The Consequences of Failing to Do Practical Work

February 7, 2023

By Xiaomo, China

Recently some brothers and sisters reported that a group leader, Xinyue, was arrogant, autocratic, and unable to work well with others or take suggestions. Everyone felt constrained by her and it impacted the gospel work. Everyone tried to point this out and help her, but she just verbally acknowledged and accepted it, and didn’t change at all after. We discussed it and decided to dismiss her from her post. Actually, I was really embarrassed by this, because it showed that I wasn’t doing practical work. I’d fellowshiped with Xinyue a few times before about her problems, but to my surprise, instead of being resolved, her issues just got worse. It made me reflect and wonder what the real reason for that was. I thought back to when I’d first taken over the job. I noticed Xinyue’s group was the most successful in gospel work, and really engaged in their duty. I thought quite highly of them. Especially when I saw how capable Xinyue was, I felt that there shouldn’t be any major issues with her as group leader, so I didn’t follow up on their work much. Though some sisters reported their issues to me, I didn’t take them seriously. I felt that since they did well in gospel work, even if there were some problems, it wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes when I fellowshiped with them, I just gave them some simple pointers, and I didn’t follow up to see if the problems had been resolved afterward. I remember once when we were discussing work, I noticed Xinyue and Xiaoli were in disagreement. They were both really arrogant and stuck to their own views. I found some words of God that addressed their states to fellowship on, and seeing that they were both able to reflect and willing to change, I thought the problem was solved. Then again, they’d had trouble working together for a long time, so I was afraid that fellowshiping once with them could not resolve the problem, and I should follow up on things and see if their states had really changed. But then I thought, to fellowship with them more, I’d have to find passages of God’s words and try to fathom their states, which is really taxing. Besides, they were doing their duties normally, so I thought it’d be fine not to check up on them. So I just left it at that. There was another time when I saw Xinyue and another sister disagreeing during fellowship. The other sister made a reasonable suggestion, but Xinyue refused to accept it, and kept insisting she was right. That sister finally had no choice but to give in. Seeing how self-righteous Xinyue was, I wanted to reveal her problem, but then I thought of the time and energy I’d have to put into fellowshiping on it, and the other work I still had to take care of. As there wasn’t any clear conflict or friction between them, maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. The less trouble the better. Plus, Xinyue was a group leader, so if she revealed some arrogance, she should be able to resolve it through seeking. And so, I didn’t point out her problem.

Looking back on it all, I was well aware that Xinyue was arrogant and couldn’t work well with others. Also she was a leader, so by brushing off such an important matter, I was being really irresponsible! I read this in God’s words later: “No matter what important work a leader or worker does, and what the nature of this work is, their number one priority is to be au fait with how work is getting on. They must be there in person to follow up on things and ask questions, getting their information first-hand. They must not simply keep an ear to the ground, or listen to other people’s reports; instead, they must observe with their own eyes how staff are doing, how work is progressing, and learn about what difficulties there are, whether any areas are at odds with requirements of the Above, whether the specialist tasks have violated principles, whether there exist any disturbances or disruption, whether there is a lack of necessary equipment, or instructional materials for a certain task—they must stay on top of all of this. No matter how many reports they listen to, or how much they get from keeping their ear to the ground, neither of these beats paying a personal visit. Seeing things with their own eyes is more accurate and reliable; once they are familiar with the situation, they will have a good idea of what’s going on(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “No matter which work task they are inspecting, leaders who carry a burden will always be able to identify problems. For any problems which have to do with knowledge of a particular professional skill, or to do with breaches of the principles, they will be able to identify, enquire about, and gain an understanding, and when they discover a problem, they resolve it promptly. Intelligent leaders and workers only resolve problems to do with the church’s work, professional knowledge, and principles of the truth. They do not pay small matters in daily life any heed. They look after every facet of the work of disseminating the gospel which God commissioned. They ask about and inspect any problems which they are able to perceive or discover. If they are unable to solve the problem themselves at that moment, then they gather with other leaders and workers, fellowship with them, seek the principles of the truth, and think of ways to resolve it. If they encounter a big problem which they definitely cannot resolve, then they promptly seek assistance from the Above, and allow the Above to handle it and resolve it. Leaders and workers such as this are people who are principled in their work. No matter what the issue is, so long as they have seen it, heard about it, or known about it, they will not let it go, and are able to resolve each one. Even if it is not resolved well, they guarantee the problem will not happen again(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). I was really ashamed when I saw what God requires of leaders and workers. I hadn’t borne a burden for the gospel work. Not only had I failed to promptly follow up on the gospel work, I hadn’t gained a detailed understanding of the brothers’ and sisters’ states. Like Xinyue being a group leader but also being hard to work with—I should have resolved this through fellowship, but I just briefly pointed out her problem without talking to the others to gain a detailed understanding of it. I also hadn’t exposed the nature of her issue or its consequences. After that, I hadn’t inquired about whether she’d changed or not. I hadn’t pondered on whether this was an issue of her essence or a revelation of corruption, whether she was suited to be a group leader, and other details like that. So her problems were never resolved, and the gospel work was impacted. Later, I’d seen that Xinyue was still arrogant, self-righteous, and autocratic, and I knew I should fellowship with her to resolve this, or it would delay the work. But I still didn’t take care of it, because I didn’t want the hassle. I was just superficially going through the motions of resolving problems, content with doing surface-level work, mentioning the problem and nothing more. I paid no mind to whether the issue was actually resolved or not. I was being irresponsible, I wasn’t doing my job or any practical work. That’s how a false leader behaves. The church had put me in charge of gospel work, hoping that I’d be able to do my duty according to God’s requirements, to be serious and responsible in my work, and use the principles of the truth to resolve the brothers’ and sisters’ issues so that the gospel work could proceed smoothly. But instead, when problems arose that needed resolving, I did nothing, thinking the less trouble, the better. I was truly acting as a false leader and hindering the gospel work’s progress. My attitude toward my duty was really disgusting to God!

