Awakening From My Arrogance
By Xiangxin, Italy
I started working on spreading the gospel in 2015. Before long, I had some successes with God’s guidance. Sometimes I encountered people really overcome with religious notions who didn’t want to look into God’s work of the last days. So I relied on God and patiently fellowshiped the truth, and they’d accept it quickly. After accomplishing some things, I started to feel pretty capable, like I was an indispensable talent.
Then Brother Liu and I each took on watering work for a church. The one I took on was a pretty big church with quite a few members, so when I started, I was always praying to God and discussing things with brothers and sisters. Things started going well before long. Most church members were attending gatherings normally and were really proactive in their duties. I was feeling a little pleased with myself. I was thinking that even with such a large church and so many members, I was getting results so quickly, so I must have a bit of caliber. I also saw that Brother Liu’s watering work wasn’t going too well, that some workers in his church needed to be replaced, and some needed fellowship because they were in a negative state. I looked down on him a bit. I thought I could do better. After that I started getting involved with his work, summing up mistakes in gatherings, fellowshiping onto help with others’ negative states, changing the duties of those doing watering wherever necessary. The work picked up pretty quickly. I thought I’d solved our problems pretty quickly, so I felt even more like I was very talented. My arrogance just grew. When summing up our work, I saw lots of their shortcomings and oversights, and couldn’t help but scold them. I said, “There’s been such a delay in watering work. Is there a single person trying to do God’s will and get this done? You’ve all been so irresponsible. It’s a good thing there’s been a little progress these past couple weeks, otherwise who could take responsibility for this delay?” No one said a word at the time. I was actually wondering if my reaction was a bit over the top. But then I thought that they wouldn’t care unless I took a strong tone.
I looked down on them a lot and dealt with them for their mistakes, telling them to do as I said. So over time, I noticed they distanced themselves from me and hardly talked to me about anything except work-related matters. Sometimes they’d be talking and laughing together, but as soon as I showed up they just scattered, as if they were afraid of me. And since they were afraid of messing up and being criticized, they’d ask me whenever something came up, and wait for my decision. I did feel kind of uneasy when I saw the situation. I wondered if I was being arbitrary, authoritarian. But then I thought I needed to be firm in work. No one would listen if I weren’t a little hard on them. Then how would we get anywhere? I felt like directly calling out problems was me having a sense of righteousness. After that, my arrogance became even more inflated and I had to have final say in everything, large or small. I alone was arranging every single part of our work because I felt like no one on the team was as capable as me. Even when I did discuss things with them, we always ended up doing what I wanted, so if I decided right away, I thought we could save time. Even if a leader came to a gathering, I still thought nothing of it, thinking, “So what if you’re a leader? Can you share the gospel and bear witness? Can you do this work? Just fellowshiping truth in gatherings isn’t getting practical work done. You don’t match up to me.” So whenever the leader asked me how our work was going, I would share more when I felt like talking, but otherwise gloss over it. I thought there was no need to talk about it, because at the end of the day I was the one who was going to do it. The leader called me out for being arrogant, saying I always had final say and didn’t work well with brothers and sisters. Criticized this way, I acknowledged to her face I was arrogant, but I didn’t pay it any real mind. I thought I had good caliber and was capable, so as long as I did my work well, who cared if I was a little arrogant? Besides, I was the one heading up most of the church’s work, so what were they going to do—fire me? I didn’t remotely accept the leader’s feedback for me and kept doing my duty exactly the way I pleased, fully in charge. Then one time, a new church needed more people doing watering, and without discussing it with anyone, I just arranged for a sister to go help them out. I figured that generally they agreed with what I suggested, so it was fine for me to decide on my own. But I was surprised to find out later that that sister didn’t understand the truth well enough and couldn’t do practical work, which was a serious hindrance. But I still didn’t reflect on myself. And because of my unrelenting arrogance and my failure to seek principles of the truth or to guide the others to follow principles in their duty, everyone was just busy running to and fro without any real results. It really hindered our progress. But even so, I still didn’t see my own problems, but just blamed the others for not shouldering a burden. For a while, it looked like I was getting things done, but I had this odd sense of foreboding, like something terrible was about to happen. I didn’t know what to say in gatherings or prayers, and I was getting sleepy in work meetings and didn’t have insight into anything. I was feeling mentally fuzzy and didn’t have energy for anything, but just wanted to rest. I realized I’d lost the work of the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t know why. I prayed to God, asking Him to help me understand myself.
