The Consequences of Doing One’s Duty According to Whim
By Xingxing, China
In June 2020, I was selected as a church leader. At first, when I had problems at work, I could consciously seek principles, and even when I knew how to do things, I sought the advice of co-workers, and acted when we reached consensus. However, after a while, I found my advice to be appropriate most of the time, and I had been a leader in the past, so I felt like I grasped some principles, and that I could see people and matters, as well as make arrangements accurately. Especially once, when the gospel work was not very effective, my partner didn’t know how to resolve it, so I proposed that brothers and sisters who used to preach the gospel work together and form a gospel group so they could each use their own talents. Then, we sought the truth and fellowshiped to solve the difficulties in gospel work, and after some time passed, the effectiveness of gospel work improved significantly. Unconsciously, I slipped into a state of self-pride and complacency, and I felt I was a capable leader and could reasonably arrange personnel and church work.
A few months later, the church needed to conduct a by-election of a deacon. Before the election, I went through all the people in the church, and I thought Sister Li was most suitable. She had believed for many years, she could forsake and expend, and her mind was flexible. She had also been to many places to preach the gospel in the past, with good results. Now, she had just returned from out of town but converted several people, so I thought she was a good fit to be a gospel deacon. But I saw several comments that she had an arrogant disposition, often constrained others, and attacked those who were proactive in their duty, so I hesitated. But then I thought, she was able to work well and preached the gospel effectively, so although she had some issues, as long as we helped her, it shouldn’t be a problem. After thinking over and over again, I felt that Sister Li was suitable to be a gospel deacon. The next day, I shared my view with my partner. She said, “Sister Li severely constrains others. She can preach the gospel on her own. But as a gospel deacon, she will disturb gospel work, so we have to be cautious.” At that time, when I heard my sister say this, I wasn’t happy. I thought, “You’ve believed in God a short time, and your view is too one-sided. I see people and things more accurately, so you should listen to me.” So, I said to her with disgust on my face, “In choosing gospel deacons, the most important thing is whether a person has the ability and expertise in gospel work. She is arrogant and tends to constrain others, but she has the ability to work, and her preaching is effective. We have to learn how to use people according to their strengths and not get stuck on small problems.” My partner was very frustrated after hearing this, so she didn’t say anything more.
Next, I fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters about the election, but I didn’t fellowship on the principles of elections. Instead, I deliberately stressed that whoever has ability and is effective should be elected. After my fellowship, most brothers and sisters chose Sister Li as the gospel deacon. At the time, I was quite happy. Unexpectedly, after my superior leader read Sister Li’s evaluation, she said Sister Li always constrained others, attacked others for being proactive, was particularly arrogant, and didn’t accept the advice of her brothers and sisters. My leader said choosing her as gospel deacon could easily disrupt our work. I thought, “You don’t know the situation of personnel at my church. If I was so strict about things, there would be no one suitable at all. Besides, Sister Li isn’t completely unaccepting. The last time I dealt with her, she accepted it. She is a decent fit for the role.” Thinking of this, I quickly said, “Sister Li can accept being dealt with, and her preaching of the gospel is effective. We can help her with her arrogant disposition, and she can handle this position. Besides, there is currently no one more suitable than her in the church.” After listening, the leader said helplessly, “Then let her practice for a while and let’s see. If you find that she is attacking people and disturbing work, transfer her in time.” And so, Sister Li became the gospel deacon.