Afterward, I sought and pondered on the true root of my failure to do real work. I read something in God’s words. “In their work, leaders and workers should heed God’s will and be loyal to Him. The best way for them to behave is to proactively recognize and solve problems. They must not remain passive, especially when they have these practical words and fellowship to guide them. They should take the initiative to thoroughly resolve practical problems and difficulties by fellowshiping on the truth. They should do their work well, and promptly and proactively follow up on its progress. They cannot wait for orders and prompting from the Above to force them to act. If leaders and workers are always passive and reactive, they are not doing real work, they are unworthy of being used by God, and should be dismissed and reassigned. There are many leaders and workers now who are very passive in their work. They always need the Above to send orders and force them into doing a little bit of work; otherwise, they slack off and procrastinate. The work in some churches is quite chaotic, some of the people who perform duties there are incredibly lazy and sloppy, and do not get any real results. These problems may already be very severe and terrible in nature, but the leaders and workers of those churches still act like bureaucratic officials. Not only are they unable to do any real work, they cannot recognize or solve problems. This paralyzes the church’s work and causes it to stagnate. Whenever a church’s work is in a terrible mess and there is no sign of order, there is definitely a false leader in charge. In every church commanded by a false leader, all of the church’s work will be in shambles and a complete mess—there is no doubt about that. … What is going on when people are blind to the work that needs to be done? (They do not bear a burden.) It is accurate to say that they do not bear a burden, they are also very lazy, they crave comfort, take breaks whenever they can, and try to avoid any extra hassle. These lazy people often think, ‘Why should I worry so much about this? Worrying too much will just make you age faster. How will I benefit from doing that, from running around so much, and exhausting myself so much? What will happen if I burn out and get sick? I don’t have the money to pay for treatment. And who will take care of me when I’m old?’ These lazy people are just this passive and backward. They have not an ounce of the truth, and cannot see anything clearly. They are clearly a bunch of muddled people, are they not? They are all muddled-headed. They are oblivious to the truth, and they have no interest in it, so how can they be saved? Why are people always undisciplined and lazy, as though they are sleepwalking through life? This touches on a problem in their nature. There is a kind of laziness in human nature. No matter what task people are doing, they always need someone to monitor them and spur them on. Sometimes people are preoccupied with the flesh, crave physical comfort, and always have a contingency plan for themselves—these people are very crafty, and they are truly not good people. They always do less than their best, no matter what important duty they are performing. This is irresponsible and disloyal(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “These indolent false leaders treat being a leader or worker as some kind of station to be enjoyed. The duty that ought to be performed and work that ought to be done by a leader they treat as an encumbrance, as a bother. In their hearts, they brim with defiance toward the work of the church: Ask them to keep an eye on the work or find out issues that exist with it, and then follow them up and solve them, and they are full of reluctance. This is the work that leaders and workers are supposed to do, this is their job. If you don’t do it—if you are unwilling to do it—why do you still want to be a leader or worker? Do you perform your duty in order to be mindful of God’s will, or in order to enjoy the trappings of officialdom? Is it not shameless to be a leader if you wish to hold some official position? No one is of lower character—these people have no self-respect, they are without shame. If you wish to enjoy fleshly ease, hurry back to the world and strive for it, grab it, and snatch it as you are able. No one will interfere. God’s house is a place for God’s chosen people to perform their duties and worship Him; it is a place for people to pursue the truth and to be saved. It is not some place for anyone to relish in fleshly ease, much less a place that coddles people. False leaders are a type of person that knows no shame; they are brazen, unabashed, and have no sense. No matter what actual work is allotted to them, they do not treat it as important. They put it at the back of their mind, and while their mouth gives an excellent response, they do not do any real work. Is this not a lack of morals? … No matter what work some people do or what duty they perform, they are incapable of succeeding at it, it is too much for them, they are incapable of fulfilling any of the obligations or responsibilities that people ought to. Are they not trash? Are they still worthy of being called people? With the exception of simpletons, the mentally handicapped, and those who suffer from physical impairments, is there anyone alive who ought not to perform their duties and fulfill their responsibilities? But this kind of person is always conniving and playing dirty, and does not wish to fulfill their responsibilities; the implication is that they do not wish to conduct themselves like a proper person. God gave them caliber and gifts, He gave them the opportunity to be a human being, yet they cannot use these in performing their duty. They do nothing, but wish to enjoy everything. Is such a person fit to be called a human being? No matter what work is given to them—whether it be important or ordinary, difficult or simple—they are always careless and perfunctory, always lazy and slippery. When problems arise, they try to push responsibility for them onto other people; they take no responsibility, wishing to keep living their parasitic lives. Are they not useless trash?