A leader came to a gathering and called me out for how I’d been behaving. She said, “You’ve been arrogant in your duty. You’re always haughtily scolding people, holding them back, and you flaunt your seniority. You’re hard to work with and you never discuss things with others. You do whatever you want, you’re arbitrary and autocratic. That’s an antichrist’s disposition. Based on your behavior, we’ve decided to dismiss you.” Every word of hers cut straight to the heart. I thought back over how I’d been acting. I never discussed things with anyone, but went my own way and was dictatorial. Wasn’t that just like an antichrist? That thought really scared me. Was God using that situation to expose and eliminate me? Was that how my years of faith would end? For a few days, I felt like a zombie. I was filled with fear from the moment I woke up, and I just didn’t know how to face the day. I kept praying to God, saying, “God, I know Your benevolent will is in this, but I don’t know how to get through it. Oh God, I’m so depressed and in pain. Please enlighten me to know Your will.” Then I read this in God’s words: “God is not concerned with what happens to you each day, or how much work you do, how much effort you put in—what He looks at is what your attitude toward these things is. And what does the attitude with which you do these things, and the way you do them, relate to? It relates to whether or not you pursue the truth, and also to your entry into life. God looks at your entry into life, at the path that you walk. If you walk the path of entry into life, then in your performance of your duty, you will set foot on the path of acceptability. But if, while performing you duty, you constantly emphasize that you have capital, that you understand your line of work, that you have experience, and are mindful of God’s will, and pursue the truth more than anyone else, and if you then think that because of these things, you should have the final say, and you don’t discuss anything with anyone else, and are always a law unto yourself, and try to run your own operation, and always want to be ‘the only flower in bloom,’ then do you walk the path of entry into life? (No.) No—this is the pursuit of status, it is walking the path of Paul, it is not the path of entry into life” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “There was someone who was gifted at spreading the gospel. He suffered much hardship while spreading the gospel, and was even incarcerated and sentenced to many years in prison. After getting out, he continued to spread the gospel, and converted several hundred people, some of whom turned out to be significant talents; some were even chosen as leaders or workers. As a result, this person believed himself worthy of great accolades, and used this as capital that he bragged about wherever he went, showing off and testifying to himself: ‘I went to prison for eight years, and I stood firm in my testimony. I have converted many people, some of whom are now leaders or workers. In the house of God, I deserve credit, I have made a contribution.’ No matter where he was spreading the gospel, he was sure to brag to the local leaders or workers. He would also say, ‘You must listen to what I say; even your senior leaders are polite when they speak to me. Anyone who isn’t, I teach a lesson!’ This person is a bully, is he not? If someone like this had not spread the gospel and converted those people, would they dare be so pompous? Such is their nature and essence: so arrogant that they are not possessed of a shred of sense. After spreading the gospel and converting a few people, their arrogant nature swells, and they become even more pompous. Such people brag about their capital wherever they go, they try to claim credit wherever they go, and even put the squeeze on leaders at various levels, trying to be on an equal footing with them, and even thinking that they themselves ought to be a senior leader in the house of God. Based on what is manifested by the behavior of someone like this, we should all be clear about just what kind of nature they have, and what their end is likely to be. When a demon wheedles their way into the house of God, they do a little service before showing their true colors; they don’t listen no matter who deals with or prunes them, and persist in fighting against the house of God. What is the nature of their actions? In the eyes of God, they are putting themselves to death, and they will not rest until they have killed themselves. This is the only appropriate way of putting it” (“Spreading the Gospel Is the Duty to Which All Believers Are Honor-Bound” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading this really put fear in my heart. It felt like God was exposing me, face-to-face, revealing my state and the secrets that I’d never told a single person. I’d done okay in these years of sharing the gospel, so I thought I’d made an enormous contribution, that I was indispensable, and I was keeping score of everything I’d done. I felt like I had a place of honor in the church, that I was a pillar. I took that as personal capital, arrogantly looking down on everyone. I also liked to disdainfully scold people, which was constraining for brothers and sisters. I wasn’t cooperative in my duty, but I was autocratic and did whatever I wanted, seriously delaying the church’s work. Even when the leader dealt with me I paid it no mind. I even flaunted my qualifications. I thought she wasn’t any better than me and didn’t want to accept any help. I wanted to decide everything on my own. I dressed brothers and sisters down when they didn’t listen to me, threatening them with being dismissed if they didn’t do their duty well. That kept them obsessed with accomplishing tasks, afraid of losing their duty if they slipped up, and living in pain. How was that doing a duty? Wasn’t it doing evil, resisting God? That thought really scared me. I never imagined I’d do such evil, to wound and hold back brothers and sisters so much, to hinder our work to that degree. I was fighting against God, but thought I was doing my duty to satisfy Him. I was being irrational! I saw in God’s words that acting that way is putting yourself to death. Hearing the tone in God’s words, especially the phrase “putting themselves to death,” I got a sense of how disgusted God is by that kind of person. It was heart-wrenching, as if God had condemned me to death. I thought I was able to sacrifice everything for my duty, that I’d always been successful in it, so God was sure to approve of me and a little bit of arrogance hardly mattered. But then I realized, if I didn’t pursue the truth, no matter how much I achieved in my duty or how much experience I built up, it was disgusting to God. He wouldn’t acknowledge it. The judgment and chastisement of God’s words showed me His righteous disposition that can’t be offended. God is perfectly principled in His actions. If I accomplish some things out in the world, I may have some capital and leverage. But in God’s house, the truth and righteousness hold sway. Using capital and leverage is putting yourself to death and it offends His disposition.
