Duties Have No Rank

July 21, 2022

By Karen, the Philippines

Before believing in Almighty God, I was used to being praised by teachers. I always wanted to be the center of attention, and enjoyed being highly thought of by others. In May of 2020, I accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. I actively ate and drank God’s words, attended gatherings, and during gatherings I was always the first to fellowship my understanding. My brothers and sisters always complimented me on my fellowship, which made me feel great. I thought that I had good caliber and a better understanding than the others. One time, the supervisor told me she would train me to be a group gathering host, I was overjoyed—out of so many people, the supervisor had chosen me. I felt this meant I had good caliber and was different from the others. After that, I started acting as a host in group gatherings. The brothers and sisters all paid close attention to and admired me. I would also interact with them during the gatherings, asking them about their states and difficulties and sending them God’s words. If I noticed someone wasn’t fellowshiping or attending gatherings, I’d encourage them in private. I had a close relationship with the brothers and sisters, and whenever we chatted, they were always so happy. I thought that I was well suited to water newcomers and could even become a watering deacon. I wanted a higher position so that I could check in on other group leaders’ work. That way I would win the admiration and praise of even more people. But I was very surprised when, one day, a leader told me I was best suited for spreading the gospel, so she wanted me to focus on gospel work. But, at the time, I couldn’t get myself excited. I thought: “I’m a waterer. I know all the watering work in and out. Why can’t you let me continue watering? Why are you making me spread the gospel? As a waterer, I can put all my talents to play, but, if I have to spread the gospel, I’ll be starting from square one. All this entails is asking people investigating the true way to come listen to sermons. Anyone can do a simple duty like that, so how am I supposed to distinguish myself? Also, I’m a group leader now. If they transfer me to gospel sharing, I’ll just be a gospel sharer. Who’ll admire me then?” I was feeling pretty down and really didn’t want to fulfill my duties as a gospel sharer. I just couldn’t get myself to submit. But at the time, I didn’t realize this and just felt confused. One day, I asked the leader: “Why are you making me spread the gospel? Why can’t I continue watering newcomers? I can handle both duties at once, I can make arrangements to fit it all in.” The leader said: “You’re a talkative person and you’re talented at spreading the gospel. You’re more suited to do this.” Hearing this, all I could do was try to accept it, but I still felt that no one would admire me in the gospel group. I felt depressed and aggrieved. I had worked as a waterer for a long time, was very effective in my work, and the others thought highly of me. If I were to be transferred to gospel sharing, I’d lose all of that. If I wasn’t effective in sharing the gospel, what would the leader think of me? I felt really down and didn’t have the motivation to spread the gospel. When I invited people to listen to sermons, I just went through the motions and didn’t give it my all. I spent most of my time chatting with the brothers and sisters and joking around, hoping to push away all those negative feelings. I also often wondered when I’d be able to return to watering newcomers. As a result, I had nothing to show for a month of gospel sharing. It was only then that I came before God in prayer: “Dear God, I’m having trouble submitting to this situation and keep wanting to return to watering. I ask You to guide me in understanding Your intention, so that I may submit.”

