The Consequences of Doing a Duty for Show

October 17, 2022

By Xiaomo, Spain

In 2021, I was in charge of the work of several churches. They were established recently and all their work was in its early stages. Our upper leader had to come often to direct the work, and she’d offer timely fellowship when issues were discovered. She asked a lot about gospel work in particular. Seeing that other churches’ gospel work was going really well, that they had quite a few people investigating the true way and joining their churches every month, I was really envious. I was thinking that gospel work was really important to the upper leader and I was pretty lacking in that aspect. If I couldn’t do it well and our gospel work was held up, the leader was sure to say I was lacking caliber, couldn’t do the job, and dismiss me. So for a while I put a lot of effort into gospel work, following up with the brothers and sisters frequently on how things were going, summing up issues with them to find solutions, but I didn’t ask about or follow up on the other work much. After some time, we were getting somewhat better results in our gospel work, but the effectiveness of our watering work was slipping. Some new believers were encountering difficulties or were disturbed by their pastors and didn’t get watering and support in time, so they became negative and stopped attending gatherings. Seeing this, I thought that we were short on watering staff, so maybe we should train some new believers to be waterers. But then it occurred to me that the upper leader was mainly focused on gospel work at that time, and the other churches were all doing great in that regard. If I couldn’t get good results, the leader was sure to think I was lacking capability. I figured I should keep focusing my energy on gospel work. With that in mind, I didn’t give much more thought to cultivating newcomers. When the leader checked on our work later, she found we hadn’t been training new believers in recent months, and new church members weren’t getting watered in time. She said angrily, “God’s house has required time and again that we cultivate new believers. You’ve put a halt to such a critical part of our work—why?” She revoked my responsibility for watering work. I was in a bit of a haze. But I thought that it was fine to not be in charge of that. There was so much church work to do and I couldn’t keep up with it, so by only taking responsibility for gospel work, I could do it well. I had no awareness at all of the problem within me. It wasn’t until my devotionals the next day that I realized having my responsibility for something as important as watering newcomers taken away must contain a lesson for me to learn. I had to really reflect on myself in light of this. I said a silent prayer to God in my heart, asking Him to enlighten and guide me to know myself. After praying I realized I’d only been focusing on the work my leader had been checking up on recently. If the leader didn’t mention something, I paid it no mind even when a problem cropped up within my sphere of responsibility. Wasn’t I just working for show? Later I found some relevant words from God. Almighty God says, “Some churches are especially slow in spreading the work of the gospel, and this is simply down to the false leaders being remiss in their duties and making too many mistakes. While carrying out various items of work, there are actually many issues, deviations, and oversights that false leaders must solve, rectify, and remedy—but, because they have no sense of burden, because they can only play the part of a government official and do not do real work, as a result they cause a disastrous mess. The members of some churches lose unity, and they undermine each other, become suspicious and wary of each other; they also become anxious and afraid that the house of God will cast them out. When false leaders are faced with this situation, they do not carry out any specific work. It does not in the slightest pain the false leaders that their work remains in a state of paralysis; they cannot rouse themselves to do any actual work, and instead wait for the Above to send down orders telling them what to do and what not to do, as if their work is only done for the Above. If the Above conveys no specific requirements, and gives no direct orders or commands, then they do nothing, and are careless and perfunctory. They do however much the Above gives them to do, moving when pushed and still when not, careless and perfunctory. What is a false leader? To sum them up, they do not do practical work, which means they do not do their work as leaders. They are severely derelict with critical, fundamental work—they do nothing. That is what a false leader is” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). From God’s words I saw that false leaders put their all into work that makes them look good. They just do what their leaders insist on, or things everyone can see. If a leader doesn’t order something, even if that work is already suffering, they turn a blind eye or just muddle through it. That kind of person doesn’t uphold the church’s work at all in their duty or do any practical work. They don’t have any humanity or character, and they’re not seekers or lovers of the truth. Even when performing a duty, they’re just disruptive and doing evil. Before, I’d never felt like I didn’t have good humanity, but then I saw I was in that sort of state. I thought about how I’d been performing in my duty. I saw the upper leader really prioritized the gospel work and she gave me lots of guidance and help in that aspect since I wasn’t great at it, so I was worried about being dismissed if I kept struggling with that. To keep my position, I started to focus more on gospel work and ignore other aspects of our work. During that time I had an inkling that other things were within my purview and I should be following up on them, but I also felt that since the leader wasn’t asking about those things, they weren’t that important, so I didn’t do them. I just did the work the leader demanded, the things that would benefit my name and status. I wasn’t considerate of God’s will at all. I wasn’t carrying out a leader’s responsibilities in my duty. I was just doing things for show, to make my leader satisfied enough. The attitude I had toward my duty had already impacted my work. God’s house fellowshiped plenty of times that we had to water and cultivate new believers of good caliber so they could take on a duty. That would benefit the expansion of the kingdom gospel. But I hadn’t done such critical work for two or three months, seriously delaying our work. That was doing evil. It was really upsetting to think of it that way. I prayed to God, “Oh God, I’ve been so false and cunning. I’ve just been working to make myself look good and I’ve delayed the church’s work. God, I want to repent!”

