Competition Begets Suffering

February 7, 2023

By Xinyi, China

In April 2021, the church arranged for me and Chen Xi to take on watering work together. I was kind of unsettled when I heard the news. Chen Xi was capable and gave clear fellowship on the truth. I was afraid she’d outperform me after a little practice. I’d supervised her work in the past, so how could I show my face if she did better than me? I noticed later that the leader offered lots of help and support to her and had her practice taking on some important tasks. I figured the leader wanted to cultivate her. I was really disappointed and secretly pit myself against her, wanting to work hard so she wouldn’t surpass me. I threw myself into fellowshiping with others in gatherings, and made sure to learn about and address issues in brothers’ and sisters’ work. I spoke up readily in work discussions, and the others agreed with me most of the time. Our watering work started showing results after a little while. I was very pleased with myself and felt really accomplished. Since Chen Xi was new to that type of work, she didn’t have a handle on things at first, and it was hard for her. I knew I should help her get familiar with the work quickly and learn the principles, but I was afraid she’d show me up, so I just gave her a brief, simple outline without filling her in on the details. I was secretly happy when I saw her in a bad state because of challenges in her duty, and felt like I was still more capable than her. After a little while, Chen Xi gradually got to know the work and got some results in her duty. I often heard her fellowship on how to solve brothers’ and sisters’ problems and felt it was really practical and clear, which made me anxious. It turned out she did have a higher caliber than me. If this went on, she’d do better and better in her duty, and at some point the others were sure to look up to her. Wouldn’t that make her seem better than me? I felt more and more threatened. Every time we were in a gathering with others, I’d observe her fellowship. When I noticed it was enlightening, I’d try to think of ways to fellowship better than her. Once, a sister wasn’t able to work well with others because of her arrogance, and it was impacting her work. I really racked my brains over what the root of her problem was, what passage of God’s words to use, and how to integrate my own experience into my fellowship. But since my mentality was wrong, I couldn’t think it over calmly, and in the end I forced out fellowship on some superficial understanding and her state wasn’t fixed. But Chen Xi combined fellowship on God’s words and her own experience. The sister could identify with this and then felt ready to turn her state around. This was upsetting for me to see. Why did God enlighten her, not me? She got to take center stage, so wouldn’t the others think she was better than me? At this thought, I made up my mind. I definitely had to make a good show of it next time someone had an issue, so that everyone would see I could fellowship on the truth to resolve problems. Later on, a sister described how she was critical of others after being dealt with. I was thinking that I had the same type of experience, so this time I could fellowship well. But before I even opened my mouth, Chen Xi started to fellowship and spoke really clearly, linking it to her actual experience, and taking the words right out of my mouth. I had no choice but to give a simple account of my understanding. Noticing Chen Xi was in a really good mood after the gathering, I felt even more jealous and didn’t want to acknowledge her. That evening I lay in bed and couldn’t get any sleep at all. Thinking about how much the others liked Chen Xi’s fellowship made me feel really down. It seemed like I’d never be able to outdo her. At the time I knew I wasn’t in a good state. I prayed to God, asking Him to enlighten and lead me to know myself.