Later, I was wondering why I felt I had so much leverage after achieving a few things in my duty and started getting so dictatorial. What kind of nature was I being controlled by? I read something in God’s words. “If you really possess the truth within you, the path you walk will naturally be the correct path. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you have an arrogant and conceited disposition, then being told not to oppose God makes no difference, you can’t help yourself, it is beyond your control. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display, and, finally, sit in God’s place and bear testimony for yourself. You would turn your own ideas, your own thinking, and your own notions into truths to be worshiped. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature!” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “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. People who are arrogant and conceited, especially those who are so arrogant as to have lost their sense, cannot submit to God in their belief in Him, and even exalt and bear testimony for themselves. Such people resist God the most” (God’s Fellowship). God’s words taught me that the root of rebellion against God is arrogance. When someone has an arrogant nature, they can’t stop themselves from resisting God. My behavior was the result of being controlled by my arrogant nature. I was walking on air after achieving a few things, thinking I had caliber, was capable, and indispensable, that the church couldn’t do without me. I looked down on others, using my position to scold and constrain them, thinking nothing of anyone else. I was arbitrary and dictatorial in my duty, not discussing things with anyone else. I felt like I was fine on my own and I could make decisions unilaterally. I didn’t value my partner. I was incredibly arrogant and didn’t have any reverence for God. When the leader dealt with me, I did acknowledge my arrogance, but I didn’t truly care about it. I even felt like arrogance wasn’t that bad, that being called that meant I had some skills, otherwise what would make me arrogant? I was incredibly unreasonable and totally shameless. I was living by Satan’s poison of “In all the universe, only I reign supreme,” acting like king of the hill in the church, thinking nothing of anyone else. How was I any different from the Communist Party? The Communist Party is arrogant and lawless, resorting to unprecedented means of violent repression against anyone who doesn’t listen to it. I was dictatorial and intractable in the church, not accepting anyone’s oversight. Wasn’t that just like the great red dragon? Then I realized how arrogant I was, that I didn’t care about anyone else or even God, that I was on a path against God. If I didn’t repent, I’d definitely end up cursed and punished by God. Then I really saw how serious the consequences of my arrogant nature were, that my problem wasn’t as simple as a little corruption showing. That thought reminded me of how I’d belittled others and elevated myself, that I spoke and presented myself as if I was unequalled in the world. I felt kind of nauseated, disgusted by myself. I resolved that I had to start pursuing the truth, seeking principles in everything, to stop living arrogantly and resisting God.