After that I read some words of God exposing antichrists’ dispositions that helped me understand myself. Almighty God says, “This is the attitude that antichrists have toward practicing the truth: When it is beneficial to them, when everyone will praise and admire them for it, they are sure to oblige, and will make some token effort for appearances’ sake. If practicing the truth is of no benefit to them, if no one sees it, and the superior leaders are not present, then at such times there is no question of them practicing the truth. Their practicing of the truth depends on the context, on the time, on whether it is done in public or out of view, on how great the benefits; they are extraordinarily savvy and quick-witted when it comes to such things, and not gaining any benefit or putting themselves on display is unacceptable. They don’t do any work if their efforts are not recognized, if no one sees no matter how much they do. If the work is arranged directly by the house of God, and they have no choice but to do it, still they take into consideration whether this will benefit their status and reputation. If it is good for their status and can improve their reputation, they put everything they have into this work and make a good job of it; they feel they are killing two birds with one stone. If it is of no benefit to their status or reputation, and doing it badly could discredit them, they think of a way or excuse to get out of it. No matter what duty they perform, they always stick to the same principle: They must glean some benefit. The kind of work antichrists like most is when there is no cost to them, when they don’t have to suffer or pay any price, and there is a benefit to their reputation and status. In sum, no matter what they’re doing, the antichrists first consider their own interests, and they only act once they’ve thought it all out; they do not truly, sincerely, and absolutely obey the truth without compromise, but do so selectively and conditionally. What condition is this? It is that their status and reputation must be safeguarded, and must not suffer any loss. Only after this condition is satisfied will they decide and choose what to do. That is, antichrists give serious consideration to how to treat the principles of the truth, God’s commissions, and the work of God’s house, or how to deal with the things they face. They do not consider how to fulfill God’s will, how to keep from damaging the interests of God’s house, how to satisfy God, or how to benefit the brothers and sisters; these are not the things they consider. What do antichrists consider? Whether their own status and reputation will be affected, and whether their prestige will be lowered. If doing something according to the principles of the truth benefits the work of the church and the brothers and sisters, but would cause their own reputation to suffer and cause many people to realize their true stature and know what sort of nature and essence they have, then they will definitely not act in accordance with the principles of the truth. If doing practical work will cause more people to think highly of them, look up to them and admire them, or enable their words to carry authority and make more people submit to them, then they will choose to do it that way; otherwise, they will never choose to disregard their own interests out of consideration for the interests of God’s house or of the brothers and sisters. This is the nature and essence of antichrists. Isn’t it selfish and vile?” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). “Antichrists are a cunning sort, aren’t they? With anything they do, they connive and calculate it eight or ten times, or even more. Their heads are full of thoughts about how to make themselves have more stable positions in a crowd, how to have better reputations and higher prestige, how to curry favor with the Above, how to make the brothers and sisters support, love and respect them, and they do whatever it takes to get these outcomes. What path are they walking? For them, the interests of God’s house, the interests of the church, and the work of God’s house are not their main consideration, much less are they things that they are concerned about. What do they think? ‘These things have nothing to do with me. It’s every man for himself, and may the devil take the hindmost; people have to live for themselves and for their own reputation and status. That’s the highest goal there is. If someone doesn’t know they should live for themselves and protect themselves, then they’re a moron. If I were asked to practice according to the principles of the truth and to submit to God and the arrangements of His house, then it would depend on whether or not there would be any benefit in it for me, and whether there would be any advantages in doing so. If not submitting to the arrangements of God’s house brings a chance that I might get kicked out and lose out on an opportunity to gain blessings, then I’ll submit.’ Thus, in order to protect their own reputation and status, antichrists often choose to make some compromises. You could say that for the sake of status, antichrists are capable of enduring any sort of suffering, and for the sake of having a good reputation, they are capable of paying any sort of price. The saying, ‘A great man knows when to yield and when not to,’ rings true with them. This is the logic of Satan, is it not? This is Satan’s philosophy for living in the world, and it is also Satan’s principle of survival. It is utterly disgusting!” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). I could see from God’s words that antichrists are cunning and deceptive by nature; they’re terribly selfish and vile. In their duty they only think of their own name and status, and put their interests first. If something benefits them, benefits their reputation, will gain them the leaders’ praise and the brothers and sisters’ support, they’ll throw themselves into it. But as for tasks that leaders won’t notice even if they’re done, or things that won’t help their name or status, they don’t want to pay a price for them. Before an antichrist does something, they calculate how to protect their reputation and status, how to maximize their own benefit. They never consider upholding the church’s work. Reflecting on how I’d acted, I saw I revealed the same disposition as an antichrist. In my duty I wasn’t considering what would benefit the church’s work and I wasn’t upholding the church’s work. Instead I was just internally calculating what would leave my leader with a good impression, how to pander to her and keep her from seeing my shortcomings so I could hold on to my position. When I noticed the leader was asking about the gospel work a lot, I figured that was important to her, so to protect my position, I put undue emphasis on gospel work, trying to follow up on that work and resolve those issues. But seeing the leader hadn’t been focused on the watering work for a while, I ignored that aspect of my work. I felt that even if I spent time on it, I still wouldn’t gain the leader’s praise. I was well aware we were short on waterers and there had already been consequences from new believers not being watered in time, but I still paid that no mind, and just let the watering work suffer right under my nose. I seemed really engaged in my duty and I’d rush to do whatever the leader asked about, but in fact, I was running my own business, deceiving people and cheating God with a false image. I was selfish, slippery, and cunning. I’d taken on such important work, but I kept thinking of and making calculations for my own interests at every turn. I treated my duty as a springboard for my pursuit of name and status. I was on the path of an antichrist—everything I did was disgusting to God. Once I understood that, I realized that I’d been disruptive to the church’s work and dismissing me wouldn’t be excessive. I’d been so selfish, cunning, and irresponsible, I wasn’t worthy of such an important job. I felt guilty and regretful, and that I owed God so much! I said a prayer to God in my heart that whether the leader inquired about something or not, as long as it was within my scope of work, I would put my all into it, and really make up for my transgressions. To my surprise, once I was ready to repent to God, the leader asked me to take on the watering work again. I was so moved in that moment. I was thinking that I absolutely had to treasure that duty, and never again think of my name and status. I threw myself into my work after that. I prioritized tasks I hadn’t been attentive to according to urgency, learned about and followed up on them, and found practical solutions to problems. I felt much better once I started working that way.

