A Christian’s Experience: Can Wealth and Fame Bring People Happiness? (Part 1)
My father is just an ordinary elementary school teacher, and during my childhood I lived with him in the dormitory that the school provides for its staff. We lived a simple and frugal life, as most people did in that era of hardships. The thing I remember most is playing with the other teachers’ kids in the school grounds after school. One of the kids was from a much wealthier family (his mother worked in the Bureau of Finance). Every day we played until it was almost dark and then he would make a bowl of instant noodles, take out a piece of fried donut, and eat it all with gusto. We other kids just stood by and looked on hungrily as the lovely smell wafted over and made us drool. Every time this happened, my frustrated stomach would rumble loudly, which always made me feel embarrassed and at a loss about what to do. At that time I resented the fact that I was from a poor household and that my father had no talents—he couldn’t even afford a packet of instant noodles…. I resented my father, but I also made a promise to myself that I was going to make a lot of money and have a lifestyle that others would envy. From that time on I had no interest in studying, and all I could think about was leaving school, getting a job and relying on my own hard work to improve my life. However, my father insisted that I go to senior high school but I was adamant about not wanting to study. I wanted to leave school and go out to work instead because I was sure that this was the only way that I would find happiness and prosperity quickly enough.
It took a week for my parents to finally come to an agreement. They sent me to a big hairdressing salon to work and learn the trade. From then on I knuckled down and learned as much about hairdressing as I could. In order to please the boss and get hands-on experience of hairdressing techniques, I did all the dirty and tiring tasks—anything that the others didn’t want to do—around the salon. After a few years I got a stomach disorder that caused me to occasionally vomit stomach acid or bile, which was very uncomfortable. But the thought of being able to learn and practice in the salon and get my hairdresser’s certificate so that I could start earning money as soon as possible made me more than willing to endure the suffering. Four years later I opened my own salon, and thought that the time had finally come for me to make my first pot of gold. But fortune didn’t smile on me: Business was never that good and I couldn’t make any substantial changes to my lifestyle. Seeing that what I had was still far from the riches that I’d dreamed of, I decided to look for another way to make money.
A few months later I went to work in a factory in Suzhou. The summers in southern China are really hot, and after finishing my night shift I was always totally exhausted. But whenever the line manager asked who was willing to work overtime I was always the first to raise a hand. My desire to work hard and make money was as strong as ever. I worked like this for 2 years, but my bank balance never amounted to much and I wasn’t just going to spend the rest of my life as Mr. Average. So in order to realize my dream of rising high in society, I got in contact with some of my old schoolmates to see what they were up to and see who among them was making serious money. After many inquiries, I found out that there was one guy, who’d been a couple of years above me in school, who was making a lot, over 1 million per year, working as the deputy general manager in a finance company. So I called him up, and with his help I was taken on by the finance company at a basic monthly salary of 1,200 yuan. He told me that he’d started on 800 yuan monthly and was now making 140,000 yuan monthly! When I heard “140,000,” I thought: “I’ve walked into a gold mine! I’m going to work really hard and make the most of this opportunity.” The other members of staff were always complaining about their low salaries and how boring it was to have to go out and hand out flyers every day, but I only thought about how my schoolmate’s lifestyle was what I wanted. As long as it wasn’t illegal and it made me plenty of money, then it was worth it, no matter how arduous or tiring it was.
After 3 months I still didn’t have an order to my name, my wife was telling me to quit, and my schoolmate had told me that he could only guarantee my job for 1 more month. I was very keen to gain a foothold in the finance industry, so I doubled my efforts and set myself the target of working 30 days in the month for 14 hours per day. On the 27th day of my fourth month, there I finally got an order worth 100,000 yuan, for which I received a bonus of 1,500 yuan. I was overjoyed, and it wasn’t long before I was made head of my department. After that, the money came rolling in more and more, just as expected. My lifestyle became more affluent, and I started paying more attention to dressing well, eating well and flashing my cash whenever I could. My monthly salary often wasn’t enough to cover my spending, so I’d just go overdrawn on my credit cards. I’d become, in every way, a typical parvenu, one of the new money crowd.
Soon after my schoolmate recommended that I join a direct marketing company to learn the ins and outs of doing business. I thus became extremely busy, working in the company during the day and going to classes at night. The teacher used to say: “The art of selling is the art of selling yourself. You’ve gotten to make strangers feel that they know you well, and make your acquaintances feel that they don’t know you at all. Take control of your image and the market is yours for the taking. You also need to learn how to communicate with your clients. Encouragement and praise can turn an idiot into a genius, while insults and blame can turn a genius into an idiot. No matter how bad your client looks or sounds, you’ve always gotten to find the thing that makes them stand out and praise it as much as you can. When they get puffed up with flattery, they’ll pay whatever you ask to buy your stuff….” This is how I gradually learned the “art” of making money. I started using cunning, underhand means to attract clients, foremost of which was to use any form of flattery to get them to buy our products. I also gave them gifts, took them on trips, or out for meals at recreational farms near to our city. In short, I knew exactly what to say for every type of client, how to butter them up, and how to show them a good time. As long as my clients had trust in me, I was never worried that I wouldn’t make money.