In a gathering later, I read that God says: “Grasping for fame and profit is the signature behavior of humans, who have the evil nature of Satan. No one is an exception. All corrupt mankind lives for fame and status, and all humans will pay any price in their struggle for fame and status. It is so with all who live under Satan’s power. Therefore, one who does not accept or understand the truth, who cannot act according to the principles, is one who is living amid a satanic disposition. A satanic disposition has come to dominate your thoughts and control your behavior; Satan has gotten you entirely under its control and bondage, and if you do not accept the truth and forsake Satan, you will not be able to escape. … Do not always think about surpassing everyone, doing everything better than others, and standing out from the crowd in every way. What kind of disposition is that? (An arrogant disposition.) People always possess an arrogant disposition, and even if they want to strive for the truth and satisfy God, they fall short. They are controlled by an arrogant disposition that makes it easy for them to go astray. … When you have such a disposition, you are always trying to keep others down, always trying to get ahead of them, always jockeying, always trying to take from people. You are highly envious, you don’t obey anyone, and you are always trying to distinguish yourself. This is trouble; this is how Satan acts. If you truly wish to be an acceptable creature of God, then do not pursue your own dreams. Trying to be superior and more capable than you are in order to achieve your aims—this is bad; you should obey the orchestrations and arrangements of God, and not get above your station; only this demonstrates sense(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct). God’s words revealed my true state. I always wanted to fight for first place among others and didn’t want to be below anyone, so I was constantly competing, wanting to be above others. Since I’d overseen Chen Xi’s work before, when I partnered with her I didn’t want to be any worse than her in work capabilities or fellowshiping on the truth. I was very pleased when she couldn’t outperform me at first. But when I saw her progressing quickly, solving some problems, and even gaining the brothers’ and sisters’ approval, I was disgruntled and jealous, and always competed with her. I even wanted to show off when fellowshiping on the truth and resolving problems, so the others would look up to me. But my intent wasn’t right. I only focused on name and gain, not on seriously pondering God’s words, so I could only fellowship on some dry doctrine, which wasn’t edifying for the others at all. I didn’t reflect on myself in light of this, but blamed God for not enlightening me, and was resistant. Only at this point did I realize how arrogant and unreasonable I was being. The church had arranged for me and Chen Xi to take on watering work, so we should have worked to complement each other, made use of our individual strengths, and done our duty well together. I clearly didn’t match up to her, but lacked any self-awareness of this. I was always trying to be better than her and take center stage, secretly counting gains and losses in status, not considering my own duty or the church’s work at all. I was so arrogant and unreasonable, and was displaying a satanic disposition, disgusting God.

Later, I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to correct my attitude and work well with Chen Xi. After that, when I saw her fellowship on the truth more clearly than me and I felt competitive, I made sure to pray and forsake myself. By practicing this way, my state gradually improved. But since I didn’t have a true understanding of my nature and essence, the same problem flared up again a little while later. In gatherings Chen Xi and I hosted for some brothers and sisters, she did most of the fellowshiping while I just added a little bit here and there. Once or twice was fine, but as things went on I felt invisible, and left every gathering feeling disappointed. Was I going to play second fiddle forever? Unhappy with this, I secretly got competitive. Since I couldn’t fellowship on the truth and resolve problems better than Chen Xi, I put my effort into overseeing and following up on tasks to make the watering work more effective. This would show my capability. So when something needed following-up on, I’d go on my own without talking to Chen Xi. Later on I started doing slightly better than her in this respect and got arrogant again. It turned out I was no worse than her, after all! From then on, I wanted to find a way to outdo her in fellowshiping and solving problems, too. Once in a gathering, I wanted to take charge and not always have her out in front, so I started actively trying to address a sister’s issues. But my intent wasn’t right and I rushed into fellowship before I understood her problem. As a result, I fellowshiped a lot without fixing anything. The others saw I was in the wrong state and fellowshiped with me not to compete with my partner for name and status, because that would impact our effectiveness. Hearing them point this out was really embarrassing and upsetting for me. And since I’d taken up so much time, we didn’t have time to address our work problems, and had to hastily wrap up the gathering. On the way home, I thought of how I’d acted in the gathering. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I just cared about showing off to prove I was better than Chen Xi, and wasted lots of time, so issues in our work went unresolved and the gathering wasn’t fruitful. I was being disruptive to church work and church life. I got more upset the more I thought about it, and felt really distressed. I didn’t know how to resolve my corrupt disposition. For a while, because I was stuck in a state of fighting for name and gain, I didn’t want to offer Chen Xi help when I saw her struggling with her work and state, and often suggested, directly and indirectly, that she wasn’t trying, which made her more negative. The distance between us grew and our work performance suffered. When the leader found out about my state, she dealt with me for fighting for name and gain and excluding my partner, saying that displayed bad humanity. Hearing her say that hit me hard, so I prayed, asking God to enlighten me to truly know myself, so my issues could be resolved.