Not long after, my partner said, “Lately, I have been in contact with Sister Li and found that she still constrains people badly. When gospel workers have shortcomings, she doesn’t help them, or even attacks them, saying they are useless and grow too slowly, or that she does all the work alone and cooperating with them is too hard, which puts everyone in a negative state.” I didn’t take her advice seriously, and I thought, “Everyone has corruption, but if they can perform their duties and be effective, it’s fine. Your experience and insight are still too shallow. I have seen many like her. If you fellowship and deal with them, they can still work.” I even said to my sister, “Let’s look at her strengths more. She is arrogant, but she can preach the gospel. We have to be tolerant of these little faults. I’ll fellowship with her more in the future.” My partner, now refuted by me, had nothing more to say. Later, when I saw Sister Li, I wanted to expose and analyze her problems, but the moment we met, she said gospel work was now very effective. I saw that she was very proactive in her duty, so I briefly mentioned the issue of her arrogant disposition and constraining of others, and fellowshiped with her on how to correctly treat her brothers and sisters. After she listened, she said she was willing to change, so I didn’t say anything more. Later, several sisters successively reported that not only did Sister Li not do practical work, she didn’t fellowship on the truth to solve problems when people had difficulties, and she often got angry and scolded or attacked people, putting everyone in a negative state, and making them unwilling to preach the gospel. The effectiveness of gospel work had plummeted, severely hindering the progress of gospel work. I thought, “Was it really wrong for me to insist on choosing her as a deacon? Since the brothers and sisters have mentioned it many times, I can no longer cling to my views.” After that, I looked into Sister Li’s evaluations, and I saw that she relied on her several years of experience in gospel work to often scold and attack people from a place of position, leaving them feel constrained, in a negative state, and unable to perform their duties normally. When others pointed out her problems, she argued and defended herself. Several people gave her fellowship, but she didn’t accept it. I was dumbfounded when I saw this result. I didn’t expect Sister Li’s problem to be so serious. After so many years of work, I chose the wrong person to be a deacon, made a mess of the work, and caused the others to complain. It made me very sad. Afterwards, based on Sister Li’s consistent behavior, it was determined that she was unsuitable as a gospel deacon, and she was removed.
After dismissing Sister Li, I felt something I couldn’t explain. It felt like I had been slapped hard. I thought of how all the times my partner talked about Sister Li’s problems, but I didn’t take it seriously, and as a result, I caused serious losses to the work of God’s house. I felt very remorseful and guilty, and I asked myself, “Why did I make such a big mistake in choosing Sister Li? How should I reflect on myself, and which aspect of truth should I enter?” I prayed to God, asking God to enlighten me so that I could know myself. I read this passage of God’s word, “Some people never seek the truth while performing their duty. They merely do as they please, acting according to their own imaginings, and are ever arbitrary and rash, and they simply do not walk the path of practicing the truth. What does it mean to be ‘arbitrary and rash’? It means, when you encounter an issue, to act however you see fit, with no thought process, or any process for searching. Nothing anyone else says can touch your heart or change your mind. You can’t even accept it when the truth is fellowshiped to you, you stick to your own opinions, not listening when other people say anything right, believing yourself right, and clinging to your own ideas. Even if your thinking is correct, you should take other people’s opinions into consideration as well, right? And if you don’t at all, is this not being extremely self-righteous? It is not easy for people who are extremely self-righteous and wayward to accept the truth. If they do something wrong and you criticize them, saying, ‘You’re not doing it according to the truth!’ they reply, ‘Even if I’m not, this is still how I’m going to do it.’ And then they find some reason to make you think this is right. If you reproach them, saying, ‘You acting like this is meddling, and will damage the interests of God’s house,’ not only do they not listen, but they keep coming out with excuses: ‘I think this is the right way, so this is how I’m going to do it.’ What disposition is this? (Arrogance.) An arrogant nature makes people willful. When people have this willful disposition, are they not prone to being arbitrary and rash?” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word precisely revealed my state. I thought, since I had been a leader for many years, mastered some principles, and achieved some results in my work, I understood the truth and could see people and things clearly, so I especially trusted myself. When things happened, I did whatever I wanted, and didn’t think to seek the truth. My partner asked me to find out if Sister Li had repented and changed, which was in line with principles, but I didn’t listen, didn’t accept it, and insisted on making her listen to me. During the election, I deliberately emphasized my own views to mislead others. After the election, my superior leader reminded me that Sister Li was unsuitable, but I arrogantly clung to my own views and found reasons to refute my leader. After Sister Li became gospel deacon, she constrained others in all things. When my partner pointed out this problem again, I still didn’t reflect on myself. I felt she had too little experience and insight, and I didn’t take her words seriously. I even said it’s normal for those with caliber to be a little arrogant. I used this as an excuse to protect and condone Sister Li. I stubbornly clung to my own views, I didn’t look at whether Sister Li did practical work or caused disturbances, and the result was that everyone felt constrained by her in their duties, which seriously hindered gospel work. I was so arrogant and arbitrary! How was I performing my duty? I was disrupting and disturbing, doing evil, and resisting God, which God hates and detests. Once I recognized this, I couldn’t help but be afraid for a while, so I quickly prayed to God to repent, saying I wanted to change my incorrect state and views and seek the principles of using people.