A few days later, God’s house decreed that the churches should do cleansing work. It occurred to me that I was responsible for the gospel and watering work, that those were important, and I didn’t have primary responsibility for the cleansing work. I figured my partner could take care of it. So, I didn’t keep it at the top of my mind. I just briefly discussed how to carry out that work with my partner and had her go take care of it. I never checked in with her about her progress or struggles in that work. I was taken by surprise when in a gathering, the leader asked about how the cleansing work was going. She was asking about another church, wanting to know who they’d cleared out, how those people had behaved, if they’d faced any difficulties or anything they didn’t understand in that work. I got really nervous because I hadn’t been looking into the cleansing work and didn’t know anything about it. If I was asked and had no clue, the leader would surely say I wasn’t doing practical work. What if my duty was changed, or I was dismissed? I had just one thought at the time: to go find out about that project’s progress as soon as the gathering was over, to get a headcount of the people cleared out, see who I was unsure of, and to discuss and decide right away on whether they should be removed so I’d be able to give the leader a basic answer if she looked into it. That way she would think I was able to do some real work. It was already past midnight when the gathering ended and I still wanted to ask my partner about that project. Just as I was getting ready to contact her, I felt a little off. Wasn’t I only working for show again? Looking into it that way was just going through the motions. If we came to the wrong decision and cleared out someone who shouldn’t be removed, wouldn’t that be irresponsible toward brothers’ and sisters’ lives? If I rushed through it without carefully investigating and weighing the decision and the wrong person was cleared out, that wouldn’t just be irresponsible in my job, but it would be harmful to the brothers and sisters. I broke out in a bit of a cold sweat at that thought and I silently prayed, “God, I’ve started working for show again. I’m in a rush to follow up on cleansing work now. It’s not to consider Your will and do my duty well, but for the sake of my reputation and position. I’m playing games and cheating You again. God, I’m not remotely genuine in my duty, but I’m just doing things to look good. This is all disgusting to You. Oh God, I want to self-reflect and repent to You.” Just then, a passage of God’s words I’d read recently came to mind. Almighty God says, “If you are a leader, then no matter how many projects you are responsible for, it is your responsibility to constantly be involved and ask questions, at the same time also checking up on things and resolving problems promptly as they arise. This is your job. And so, whether you are a regional leader, district leader, church leader, or any team leader or supervisor, once you have ascertained the scope of your responsibilities, you must frequently examine whether you are doing your part in this work, whether you have fulfilled the responsibilities that ought to be fulfilled by a leader or worker, what work you haven’t done, what work you haven’t done well, what work you don’t want to do, what work has been ineffective, and what work you have failed to grasp the principles of. These are all things you should often reflect on. At the same time, you must learn to fellowship with and ask questions of other people, and must learn how to identify, in God’s words and the work arrangements, a plan, principles, and a path for implementation. Toward any work arrangement, whether it relates to administration, HR, or the life of the church, or else any kind of specialist work, if it touches upon the responsibilities of leaders and workers, if it is a responsibility that you are supposed to fulfill, and within the purview of your responsibilities, then you should concern yourself with it. Naturally, priorities should be set based on the situation so that no projects fall behind” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s words are very clear. As a leader with responsibility for the church’s work, no matter how many projects we oversee, we have to prioritize them, supervise them, inquire after and check up on them so that each one proceeds as it should. This is what a leader or worker should do, and the only way to get real work done. But I thought that as long as I could complete important work that could produce tangible results, or tasks the leader asked about regularly, that was doing practical work. But whatever the upper leader didn’t ask about much or things that didn’t really obviously pay off, I hardly worked on or followed up on. But in fact, I should have been putting my all into everything within my purview in my duty. Some of the projects were already launched and hadn’t been discussed for a little while, but that didn’t mean they’d come to a halt and didn’t need follow-up. I should have been looking into them according to priority. If I never asked about them and that held up progress on them, that would be irresponsible, and lacking devotion to God. I thought about my attitude toward my job. I knew the cleansing work was really important, but I felt that it wasn’t something I was primarily responsible for, and if it was done well no one would see the effort I put into it, so I didn’t put my heart into it or treat it seriously. I had no idea about its progress. As soon as I heard the leader ask about it I rushed to check up on it. I wanted to do some simple follow-up so I could give the leader an answer when she inquired into my work, then she wouldn’t find out I wasn’t getting real work done and dismiss me. I was playing games and being deceitful, protecting my name and status and not taking responsibility for the church’s work. That was doing evil!

