The Consequences of an Arrogant Disposition
By Bernard, the Philippines
In 2006, I was still a high school student. When we would study the Bible, the teachers would often ask me to give the opening remarks and introduce the pastor who would preach to us. They said that I had a good, high-pitched voice, a lot of my classmates would look at me with admiration, and I thought I was a cut above the rest. In college, I got the hang of a few communication techniques that made me very capable in interacting with others. I’d often feel a sense of superiority, as well as a pride in my skills. After coming to believe in, I started to preach the gospel to my friends. The first person I preached the gospel to was a brother from Honduras. He accepted it. I was really pleased. Next, I preached the gospel to a colleague from India. He was quick to accept as well. I was even more pleased, and felt that I had real caliber and talent for spreading the gospel. I later quit my job to spread the gospel full time. Because I was good at communicating with potential gospel recipients and could help others, I was soon chosen as a group leader. The supervisor also arranged for me to go help Sisters Aileen and Agatha, who had just started practicing spreading the gospel. I felt that I was better than the other brothers and sisters. One time, Sister Aileen and I went to a gathering with a potential gospel recipient, and I found that Aileen didn’t fellowship clearly and would often digress. After the gathering, I angrily pointed out her problem. Aileen then became negative and said to me: “Brother, you’re too arrogant and a lot of brothers and sisters don’t want to work with you.” I felt that she was only criticizing me because of what I had just said to her, so I didn’t think I had any problem. Afterward, I’d supervise her and Agatha in the performance of their duties, and I found that they both had some issues. I didn’t fellowship the truth to help them and just surmised that they weren’t making any progress in their duties, and I told the supervisor that they weren’t suited for gospel work. The supervisor pointed out my arrogant disposition and said that I was incapable of handling others’ shortcomings correctly. She also sent me several passages of God’s word in which God revealed people’s arrogant dispositions. I ignored it, and felt that these words of God didn’t apply to me. After this, I invited people to listen to a sermon and bore witness to the work of God in the last days without first discussing with the others. Some of those I preached to liked chatting with me and listening to my fellowship, making me feel even more talented, and that I didn’t need to listen to the supervisor, didn’t need to cooperate with people, could preach the gospel by myself, and could perform my duty well. It was only later that I discovered some people who didn’t meet the criteria for sharing the gospel, and as a result, some of the work I had done was useless. The supervisor said that I was too arrogant, that I was behaving recklessly, and I didn’t cooperate with people, which was leading to poor work results. Because of my behavior I was dismissed as group leader and happened to be replaced by Aileen. I really couldn’t take this, and thought that because of my strengths, I shouldn’t have been dismissed. At the time, I really couldn’t accept this arrangement, and proposed that I stop doing this duty. But at the time, I was just too stubborn, and I didn’t know to reflect on myself.
I was later reassigned to water newcomers. Before long, I had been chosen as a group leader again and was partnered with Sister Therese. I saw that in gatherings, Therese’s fellowship would sometimes be incomplete, and that sometimes she would not completely resolve newcomers’ issues, and so I looked down on her. I’d think, “Is she really suited for this duty? As a group leader, she should be capable of resolving newcomers’ issues, and looking at her now, it’d be best if she practiced for a while first as a team member.” What annoyed me even more was that when she encountered problems she’d always go asking others for help, but rarely me. I’d think to myself, “I know how to solve these problems, is she asking others instead of me because she doesn’t respect me?” Later, at a work meeting, the supervisor pointed out some problems in our work. I thought back on Sister Therese’s behavior and I just couldn’t hold back my dissatisfaction, and I said bluntly in front of everyone, “Is Sister Therese able to shoulder the work of a group leader?” Therese replied in a wounded tone: “I’m just a waste of space. I can’t help brothers or sisters in resolving their problems.” I felt really guilty to hear her say this. When we were talking later on, I felt that she was being constrained by me. But even so, I still didn’t reflect on myself. On another occasion, I found out that one of the new brothers hadn’t been getting any results in his duty, and I felt that he wasn’t suited for it. But instead of consulting with the supervisor or talking it over with anyone else, I just dismissed him. At that time, I was being truly arrogant. It was only later that I found out that he had been encountering difficulties in his duty. I’d arbitrarily dismissed him without even getting a clear understanding of his situation. The brother became very negative after being dismissed. When the supervisor found out, she asked me, “Why did you dismiss him without discussing it with anyone else? You’ve been so arrogant and overconfident. You’re always looking down on others and constraining them. Because of your consistently poor behavior, you are no longer fit to be a group leader.” I felt completely lost when I was dismissed again. I asked myself, “Why didn’t I ask anyone else? Why do I keep doing only what I want? If I had just sought a little more and discussed the matter with the others, I wouldn’t have this problem.” Over the next few days, I had a sore throat, I was throwing up, and I felt weak all over. I knew that I had offended God and I felt very unhappy.