And later on when I was seeking how to appropriately approach any successes I might have, I read a passage of God’s words. “In the course of performing your duty, are you able to sense the guidance of God and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit? (Yes.) If you are able to sense the work of the Holy Spirit and still think highly of yourself, and that you are possessed of reality, then what is going on here? (When our performance of our duty has borne some fruit, we slowly start to think that half the credit belongs to God, and half belongs to us. We magnify our cooperation to an unlimited extent, thinking that nothing is more important than our cooperation, and that God’s enlightenment would not have been possible without it.) So why did God enlighten you? Can God enlighten other people as well? (Yes.) When God enlightens someone, this is the grace of God. And what is that little bit of cooperation on your part? Is it something you are due credit for—or is it your duty, your responsibility? (Duty and responsibility.) When you recognize that it is duty and responsibility, this is the right state of mind, and you will not have thoughts of trying to take credit. If what you believe is always ‘This is my capital. Would God’s enlightenment have been possible without my cooperation? This needs people’s cooperation; people’s cooperation accounts for the bulk of this,’ then this is wrong. How could you have cooperated if the Holy Spirit had not enlightened you, and if God did nothing, and no one fellowshiped the principles of the truth to you? Nor would you know what God requires; you wouldn’t even know the path of practice. Even if you wanted to obey God and cooperate in the work of God, you wouldn’t know how to. Is this ‘cooperation’ of yours not empty words? Without true cooperation, you’re only acting according to your own ideas—in which case, could the duty you perform be up to standard? (No.) No, which indicates a problem. What problem does this indicate? No matter what duty a person performs, achieving results to satisfy God and gain His approval and performing their duty up to standard rests upon God’s actions. If you carry out your responsibilities, if you do your duty, but God does not act and God does not tell you what to do, then you won’t know your path, your direction, or your goals. What ultimately comes of that? It would be a waste of effort, you would gain nothing. Thus, doing your duty up to standard and being able to stand firm within God’s house, providing edification for brothers and sisters and gaining God’s approval depends entirely upon God! People can only do those things that they are personally capable of, that they ought to do, and that are within their inherent capabilities—nothing more. Therefore, the results ultimately reaped from your duty are determined by the guidance of God’s words and the enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, which make you understand the path, goals, direction, and principles provided by God” (“The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s words, I saw that achieving some things in my duty was entirely because of God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment. It was also thanks to God’s fellowship for us on the truth and principles, not at all because I had good caliber or could do some work. Without the guidance of God’s words or the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, no matter my caliber or how well-spoken I was, I’d never achieve anything. And this little bit of work I did was me doing the duty of a created being. It’s my responsibility. Whatever duty it is, it’s what a created being should do. Anything accomplished isn’t our personal contribution or capital. However, I didn’t know what I was made of. I thought a few achievements meant I was good at what I did and took that as something I could leverage. I was so pleased with myself, trying to steal God’s glory. I was so arrogant and unreasonable! Anything we achieve in our duty truly is from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and God’s words. We can’t do anything on our own. Thinking back on it, not only did I fail to accomplish anything when I was working from my arrogance, but I delayed our work. Like when I put the wrong person into a watering position, which left lots of brothers and sisters unable to get the support they needed. That seriously disrupted the work of God’s house. And I wasn’t seeking principles of the truth or leading the others to follow principles in their duty. That meant we weren’t accomplishing things in our duty and it delayed our work progress. But I’d never reflected on all of that. Instead, I congratulated myself and became more arrogant, as if the church couldn’t spare me. But if God could enlighten me, of course He could enlighten others, so the church’s work could go on as usual after my dismissal. I thought the church couldn’t do without me because I was so full of myself. I thought of Paul in the Age of Grace. He thought he had some capital after doing some work, so didn’t think anything of others. He directly said he was no less than other disciples, and he looked down on Peter and often degraded him. In the end, he tried to use his work to ask God for a crown. He was arrogant to the point of losing reason. I saw I was just like Paul, that I was on the same path as him. Without God’s strict judgment and chastisement, I’d still be oblivious to my problems, thinking I was great. Seeing all of this, I really hated myself. I wanted to confess and repent to God.
Then I read this in God’s words: “Does anyone know how many years God has been working among all humanity and all things? No one knows the exact number of years to date for which God has been working and managing all mankind; He does not report such things to mankind. Yet if Satan were to do this for a bit, would it declare it? It would certainly declare it. Satan wants to show off itself, that it may deceive more people and have more of them give it credit. Why does God not report this undertaking? There is an aspect of God’s essence that is humble and hidden. What things are in opposition to humility and hiddenness? Arrogance, impudence, and ambition. … Guiding mankind, God carries out such great work, and He presides over the entire universe. His authority and power are so vast, yet He has never said, ‘My ability is extraordinary.’ He remains hidden among all things, presiding over everything, nourishing and providing for humankind, allowing all humankind to continue for generation after generation. Take the air and the sunshine, for example, or all the visible material things necessary for human existence—they all flow forth without cease. That God provides for man is beyond question. So if Satan did something good, would it keep it quiet, and remain an unsung hero? Never. It’s like how there are some antichrists in the church who previously undertook dangerous work, or once did work that was harmful to their own interests, who may have even gone to prison; there are also those who once contributed to one aspect of the work of the house of God. They never forget these things, they think they deserve lifelong credit for them, they think they are their lifetime’s capital—which shows how small people are! People are small, and Satan is shameless” (“They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Two)” in Exposing Antichrists). “God loves mankind, cares for mankind, and shows concern for mankind, as well as constantly and unceasingly providing for mankind. He never feels in His heart that this is additional work or something that deserves a lot of credit. Nor does He feel that saving humanity, supplying them, and granting them everything, is making a huge contribution to mankind. He simply provides for mankind quietly and silently, in His own way and through His own essence and what He has and is. No matter how much provision and how much help mankind receives from Him, God never thinks about or tries to take credit. This is determined by the essence of God, and is also precisely a true expression of God’s disposition” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in). I pondered God’s words and saw how benevolent His disposition and essence are. God is the Creator who rules and sustains absolutely everything. He’s become flesh again, expressing truths to save mankind, paying a great price for us. But He’s never thought it’s a huge contribution to mankind. And He’s never talked up or boasted about anything. He just quietly does all His own work without any sort of arrogant showing off. He’s more than worthy of our love and eternal praise. I’m such a worthless human, nothing at all, but I was so arrogant. I was dizzy with the tiniest bit of success, as if it were some magnum opus, some great contribution. I looked down on everyone and had to have things my way. I was so unreasonable, so evil, so superficial. God is so humble and hidden, and has such a benevolent essence. I felt even more how disgusting my arrogant disposition was and truly longed to learn the truth to get rid of it soon, to live out a human likeness.
