A Burden Is God’s Blessing
By Yongsui, South Korea
In a church election not too long ago, I was elected as a leader. I was shocked when I heard this and I didn’t really dare believe it. Me, a leader? How could that be? A church leader needs to be able to fellowship on the truth to resolve brothers’ and sisters’ issues in their life entry, but I was young with limited life experience. On top of that, I’d never held a leadership position before. Was I up to the task? This bothered me for quite a while, and no matter how I looked at it, I felt I didn’t have what it took to perform that duty, that I couldn’t accept it. If I did accept it and then did a poor job, wouldn’t that be a disservice to God’s house, to my brothers and sisters? Plus, everyone would see right through me, see what I really was, and that would be so humiliating. I came up with a whole litany of excuses, but a sister read me this passage of (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). Hearing these words of God helped me understand a bit that receiving that entrustment was God giving me a chance to train myself. Even though I was sorely lacking, doing that duty wasn’t just about leading others and solving other people’s problems, but it was also about enhancing my own focus on entering into the truth through my duty. First and foremost, I would need to seek the truth in order to address my own problems; that would be the only way to use my practical experience to help brothers and sisters with their difficulties. God entrusting me with that commission was also Him giving me a burden. As a church leader, I would have to concern myself with all sorts of church matters, deal with a lot of people, things, and events, and work on a number of problems, and then learn how to use the truth to resolve issues. That would mean I could make faster progress in my understanding of the truth and I’d be more likely to be perfected by God. I was also reminded of this passage of God’s words: “If you do not seek out opportunities to be perfected by God, and if you do not strive to be ahead of the pack in your seeking of perfection, then you will ultimately be filled with remorse. The best opportunity to attain perfection is the present; now is an extremely good time. If you do not earnestly seek to be perfected by God, once His work has concluded, it will be too late—you will have missed the opportunity. No matter how great your aspirations, if God is no longer performing work, then regardless of the effort you put in, you will never be able to attain perfection” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). I realized that my chance to perform that duty was, in fact, a chance at being perfected by God. With God’s work in its final stage, there’s not much time left for performing our duty. Refusing that commission would mean I wouldn’t have another chance at it later when I did want that. It would be too late for regrets. I felt like I couldn’t continue to live consumed by difficulties, nor could I think of nothing but my own face and status, but I had to accept this and submit. I prayed to God within my heart and thanked Him for that opportunity for practice, willing to lean on God and do my duty as well as I could.: “Eating and drinking of God’s words, practicing prayer, accepting God’s burden, and accepting the tasks He entrusts to you—all of this is so that there may be a path before you. The more the burden of God’s entrustment weighs on you, the easier it will be for you to be perfected by Him. … If you are someone who is mindful of God’s will, then you will develop a true burden for the church. In fact, instead of calling this a burden you bear for the church, it would be better to call it a burden you bear for your own life’s sake, because the purpose of this burden you develop for the church is to have you use such experiences to be perfected by God”
To my surprise, I hit my first roadblock just a few days into taking on my new duty. In a gathering, our superior leader brought up a deacon who had been a believer for more than two years, who had some caliber and was incredibly arrogant. He was autocratic in his duty and never discussed anything with anyone. He caused some damage to the work of God’s house. The leader asked us what we thought about that kind of person. My thinking was that a person so arrogant, who wasn’t able to work harmoniously with brothers and sisters, wasn’t remotely suited to being a deacon, and he should be removed. I shared my opinion. But it was only through the leader’s subsequent fellowship that I realized that this deacon had been a believer for just a short time, he was gifted with some caliber, and suffered from some serious arrogance; however, as long as he was able to accept the truth, he could be trained, and he needed more fellowship on the truth to help and support him. He could also be exposed and dealt with, but it was absolutely unacceptable to just dismiss and eliminate him on a whim. At first I felt that, even though I had had the wrong perspective and had been a little embarrassed, I had come to understand a principle of treating people fairly, so in the end, this was a good thing. But later on, I found out that most of the other church leaders already had some discernment on this issue, and I was really lacking compared to them. My understanding of the truth was shallow, I lacked discernment, and I wasn’t principled in how I treated others. Did I really possess the qualities of a leader? Acting as a leader requires a certain understanding of the truth and insight regarding all types of people. It requires knowing the right approach for every kind of person in the church. But the facts revealed that I didn’t possess those qualities at all. Thinking through all of that made me want to throw in the towel. On top of that, I was just a few days into doing that duty, my tasks were piling up, and I’d encountered some difficulties. I was feeling like that duty would be exhausting and onerous for me. That evening, my heart was in turmoil and I was thinking that I must be the most mediocre out of all the leaders. I’d made a gaffe so early in my leadership—our superior leader must see through me, see that I was of small stature and poor caliber, and lacking in discernment. He would think that I really didn’t have any potential to be fostered. What would the brothers and sisters think of me? Would they say that I was totally lacking insight and that it was a mistake to choose me as a leader? The more I dwelled on it, the more I felt like I couldn’t show my face as a leader. I wondered if I should show some sense and resign from my position as soon as possible. However, that thought made me uncomfortable. Right after accepting the commission, I had prayed to God and set my resolve, so if I just cavalierly tossed it aside, wouldn’t that be betraying God? I prayed to God that night and shared my dilemma, asking Him to guide me to know myself, to know how I should get through this.