Then I read some of God’s words. “Every one of you has risen to the pinnacle of the multitudes; you have ascended to be the ancestors of the masses. You are extremely arbitrary, and you run amok among all of the maggots, seeking a place of ease and attempting to devour the maggots that are smaller than you. You are malicious and sinister in your hearts, surpassing even the ghosts that have sunk to the bottom of the sea. You reside in the bottom of the dung, disturbing the maggots from top to bottom until they have no peace, fighting each other for a while and then calming down. You do not know your place, yet still you battle with each other in the dung. What can you gain from such struggle? If you truly had reverence for Me in your hearts, how could you fight with each other behind My back? No matter how high your status, are you not still a stinking little worm in the dung? Will you be able to sprout wings and become a dove in the sky?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. When Falling Leaves Return to Their Roots, You Will Regret All the Evil You Have Done). Comparing myself to God’s words, I saw that was how I was. I’d always thought too much of myself, thinking I should be better than Chen Xi in every regard because I’d supervised her before. I fought to outdo her both openly and in secret. I didn’t discuss watering work follow-up with her, but acted on my own, and I wanted to use problem-solving in gatherings to prove I was better than her, without giving any thought to whether I could resolve people’s actual problems, or whether it would impact the effectiveness of the gathering. When I noticed she was struggling in work and wasn’t in a good state, not only did I fail to help her, but I took joy in her misery, intentionally belittling her and reveling in her suffering. That made her more and more negative. I saw I was totally lacking humanity. I also saw that God exposes those maggots who don’t know their own worth, but always want to fly like a dove in the sky. I was so ashamed. I felt like I was just as ugly, and knew no shame. I clearly didn’t have much reality of the truth and couldn’t resolve others’ practical problems, but still wanted to show off and surpass others. That not only hurt my sister, but it impacted the work of the church. I felt guiltier and more indebted the more I thought about it. I also read some of God’s words exposing antichrists. Almighty God says, “What is the motto of antichrists, no matter what group they are in? ‘I must compete! Compete! Compete! I must compete to be the highest and mightiest!’ This is the disposition of antichrists; everywhere they go, they compete and try to achieve their aims. They are the lackeys of Satan, and they disturb the work of the church. The disposition of antichrists is like this: They begin by looking around the church to see who has believed in God for many years and has capital, who has some gifts or special skills, who has been of benefit to the brothers and sisters in their entry into life, who is well regarded, who has seniority, who is well spoken of among the brothers and sisters, who has more positive things. Those people are to be their competition. In sum, every time antichrists are among a group of people, this is what they always do: They compete for status, compete for a good reputation, compete for final say over matters and the ultimate power to make decisions in the group, which, once they have gained it, makes them happy. … That is how arrogant, odious, and unreasonable the disposition of antichrists is. They have neither conscience nor reason, nor even a shred of the truth. One can see in the actions and deeds of an antichrist that what they do has none of the reason of a normal person, and though one may fellowship about the truth to them, they do not accept it. However right what you say is, it does not fly with them. The only thing they like to pursue is reputation and status, which they hold in reverence. So long as they can enjoy the benefits of status, they are contented. This, they believe, is the value of their existence. Regardless of what group of people they are among, they have to show people the ‘light’ and ‘warmth’ they provide, their special talents, their uniqueness. And it is because they believe they are special that they naturally think that they should be treated better than others, that they should receive people’s support and admiration, that people should look up to them, worship them—they think all of this is their due. Are such people not brazen and shameless?(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). God reveals that antichrists can’t work in partnership with anyone. They always want to take center stage, and have others admire and worship them. That kind of person has a vicious disposition—they disgust God and are cursed by Him. Upon reflection, I saw I also showed an antichrist’s disposition. The church had arranged for Chen Xi and I to work together, but I wanted to be a star and the only one to shine. Seeing that Chen Xi fellowshiped clearly and gained the others’ approval made me jealous of her, and I felt like I’d never have my day in the sun as long as she was in the church. I treated her like my opponent. I saw she struggled at work but didn’t help, and even left her to do things alone, which led to her feeling negative. Because I excluded her time after time, her state grew worse, but I didn’t feel guilty or upset. Instead, I felt like now I’d be able to steal the spotlight and play a leading role. I intentionally said some disparaging things to take aim at her enthusiasm for her duty, so her strengths wouldn’t be put into play. That was really hurtful for her. I was living by satanic poisons like “There can only be one alpha male” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme.” I wanted to be the only one to stand out. I stopped at nothing to exclude her and I hurt her just so that I could stand above the rest. I didn’t have even the slightest conscience. I thought of some antichrists in the church. They just care about their status among others, and gaining others’ admiration. They can’t stand seeing anyone surpass them, and as soon as their status is threatened, they use vile tactics to oppress and punish the other person. They end up exposed and cast out by God for all the evil they do. I always wanted the others’ admiration and approval. I wanted to keep my partner down, not let her stand out. I was on an antichrist’s path. If I didn’t turn back, but kept fighting for name and gain, and disturbing the church’s work, I’d end up just like the antichrists, punished and cursed by God! This was a frightening thought for me, so I rushed to pray and repent.