I later talked to a sister about my state and she sent me a couple of passages of God’s word. “Do not be self-righteous; take the strengths of others to offset your own deficiencies, watch how others live by (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 22). “Do not think that you are a natural-born prodigy, only slightly lower than the heavens but infinitely higher than the earth. You are far from being smarter than anyone else—and, it could even be said that it is simply adorable how much sillier you are than any of the people on earth who are possessed of reason, for you think too highly of yourself, and have never had a sense of inferiority, as if you can see through My actions down to the tiniest detail. In point of fact, you are someone who is fundamentally lacking in reason, because you have no idea of what I intend to do, and you are even less aware of what I am doing now. And so I say that you are not even the equal of an old farmer toiling on the land, a farmer who has not the faintest perception of human life and yet puts all his reliance on the blessings of Heaven as he cultivates the land. You do not spare a second’s thought to your life, you know nothing of renown, and still less do you have any self-knowledge. You are so ‘above it all’!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Do Not Learn and Remain Ignorant: Are They Not Beasts?). After reading God’s word, I felt very upset. I felt that I was being exposed by God’s word. I had always thought of myself as gifted, as well as smarter, and more talented than others. I had always had a sense of superiority, thought highly of myself, and viewed others as unimportant. I saw that Aileen’s and Agatha’s fellowship in gatherings had shortcomings, and so I looked down on them, shunned them, determined them to be unsuited for gospel work, and didn’t want to partner with them. Especially when I was able to spread the gospel on my own, I felt even more talented, and that I could complete the work independently as I didn’t need to cooperate with others. When I was partnered with Sister Therese, I felt that I was more talented than her, and so I looked down on her, thinking she was unable to shoulder the work of a group leader. I also stuck to my own way when I dismissed that brother. I just arbitrarily dismissed him without discussing it with anyone, leading to him falling into negativity. I’d been so self-conceited, always done things as I had wanted, and had never attempted to listen to the opinions of others, because I’d felt that my brothers and sisters were insignificant in comparison to me, and I’d wanted to tell them “I’m better and more talented than you.” But as a result, I’d done my duty without seeking principles, I had been a law unto myself, and had done things that had hurt my brothers and sisters. God’s word made me feel so ashamed, especially when I read: “You do not spare a second’s thought to your life, you know nothing of renown, and still less do you have any self-knowledge. You are so ‘above it all’!” The word of God stirred my heart. I’d always held myself in such high regard, never even considering whether what I was doing was correct. I’d been so self-conceited. Farmers working the land know to rely on God, but when things happened to me, I never knew to seek God’s will. God had no place in my heart. I truly had no understanding or knowledge of myself.; and see whether their lives, actions, and speech are worth emulating. If you regard others as less than you, you are self-righteous, conceited, and of benefit to no one”
Later on, the sister sent me more of God’s word, allowing me to know myself a little better. Almighty God says, “There are many kinds of corrupt dispositions that are included within the disposition of Satan, but the one that is most obvious and that stands out the most is an arrogant disposition. Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more irrational they are, and the more irrational they 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, and they have no fear of God within their hearts. Even though 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” (. “In creating man, God gives different strengths to different sorts of people. Some people are good with literature, some with medicine, some with in-depth study of a skill, some with scientific research, and so on. These strengths of man’s are bestowed on them by God. They are nothing to boast about. Whatever strengths a person has, they do not mean that they understand the truth, and less still that they possess the reality of the truth. If a person with some strength believes in God, they should put it to use in performing their duty. This is pleasing to God. If someone boasts of a strength of theirs or hopes to use it to strike a bargain with God, they are very much irrational, and God is displeased with such a person. Some people who are capable of some discipline come to God’s house and feel they are a cut above the rest. They wish to enjoy special treatment and feel that with their skill, they are set for life. They treat their discipline as if it were capital of a sort. How arrogant this is of them. How, then, are such gifts and strengths to be regarded? If there is a use for them in God’s house, then they are tools with which to perform a duty well, nothing more. They have nothing to do with the truth. Gifts and talents, however great, are no more than man’s strengths, and do not relate to the truth in the least. Your gifts and strengths do not mean that you understand the truth, much less that you have the reality of the truth. If you put your gifts and strengths to use in your duty and perform that duty well, then you are using them where they belong. God approves of this. If you put your gifts and strengths to use in vaunting yourself, in bearing witness for yourself, in establishing an independent kingdom, then your sin is a great one indeed—you will have become the prime offender in resistance against God. Gifts are given by God. If you cannot put your gifts to use toward a duty or toward bearing witness for God, then you are quite without conscience and reason and in great arrears to God. You are committing a heinous insubordination! Yet, however well you bring your gifts and strengths to bear, it does not mean you have the reality of the truth. Only in practicing the truth and acting with principles can one possess the reality of the truth. Gifts and talents remain forever gifts and talents; they are unrelated to the truth. No matter how many gifts and talents you have, nor how lofty your reputation and status, they never signify your possession of the reality of the truth. Gifts and talents will never become the truth; they are unrelated to the truth” , Vol. 3, Part Three)(The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 3, Item