After that, I read this passage of God’s words. “What is the attitude you should have toward your duty, that can be called correct and in line with the will of God? First, you cannot scrutinize who it is arranged by, which level of leadership it is assigned by—you should accept it from God. You cannot analyze this, you should accept it from God. This is a condition. Furthermore, whatever your duty, do not discriminate between high and low. Suppose you say, ‘Though this task is a commission from God and the work of God’s house, if I do it, people might look down on me. Others get to do work that lets them stand out. I’ve been given this task, which doesn’t let me stand out but makes me exert myself behind the scenes, it’s unfair! I will not do this duty. My duty has to be one that makes me stand out in front of others and allows me to make a name for myself—and even if I don’t make a name for myself or stand out, I still have to benefit from it and feel physically at ease.’ Is this an acceptable attitude? Being picky is not accepting what comes from God; it is making choices according to your own preferences. This is not accepting your duty; it is a refusal of your duty, a manifestation of your rebelliousness. Such pickiness is adulterated with your individual preferences and desires; when you give consideration to your own benefit, your reputation, and so on, your attitude toward your duty is not submissive” (“What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading this, I reflected on my actions. I went by my preferences in my duties. In the watering work, I could put my talents to play, I was a group leader, in charge of other people, I got good results watering newcomers, and the others all respected and praised me, so I was always happy. Even if I had a lot of work to do, I’d never complain. But when the leader assigned me to share the gospel, I felt that I was just inviting people to listen to sermons, a job anyone could do. And I lost my position as a group leader, no one admired me anymore. I felt unhappy, complained to myself and tried to argue with God. Even though I agreed to spread the gospel, I didn’t feel motivated to do so. I preferred to chat with the others, rather than think about how to do my duty better. As a result, I had nothing to show for a whole month of gospel sharing. In my duty, I placed importance on reputation and status. If it was to my liking and gave me reputation and status, I was likely to submit. But if I didn’t like it, and it didn’t bolster my name and status, I’d feel down and would complain to God. I wasn’t truly submitting. I decided whether to obey God based on whether the duty put me in the spotlight and gave me status. I didn’t have a sincere attitude in my duty. If I kept pursuing status in this way, even if I did a lot of work, performed well in my duties, and won the admiration of my brothers and sisters, what would be the point if God didn’t like and commemorate what I’d done? Having realized this, I was ready to change my attitude toward my duty. I would stop worrying what others thought of me and just focus on doing a good job.

After that, I threw myself into sharing the gospel. A while later, some people who had been investigating the true way accepted God’s work. The leader said I had done a great job and I felt really happy. I hadn’t been with the gospel group that long, but I was already doing better than the others. I’d even earned praise from the leader. I really had a lot of potential! I started to think sharing the gospel wasn’t so bad. Maybe I could put my talents on display there and gain even more admirers. After that, I worked even harder in sharing the gospel and achieved better and better results. In March of 2021, I was promoted to church leader. I was thrilled and gave thanks to God. In this duty, I would be leading all the brothers and sisters in the church and presiding over every work project. This was a great chance to distinguish myself. I had to give this duty my all. During that time, I worked diligently. I’d always send messages to everyone asking about problems they were having in their duties. If I noticed someone coming up short in their work, I would give them practical pointers. I’d also often check in with each project and I cultivated brothers and sisters with good caliber. Caring for the brothers and sisters, I felt like a big sister. They all really relied on me and were very willing to open up to me about their issues. One sister even praised me for quickly finding passages of God’s words to resolve her issues. Earning their respect and admiration made me so happy and I worked even harder in my duty.