(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). His words really pained me. All that time, God had been fellowshiping in detail on the responsibilities of leaders, but I hadn’t entered into this at all. I was slacking off, being irresponsible, indulging the flesh, and getting no results in my duty. I was the sort of parasite and good-for-nothing God exposes. When handling Xinyue’s problem, I was well aware that the issue wasn’t resolved, but I craftily just did whatever would save me trouble. I realized that I was often ineffective in my duty because I was lazy and only cared about my own comfort. At first, when the others had troubles in their gospel sharing, or weren’t sure of some principles, I’d fellowship with them to resolve these issues. But because some of them progressed slowly or had complex issues, I felt it was too much trouble and a waste of energy to help them. I’d need to seek and ponder, and patiently fellowship with them, so I chose to avoid that, resolving only glaring issues and shelving difficult ones. I downplayed big problems and ignored small ones. So lots of issues were never resolved. I pandered to the flesh all along without really fixing things. As a result, there hadn’t been progress in the gospel work for a long time. It was entirely because I was lazy by nature, treasured the flesh, and wasn’t devoted or responsible in my duty. I thought of God’s words: “This is seriously negligent! You have lost the attitude and sense of responsibility that someone in the position of a leader or worker should have toward their duty(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “Is such a person fit to be called a human being?(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). No. I was a leader, so it was my responsibility to do everything I could to resolve the issues I found. But I just wouldn’t walk the right path—I was always thinking of my own comfort. Whenever I had to take real action and do some real work, I bailed. This harmed the church’s work and the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. Doing my duty in that way was seriously negligent! Just think, in God’s work in the last days to resolve man’s corruption, He has expressed millions of words, reminding and exhorting, judging and chastising, warning and exposing, using every means to fellowship with us meticulously lest we not understand and be unable to enter the truth. To save mankind, so deeply corrupted by Satan, He has worried and suffered so much, expended so much effort and paid a great price. But while enjoying the sustenance of so much truth from God, I took on important work in His house without thinking about repaying His love. I wasn’t able to suffer a little or pay a bit of a price for my duty. As soon as I had to take serious action and do some real work, I ran away. I always wanted God’s rewards and blessings in exchange for a tiny bit of effort. I was so selfish and vile, lacking conscience and reason. At that point I finally saw that always thinking of the flesh and longing for comfort was living without dignity and being unreliable. I was a lazy leader, a false leader. Doing my duty like that gave me temporary comfort, but I kept losing chances to gain the truth because of my laziness, and God would ultimately cast me out. I was saving a little but losing a lot, I was so foolish! I thought of something the Bible says: “And the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32). I knew some brothers and sisters who were dismissed because they always thought of the flesh and comfort, without doing real work. Coveting comfort disgusts God, and it could even ruin your chance at salvation. God is holy and righteous and He scrutinizes my intents in my duty. I couldn’t keep acting that way. God’s house isn’t the place for me to be coveting fleshly comfort, it’s the place for me to do my duty and practice the truth. Since I’d accepted that duty, I should put my all into doing it well. I prayed to God in repentance: “God, thank You for setting up this situation to show me that I’ve coveted fleshly comfort in my duty and haven’t been responsible at all. From now on, I want to do my best to really work at my duty.” After that, by reading God’s words, seeking and reflecting, I saw that I harbored another mistaken view. Almighty God says, “Leaders and workers must get an understanding of those who supervise important work, those who direct the sharing of the gospel, every group leader, film group director, and so on, from various sources. They must intensify their observation and examination of these people before they can be sure of them. Only by carefully assigning duties to people in this way can they ensure the arrangements are appropriate, and that the people will be effective in their duties. Some people say, ‘The unbelievers all say, “Do not doubt the people you employ, and do not employ the people you doubt.” How can God’s house be so untrusting? They are all believers; how bad can they be? Aren’t they all good people? Why must the church get to know them, monitor them, and observe them?’ Are these words valid? Are they problematic? (Yes.) Does getting to know someone and observing them in depth, and interacting with them in close proximity adhere with the principles? It is in complete adherence with the principles. Which principles is it in adherence with? (Item 4 of the responsibilities of leaders and workers: Keep abreast of the circumstances of supervisors of different work and personnel responsible for various important jobs, and promptly reallocate or replace them as necessary, so as to prevent or mitigate losses caused by employing inappropriate people, and guarantee the efficiency and smooth progress of the work.) This is a good point of reference, but what is the actual reason for doing this? It is because people have corrupt dispositions. Although, today, many people perform a duty, there are only a few who pursue the truth. Rarely do people pursue the truth and enter the reality of the truth as they perform their duty; for most, there are still no principles to the way they do things, they are still not people who truly obey God; their mouths merely say that they love the truth, and are willing to pursue the truth, and are willing to strive for the truth, yet it is still unknown how long their resolve will last. People who do not pursue the truth are liable to have outpourings of a corrupt disposition at any time or place. People who do not pursue the truth are devoid of any sense of responsibility toward their duty, they are often careless and perfunctory, they act as they wish, and are even incapable of accepting pruning and dealing. As soon as they become negative and weak, people who do not pursue the truth are liable to throw in the towel—this happens often, nothing is more common; such is the way all who do not pursue the truth behave. And so, when people have yet to gain the truth, they are unreliable and untrustworthy. What does it mean that they are untrustworthy? It means that when they encounter difficulties or setbacks, they are likely to fall down, and to become negative and weak. Is someone who is often negative and weak someone who is trustworthy? Definitely not. But people who understand the truth are different. People who truly understand the truth are bound to have a heart that fears God, and a heart that obeys God, and only people with a heart that fears God are trustworthy people; people without a heart that fears God are not trustworthy. How should people without a heart that fears God be approached? They should, of course, be given loving assistance and support. They should be checked up on more as they perform their duty, and given more help and guidance; only then can they be guaranteed to perform their duty effectively. And what is the aim of doing this? The chief aim is to uphold the work of God’s house. Secondary to this is in order to promptly identify problems, to promptly provide to them, support them, and deal with and prune them, setting right their deviations, and making up for their shortcomings and deficiencies. This is beneficial to people; there is nothing malicious about it. Supervising people, keeping an eye on them, getting to know them—this is all in order to help them enter the right track of faith in God, to enable them to perform their duty as God asks and according to principle, so that they do not cause any disturbance or disruption, so that they are not wasting time. The aim of doing this is entirely born of responsibility to them and to the work of God’s house; there is no malice to it(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s words show us one of the principles to practice in our work. We should keep a close eye on the brothers and sisters under our purview, particularly those doing key work, because everyone has corrupt dispositions and lacks the reality of the truth, so we can’t help but do things out of corruption. We can’t blindly trust anyone or take a hands-off approach—that shows that we are irresponsible in our work. I’m exactly like that. Sometimes the others point out my issues, and in the moment, I feel determined to change, but often it’s just a wave of enthusiasm. When I have to really act on it, I’m still constrained by corrupt dispositions, unable to practice the truth. That’s why we need the others’ supervision and help, to practice and enter better. Everyone has shortcomings and isn’t able to grasp the principles of the truth, so it’s inevitable that some issues or oversights appear in our duties, and we sometimes reveal corruption and act willfully. At those times, leaders must supervise and follow up, gain a deep understanding of how people’s duties are going, find problems and fix deviations, and stop harm coming to the church’s work. But I’d been really blind and foolish. I saw that Xinyue seemed active in her duty and did well in gospel work, so I didn’t worry about her. I handed over such important work to her and then didn’t give it another thought. My partner mentioned there were problems in the group, but I didn’t take them seriously. When I learned that Xinyue was arrogant and didn’t work well with others, I didn’t look into it in detail. Since she was the group leader, I just briefly pointed it out and thought she’d seek and enter after that, so I didn’t need to worry about it. But things turned out completely differently from how I’d imagined. The person I worried least about had the most serious problems. Because of her arrogant disposition, the others were constrained and couldn’t do their duties normally. All this came of me not doing practical work and not viewing things and people through God’s words. We reviewed that group’s work later on and found it still had some problems. They’d gained lots of people through their gospel work, but some of those newcomers weren’t