After that I gave some thought to my recent attitude and performance in my duty. These passages of God’s words came to mind: “When a person accepts what God entrusts to them, God has a standard for judging whether their actions are good or bad and whether the person has obeyed, and whether the person has satisfied God’s will and whether what they do meets that standard. What God cares about is the person’s heart, not their actions on the surface. It is not the case that God should bless someone as long as they do something, regardless of how they do it. This is a misunderstanding people have about God. God looks not just at the end result of things, but places more emphasis on how a person’s heart is and how a person’s attitude is during the development of things, and He looks at whether there is obedience, consideration, and the desire to satisfy God in their heart” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I). “Although everyone is willing to pursue the truth, entering into its reality is no simple matter. The key is to focus on seeking the truth and putting the truth into practice. You have to reflect on these things every day. No matter what problems or difficulties you encounter, do not give up on practicing the truth; you must learn how to seek the truth and reflect on yourself, and ultimately practice the truth. This is most crucial of all; whatever you do, do not try and protect your own interests, and if you put your own interests first, you will not be able to practice the truth. Look at those people who are only out for themselves—which of them can practice the truth? Not one of them. Those who practice the truth are all honest people, lovers of the truth and kind-hearted people. They are all people with conscience and sense, who can let go of their own interests, vanity, and pride, who can forsake the flesh. These are the people who can put the truth into practice. … People who love the truth walk a different path from those who don’t: People who don’t love the truth always focus on living by the philosophies of Satan, they are satisfied merely with outward displays of good behavior and piousness, but in their hearts there are still wild desires and hankerings, and they still pursue status and prestige, still wish to be blessed and enter the kingdom—but because they do not pursue the truth, and are incapable of casting off their corrupt dispositions, they always live under the power of Satan. In all things, everyone who loves the truth seeks the truth, reflects on themselves and tries to know themselves, and focuses on practicing the truth, and there is always obedience to God and fear of God in their heart. If any notions or misunderstandings of Him should arise, they pray to God right away and seek the truth to resolve them; they focus on performing their duty well, such that God’s will is satisfied; and they strive toward the truth and pursue knowledge of God, coming to fear Him in their heart and shunning all evil deeds. This is someone who always lives before God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Good Behavior Does Not Mean One’s Disposition Has Changed). In my duty I just did things to make me look good, always thinking of gaining the leader’s esteem and thus securing my position. I thought I was being smart, but I was actually being foolish. God’s words are crystal clear—God cares about a person’s heart in their duty. He looks at whether their attitude toward their duty is to be considerate of His will, not how much work they appear to do or how many people give them accolades. Also, the church has principles for dismissing people. No one is casually dismissed because they didn’t do their job well for a short time. If their heart is in the right place and they can uphold the church’s work, if they just make some mistakes due to a lack of experience, God’s house will support and help them. If they really can’t handle the job because they’re lacking caliber, the church will arrange another duty for them. Overall, the key is to have your heart in the right place. If you have the wrong intention in your duty or you don’t consider God’s will, if you just pursue name and status, or you’re playing tricks and being deceitful so the leaders value you, it may look like you’re getting work done and you may be able to suffer and pay a price, but your motives are wrong, and you’re doing everything for yourself. That’s not doing your duty at all and won’t gain God’s approval. I knew that the cleansing work was an important project for God’s house. Understanding and overseeing my coworkers’ progress was part of my job. I should have had the right attitude and done my duty according to principle. After that, I went to talk to my coworkers about their progress in the cleansing work and asked about what difficulties they faced. Then I did hands-on work to help them take stock of the staff and we cleared out the people who fit the conditions for cleansing. I felt really at ease after doing that.

I gained so much through all of those experiences. I used to think that doing the work the leader prioritized and focused on was doing practical work. But through these experiences, I’ve seen that if I don’t have the right motives, but I do my duty for name, status, and others’ admiration, or to cater to a leader, that’s doing work for show, not doing my duty. Then no matter how much work I do, God will never approve of it. Doing a duty, God cares about our hearts and He looks at our attitude toward our duty, if we’re upholding the church’s work, if we can put the truth into practice and live by His words. That’s what’s most important. I came to understand this entirely thanks to God’s guidance. Thank God!

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