The Consequences of Relying on Others in a Duty

March 8, 2023

By Bai Xue, Italy

In November 2021, the leader arranged for me to partner with Sister Sandra making images for videos. At first, I spent a lot of time reading relevant principles and materials to improve my technical skills. But I saw these images would be difficult to make and I hadn’t made them before. I felt this job was really tough, and I’d need hands-on practice to slowly learn. So I’d just start designing without putting thought into principles, and Sandra kept on pointing out problems with my images. Faced with this, I didn’t review my mistakes or look at my shortcomings. I just delimited myself, thinking, “I’m lacking caliber and not good with these types of images. I’ve been practicing for a while but I still keep having problems. Looks like I’m stuck at this level.” I also envied and admired Sandra. I felt that as she’d been making images for years, she was better than me in every way, she had a clear advantage over me, and I should rely on her more in the future. From then on, I really relied on her in my designs, and for some parts I couldn’t draw well, I’d just hand it over to her to finish. Sometimes, when I finished a draft, I wouldn’t think much about if it aligned with principles and just ask my sister for suggestions. Sometimes I’d see my images had problems, but didn’t want to make more effort, so I’d just palm them off onto Sandra. I thought putting in time to refine it was too much effort and that my skill level had a cap, so I should just wait for Sandra to fix and improve it since she was better at it. Each time I saw Sandra fix up one of my images, I felt so glad, that it was great to have a sister like this to partner with, and this was saving me a lot of time and effort.

Later on, the demand for images increased, so to make things more efficient, Sandra suggested we design them together. But while drawing, my mind wasn’t on how to do a better job. I was really passive. I felt I wasn’t good with this kind of image, and that Sandra’s would turn out better, so I should listen to her more. So most of the time, I’d just make images as Sandra said, and sometimes when she was busy, I’d wait so we could work together. Sometimes I’d try to think of the fastest way to master principles, improve my skills, and draft the images by myself. But then I’d think that it would be kind of hard for me, and anyway, since Sandra was there and so good at it, I should let her play a bigger role. There was no need for me to worry so much. And so I just kept relying on Sandra in my duty. A few months later, the leader saw I hadn’t made much progress, so she dealt with me for lacking initiative and for constantly asking Sandra for help, impacting her work. It was really distressing to hear the leader say this. She had arranged for Sandra to be my partner mainly so I could get the hang of things as fast as possible and then do designs by myself. But I was always relying on Sandra and wasn’t committed. I’d been practicing for so long but made so little progress. How could I treat my duty that way? I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to understand my problem.

