Disasters Wrought by Arrogance

March 18, 2022

In August 2018, I took on responsibility for a church of newcomers. It had been established pretty recently, so not all duties had been assigned and projects were progressing slowly. I prayed and leaned on God, and I worked with my partner to find good candidates and assign brothers and sisters according to their strengths and caliber. Church work picked up really quickly. I felt like I had good insight and possessed a certain caliber and competence. One time in particular, a team leader told me Brother Xiao was really lazy and passive in his duty and she was going to dismiss him. I didn’t agree. I’d had contact with him before and had some understanding of him. He was industrious and had good humanity, but lacked deeper experience. I wondered if he was going through some difficulties that were impacting his duty. I suggested to the team leader that she find out what was going on with him before dismissing him. Later she discovered that he’d sprained his wrist and was having a hard time using a computer, so his progress in his duty was slow. But he didn’t tell anyone, so the others mistakenly thought he wasn’t a hard worker. Once his wrist healed, he did great in his duty. After that I felt even more like I could read people really well. From then on when choosing people, I stuck to my guns when brothers and sisters had a different opinion from mine. I thought they lacked discernment and didn’t have insight into people. Over time, I started to get bolder with some of the arrangements.

Later I took over the church’s video team’s work. Once when we were going to be producing a video, we were short-handed and needed more people on the team. There were fairly high standards for special effects on that project and it was pretty challenging. I decided that we needed someone highly educated, with technical skills so things could proceed smoothly. I spent several days searching for someone who met that requirement, but couldn’t find a good candidate. Some brothers and sisters were willing to work on those skills, but when I saw they lacked high education and had no relevant professional expertise, I ruled them out. There were some I thought would be suitable but couldn’t take on that duty at the time, for whatever reason. Then by chance I found out that Brother Wu had studied CG animation before and had a wide range of professional experience. He should have no problem with special effects, so I was going to ask him to take on that duty. But a sister warned me that I should take a look at some assessments of him. She said that before, some people had said he had poor humanity and was cunning, so I had to be cautious about assigning him to perform that duty. She advised that I do some seeking. I said I would, but I was thinking that even if he was a little cunning and had poor humanity, he was highly educated and skilled, so he could offer some guidance to others in the technical aspects. He should be able to take it on without a problem. Afterwards, I read brothers’ and sisters’ assessments of Brother Wu and saw they did say he had poor humanity, that he was really harsh with others when he was on hosting duty and they felt constrained. Reading those, I thought that I’d been in contact with him a few times before and he seemed like a good person, not the way they described. Maybe there was a particular context to what they’d said? In any case, I thought he was just fine, plus he had a lot of work experience, and a talent like him was hard to come by. Appointing him should be no problem. At that, I didn’t give any more thought to the others’ suggestions and didn’t learn more about those assessments of Brother Wu. I just arranged for him to take on video production duty.

