will not let you off, and He will discipline you” (“Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). These words kept circling in my mind: “Nobody else may know of it—but God does. He will not let you off, and He will discipline you.” Then I realized how dismissive I’d been toward my brothers about building the tent. I hadn’t listened to their suggestions at all, but just rejected them right off the bat. I thought I was right so we should do what I wanted. Wasn’t that so arrogant of me? It was already precarious when it was being built. If it collapsed with the actors under it the consequences would be unthinkable. At that thought, I prayed to God to turn myself around. Then I thought of something the Lord Jesus said: “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). God’s words woke me up right away—I knew I couldn’t keep on doing things that way but I had to discuss things and cooperate with my brothers. Then I had another thought: Safety first. Most important was constructing the tent well with the materials we had. Just then, the brothers said that based on my original plan we didn’t have enough metal posts for a sturdy construction, but if we erected two in the middle, the roof ridge would be secure. I was in complete agreement with them. My original plan really would have created a lot of safety hazards. So we talked it out and in no time we had a complete plan. We had enough metal posts and we finished it right before dark.
That evening, I thought back over the day. My arrogance had almost brought about disaster and I couldn’t settle my feelings. I rushed to pray to God, asking Him to guide me to know myself. I got my phone and went to the Church’s website, where I read these words of God: Almighty God says, “Some people never seek the truth while performing their duty. They merely do as they please, stubbornly acting according to their own imaginings, and are ever arbitrary and rash. What does it mean to be ‘arbitrary and rash’? It means, when you encounter an issue, to act however you see fit, with no thought process, heedless of what anyone else says. No one can get through to you, and no one can change your mind, such that you cannot be swayed in the slightest; you stand your ground, and, even when what others say makes sense, you do not listen, and believe your way to be the right one. Even if it is, should you not pay heed to others’ suggestions? Yet you do not take heed. Other people call you stubborn. How stubborn? So stubborn that ten oxen could not pull you back—dead stubborn, arrogant and willful in the extreme, the sort that does not see the truth until it is staring you in the face. Does such stubbornness not rise to the level of willfulness? You do whatever you want, whatever you think to do, and you listen to no one. Were someone to tell you something you are doing does not accord with the truth, you would say, ‘I’ll do it whether it accords with the truth or not. If it doesn’t accord with the truth, I’ll give you such-and-such a reason, or so-and-so a justification. I’ll make you hear me. I’m set on this.’ Others may say what you are doing is disruptive, that it will lead to serious consequences, that it is detrimental to the interests of God’s house—yet you do not heed them, but offer yet more of your reasoning: ‘This is what I’m doing, whether you like it or not. I want to do it this way. You’re completely wrong, and I’m completely justified.’ Perhaps you are indeed justified, and what you are doing will have no serious consequences—but what disposition is it that you are revealing? (Arrogance.) An arrogant nature makes you willful. When people have this willful disposition, are they not prone to being arbitrary and rash?” (God’s Fellowship). “Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more liable they are to resist God. How serious is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions consider everyone else beneath them, but, worst of all, they are even condescending toward God. Even though, externally, some people might appear to believe in God and follow Him, they do not treat Him as God at all. They always feel that they possess the truth and think the world of themselves. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan. Therefore, the problem of arrogance must be resolved. Feeling that one is better than others—that is a trivial matter. The critical issue is that one’s arrogant disposition prevents one from submitting to God, His rule, and His arrangements; such a person always feels inclined to compete with God for power over others. This sort of person does not revere God in the slightest, to say nothing of loving God or submitting to Him” (God’s Fellowship). God’s words made me see my own ugliness. I was just as willful and unreasonable as God’s words reveal. In building that tent, I’d clung to my own experience and acted stubbornly yet again. I wouldn’t listen to the other brothers’ suggestions, but just rejected them right away. They warned me to make sure it was safe, that the roof ridge was secure, but I ignored them. I wanted to have the final say and have everyone do what I wanted. I saw my arrogant nature was the root of my dismissiveness and willfulness. Being arrogant and doing things my own way had impacted my duty before. But that time, when I wouldn’t even listen to a reasonable suggestion but rigidly stuck to my own idea, I had almost caused an accident. I’d been autocratic and willful in my arrogance. I wasn’t working well with others and God had no place in my heart. I didn’t even care about the work of God’s house or others’ safety. I was just determined to do my own thing. I had lost all reason in my arrogance. If it hadn’t been for God’s care and protection, I can’t even imagine the consequences. I finally realized how dangerous it was to do things that way. Not only would I have held up our duty, but someday there could have been a terrible accident, and it would’ve been too late for regret! This thought left me really afraid. I gained some understanding of my arrogant nature and didn’t want to do my duty that way anymore.
After that, I found a path of practice in God’s words. “Do not put on airs. Can you alone take up the work, even if you are the most professionally skilled or you feel your quality is the greatest of those here? Can you alone take up the work even if you have the highest status? You cannot, not without everyone’s help. Therefore, none should be arrogant and none should wish to act unilaterally; one must swallow one’s pride, let go of one’s own thoughts and views, and work in harmony with the assembly. These are the people who practice the truth and are possessed of humanity. Such people are loved by God, and only they can be devoted in the performance of their duty. This alone is a manifestation of devotion” (“The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words showed me the principles for cooperation. No matter what someone’s caliber or gifts, we all have inadequacies and weaknesses. No one person can do everything. We have to learn to put ourselves aside and work well with others so everyone can make use of what God has given them and we can strive for the same goal to do our duties well. Thinking back on my duty, some brothers and sisters had strengths I didn’t possess. After they gave me some pointers and help, I’d do better the second time around. Sometimes they had ideas I hadn’t considered and taking their suggestions avoided some potential problems. Thinking through this left me abashed. I hadn’t known myself before. I’d just been blindly arrogant, but now I learned that I needed other people’s cooperation and help, otherwise I couldn’t do my duty well. My experience showed me that when I acted out of arrogance and didn’t cooperate with others, I always ran into walls. When I was willing to repent, let go of myself, and work with others, I had the guidance and blessings of God. I could see that God likes those with humanity who practice the truth. This was really enlightening for me and I found a path of practice.
On the third morning, a brother asked me to reinforce the tent a bit. I thought, “It’s going to be taken down after filming this afternoon. Is that necessary?” But then I thought of this in God’s words: “None should be arrogant and none should wish to act unilaterally; one must swallow one’s pride, let go of one’s own thoughts and views, and work in harmony with the assembly. These are the people who practice the truth” (“The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words gave me a path of practice. I had to let go of my own views to cooperate with Brother Li, and whether he was right or not, I had to submit and seek first. Then I realized there were still five or six hours of filming left and there was no telling how the weather might change. Reinforcing it would be safer. So a brother and I reinforced the tent. Then around 2 or 3 that afternoon, it suddenly got really windy and rainy and the storm lasted about 40 minutes. We safely waited out the storm inside the tent. This moved me in a way I can’t express. I saw how almighty and wise God is. Not only had others’ suggestions helped me recognize my own corrupt disposition, but God had reminded me in this wondrous way and protected us through the storm. I thank God from the bottom of my heart!
These experiences gave me an understanding of my arrogant satanic nature and some entry into harmonious cooperation. I saw that practicing the truth and not being stubborn in my duty was really important for working well with others. What I’ve understood and gained has been entirely because of God’s judgment, revelation, and discipline through His words. Thanks be to Almighty God!