Then during a gathering once, I read this passage in God’s words.says, “Today God judges you, chastises you, and condemns you, but you must know that the point of your condemnation is for you to know yourself. He condemns, curses, judges, and chastises so that you might know yourself, so that your disposition might change, and, moreover, so that you might know your worth, and see that all of God’s actions are righteous and in accordance with His disposition and the requirements of His work, that He works in accordance with His plan for man’s salvation, and that He is the righteous God who loves, saves, judges, and chastises man” (“You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I was really moved by God’s words and understood His will a little better. I was doing my duty out of arrogance, causing problems for the work of God’s house, so I was dismissed based on principles. I thought God was using the situation to expose and eliminate me, so I figured He was condemning me and I couldn’t be saved. I finally realized that God had me dismissed from my duty and used the judgment of His words so I’d see my corruption, and that I was on the wrong path. It was God saving me! I suffered a bit through that judgment and chastisement, but it was so valuable and meaningful, and it protected me. It was God’s most genuine love for me. No matter how God disciplines us, it’s all His salvation and love.
After that, I opened up in a gathering about how I’d been arrogant in my duty, how I’d hurt brothers and sisters, and what I’d reflected on after being dismissed. I thought the others would be disgusted with me for being so inhumane and wouldn’t want anything to do with me, but surprisingly, they didn’t come down on me. I felt even more indebted to them then. I’d been hurting everyone else with my arrogance, I was so inhumane. When I took up a duty with brothers and sisters again, I was a lot more low-key. I stopped looking down on people for their faults and had a better approach to things. I made a conscious effort to listen to others’ suggestions on issues, and stopped trusting myself too much. When leaders came to check up on my work, I cooperated and accepted it humbly. I had a good change in my state after a little while and became a supervisor again. I knew it was God uplifting and gracing me with that. I’d been so arrogant and disruptive in my duty before, but God hadn’t eliminated me. He gave me another chance to do such an important duty. I truly experienced God’s mercy and leniency for us. In my duty after that, I stopped acting arbitrarily out of arrogance, but I had some fear for God, and was constantly praying to Him. When I encountered something confusing, I discussed it with the others so we could seek the truth together. After doing that for a little while, I realized that our whole team’s performance improved quite a bit. When I was doing everything on my own, it was really exhausting for me. I wasn’t taking everything into account and didn’t get good results. But now that I discuss issues that come up with brothers and sisters and we help each other out, it’s so much easier to resolve problems. And by cooperating with the others, I could see they really do have some strengths. Some of them work hard and put effort in. Some may not have a lot of caliber, but they are diligent and uphold the work of God’s house. Those are strengths I don’t have. I’ve also been able to learn things from brothers and sisters to make up for my own faults. It’s been a much more free and easy way to live.
About a year later, a church leader arranged for a general meeting so everyone could share what they’d learned and experienced over that year. I had some quiet reflection time, thinking over what all I’d learned. Then I realized that God saved my life by having me fired, that that was my greatest gain. If it hadn’t been for that, I still wouldn’t see how serious my arrogance was, that I was smug and arbitrary just because I had a couple of gifts. It was God disciplining me, and judging and chastising me that showed me my satanic nature. That also taught me a bit about God’s righteousness and gave me some fear for God. I’m so grateful for God’s salvation!