In my seeking, I saw that the principles of selecting leaders and workers mention, “Not all those with arrogant dispositions should be tarred with the same brush. If someone is able to accept the truth and do practical work, they may be elected” (170 Principles of Practicing the Truth). People with arrogant dispositions can also be chosen, but there is a prerequisite: They must be able to accept the truth and do some practical work. Although Sister Li had some caliber and was good at preaching the gospel, her disposition was especially arrogant and she looked down on others just because she had some gospel experience. When others pointed out her problems, she didn’t accept or reflect on things, and tried to justify herself. Sometimes, even if she outwardly accepted it, she didn’t change at all afterward. She wasn’t someone who accepted the truth at all. She also constrained and attacked others from her place of position, causing her brothers and sisters to live in a negative state, which seriously affected gospel work. People like her, who couldn’t do practical work and caused disruption, even if they have gifts or talents, are unsuitable, and can’t be chosen as gospel deacons. In addition, when I chose Sister Li, I had a mistaken point of view. I thought, for gospel deacons, as long as someone had experience and was effective, they could handle the job, but this was entirely my own imagination. That she could gain people by preaching the gospel only proved she was good at gospel work, not that she was suitable to supervise it. No matter how much experience someone has, if they have bad humanity, constrain and attack others from satanic dispositions, and don’t accept pruning or dealing, this is a problem. Using such a person can only disrupt and disturb the work of God’s house. I had believed for many years, but I didn’t seek the truth when things happened. and I saw people and things based on my own notions and imagination. How was I like a believer in God? I was basically a nonbeliever. As I thought about this, I felt a sadness that pierced my heart. I prayed to God to say I wished to seek the principles of truth, and no longer act arbitrarily on my own will.
Although I had the desire to change, because my own will was too strong, I started making the same old mistakes again. One day, while my leader was investigating our work, she saw that Sister Xu, the textual work supervisor, had poor caliber. She had been cultivated a long time, but showed no obvious growth, and didn’t do effective work. My leader suggested I quickly find someone with better caliber to train, and said it didn’t matter if their time practicing was short. I thought, although Sister Xu didn’t have high caliber, she had done her duty a long time and was responsible, so she was better than anyone new to the job. Those new to it didn’t grasp the principles and had no work experience, and it would take time to train them, so Sister Xu was still better for the role. She might have been ineffective lately because she was in a bad state. Once she adjusted herself, her results would naturally improve. So, I didn’t transfer Sister Xu. After a while, the leader sent another letter asking me to transfer Sister Xu, and recommending Sister Xin, saying she had good caliber and good writing skills. She had done textual work in the past, and was worth cultivating. I saw that she believed in God for a short time and had little experience. Could she really handle the work? With this in mind, I insisted on keeping Sister Xu and did not cultivate Sister Xin. It wasn’t until the end of the month that I found out textual work was almost at a standstill. My leader dealt with me, saying I was too insistent on my views, that she suggested transferring Sister Xu twice, but I hadn’t done it, and hadn’t cultivated Sister Xin, which seriously hindered textual work. I felt very sad. My leader had reminded me twice that Sister Xu had poor caliber and wasn’t suitable for training. Why couldn’t I accept it? Why did I always use people on my own terms? As a result, it caused such huge loss to our work. I felt very remorseful, so I prayed to God, asking God to guide me so that I could reflect on myself.
Later, when I read (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Religious Service Must Be Purged). “If someone does not love the truth and frequently acts according to their own will, then they will frequently offend God. He will detest and reject them, and set them off to the side. What such a person does often fails to meet with God’s approval, and if they know no repentance, then punishment is not far off” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Seeking God’s Will Is for the Sake of Practicing the Truth). As I pondered God’s words, I felt a little afraid. I thought, since I had done my duty a long time and had some experience, I understood the truth, so I held and practiced my own notions as if they were the truth and treated my work experience as my capital. The result was that I became more and more arrogant. When things happened, I had no place for God in my heart, I didn’t seek the principles of truth, I didn’t accept suggestions from others, and I stubbornly did whatever I wanted. The result was damage to the work of God’s house. I finally saw clearly that work experience does not mean I understand the truth or possess its realities. By not pursuing the truth and acting from my own experience and will, I could only