I was really surprised when less than a month later, I heard he didn’t self-reflect when faced with problems, and was really nitpicky, and that he spread notions and sowed dissension. That was really unexpected for me. Could I have been wrong? I went to check up on the situation before giving it too much thought, and found out that everything they’d said was accurate. One of the special effects they’d done had so many issues it had to be redone and when everyone was discussing how to work through the difficulties, Brother Wu said it didn’t have to be redone, and that the leaders were too demanding, that they were splitting hairs. Some brothers and sisters also felt disgruntled with the leaders when they heard this. Not only that, but when Brother Wu saw some issues in others’ duties, he wasn’t solution-oriented about it, but criticized the team leader for being incompetent, and started ostracizing him, inciting problems between team members and the team leader. The team leader became negative and constrained. One brother was biased against the team leader because of that and then became fixated on him and other leaders. And Brother Wu once made some suggestions for the work. The team leader considered, but found them unsuitable and didn’t adopt them. Then he became dissatisfied toward the team leader and started using his fellowship in gatherings to say he’d seen problems in our work that he didn’t dare bring up, afraid he’d be dismissed if he mentioned it, misleading others into thinking people would be oppressed if they made suggestions. He acted like he really wanted to care for God’s will, but the team leader was oppressing him and preventing him from doing his duty well. His behavior showed that not only was he nitpicky, but he was acting like he was a guardian of righteousness and cared for God’s will. Waving the flag of protecting the interests of God’s house, he was actually spreading negativity and sowing discord among others, turning them against the leaders so they thought they were the ones with problems, and they might be oppressed and hobbled if they weren’t careful. It made people doubt the truth rules in the church, so they all quibbled over right and wrong, and were judging and on their guard against leaders. His behavior had already disrupted the church’s work. And during the time Brother Wu was guiding the technical work, he wasn’t very useful. Everything he suggested was theoretical without any practical application. I could see his problems, but I wasn’t entirely ready to admit my error. I optimistically wanted to have a chat with him and point out his issues, and if he could see them, maybe he could accept the truth and had reasonable humanity, and that would mean my judgment wasn’t too off the mark. So, I pointed his problems out to him. He not only didn’t self-reflect, but he said I was suppressing different voices, that I was oppressing him. At that point I saw he not only had poor humanity and couldn’t accept the truth, but he was cunning and the way he spoke was totally contrary to the truth. Seeing this was like a real slap in the face for me. God’s house emphasized so many times that we could never assign people with poor humanity to important duties, but I’d gone against even this, such a basic principle. I made a fundamental error selecting people which was disruptive to the life of the church. I felt worse and worse as I thought about it, and later dismissed Brother Wu, based on principle.

After doing that, I started to reflect on the real reasons for my failure. I read this in God’s words: “False leaders are poor of caliber, blind of eye and heart, and they do not understand the principles of the truth, which itself is a very grave problem. They have another, more serious problem still, which is that when they have understood and mastered a few letters and words of doctrine and can shout out a few slogans, they think they have the reality of the truth. So whatever work they do and whomever they choose to put to use, they do not seek and do not deliberate, and they do not fellowship with others, and less still do they look in detail at the work arrangements and the principles of God’s house. They are so confident, believing that what they’re doing is right, that whatever they think is what should be done, and that whatever they believe is right and accurate, and is all in accord with the principles. Moreover, they often mistakenly believe that having worked for many years, they have sufficient experience serving as a leader in God’s house, that they know how the work of God’s house operates and develops, and that all this is within their hearts. They measure the work of God’s house and do the work of God’s house by means of their experience, imaginings, notions, and rules, which causes the work of God’s house during their tenure to be a mess, in chaos, and without order” (Identifying False Leaders (5)). False leaders are not only blind of eye and heart, unable to see people’s essence or understand the principles, but even worse, they don’t seek the truth. They rely on their experience and notions to do the church’s work, which turns things into a total mess. The way I’d behaved, appointing Brother Wu to that position, I didn’t seek principles for using people in God’s house, but went by my own judgment, thinking he had lots of work experience, so he should be a good fit for video production. When others warned me he had poor humanity and I should be careful, and advised me to do some seeking, I totally disregarded that. I felt like I had good insight and discernment, and there hadn’t been any major problems with my appointments before, so choosing Brother Wu had to be alright. I used that work experience of mine as personal capital and didn’t seek the principles of the truth at all or humbly accept others’ suggestions and genuinely seek, or ask around to really understand what sort of person Brother Wu was, if his bad behavior was just momentary corruption showing, or if he was evil in essence. If it was corruption showing temporarily, or if there was some context to it and he’d changed since then, in that case he could be used. If it was his consistent behavior, and he had poor humanity and was an evildoer, then we couldn’t use him. That kind of person will only harm the work of God’s house. But I wasn’t really making inquiries to understand things. I made a blind judgment based on my own experience and imagination. Reality showed me that I was a false leader, blind of eye and heart. I didn’t understand the truth or principles, and even worse, I was really self-assured and wouldn’t accept others’ suggestions. With a little work experience and some understanding of literal doctrine, I thought I knew the principles and could do the church’s work, yet I appointed the wrong person, which slowed our progress and disrupted church life. I was totally acting as Satan’s helper, sabotaging the church’s work.