The next morning when I was doing my reading in Daily Words of God, I read something about Job that was really moving for me: “Despite his prestigious standing and status, he had never loved nor paid these things any attention; he cared not how others viewed his standing, nor was he concerned about whether his actions or conduct would have any negative effect on his standing; he did not indulge in the benefits of status, nor did he enjoy the glory that came with status and standing. He only cared about his value and the significance of his living in the eyes of Jehovah God. Job’s true self was his very essence: He did not love fame and fortune, and did not live for fame and fortune; he was true, and pure, and without falsity” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II). From God’s words, I saw that even though Job’s standing was very elevated and he was the greatest man among the people of the East, he himself never cared about how others saw him or appraised him. When he was faced with the trial of having his entire body covered with boils, as he sat in the ashes scraping his body with a potsherd, he wasn’t concerned with whether this would have a negative impact on his status and position. Even if those around him mocked him, he did not take it to heart. Job didn’t covet name and status—all that mattered to him was how God would look upon his actions, if they would satisfy God and gain His approval. That drove me to reflect on myself: What was it that I cared about? Why was I so upset? What mattered most to me was what impact my words and actions had had on my reputation and status. That recent experience was a prime example—my weaknesses were put on display, that I didn’t know how to treat people based on the principles. But all I could think about was whether the leader would look down on me, whether brothers and sisters would regret having elected me. I didn’t spare a single thought for what God’s will was, what lesson I should learn, and what truth I should gain from that situation. I truly was focused on all the wrong things. I wanted to give up on the commission God had entrusted me with just to preserve my own face and status. I realized I was much too rebellious, that I was too ungrateful.
In my subsequent reflection, I wondered why that mistake had caused me so much pain, even to the point of not wanting to do my duty anymore. What disposition was it that was controlling me? Then I read this passage of God’s words: “The antichrist is especially treacherous and cunning. Everything they say is tightly considered; no one is more adept at putting on a pretense. But once the cat is out of the bag, once people have seen them for what they really are, they do their utmost to dissemble, they think of ways to extricate themselves, to bluff their way through. They live each day only for reputation and status, they live only to revel in the trappings of status, this is all they think about in their mind. Even when they do occasionally suffer some minor hardship or pay some trivial price, this is for the sake of status and reputation—from when the antichrist began believing in God, status and reputation have been their life’s great labor, and they will not rest until its fruition; this is the nature and essence of the antichrist. If, one day, people were to see their actions for what they really are, they would be anguished, uneasy, tormented, they would not be able to eat or sleep, they would often be driven to distraction; and when other people asked them what’s wrong, they would fabricate a lie: ‘I was so busy performing my duty I didn’t get any sleep last night—I’m exhausted.’ But that is not the case; this is utter dissimulation. What are they really thinking in their mind? ‘My misdeeds have been discovered. How can I salvage this? How can I redeem myself without others seeing what I’m up to? By what means, with what tone, can I explain this to people? Who should I speak to first, how should I broach this, how should I put it so that they can’t tell I’m trying to explain myself?’ They consider it in great detail, from all angles, such that they rack their brains and give no thought to food or drink”(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). Pondering God’s words, I saw that my own behavior was exactly the same as that of the antichrists exposed by God who only think of their own reputation and status. I was disgraced by messing something up and my brothers and sisters saw my weakness—I felt like it was something really humiliating, so I became obsessed with what they would think of me. I couldn’t even calm down to do my duty during the day, and I was losing sleep at night over it. It was haunting me around the clock. The others had already seen it, so there was no way for me to salvage the situation. I couldn’t regain my dignity, and I lost my will to do my duty at all, feeling like if I quit, at least I wouldn’t have to be put in a position of being a failure, of performing poorly and then being looked down on by everyone. I was reminded of this in God’s words as well: “From when the antichrist began believing in God, status and reputation have been their life’s great labor, and they will not rest until its fruition; this is the nature and essence of the antichrist” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). This showed