in line with the principles. Some didn’t have good humanity and had to be cleared out, which not only wastes resources, but is also a hassle for the church. The more I followed up on their work, the more specific problems I found, and the more I saw that I hadn’t been doing practical work before. I only looked at the surface—when work seemed to be progressing smoothly, I thought that no one had problems in their duty. I looked at things so superficially. I saw how pathetic it was that I didn’t understand the truth, and warned myself that, in the future, I’d have to look at things according to the truth, fulfill my responsibilities, and supervise the work of those under my supervision. I also felt just how important God’s requirement that leaders do detailed work in person really is. It helps us step onto the path to doing our duties acceptably. I read more of God’s words after that. “If you truly possess caliber of a certain degree, truly have a grasp of professional skills within the scope you supervise, and are not an outsider to your profession, then you just have to accomplish one phrase, and you will be able to be loyal to your duty. Which phrase? ‘Put your heart into it.’ If you put your heart into things, and put your heart into people, then you will be able to be loyal and responsible in your duty. Is this phrase easy to practice? How do you put it into practice? Putting your heart into something means that you don’t use your nose to smell or your ears to hear—you use your heart. If a person can truly put their heart into something, then when their eyes see someone do something, express themselves in some way, or have some sort of response to something, or when their ears hear some people’s words, voices, or arguments, by using their heart to ponder and contemplate these things, some ideas, views, and attitudes will come up in their mind. These ideas, views, and attitudes will make them have a deep, actual, and correct understanding of the person or thing, and at the same time, will give rise to suitable and correct judgments and principles. Only if a person puts their heart into something in this way will their expression be that of one who is loyal to their duty(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s words showed me a path of practice. To do my duty well, I had to learn to be attentive and responsible. I had to take real action for everything I saw and heard to enter my heart, and to discover problems in my duty. Otherwise, I was just going through the motions, blind to any problems. I also had to do everything in my power to resolve the problems I found, seek help from those above me when I couldn’t fix something, do and achieve whatever I could, fulfill my responsibilities, have a clear conscience, and accept God’s scrutiny. I couldn’t rely on my notions and imaginings in my duty. I had to follow the principles of the truth and God’s requirements until the problems were resolved. Though there were still many issues in our work, I had to do my best to resolve them, and no matter how well that went, I needed to first learn to put my heart into it and fulfill my responsibilities. The gospel work is important to God’s house, and in this critical, end time, if I continued to take my duty lightly, seek comfort and protect my own interests, that would be a selfish, despicable way to live. So I prayed to God, “God, my stature is small and I don’t have great caliber, but I want to put everything into my duty and practice according to Your requirements.”

Later, I discovered that the church’s gospel work wasn’t very effective, mainly because some gospel workers were new and weren’t clear on the truths about bearing witness to God’s work. So I arranged for Li Mei to go and give them some practical instruction. At first, I’d spend time analyzing the religious notions of potential gospel recipients and understanding the gospel workers’ issues with Li Mei. But later, when my own work got busy, I thought about handing over all those problems to Li Mei, so I wouldn’t have to worry about them too much. When that thought occurred to me, I felt guilty. The gospel work wasn’t going well, and Li Mei wanted to discuss it with me after she went and learned about those issues, but I’d hoped to push that hard work onto her, like a bureaucrat. That was despicable. So I prayed to God and consciously forsook the flesh. When Li Mei gave me feedback on the issues, I got involved practically, fellowshiping with her and seeking the truth to resolve those problems. With this practical cooperation, I could gain an understanding of the group’s work and progress more quickly, and promptly find and resolve the gospel workers’ problems and struggles. I saw God’s guidance through this practical cooperation. Some new gospel workers gradually came to grasp the principles, the gospel work became more fruitful, and some newcomers took on duties after accepting God’s new work. Though recently I’ve been expending more time and energy, when I truly put my heart into my duty, it doesn’t feel difficult or tiring. Actually, I’ve become equipped with more principles of the truth, and by quieting myself before God in prayer and seeking when there are problems, I’ve grown closer to God and been more focused in my duty. I still have lots of shortcomings in my duty. I’m still a long way from performing it adequately. But through my experiences, I’ve reflected on and learned about my issue of not doing practical work, and I have direction for how I should do my duty in the future. Everything I’ve gained is thanks to the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words.

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