A sister shared a couple passages of God’s word with me: “Much of the time, you are unable to reply when asked about work issues. Some of you have gotten involved in the work, but you have never asked how the work is going or carefully thought about this. Given your caliber and knowledge, you shouldn’t know nothing, because all of you have taken part in this work. So why do most people say nothing? It is possible that you really don’t know what to say—that you don’t know whether or not things are going well. There are two reasons for this: One is that you are totally indifferent, and have never cared about these things, and have only ever treated them as a task to be completed. The other is that you are irresponsible and are unwilling to care about these things. If you truly cared, and were really engaged, you would have a view and perspective on everything. Having no perspective or view often comes from being indifferent and apathetic, and not taking any responsibility. You are not diligent toward the duty you do, you do not take any responsibility, you are not willing to pay a price or get involved, nor do you take any pains, or are willing to expend any greater energy; you merely wish to be an underling, which is no different from when an unbeliever works for their boss. Such performance of duty is unliked by God and does not please Him. It cannot meet with His approval(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Being Honest Can One Live as a True Human Being). “When performing a duty, people always pick light work, that will not tire them out, that will not involve braving the elements outdoors. This is called picking easy jobs and shirking hard ones, and it is a manifestation of coveting the comforts of the flesh. What else? (Always complaining when their duty is a little hard, a little tiring, when it involves paying a price.) (Being preoccupied with food and clothing, and the indulgences of the flesh.) These are all manifestations of coveting the comforts of the flesh. When such a person sees that a task is too laborious or risky, they foist it off on someone else; they themselves only do leisurely work, and make excuses for why they cannot do this one, saying that they are of poor caliber and do not have the requisite skills, that it is too much for them—when in fact, it is because they covet the comforts of the flesh. … Are people who covet the comforts of the flesh suitable for performing a duty? Bring up the subject of performing their duty, talk about paying a price and suffering hardship, and they keep shaking their head: They would have too many problems, they are full of complaints, they are negative about everything. Such people are useless, they are not entitled to perform their duty, and should be cast out. As far as coveting the comforts of the flesh goes, we will leave it here(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). Thinking over God’s word, I saw that I’d made no progress in these months of doing my duty, mainly because I was too lazy, and lacking initiative and responsibility. When I encountered uncertainties in my work, I didn’t calm myself and seek principles. I felt that thinking them through would be too much hassle, so I just left them to Sandra. When she made lots of suggestions about my finished work, I didn’t reflect on them, or recognize my shortcomings, but just made the excuses that I was lacking caliber and not great at it, and passed on the difficult parts to my sister to do. There were even some parts I saw that had problems, but I didn’t bother fixing them. Instead, I muddled through, slacked off, and was slippery, letting Sandra fix things. I felt this saved trouble and made me more efficient, killing two birds with one stone. Thinking myself inept and lacking in caliber, I happily became a follower. I felt that since I was incapable and Sandra was better than me, it was only natural for her to do more, so I let her. I’d do as much as I could, and in any case, I wasn’t idling. I was craving physical comfort, being devious and slippery. I thought of unbelievers working in the outside world, not caring about their conscience or humanity or considering how to pay a price and do their job well, just making things as relaxed and easy as they can, being deceptive at every turn, never taking responsibility. This was my attitude toward my duty—lacking in diligence and responsibility, always using others’ experience as an excuse to seek comfort and not pay a price in my duty. I’d always push difficulties onto others then hide in the background, taking it easy. I was truly selfish and deceitful. Since I’d always craved comfort and lacked initiative, I never made any progress with my skills or played any real role. I was truly unworthy of the job. I felt I’d really let God down. I didn’t want to keep doing my duty like that.