disturb the work of God’s house, which is service that resists God. The truth rules in God’s house, and the truth is the criterion for people’s actions. But I put my work experience and my own will into practice as if they were the truth. How was this belief in God? This was belief in the self! This is something that offends God’s disposition. I thought of how the antichrists expelled from the church were all arrogant and arbitrary. In their duties, they ignored the principles of God’s house and acted recklessly, and no matter how others reminded or dealt with them, they never repented, so they were expelled and cast out because they seriously disturbed the work of God’s house. Didn’t I have the same disposition as these antichrists? I was also walking the path of the antichrist. I felt especially regretful and guilty, and hated myself for being too arrogant., I gained a little understanding of myself. “You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will surely turn into the false Christs and the antichrists who deceive people in the last days. The false Christs and the antichrists that were spoken of will arise from among such people. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, they run the risk of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience acquired to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to lecture them and control them, and to stand on high—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people shall fall before God. They are of the same kind as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. Such service interferes with the work of God. People always cling to the old. They cling to the notions of the past, to everything from times gone by. This is a great obstacle to their service. If you cannot throw them off, these things will throttle your whole life. God will not commend you, not in the slightest, not even if you break your legs running or your back with labor, not even if you are martyred in your service of God. Quite the contrary: He will say that you are an evildoer”
Later, I saw a passage of God’s words and learned how to practice. God’s words say, “What practice can you put in place to keep from being arbitrary and rash? You must first have an attitude of humility, set aside what you believe to be right, and let everyone have fellowship. Even if you believe your way to be correct, you should not keep insisting on it. That is a kind of step forward; it shows an attitude of seeking the truth, of denying yourself, and of satisfying God’s will. Once you have this attitude, at the same time that you do not adhere to your own opinion, you should pray, seek the truth from God, and then look for a basis in God’s words—determine how to act on the basis of God’s words. This is the most suitable and accurate practice. When people seek the truth and hold up a problem for everyone to fellowship together and seek an answer for is when the Holy Spirit provides enlightenment. God enlightens people according to principle, He takes stock of your attitude. If you stubbornly stick to your guns regardless of whether your view is right or wrong, God will hide His face from you and ignore you; He will make you hit a wall, He will expose you and reveal your ugly state. If, on the other hand, your attitude is correct, neither insistent on your own way, nor self-righteous, nor arbitrary and rash, but an attitude of seeking and acceptance of the truth, if you fellowship this with everyone, then the Holy Spirit will set to work among you, and perhaps He will lead you to understanding by means of someone’s words. Sometimes, when the Holy Spirit enlightens you, He leads you to understand the crux of a matter with just a few words or phrases, or by giving you a sense. You realize, in that instant, that whatever you have been clinging to is erroneous, and, in the same instant, you understand the most appropriate way to act. Having reached such a level, have you successfully avoided doing evil and bearing the consequences of a mistake? How is such a thing achieved? This is only attained when you have a heart that fears God, and when you seek the truth with a heart of obedience. Once you have received the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and determined the principles for practice, your practice will be in line with the truth, and you will be able to satisfy God’s will” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s words, we can see that no matter what happens, we must have a God-fearing heart, seek God’s will, and seek the principles of truth. Especially when our brothers and sisters make different suggestions, we should first deny ourselves and accept. Even if we think we are right, we should let go of ourselves first, and seek and fellowship with our brothers and sisters. Only in this way can we gain God’s enlightenment. I had believed in God for years, yet even now, I couldn’t accept suggestions that were in line with the truth. I didn’t possess the realities of truth at all, and I lived entirely by my arrogant disposition. Despite being so impoverished, pitiful, filthy, and corrupt, I still proudly thought I was good, and still believed strongly in myself when I acted. Thinking about it now, I realized this was shameless. I made up my mind that I would never trust myself again, and that in everything, I would seek the principles of truth and fellowship with others, because this is the only way to do my duty well.