me that one of the primary characteristics of an antichrist is speaking and acting only for the sake of their own reputation and status. Those are also the things that they pursue and work toward throughout their lives. Antichrists place reputation and status above all else. I realized that described me, too. All through my school days, I always wanted to be at the top of my class so my teachers would think highly of me and my family and friends would praise me. Over these several years doing my duties in God’s house, I knew in theory that there was no point in pursuing reputation and status, that having those things didn’t at all mean having the truth. I didn’t go after that kind of thing on the surface at all. However, deep down I was still in love with prestige, and I wanted to perform well in every single thing I did so that others would applaud me and look up to me. When I accepted the position as church leader, I was hoping I could be worthy of the title, “leader,” and that I’d be commended by everyone just as soon as I took up the post. When I failed at something, I thought the brothers and sisters would look down on me and that my reputation and status would suffer, so I didn’t want to keep doing that duty. I saw that I just cherished the image I had in other people’s hearts instead of cherishing my chance to do my duty. When my reputation and status were compromised, I wanted to give up on God’s entrustment. I considered my reputation and status to be above all else. I saw that it was that sort of antichrist disposition that ran in my veins, that I was on the path of an antichrist. I thought, why on earth should my brothers and sisters look up to me? I didn’t possess the truth, I didn’t have any practical experience, I was of poor caliber, and I was still preoccupied with my status. Someone like me, taken over by a satanic disposition, still wanted others to adore me! How shameless I was!
At the time, I was also thinking over and seeking this aspect of the truth. There was another helpful passage of God’s words that I read: “As a created being, when you come before the Creator, you ought to perform your duty. This is the proper thing to do. Given that people ought to perform the duty of created beings, the Creator has again done greater work among mankind. He has performed a further step of work on mankind. And what work is that? He provides mankind with the truth, allowing them to gain the truth from Him as they perform their duties and thereby to cast off their corrupt dispositions and be cleansed. Thus, they come to satisfy God’s will and embark on the right path in life, and, ultimately, they are able to fear God and shun evil, attain complete salvation, and be subject no longer to Satan’s afflictions. This is the main effect that God would have mankind achieve in the end by performing their duty. Therefore, in performing your duty, you do not merely enjoy the value and significance that performing your duty as a created being brings to your life. Beyond this, you are cleansed and saved, and, ultimately, come to live in the light of the face of the Creator. … In terms of the here and now, what does everyone who comes before God and does their duty as a created being receive from God? That which is most valuable and beautiful among humankind. Not a single created being among mankind can receive such blessings from the hand of the Creator by mere happenstance. Such a beautiful and such a great thing is twisted by the ilk of the antichrists into a transaction, in which they solicit crowns and rewards from the Creator’s hand. Such a transaction turns something most beautiful and righteous into something most ugly and evil. Is this not what the antichrists do? Judging from this, are the antichrists evil? They are quite evil indeed! This is merely a manifestation of one aspect of their evil” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Six)). As I considered God’s words, I realized that when a created being has the privilege of coming before the Creator and doing their duty within the scope of God’s management work, this is something most beautiful and righteous. I wondered, why did God say that doing our duty is something most beautiful and righteous? It’s because God selflessly bestows upon us so many truths, He allows us to do our duty in His house, and He gives us opportunities to train ourselves. Over the course of doing our duty, we can come to understand and gain the truth, and we can gradually grow in our lives. Not only can we discover, learn about, and resolve our corrupt dispositions, but we can gain true understanding of God and step onto the path of fearing God and shunning evil, ultimately making it possible for us to be gained by God. God allows us to do our duty in order to bestow the truth and life upon us—it is to purify and save us, without expecting anything at all in return. And as created beings, we should see and understand God’s earnest intentions with a genuine, honest heart in our duty, and put our everything into doing our duty, so we can repay God’s love. Between the Creator and His creations, God is the One selflessly devoting Himself, while humans are the ones who ought to genuinely submit and repay God. We ultimately gain the truths that come from God, cast off our corrupt dispositions that come from Satan, live out