I thought of something God said in my self-reflection later: “If, in your heart, you truly understand the truth, then you will know how to practice the truth and obey God, and will naturally embark on the path of pursuing the truth. If the path you walk is the right one, and in line with God’s will, then the work of the Holy Spirit will not leave you—in which case there will be less and less chance of you betraying God. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you have an arrogant and conceited disposition, then being told not to oppose God makes no difference, you can’t help yourself, it is beyond your control. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display; they would make you scorn others, they would leave no one in your heart but yourself; they would make you think yourself superior to both other people and God, and ultimately cause you to sit in the place of God and demand that people submit to you, venerating your thoughts, ideas, and notions as the truth. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature!” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s words, I could see I hadn’t sought principles of the truth in my duty because I was too arrogant and didn’t have reverence for God. I was controlled by my arrogant nature and believed in myself too much. I always felt like I was experienced and insightful, so I didn’t take others’ warnings seriously. I insisted on doing what I wanted to do. As a result, I appointed the wrong person and the church’s work was impeded. I treated my own opinions and experience like the truth, thinking whatever I liked was what God liked, and what I thought was suitable had to be suitable in God’s eyes, too. I even mistook my opinions for God’s own opinions. That not only showed contempt for the truth, but was blasphemy against God. I was living in arrogance, being self-aggrandizing, doing things my own way while claiming to be doing my duty. That was essentially opposing God. I knew I had to repent, or I’d end up offending God and being eliminated. I also knew that God had elevated me to a leadership position, and His will was to have me focus on pursuing the truth in that duty so I could be principled in my actions. Every work decision would impact the interests of God’s house, so if I didn’t seek the truth, but just acted out of arrogance and self-assurance, being arbitrary and dictatorial, I could do something at any moment that would disrupt the church’s work. Ultimately it would harm the interests of the church, and brothers and sisters. So then I prayed to God and quietly resolved to stop doing my duty out of arrogance, but to seek the truth and act according to principle.

In my reflection after that, I realized another thing that led to my failure. I was fallacious in my views of people and things. I read this in God’s words: “False leaders often exude a viewpoint of theirs: They believe that those of knowledge and position in society and those who have been civil servants are all people of talent, whom the house of God should cultivate and put to use. A false leader thinks the world of these people, and even treats them as they would their own relations or family; they introduce them to others, saying things like ‘she used to be a newspaper editor in the outside world,’ ‘he was a wardrobe director,’ ‘she used to work in the Ministry of Public Security,’ ‘he used to be in business, and his family is rich,’ ‘she used to study sociology,’ or ‘he used to study business management.’ False leaders value such people highly. Tell Me, are false leaders people of caliber? Are they not falsely spiritual people who cannot see things clearly? They believe that when such people as described above come to God’s house, they should be put to important use. They think them people of talent, so when a false leader sees them, he acts as if he were their lackey, nodding and bowing, fawning and servile. In effect and invisibly, where a false leader is in charge, these people grow too big for their britches and reign as kings. Tell Me, can such people be allowed to reign as kings in God’s house? This is out of line with the principles! Where in God’s words does it say, or in which principle of His house is it stipulated, that those who are promoted and put to important use in God’s house are to be culled from the elite of society? Do God’s words say that? (No.) How many criteria are there in God’s requirements of people? There are two, mainly: The first is whether a person is of good humanity; the other is the attitude with which a person treats the truth and whether they love the truth. Those are the two.” “False leaders are all people who have believed in God for years and often listen to sermons, so why is it that they cannot identify the nonbelievers? This is further proof that false leaders are of very poor caliber, that they are incapable of receiving the truth, and that the truth is wasted on them. They are blind of eye and heart, quite undiscerning of others. How could they be fit to be leaders or workers in the church? They believe that good talkers are people of talent; when they see someone who can sing and dance, they think them a person of talent; when they see a person in glasses who has been to college, they think them a person of talent; when they see a person of status in society, who is rich and can do business and engage in deceptive practices, who does some sort of important work in society, the false leader thinks that they, too, are people of talent in God’s house. They do not look at the quality of these people’s humanity or whether their belief in God has a foundation, and less still do they look at the attitude with which these people treat the truth and God. They look only at people’s social position and background. These, as it turns out, are what false leaders like in a person. Is this not quite vain of them? They are truly blind—very much so!” (Identifying False Leaders (5)). God’s words expose false leaders as blind and foolish, and bad at appointing others. They just look at worldly education, status, and professional skills, thinking that having knowledge and culture, and being highly skilled means they’re talented in God’s house. They don’t look at their humanity, whether they accept the truth, or to what degree they understand the truth. That was my perspective when I was looking for someone to do special effects, thinking that having high education and skills meant they could do that duty well. So the whole time I was just focused on brothers’ and sisters’ education and technical skills. Seeing Brother Wu’s degree and all his work experience, I thought he could definitely be helpful for the others on the video team and could handle technically complex tasks. I didn’t consider his humanity at all, or the way he’d behaved in his duty before. So not only did the work suffer while he was there, but he was nitpicky and created conflict between leaders and team members. This was really disruptive to church life and church work. I realized how absurd my perspective on things was. God’s house does respect and cultivate talents, but it’s different from out in the world. It’s not about what sort of degree someone has, but about their humanity, if they love and pursue the truth. I saw that some brothers and sisters did well in various fields out in society, but some of them had poor humanity and didn’t love the truth. They didn’t seek principles of the truth in their duty or accept the truth, but did whatever they wanted, acting out of corruption. They didn’t do their duty well, and also disrupted the church’s work a lot. The losses outweighed the gains with them, and they ended up eliminated. Those who can stay and do a duty not only have professional skills, but mainly have good humanity. Some also love and accept the truth and are practical in their duty. They apply whatever professional skills they have in their duty, and some of them may not be top-notch, but their heart is in the right place, and they put effort into their duty. They gain God’s enlightenment and guidance, and improve in their work. Not only do they improve their professional skills, but they become more principled.