About a month after that, more and more people were accepting God’s work in the last days and the church was split up. However, this time, I was selected to be a deacon, not a leader. I was really disappointed. The leader role is a higher position than deacon and you can earn more respect through it. I could be a good leader, why hadn’t I been selected? When the new leader asked me to do some work, I didn’t want to respond. I felt so awful and was having a hard time submitting to that environment. But then I remembered God’s words which say: “In performing your duty, you absolutely cannot go by your personal preferences, by just doing whatever you would like to do, whatever you would be happy doing, or whatever would make you look good. This is acting in accordance with one’s own will. If you rely on your own personal preferences in the performance of your duty, thinking this is what God demands, and that this is what will make God happy, and if you forcibly impose your personal preferences on God or practice them as though they were the truth, observing them as if they were the principles of the truth, then is this not a mistake? This is not fulfilling your duty, and performing your duty in this way will not be remembered by God” (“Only by Seeking the Principles of the Truth Can One Perform One’s Duty Well” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Through this passage of God’s words, I realized that not being elected as leader was God’s way of testing me to see if I could practice the truth and submit to Him. If I didn’t submit to God because the duty wasn’t to my liking, God wouldn’t commend me. So even if I had trouble accepting all this, I knew I had to submit. Two months later, I was again reassigned to another church to share the gospel. The leader assigned me a lot of work, and would often ask for my opinion when discussing the work. She even said I was very well-suited for this duty. I thought to myself: “The leader assigned all this work to me because she trusts me. I can’t let her down. I must prove that I have good caliber and competence.” At the time, I realized I was pursuing reputation and status again. I felt really down and negative. I couldn’t figure out why I was always behaving in this way. What was the source of my corrupt disposition? I prayed to God, seeking. Later on, I found this passage of God’s words. “Some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and revolving around them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do not worship God at all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “The antichrists’ cherishment of their status and prestige goes beyond that of normal people, and is something within their disposition and essence; it is not a temporary interest, or the transient effect of their surroundings—it is something within their life, their bones, and so it is their essence. This is to say that in everything an antichrist does, their first consideration is their own status and prestige, nothing else. For an antichrist, status and prestige are their life, and their lifelong goal. In all they do, their first consideration is: ‘What will happen to my status? And to my prestige? Will doing this give me prestige? Will it elevate my status in people’s minds?’ That is the first thing they think about, which is ample proof that they have the disposition and essence of antichrists; they would not consider these problems otherwise. It can be said that for an antichrist, status and prestige are not some additional requirement, much less something extraneous that they could do without. They are part of the nature of antichrists, they are in their bones, in their blood, they are innate to them. Antichrists are not indifferent toward whether they possess status and prestige; this is not their attitude. Then, what is their attitude? Status and prestige are intimately connected to their daily lives, to their daily state, to what they strive for on a daily basis. And so for antichrists, status and prestige are their life. No matter how they live, no matter what environment they live in, no matter what work they do, no matter what they strive for, what their goals are, what their life’s direction is, it all revolves around having a good reputation and a high station. And this aim does not change; they can never put it aside. This is the true face of the antichrists, and their essence” (“Item Nine: They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Three)” in Exposing Antichrists). Through God’s words, I realized antichrists cherish reputation and status much more than normal people, it’s an intrinsic aspect of their being. No matter what they’re doing, their primary concern is always reputation and status, and whether other people respect and admire them. They want a place in peoples’ hearts, to control them and hold dominion over them. This is due to their essence as antichrists. I reflected on how covetous I was of reputation and status. Before I put my faith in God, I always sought the admiration of others, sought a place in their hearts. And even after I began believing in God, I still sought respect and admiration as before. I loved hosting gatherings, fellowshiping and being well thought of by the others. I enjoyed the feeling of being highly thought of. When I went from being a leader to a deacon, I was quite put out. I felt that I had lost my reputation and status and worried that others would think less of me. When I was reassigned to another church to share the gospel, I again wanted to prove myself to earn everyone’s respect. My pursuit was no different from Paul’s. Paul liked to make public speeches. He enjoyed being surrounded by audiences, being respected and admired. He wanted to have a place in people’s hearts and ultimately called himself Christ. His nature was wildly arrogant. While doing my duties, all I thought about was earning the respect and admiration of others. I wanted to be high up in people’s hearts. How wildly arrogant I was! I was resisting God! Though I believed in God, I didn’t have a God-fearing heart. I only did my duties for fame and status, not to satisfy God. I had already set foot on the path of the antichrist. I was truly in danger! I realized that God was protecting me by not letting me be elected as a leader. If God hadn’t devised this situation to expose me, I’d never realize how arrogant I was and how perilous my situation had become. I felt horrified and was guilty and saddened by my improper pursuits. I came before God in prayer: “Almighty God, I went down the wrong path seeking reputation and status and I feel awful. Thank You for exposing me with Your words. I will no longer seek reputation and status and will submit to all of Your arrangements. No matter how anyone else thinks of me, I’ll fulfill my duty as best I can.”