After that, I started to seek how to reasonably arrange duties based on everyone’s caliber and strengths. I found these words of God: “You must make the most of every person, taking full advantage of their individual capabilities and arranging suitable duties for them according to what they can do, the quality of their caliber, how old they are, and how long they have believed in God. You must come up with a tailor-made plan for each type of person and vary it from person to person, so that they can fulfill their duties in God’s house and exert their functions to the greatest extent” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?). “Some people believe themselves to be skilled in the written word and enjoy performing this duty, so they strenuously demand to do it. Of course, the house of God will not let them lose heart, the house of God cherishes talented individuals, and whatever gifts or skills people have, the house of God will give them room to make use of them, and so the church arranges for them to perform a literary duty. But after some time passes, it is discovered that they do not in fact possess this skill, and are incapable of performing this duty properly; they are totally ineffective. Their skillset and caliber make them utterly incompetent at this job. So what should be done in such circumstances? Is it possible to just put up with them and say, ‘You have passion, and although you do not possess much talent, and are of average caliber, as long as you are willing, and not averse to working hard, the house of God will put up with you, and let you carry on performing this duty. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do it well. The house of God will turn a blind eye, and there’s no need for you to be replaced’? Is this the principle by which the house of God handles such matters? Absolutely not. In such circumstances, they are normally arranged a suitable duty based on their caliber and strengths; that’s one side of it. But it’s not enough to depend on this alone, because in many cases even people themselves don’t know what duty they’re suited to perform, and even if they think they’re good at it, that might not necessarily be correct, and so they have to try it out and be trained for a period of time; deciding based on whether they are effective or not is the right thing to do. If there is no progress after they have been trained for a while, this means there is no value in them being nurtured, and adjustments should be made to duties and a suitable duty rearranged for them. Rearranging and adjusting people’s duties in this way is the proper thing to do, and is also in line with principle” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings). In God’s word, I saw that God’s house arranges duties based on each person’s humanity, caliber, and talents, so that each can give their best, and everyone plays their role in the right place. Some people do textual work, but after being cultivated for a time, there is still no growth. They lack the caliber and aren’t up to the work, so they won’t continue in that role. Instead, an appropriate duty will be arranged based on their caliber, which is beneficial both to them and the work of God’s house. When looked at using principles, although Sister Xu had good humanity and bore a burden in her duty, she had poor caliber, so although she did textual work for years, progress was slow, so she really wasn’t suitable for textual work. Although Sister Xin had believed for a short time, she understood the truth correctly, she was perceptive, she had good caliber, and she enjoyed writing. Although she was not yet qualified for the job, if she was cultivated for a time, she could become competent. Once I knew the principles of cultivating and using people, I put Sister Xin in charge of textual work transferred Sister Xu to another duty, and after a period of time, our textual work gradually improved.
Later, I saw that Sister Wang from another group wrote well, and I felt she could be cultivated for textual work, so I recommended her, but my partner said she was arrogant and self-righteous, tended to constrain people, and always made others listen to her, so she was unsuitable. Hearing her say that made me a little unhappy, and I thought, “Yes, Sister Wang was a little arrogant and tended to constrain people, but that behavior is all in the past. Now, she can accept pruning and dealing, and has shown some change. I think she is very suitable for textual work.” So I clung to my view, but then I thought, “My co-worker saying this contains God’s will. I always used people based on my own will, which harmed the work of God’s house. Now, I am deciding to use Sister Wang without seeking principles. I simply decided directly. I am still acting arbitrarily! I can’t cling to my own views anymore. I have to seek the truth in this. The only accurate way to determine this is according to principles.” Later, I read in God’s word, “Another type of person who can be promoted and cultivated are those who possess special talents or gifts and have mastered some expertise or skills. What is the standard that the house of God requires for nurturing people like this into team leaders? Firstly, in regard to their humanity, they need only be relatively passionate about positive things; they must not be wicked people. Some people might ask, ‘Why are they not required to be someone who loves the truth?’ Because team supervisors are not leaders or workers, nor do they water people. Requiring them to meet the standard of loving the truth would be asking too much, and out of reach of most people. This is not required of people who do administrative work or specialist tasks; if it was, it would be beyond most of them, only a few would qualify, so standards have to be lowered. As long as people are proficient in a certain area and capable of taking on the work, and do not commit evil or cause any interference, then that’s enough. For these people, who have expertise in some skills or tasks and have some strong points, when they carry out work that requires some familiarity with skill and relates to their profession in the house of God, they need only be relatively guileless and upstanding, not wicked, not wrong or absurd in their understanding, able to endure hardship, and willing to pay a price” (Identifying False Leaders). God’s house cultivates people with special skills based on this principle: They must have acceptable humanity, non-deviant understanding, treat their duties seriously, and love positive things. Sister Wang had a somewhat arrogant disposition, but if what others suggested was right and in line with the truth, she could accept it. She had a talent for textual work, she could suffer and pay a price in her duty, and she could protect the work of God’s house, so she was in line with that principle. Later, I used the principle to fellowship with my superior leader and several partners about my views, and everyone thought although Sister Wang’s disposition was arrogant, she had acceptable humanity, was responsible in her duty, and could accept other people’s suggestions, so she could be cultivated. After that, I arranged for Sister Wang to do textual work. She cherished the opportunity, and produced good results in her new duty. I saw that when we seek God’s will in everything and do our duties by the principles of truth, we will receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and our hearts will be at ease. Thank God!