Eight: They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part Three)). God’s word is very clear. Each of us has our own strengths, skills, and talents. But no matter what skills a person has, these do not mean that they understand the truth, much less that they are better than anyone else. The strengths and talents that God has given us are just tools to carry out our duties. They are unrelated to the truth. I should not have taken pride in these things. I should have treated them correctly instead. But once I had mastered some speaking skills and could communicate with people easily, I felt superior, and that I could capitalize on these things. I thought that I was better than the others, and so I went on to become more and more arrogant and aggressive. When I did my duty and got some results I felt even more proud of myself, didn’t see anyone else as important, and only believed in myself, to the point that I didn’t seek the principles of the truth in my duty, nor did I cooperate with anyone. I ignored it when the supervisor pointed out my arrogant disposition, and still thought myself to be right and good. Even when I was dismissed, I didn’t reflect on myself whatsoever, and still shamelessly thought I was gifted, talented, and that I could do my duty properly. I was resistant and resentful of my dismissal, and I even wanted to stop doing my duty. This arrogant disposition made me unable to know myself, unable to listen to the advice of others, and lacking in self-knowledge. In my eyes I was without equal, and in my heart I was without God! My arrogance was the fundamental reason I rebelled against and resisted God in every situation He arranged for me. I had no place for God in my heart, and I neither obeyed nor feared Him. On the surface, I was doing my duty, but whenever something happened to me, I wouldn’t pray or seek God, and in my duty I didn’t seek the truth or principles. I’d just rely on my arrogant disposition to do things, and act wantonly and recklessly, resulting in disruption of the work of the church. This really was doing evil! If my arrogant disposition went unchanged, sooner or later, I would become an antichrist that resists God, and eventually I would be cast out and punished by God. Through the enlightenment and illumination of God’s word, I saw this fact clearly. Though I did have some strengths, I was always acting by my arrogant disposition, I wasn’t seeking the truth or principles, and my work was ineffective. Clearly I wasn’t any better than anyone else. I thought about Sister Therese, who was able to humbly accept the suggestions of others to make up for her own shortcomings. Her duty was yielding greater and greater results. I felt so ashamed. I didn’t possess the strengths of my sister. In fact, I was nothing, and yet I was still so arrogant. If I had continued to capitalize on my strengths and talents, not listen to God’s word, and not seek the truth or principles in my duty, then I would not be blessed by God, regardless of my strengths. Not only would I have not been able to do any duty properly, I would’ve eventually lost my chance at salvation.
Later on, I read another passage of God’s word: “Do you think anyone is perfect? No matter how strong people are, or how capable and talented, they still are not perfect. People must recognize this, it is fact. Such is also the attitude that people should have toward their own merits and strengths or faults; this is the rationality that people should possess. With such rationality, you can properly deal with your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others, and this will enable you to work alongside them harmoniously. If you have understood this aspect of the truth and can enter this aspect of the reality of the truth, then you can get along harmoniously with your brothers and sisters, drawing on each other’s strong points to offset any weaknesses you have. In this way, no matter what duty you are performing or what you are doing, you will always get better at it and have God’s blessing” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 3, Good Behavior Does Not Mean One’s Disposition Has Changed). From God’s word, I found a path of practice. I should know myself within God’s word and handle my strengths and weaknesses correctly. Besides, nobody is perfect, and when it comes to things I don’t understand I must learn to seek the help of others and to draw upon their methods and paths. Before, I always felt like I was above everyone else, and I looked down on everybody. But in reality, everyone has their own strengths, and I can’t keep holding myself in such high regard. I have to lower myself, speak and do things on an equal footing with my brothers and sisters, learn more about the strengths and merits of others, and cooperate harmoniously. If anyone is putting forward suggestions, I should seek the truth and principles, and not always consider myself to be correct, because I have many shortcomings, insufficiencies, mistaken ideas and viewpoints, my view of things is inaccurate, and also because the Holy Spirit does not always work within just one person, He may be working within other brothers or sisters.
Later, when brothers and sisters put forward different suggestions in our duties, I tried to accept them. I remember there was a time while spreading the gospel, that I’d only invite people to hear the sermon, but wouldn’t inquire about their difficulties in private afterward. My supervisor found out about my problem and pointed out that I wasn’t being diligent enough in my duty. Initially, I couldn’t accept her criticism, and I felt that I was already striving to do the best, that I was understanding their problems and difficulties when we gathered, and didn’t need to inquire with them individually. Also, this was how I’d done things before and the results had been pretty good, so I didn’t need to do as the supervisor said. But when I thought this, I realized that this was my arrogant disposition being revealed again, so I quieted myself, prayed to God, and managed to calm down a little. My supervisor was pointing out problems in my work and I should accept her advice and help, so that I could keep getting better and better results in my duty. After reflecting, I started to communicate with the potential gospel recipients, show concern for them, ask if they were having any difficulties, and then I’d do all I could to find God’s words to fellowship with them. Once I practiced in this way, the results of my gospel work improved a lot, and I also experienced the joy of putting myself aside and practicing the truth. After this, even if brothers and sisters make a small suggestion, I always try to accept it. Every time I practice in this way it always brings me inner peace and helps me do my duty better. I am so grateful to God!