Later I read more of God’s word. “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? In society, who does not have to depend on themselves for survival? Once a person is grown, they must provide for themselves. Their parents have fulfilled their responsibility. Even if their parents were willing to support them, they would be uneasy with it, and ought to be able to recognize, ‘My parents have finished their job of raising children. I’m an adult, and I’m able-bodied—I should be able to live independently.’ Is this not the minimum sense that an adult ought to have? If someone truly has sense, they could not continue mooching off their parents; they would be afraid of others’ laughter, of being shamed. So, does an idle loafer have sense? (No.) They always want something for nothing, they never want to take responsibility, they are looking for a free lunch, they want three square meals a day—and for someone to wait on them, and for the food to be delicious—without doing any work. Is this not the mindset of a parasite? And do people who are parasites have conscience and sense? Do they have dignity and integrity? Absolutely not; they are all freeloading good-for-nothings, all beasts without conscience or reason. None of them are fit to remain in God’s house(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “Lazy people can’t do anything. In a word, they are trash, invalided by idleness. No matter how good the caliber of lazy people is, it is nothing more than window dressing; their good caliber is of no use. This is because they are too lazy, they know what they are supposed to do, but don’t do it; even if they know something is a problem, they do not seek the truth to resolve it; they know what hardships they should suffer in order for the work to be effective, but are unwilling to endure such valuable suffering. As a result, they do not gain any truths, and do not do any real work. They do not wish to endure the hardships people are supposed to; they know only the greed for comfort, the enjoyment of the flesh, the enjoyment of times of joy and leisure, the enjoyment of a free and relaxed life. Are they not useless? People who cannot endure hardship are not fit to live. Whoever is always wishing to live as a parasite is someone without conscience or reason; they are a beast, of a sort unfit even to render service. Because they cannot endure hardship, the service they render is poor, and if they wish to gain the truth, there is even less of a hope of that. A person who cannot suffer and does not love the truth is a wastrel, unqualified even to render service. They are a beast, without a shred of humanity. Nothing short of casting such people out accords with God’s will(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). From God’s word I understood that in the eyes of God, those who always crave comfort, are unwilling to pay a price, don’t properly complete the work they’re assigned, and don’t fulfill their responsibilities, are utterly useless. These people have no initiative and always enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. They are freeloading parasites in the church and are to be cast out. I kept thinking about what God meant by “parasite” and “trash.” I thought of those adults in the outside world who still mooch off their parents. After growing up, they don’t get jobs and just enjoy their parents’ aid, living a life relying on handouts, not knowing what it means to make their own living. They lack normal human reason. These people are parasites. I saw there was no difference between my behavior and that of these irresponsible, parasitic loafers. The church had arranged for me to make images, and this was my responsibility. No matter if the job was hard, I should have diligently studied to shoulder it as soon as possible. But I felt making those images was hard and I didn’t want to put in effort thinking about them. I made excuses for my laziness, thinking I’d master principles over a long period of accumulation, and when problems came up, I didn’t go over the deviations or seek principles. And when I saw how experienced Sandra was, I really took her support for granted, pushing difficult things onto her, and waiting to reap the rewards. Even when we worked together, I still depended on her. I’d just listen to Sandra and not put any real thought in. I had no sense of responsibility for my duty and just relied on others. I put no effort in and just wanted to enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. I was a good-for-nothing, a freeloading parasite within the church. I was truly loathed by God! When my sister finished her own work, she then had to spend time helping me with mine, which held up her duty. I felt even worse and even guiltier. I’d been able to be so lazy because I’d been influenced by satanic fallacies like “You have to be kind to yourself and learn to love yourself,” “Lean on the trees and enjoy the shade,” and “Not relying on support when you can is foolish.” These satanic ideas had made me only heed the flesh and become ever more decadent, depraved, and passive. I wanted to reap without sowing and when my duty was slightly difficult, I was unwilling to think or pay a price. Seeing my partner more skilled than me, I just handed off difficult things to her, letting her carry the load. I thought that it was foolish to not rely on available support. I was truly devious and slippery! Though doing my duty this way didn’t wear me out, I never made any progress with my image work. If I didn’t play much of a role in the work over the long term, I’d be cast out sooner or later! I felt really upset when I thought this. I prayed to God: “God, I’ve been craving comfort and lacking initiative in my duty. Now I want to repent and accept Your scrutiny. If I heed the flesh again, please chasten and discipline me.”

I thought of a few days prior, when Sandra pointed out some problems with some of my images, explaining specific details. I knew she’d explained about this type of problem to me before, but in spite of that, I’d completely forgotten. I felt so remorseful. Every time I encountered something I couldn’t get right, Sandra patiently fellowshiped with me. If I’d tried even a little to remember and take notes, the same problems wouldn’t keep cropping up. But I’d never paid attention to applying principles, just relying on others. No matter how much others said, none of it got through to me, so I still hadn’t even mastered basic principles. At this thought, I drew up a document listing the problems and principles I needed to focus on when designing images, so that when I encountered uncertainties again, I could figure them out myself. When problems came up, I’d promptly record and review them. I gradually made progress with my image work.