I read several passages. Almighty God says, “Relinquishing status and prestige is hard. People must pursue the truth. Partly, they must know themselves, and beyond that, they must accept the truth and proactively lay themselves bare. An effect may be achieved in this way. If you acknowledge that you are without the truth and lack too much, yet try to make people think that you’re good at everything, that you’re perfect, then this is risky—you’re very likely to strive for fame and profit. You must admit that you are without the truth and that you have many flaws, that you have weaknesses and defects, that there are things you can’t do, areas where you fall short. You must admit you’re only someone ordinary, that you’re not superhuman or omnipotent. When you acknowledge this fact, and make others aware of it too, the first thing this does is to curb your competitive behavior; it allows you, to a certain extent, to control your competitive mentality and your desire to compete(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). “What are your principles for conducting yourselves? You should conduct yourselves according to your station, find the right station for you, and perform the duty that you ought to; only this is someone with sense. By way of example, there are people who are good at a profession and can grasp its principles, and they should take on that responsibility and make the final checks in that area; there are people who can provide ideas and insights, enabling everyone else to build on their ideas and perform their duty better—they should then provide ideas. If you can find the right station for you and work in harmony with your brothers and sisters, you will be fulfilling your duty, and you will be conducting yourself according to your station(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct). “Because it is not easy for anyone to accomplish things on their own, whatever the field they’re involved in, or what they’re doing, it is always good to have someone there to point things out and offer assistance—much easier than doing it by themselves. Also, there are limits to what people’s caliber is capable of or what they themselves can experience. No one can be a master of all trades, it is impossible for one person to know everything, learn everything, accomplish everything—that is impossible, and everyone should possess such sense. And so, 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(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). I found a path of practice in God’s words. I had to let go of my desire to pursue name and status, become able to properly face my shortcomings and flaws, stand in my place, consider the church’s interests and others’ life entry when things come up, work well with my partner so we can uphold the church’s work together, and do our duty well. I’d been responsible for Chen Xi’s work in the past and I had some work experience, but in fellowshiping on the truth and problem-solving I still fell far short. I didn’t have practical experience and couldn’t see through or fix a lot of issues. These were my shortcomings. I should acknowledge and face them. And Chen Xi’s fellowship was illuminating and helpful for brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. I should support her and allow her to play to her strengths. That way I could also learn from her strengths to make up for my weaknesses, which would benefit my life entry and the church’s work.

Later, when I worked with Chen Xi to fellowship in gatherings, I made sure to have the right intent and only fellowship on what I understood. I let Chen Xi fellowship on what she had insight into, and I supplemented it. Sometimes I felt competitive when I saw others approve of her fellowship, but I was able to quickly see I wasn’t in the right state, pray, forsake myself, and become willing to prioritize the church’s work and cooperate with Chen Xi. Then, my jealousy wasn’t so strong and I stopped thinking about how to compete with her. Instead, I thought about how to work with her to resolve others’ problems. I was no longer held back by my corrupt disposition and was able to do my part. I was intentional in my collaboration with Chen Xi at work, and offered my help when she ran into difficulties. After a little while, our watering work improved and both of us were able to make progress. I felt really at peace.

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