a human likeness, and become able to soothe God’s heart. This is a lovely relationship that’s very pure. Also, a created being who accepts the Creator’s commission and does their duty is like a child who is filial to their parents. It is right and proper; it is the most basic thing that should be done. And in our duty, we’re not carrying out our own enterprise, but we’re doing our part to spread the gospel so that more people may come before God. This is the most righteous endeavor on this earth. But contrary to all reason, it was precisely this wonderful, righteous thing that I twisted into something evil, something ugly. I took it as something transactional, as an exchange in which I may or may not gain status. I was willing to do it if it did elevate my status, but otherwise, I would refuse, pushing it off onto someone else. I was exploiting God’s elevation and grace to achieve my own sinister aims. I saw how incredibly evil I was, and that I wasn’t even worthy of being one of God’s creatures. Thinking back over my own attitude toward my duty, I was filled with remorse. I came before God in prayer: “God, You didn’t turn away from me because of my poor caliber or because of my pathetic experience in life. You still gave me a chance to practice, and this was a blessing for me. Even so, I still tried to use my duty to conduct transactions with You. I’m so evil! God, I don’t want to dwell on my personal reputation and status anymore, but I want to truly treasure this opportunity and put my all into doing this duty as well as I can, so that I don’t let You down.” After my prayer I felt much more at ease, much more at peace. In hindsight, experiencing that failure and losing a bit of face right after taking on that position seemed like something bad on the surface, but it was actually a good thing. It was God correcting my direction and goals in my pursuit. What I had hoped for was to be a great leader who performed well just as soon as I took up my post, to gain the accolades and admiration of my brothers and sisters. But this experience showed me that pursuing fame and status was the wrong path, and it was the path of failure. I saw that performing that duty could expose my own shortcomings, and what I needed to do was acknowledge any failures and face the facts, then work hard to equip myself with the truth so I could move forward step by step, do my duty well, and satisfy God. I shouldn’t put my effort into being valued by my superior leader, to gain the admiration of brothers and sisters. Even though my weakness had been revealed, that I didn’t know how to deal with people according to the principles, that meant I needed to acknowledge that I truly did lack the reality of the truth, learn my lesson, and grasp the principles. There was no need to be so scared of that one failure. Being able to put the truth into practice and grow in the future was the real crux of the matter. Another passage of God’s words that came to mind for me was this: “It is through the process of doing his duty that man is gradually changed, and it is through this process that he demonstrates his loyalty. As such, the more you are able to do your duty, the more truth you shall receive, and the more real your expression shall become” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man). I understood from God’s words that a person doesn’t absolutely have to understand every last truth and possess adequate stature in order to take on the duty of leadership. On top of that, no one is really up to the task of being a leader when they first start out. God trains us through our duties, and it’s through this training that God leads us and perfects us. Through the process of doing our duty, we’re likely to reveal plenty of faults as well as face some failures and setbacks, and we’re going to be pruned and dealt with. By seeking the truth and gradually gaining a hold on the principles, we can slowly improve our stature. Throughout this process, it’s perfectly normal that we won’t understand or be able to achieve some things, or that we’ll have failures and setbacks. It’s also something that is imperative for us to go through. I realized how blind it would be of me if I rejected this chance to be perfected by God because I was terrified of losing face, of being humiliated, and thus did not want to do this duty. This thought was really freeing for me. I knew that my caliber was poor, I didn’t understand the truth, and that my life entry was minimal, but I could work hard and pay a price and I could strive for the truth. Even if I was the most lacking out of all the leaders at the time, maybe one day I could make some progress. I thought about Noah, who had never built an ark before, but at heart he was genuine and devoted, and he relied on God for guidance. He persisted for 120 years and ultimately finished the ark, completing God’s commission. At the time, he didn’t even have many words from God or very many people helping him. But with God’s words guiding me and my leader’s direction, as well as the cooperation and support of so many brothers and sisters, what right did I have to whine about my problems in my duty? I really had no ground to stand on to keep on whining that way. This thought gave me something to ponder: How should I perform my duty so that I can carry out some practical work?