Later on, I reflected on myself. Besides laziness, what other issues were obstructing me in my duty? In my reflection, I read a passage of God’s word: “And what is how highly qualified people believe themselves to be based on? On how many years they have performed a certain duty, on how much experience they have gained, is it not? And with this being the case, will you not gradually start thinking in terms of seniority? For example, a certain brother has believed in God for many years and performed a duty for a long time, so he is the most qualified to talk about this duty; a certain sister has not been here long, and although she has a little caliber, she is not experienced in performing this duty, and hasn’t believed in God for long, so she is the least qualified to talk. The person who is most qualified to speak thinks to themselves, ‘Since I have seniority, that means my performance of my duty is up to standard, and my pursuit has reached its peak, and there is nothing I should strive for or enter into. I have performed this duty well, I have more or less completed this work, God should be satisfied.’ And in this way they begin to grow complacent. Does this indicate they have entered the reality of the truth? … What people really pursue and what road they walk, whether they really accept the truth or abandon it, whether they submit to God or resist Him—God is constantly surveying all these things. Every church and every individual is watched by God. No matter how many people there are performing a duty or following God in a church, the moment they depart from God’s words, the moment they lose the work of the Holy Spirit, they cease to experience the work of God, and thus they—and the duty they are performing—have no connection to and no part in God’s work, in which case this church has become a religious group. Tell Me, what are the consequences once a church becomes a religious group? Wouldn’t you say these people are in great danger? They never seek the truth when faced with problems and they don’t act according to the principles of the truth, but are subject to the arrangements and manipulations of human beings. There are even many who, while performing their duty, never pray or seek the principles of the truth; they only ask others and do as others say, acting on cues from others. Whatever people tell them to do, that’s what they do. They feel that praying to God about their problems and truth-seeking is vague and difficult, so they look for a simple, easy solution. They figure that relying on others and doing what others say is easy and most practical, and so they simply do what other people say, asking others and doing as they say in everything. As a result, even after believing for many years, when faced with a problem, they have never once come before God, praying and seeking His will and the truth, and then achieving an understanding of the truth, and acting and behaving according to God’s will—they’ve never had such an experience. Do such people really practice faith in God?(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only With Fear of God Can One Tread Upon the Path of Salvation). Considering God’s word and reflecting on myself, I realized I held a view of deference to seniority within me. I regarded gifts, caliber, and work experience as capital to do one’s duty well, and thought having those gave someone the right to speak up in that duty. So when I saw how long Sandra had been making images, how experienced and skilled she was, I envied and admired her. When there were things I couldn’t do, I didn’t pray and rely on God or seek and consider principles. I handed things I wasn’t good at off to her, always relying on her. I just did whatever she said. I realized that it wasn’t only in this work that I depended on others. Every time I encountered a person with more gifts, caliber, capabilities, or work experience than me, I’d wholeheartedly worship and admire them, and often rely on them, to the point where God held no place in my heart and I’d never rely on God or seek the truth to solve the problems I faced. As a result, I made no progress and my duty yielded no results. I was loathed by God and incapable of attaining the Holy Spirit’s work. Just as the Bible says, “Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from Jehovah(Jeremiah 17:5). Indeed, in our faith we should revere God as great. Relying on and looking to God in all things is the greatest wisdom. No matter the caliber, gifts, capabilities, work experience, or years of faith a person has, these don’t mean they possess the truth. No created being is greater or lesser than any other. Only by relying on and looking to God and seeking the principles of the truth more can we gain God’s guidance and do our duties well.