I read this in God’s words later: “Whether you are performing your duty, interacting with others, or dealing with some particular thing that is happening to you, you must have an attitude of seeking and obedience. With this kind of attitude, it can be said that you have something of a heart of reverence for God, and are able to seek and obey the truth. This is the path to fearing God and shunning evil. If you lack an attitude of seeking and obedience, and are instead stubbornly antagonistic, and cling to yourself, rejecting and abhorring the truth, then you will naturally commit a great deal of evil. You won’t be able to help it! … It isn’t easy to perform their duty well, to satisfy God and achieve fear of God and shunning of evil in their faith. Yet you were just informed of a principle of practice: If you have an attitude of seeking and obedience when something happens to you, this will protect you. The ultimate goal isn’t to have you protected. It is to make you understand the truth, and be able to enter into the reality of the truth, and attain God’s salvation; this is the ultimate goal. If you have this attitude in all that you experience, you will no longer feel that performing your duty and meeting the will of God are empty words and cliches; it will no longer feel so taxing. Instead, before you realize it, you will come to understand quite a few truths. If you keep experiencing thus, you will be sure to reap the rewards” (God’s Fellowship). God’s words pointed out a path for me. No matter what I face, I have to maintain submission and reverence for God, and seek principles of the truth. That’s the only way to gain God’s guidance and do my duty well. Otherwise, I’m likely to act out of arrogance and be disruptive in the work. After that, my partner and I found a few others to take on video production based on the principles of selecting people. They didn’t have the theoretical knowledge that Brother Wu did, but they had a better attitude, and they really worked to learn about it in a down-to-earth way. When they ran into problems, they came together to seek and fellowship. When someone revealed corruption that impacted their progress, they could self-reflect and learn a lesson from it. After a while, with everyone working together, there were real breakthroughs in the video work, with better and better results. It was a pleasant surprise for me. I truly experienced that doing a duty in God’s house isn’t just about technical skills or caliber, but it’s mainly that they have to be the right person, be pragmatic, seek the truth and have reverence for God. That’s the only way to gain the Holy Spirit’s guidance and achieve anything in a duty. I also saw that seeking the truth and acting based on principle is the only way to accord with God’s will. Thanks be to God!

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