Time and time again I worked on my clients, and the cash kept on rolling in. I was a slave to my own greed for wealth, and my desire to make money, by hook or crook, grew ever greater. I even took to using despicable means to steal clients away from my colleagues. For example, if a client had a good relationship with a colleague but didn’t have many assets invested under my control, I would start to butter them up and give them more expensive gifts—or even give them some of my own commission—to get more of their investments. It took a fair bit of persistence, but eventually more and more clients started investing more through me. One time, I noticed that the floor manager had so many clients that he was having problems coping and was letting the receptionist greet and send off his clients. So I started going over to the reception desk more often, and made every effort to be friendly and nice to her. I noticed that her hair had some split ends, so I bought her a bottle of split ends repair formula. Later, I learned that the floor manager split his commission with her and I thought: “The floor manager doesn’t give her much, so I could win her over by giving her a bit more and the extra clients she’d send my way would definitely improve my performance figures.” So I said to her: “Send more clients to me and I’ll split the commission with you 50-50.” Sure enough, with my constant encouragement, she began to send more of the floor manager’s clients to me. But our company rules stated that if a client came in and didn’t ask to see any particular member of the sales team, then they automatically became walk-in clients who belonged to the floor manager. Naturally I was afraid that my deal with the receptionist would come out into the open, so every time a walk-in client signed an order for me I got them to use someone else’s I.D details. This went on for quite some time, but I was still afraid of being found out and I knew that if the floor manager discovered that I was stealing her clients I’d be fired immediately. I wanted to stop, but it was like something had hold of me and kept pulling me forward. Every time I thought of my dilemma, I couldn’t think of a way out. I wanted to quit, but I was worried that if I went to another company I wouldn’t make as much money. I lived every day filled with dread, and because I never slept well at night I became muddle-headed, confused, and dozy during working hours. On the surface, I looked smart, fresh, and positive but on the inside I was suffering enormously. I often thought: “I’ve made enough money, so by rights I should be happy and content. So why is life so bitter and exhausting? What on earth is it really all about? Is my whole life just going to be about deceiving people, competing over everything, buttering people up, and all the other hypocrisies? What the hell am I going to do?”
It was during this time when I was feeling lost and helpless that a friend of mine shared the gospel with me. After going to a few meetings, I came to understand that God’s work of the last days is to save people who have been corrupted by Satan so that we can live in the semblance of true human beings. After every meeting, I would feel really liberated. One day in December, I had to take a month off work because something had come up. On the second day back at work, one of the deputy general managers came over to talk to me, and after exchanging a few pleasantries he said to me: “The past month when you were absent, all the staff under you came to me with their problems, so I’ve taken all your commissions for that month and you’ll only get your basic salary. You should make up for lost time and try to make more money this month as Chinese New Year is coming. Making money is most important.” When I heard this, I was furious: He was robbing me of my sales commissions! The blood rushed to my head and I was about to bang my hand on the table and have it out with him. Then I realized that if I did that, I’d probably be fired tomorrow. So I swallowed my pride, but I wasn’t able to calm down and was in a terrible mood all day. When I got home and told my wife what had happened, she said: “This isn’t such a big thing. We believe in God, so whenever things like this happen, we pray to God and then deal with it according to God’s words. We don’t let anger take control. Actually, this is a test from Satan. Satan wants to use money to get a hook into your heart, and if you fall into its money trap then you’ll be tortured beyond belief by it. You won’t want to come before God and pursue truths and then you’ll remain under Satan’s domain and suffer its cruelty. You need to see through Satan’s tricks! Anyway, you didn’t work for a month, so isn’t it normal that you didn’t get as much pay?” My wife’s advice reminded me that I was already a believer in God and shouldn’t keep on behaving as I always had. Always scheming and competing just for the sake of money really was unpleasant and exhausting. So I calmed myself down and then prayed to God: “Oh God, when all that stuff happened today, I didn’t pray to You and seek help but just got angry instead and let my corrupt satanic disposition make me hate someone. I know that doesn’t accord with Your intentions. Oh God, You know how much importance I place upon money. With regards to this, I don’t know what Your intentions are for me. I wish for You to guide me and give me the correct attitude toward money, so that I may be able to not follow Satan….”