I later read a couple more passages of God’s word that gave me a path to do my duty well. Almighty God says, “Suppose the church gives you a job to do, and you say, ‘Whether the job is a chance to stand out or not—since it’s been given to me, I’ll do it well. I will take on this responsibility. If I’m assigned to reception, I’ll give my all to doing that work well; I’ll look after the brothers and sisters well, and do my best to maintain everyone’s safety. If I’m assigned to spread the gospel, I’ll equip myself with the truth and lovingly spread the gospel and perform my duty well. If I’m assigned to learn a foreign language, I’ll study it diligently and work hard at it, and learn it well as quickly as possible, within a year or two, so that I can testify of God to foreigners. If I’m asked to write testimony articles, I’ll conscientiously train myself to do so and view things according to the principles of the truth; I’ll learn about language, and though I may not be able to write articles with beautiful prose, I’ll at least be able to clearly communicate my experiences and testimony, to fellowship comprehensibly about the truth, and to give true testimony for God, such that when people read my articles, they’re edified and benefited. Whatever job the church assigns me, I’ll take it up with all my heart and strength. If there’s something I don’t understand or a problem comes up, I’ll pray to God, seek the truth, understand the principles of the truth, and do the thing well. Whatever my duty, I’ll use everything I have to perform it well and satisfy God. For whatever I can achieve, I will do my best to take on all the responsibility that is mine to bear, and at the least, I will not go against my conscience and reason, or be careless and perfunctory, or be wily and truant, or enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. Nothing I do will be beneath the standards of conscience.’ This is the minimum standard of human comportment, and one who performs their duty in such a way may qualify as a conscientious, reasonable person. You must at least be clear of conscience in performing your duty, and you must feel at least that you earn your three meals a day and are not scrounging for them. This is called a sense of responsibility. Whether your caliber is high or low, and whether or not you understand the truth, you must have this attitude: ‘Since this work was given me to do, I must treat it seriously; I must make it my concern and do it well, with all my heart and strength. As for whether I can do it perfectly well, I can’t presume to offer a guarantee, but my attitude is that I’ll do my best to see it done well, and I certainly won’t be careless and perfunctory about it. If a problem arises, I should take responsibility then, and ensure I draw a lesson from it and perform my duty well.’ This is the right attitude(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “No matter the duty you perform, you must be attentive, and mindful of God’s will. Only with this mentality can a duty be performed well. No matter the difficulties that arise, rely on God, pray to God, and seek the truth to resolve them. If mistakes are made, rectify them in time, learn your lesson, and avoid making the same mistake again. Those who do their duty with the correct mindset are conscientious and responsible—no matter what important duty they undertake, they will not cause delays in their work(God’s Fellowship). From God’s word I saw that the work the church arranges for us is the duty we should perform, and a responsibility. A truly responsible person can do their duty diligently, considering God’s will. No matter their caliber, gifts, skill level, the difficulties they face, or what they have to suffer, these people can rely on God to really pay a price, overcome difficulties, and put their all into doing their duty well. Like Noah, who faced many difficulties in the building of the ark. Not only did he have to prepare all sorts of materials and gather many creatures, he also lived in an age without developed industry, so he had to rely on his own strength for every part of the work. He had to go through many failures and reworks, plus the physical exhaustion, and more. But Noah never heeded his flesh or acted in a devious or slippery way, much less did he foist God’s commission onto another. Instead, he kept God’s commission in mind at all times and relied on God to overcome various crises. After 120 years, he had built the ark and completed God’s commission. Noah’s obedience and sincerity toward God’s commission moved and shamed me. I was born in the last days and had heard so many of God’s words and God has said much about the truths of doing a duty. My work wasn’t as difficult as building Noah’s ark, but I was still being devious and slippery. I truly lacked humanity. I found a path of practice within God’s word. Whenever I encountered difficulties, I couldn’t just rely on Sandra. I had to pray to God and seek the relevant principles to get them handled. When I put my heart into the work, the images I made kept improving. Sometimes, Sandra would barely have any suggestions. I saw that I really was able to play a role, and the work wasn’t as hard as I’d thought. Before, I hadn’t bothered to consider principles, and had just heeded the flesh and relied on others, never grasping principles.

One time, a sister came to me and said an image was urgently needed. I thought: “This image looks difficult and is needed so urgently, I might not do it well. I should just get Sandra to do it.” When I wanted to go to her, I realized I was wanting to heed the flesh and hand off work again, so I quickly prayed to God and calmed myself to carefully consider principles. To my surprise, I finished it quickly and didn’t delay the work. I didn’t shirk my duty because it was hard, and I felt a great sense of ease in my heart!

Through this experience I came to know that no matter the task, it cannot be done by relying on caliber, gifts, or experience alone. What’s key is pursuing the truth and principles. When you encounter difficulties, if you can avoid heeding the flesh and craving comfort and instead rely on God and seek the truth to overcome them and fulfill your responsibilities, you will be able to gain God’s guidance and do your duty well! I also understood that just because God provides me with a partner, this doesn’t mean I should rely on them. Instead, we should help each other and make up for each other’s shortcomings. Because God has given each of us different gifts, aptitudes, and calibers, we have to cooperate with one heart and mind and dedicate ourselves to fulfill our responsibilities!

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