Later, I came across another passage of God’s words. “As a creature of God, man should seek to perform the duty of a creature of God, and seek to love God without making other choices, for God is worthy of man’s love. Those who seek to love God should not seek any personal benefits or seek that which they personally long for; this is the most correct means of pursuit. If what you seek is the truth, if what you put into practice is the truth, and if what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. If what you seek is the blessings of the flesh, and what you put into practice is the truth of your own notions, and if there is no change in your disposition, and you are not at all obedient to God in the flesh, and you still live in vagueness, then what you seek will surely take you to hell, for the path that you walk is the path of failure. Whether you will be made perfect or eliminated depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that success or failure depends on the path that man walks” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This passage of God’s words was very helpful for me. I realized I should seek the truth and dispositional transformation, that is the correct path. Pursuing reputation and status is a path to failure. Before, I always pursued reputation and status. When I was watering newcomers, I earned admiration and praise, and later I was promoted to leader. In the eyes of others, my status had increased, but I had become increasingly arrogant. I thought so highly of myself and there had been no change in my disposition. If I continued pursuing in this way, I would eventually be cast out. I was just like Paul, who gained many people from spreading the gospel. Many of his epistles can be found in the Bible and he is praised and admired in the religious world. But Paul didn’t understand himself at all, never transformed his corrupt disposition and was cast down into hell. I realized that the most important aspect of faith was to walk the path of pursuing truth. Otherwise, sooner or later I would regret it.

Later, while watching an experience testimony video, I saw the following passage of God’s words. “If you wish to be devoted in everything you do to meet God’s will, you cannot merely perform one duty; you must accept any commission God bestows upon you. Whether or not it corresponds to your tastes and falls within your interests, or is something you do not enjoy or have never done before, or is something difficult, you still should accept it and submit. Not only must you accept it, but you must proactively cooperate, learn about it, and experience it and attain entry. Even if you suffer, don’t stand out, are humiliated, and are ostracized, you must still commit your devotion. You must regard it as your duty to fulfill, not as personal business. How should people understand their duties? As something that the Creator—God—gives them to do; this is how people’s duties come about. The commission that God gives you is your duty, and it is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth that you perform your duty as God asks” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live as a True Human Being” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I had to remember, my duty was God’s commission. No matter if people thought highly of me, I had to devote my life to completing my mission, not to becoming the object of others’ admiration. In the past, I didn’t accept my duty as coming from God, always going by my preferences. I ranked duties as important or unimportant, higher or lower. I enthusiastically and actively did duties that allowed me to distinguish myself, and had a complaining, negative and resistant attitude toward and didn’t accept those that didn’t. I realized that I couldn’t be so picky about my duties or go by my preferences. In reality, be it duties that put me in the public eye or were done behind the scenes, they were all aspects of the church’s work, and all God’s commission. There was no difference in rank. In God’s eyes, all duties are the same. God gives us different abilities and functions, and assigns us different duties based upon those abilities. I might have some talents that others don’t, but they have talents that I don’t have as well. I should submit to God’s arrangements and fulfill my role. So, I prayed to God: “O Almighty God, I no longer want to do my duty based on preferences. Even if I can’t distinguish myself, I’m still ready to give my all in my duty to satisfy God.”

One day, we were having a gathering and I hoped the leader would let me be the host, but when I got to the gathering, I saw that another sister was hosting it. I thought to myself: “I used to be this sister’s leader and now she’s become my group leader. Also, I always used to host the gatherings. Now I’m not and I can’t distinguish myself—will the sisters and brothers think less of me?” I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. I wanted to ignore the group messages and just go attend a different group gathering. But then I realized I had the wrong attitude, and so I came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me to do my duty well. After prayer, I felt relatively calm. I should focus on doing my duty well and stop worrying about distinguishing myself. Realizing this, I was able to let go of my preoccupations. Later, I opened up to everyone about my experience during that period, and fellowshiped on what I had gained from experiencing the judgment of God’s words, and how God’s words had changed me. I felt so happy and liberated. Now, I’m still just a regular gospel sharer, but I don’t care about how my duty ranks anymore. Even if I’m no longer a group leader, deacon or church leader, I’m still willing to continue doing my duty. God’s words transformed me.

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