Shortly after that, I read this passage of God’s words: “The more mindful you are of God’s will, the greater the burden you bear, and the greater the burden you bear, the richer your experience will be. When you are mindful of God’s will, God will lay a burden upon you, and then enlighten you about the tasks which He has entrusted to you. When God gives you this burden, you will pay attention to all the related truths while eating and drinking of God’s words. If you have a burden related to the state of your brothers’ and sisters’ lives, then this is a burden that has been entrusted to you by God, and you will always carry this burden with you in your daily prayers. What God does has been laden onto you, and you are willing to do that which God wants to do; this is what it means to take on God’s burden as your own. At this point, in your eating and drinking of God’s words, you will focus on these types of issues, and you will wonder, How am I going to solve these problems? How can I enable my brothers and sisters to achieve release and find spiritual enjoyment? You will also focus on solving these problems while fellowshiping, and when eating and drinking of God’s words, you will focus on eating and drinking of words that relate to these issues. You will also carry a burden while eating and drinking of His words. Once you have understood God’s requirements, you will have a clearer idea about which path to take. This is the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit brought by your burden, and this is also God’s guidance which has been bestowed upon you. Why do I say this? If you have no burden, then you will not be attentive while eating and drinking of God’s words; when you eat and drink of God’s words while carrying a burden, you can grasp their essence, find your way, and be mindful of God’s will. Therefore, in your prayers, you should wish for God to place more burdens upon you and entrust you with even greater tasks, so that ahead of you, you may have more of a path on which to practice; so that your eating and drinking of God’s words has a greater effect; so that you grow able to grasp the essence of His words; and so that you become more capable of being moved by the Holy Spirit” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). I understood from God’s words that the key to doing my duty well is truly shouldering a burden for it and really concerning myself with it. When I discover problems in my work or difficulties in brothers’ and sisters’ life entry, I should, without fail, rack my brains over how to resolve those things. I should pray, eat and drink God’s words with my burden, and then when I seek the truth with these practical problems in mind, it will be easier for me to gain the Holy Spirit’s guidance and enlightenment. In gatherings from then on, I started putting my heart into listening to brothers’ and sisters’ fellowship on their personal experiences, and then I would put real thought into their states and problems, and how I should integrate that with God’s words in my fellowship. When I felt stymied by some issue, I would discuss it and engage in seeking with the sister that I worked most closely with so that I could get a clearer view of the problem. This was effective for our gatherings. One time in a gathering with some longtime believers, I found myself getting really nervous, afraid that my fellowship would reveal a lack of understanding on my part, and that their issues wouldn’t be resolved. I was afraid of embarrassing myself and being laughed at, and that since I was so young, they might think I was just a little girl talking big. I kept my mouth shut. I was praying to God nonstop within my heart, asking Him to guide me to break free of these constraints of face and status that were holding me back so I could fellowship openly. I felt my attitude gradually starting to shift, and it occurred to me that fellowship isn’t about saying the most inspired, lofty thing to gain others’ approval, but it’s about being a genuine person and sharing your personal understanding to the extent that you can. No matter who the gathering is with, we are all performing our duty before God, so regardless of what anyone thinks of me, I have to fulfill my responsibilities. Once I corrected my attitude, I felt much freer within my heart and I was able to clarify my thoughts. I saw the issues in a clearer light, and I realized I could contribute something to the fellowship. I truly felt that this wasn’t reliant upon my personal stature, but had come from God’s enlightenment and guidance. It was something I never could have achieved entirely on my own. After those experiences, I felt that I’d made some progress, and I was so happy that I hadn’t given up on doing this duty. Otherwise, I never would have made those gains. I also became even more certain of how true these words of God are: “The more mindful you are of God’s will, the greater the burden you bear, and the greater the burden you bear, the richer your experience will be. When you are mindful of God’s will, God will lay a burden upon you, and then enlighten you about the tasks which He has entrusted to you” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). These words are the truth, and absolutely incontrovertible. Once I put God’s words into practice, I truly saw His leadership and blessings.