A True Partnership
By Fang Li, Henan Province
Not long ago, Brother Liu and I were both elected to be church leaders. When we did church work, we could discuss anything. Sometimes I even asked him to point out my shortcomings, and we never argued about anything that cropped up, so I thought we had achieved a harmonious partnership. But in the light of the facts and compared with the truth of God’s word, I discovered that a true harmonious partnership was not what I had thought.
At a gathering one day, Brother Liu mentioned some shortcomings of mine before our leader, saying I was arrogant, unaccepting of the truth, controlling, overbearing…. Hearing him say that made me very angry, and I thought: “Yesterday I asked you if you had any opinions of me, you said no, but now, in front of our leader, you say so much! You’re so dishonest!” But then I thought: I believed my partner and I had a harmonious relationship in our duty. But it turns out that he had so many views about me, which proved that there were still misunderstandings between us and that our relationship was anything but harmonious—what on earth was going on? Faced with the facts, I couldn’t help but go over in my mind the times when we had performed our duty together: At gatherings, even though my brother also fellowshiped, he spoke little, because I spoke for most of the meeting and barely gave him a chance to talk; at work we did indeed discuss whatever problems came up, but when our opinions differed, I always stuck to my own views and denied his, and the issues were resolved when my brother simply stopped arguing; from the outside there were no disputes or conflicts between us, but inside it always felt like there was a barrier between us, something that stopped us from being completely open. That was when I realized that, while the two of us appeared to be partners working together, I was actually giving all the orders, and our relationship was not that of mutually complementary and equal partners, but was actually that of the leader and the led. Only in the light of the facts did I finally realize that what I had thought of as a “harmonious partnership” was just a relationship in which we didn’t argue or quarrel on the surface. But from my brother’s reaction, I saw that this was not a genuinely harmonious partnership. So, what is a truly harmonious partnership? I looked for answers to my question in God’s word, and came upon these words, “You have listened to a lot of sermons, and have some experience with doing service. If you do not learn from each other, help each other, and make up for each other’s shortcomings when doing work in the churches, then how can you learn any lessons? Whenever you encounter anything, you should fellowship with each other so that your lives can benefit. Moreover, you should carefully fellowship about things of any sort before making any decisions. Only by doing so are you taking responsibility for the church rather than simply acting perfunctorily. After you visit all the churches, you should gather together and fellowship about all the issues you discover and any problems encountered in your work, and then you should communicate about the enlightenment and illumination that you have received—this is an indispensable practice of service. You must achieve harmonious cooperation for the purpose of the work of God, for the benefit of the church, and so as to spur your brothers and sisters onward. You should coordinate with one another, each amending the other and arriving at a better work outcome, so as to care for God’s will. This is what true cooperation is, and only those who engage in it will gain true entry” (“Serve As the Israelites Did” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After carefully weighing God’s words, I suddenly understood. A true partnership means that the partners place the work of the church first; for the interests of the church and the life of the brothers and sisters, they can fellowship with each other and complement each other’s weaknesses, so that better results can be achieved in their work; they hold no misunderstandings or prejudices against each other and maintain no difference in status. Comparing my own behavior to that, I felt shame and regret beyond words. Looking back on my behavior, I realized I never considered the church’s interest, I always put myself first, I worked from a position of status and meticulously tended my own reputation and position, and I feared only that others would think little of me or look down upon me, and my fellowship with my brothers and sisters was not complementary or conducted from a place of equality, so it never achieved the purpose of common, mutually supportive entry into God’s word. While on the surface my partner and I appeared to be discussing how to do our work, in my heart I didn’t accept his ideas, and in the end I went with my own ideas rather than considering what would be best for the work of the church; even though sometimes I asked him to point out my shortcomings, I still only went through the formalities, and when he did point out my shortcomings, I was simply unable to accept them, but instead I always argued, made justifications, and pleaded for myself, which put constraints on him and made him too afraid to speak to me openly and unwilling to bring up my shortcomings again, which led to misunderstandings between us and cost us the ability to complete the church’s work with one will. That was when I realized that my partnership in service had none of the substance of harmonious partnership, or in even more serious terms, I was engaging in despotism and dictatorship. Working like that is no different than how the CCP, the king of devils, maintains its grip on power! The CCP puts despotism into practice, insisting on final authority in all things and afraid to listen to the voice of the masses or govern through political views different from its own. And I, with the little status I have today, want to be in charge of the limited territory I control. Am I acting in any way different to the way the CCP maintains its grip on power? Thinking of all this, I suddenly felt afraid. Seeing how much danger I was in, I knew that if I didn’t change, my end would be the same as the CCP’s—punished by God.
After realizing all of this, I no longer held any views against Brother Liu. Instead, I was grateful to God for helping me know myself in such circumstances and for showing me the danger I was in. Afterward, when I was partnered with my brothers and sisters, I learned to lower myself, have the heart to care for God’s will and be responsible in my work, and listen more to the opinions of others, and after some time, I realized that this type of practice not only gave me a more complete and thorough understanding of the truth, it also brought me closer to my brothers and sisters and allowed us to share more openly. And with these kinds of fruits to show, I finally understood how good it can be doing partner service according to the path required by God!
I thank God for His enlightenment and guidance, which not only helped me know my corrupt disposition, but also made me understand what a harmonious partnership truly is. From this day on, I wish to cast off my satanic corrupt disposition within the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, truly enter into the truth of partnership in service, and finally become one who serves God and who conforms to God’s will.