Freed From My Struggle to Get Ahead

January 17, 2022

By Xinliang, Germany

When I first started serving as head of the watering team, the brothers and sisters on that duty would consult with me when they ran into problems and thought fairly highly of me. When some foreign new believers needed watering, the leaders asked me specifically to take care of it and tasked me with teaching German to the others in the team. So, everyone started to look up to me even more and was eager to talk to me about their problems. I felt like I was indispensable to the team, and I loved being admired and surrounded by others.

Then the leaders had Sister Fang come join our team, saying that she would be watering newcomers along with us. Over time, I found she had good caliber, her fellowship on the truth was clear, and when newcomers had questions or problems, not only could she find relevant words of God, but she also wove her own experience into her fellowship. They found the solutions they needed really quickly. After some time, brothers and sisters would just go to Sister Fang when they hit a roadblock. This was disheartening for me. I thought, “Since she came, everyone looks up to her and goes to her with their problems. Do they think she’s more capable than I am? But I’m the team leader! I can’t let her take my place, but I have to reclaim the glory that’s rightfully mine.”

Once, right before a gathering, Sister Wang put together a document in German and sent it out to the group, saying that she’d used translation software for some parts. She wanted me and Sister Fang to check it for issues after the gathering. Reading through it, I found all sorts of problems with the translation and thought, “This is my chance. Sister Fang knows some German, but not as well as I do. Now I have to show everyone that I’m more capable than she is.” So I went through the document, revised it, and reformatted it. I felt like as soon as the brothers and sisters saw how my work on it made it so clear, so coherent, they’d certainly see my talent. I ended up spending the entire gathering on that document instead of really listening. Even after the gathering I spent all evening checking it and collating it all over again. My head ached and my eyes were dry from slaving over it, but when I thought about the brothers and sisters seeing my work behind the scenes and winning back their admiration, my weariness vanished. I sent the document off to the group the next day, but when everyone was discussing issues surrounding watering newcomers, they were all asking Sister Fang about points they didn’t understand. Not a single person mentioned me as the one who fixed the translation. I felt really frustrated and wondered why I’d just become a sidenote ever since Sister Fang came. She wasn’t any better than me. I just sat at the computer without saying a word and I had no desire to join the discussion. I even had thoughts of not wanting to do that duty altogether. Just then, a sister suddenly asked me a question and I had no idea how to answer because I simply hadn’t been following the discussion. Seeing I wasn’t saying anything, Sister Fang chimed in with her own opinion and everyone agreed with her. My face was on fire. I rushed to find the corresponding part of the document and only then realized that they’d already fellowshiped on most of it, but I hadn’t kept up. I felt kind of guilty at the time. I was the team leader for watering, so I should have been guiding the learning process and helping address people’s problems in their duty, but I was always comparing myself to Sister Fang and only cared about what the others thought of me. I wasn’t putting my heart into my duty. How could I do my duty well with an attitude like that?

After the gathering, I reflected on the state I’d been in recently. Since Sister Fang came on board, everyone approached her with their problems and I was really resistant, feeling like my leading role and my glory had been snatched away. I tried everything to show off, wanting to regain the position I’d had in everyone’s heart. When I didn’t get what I wanted, it was like the wind was taken out of my sails and I even wanted to quit. Wasn’t that a betrayal of God? Realizing that I wasn’t in the right state, I quietly prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to know myself. God’s words say, “When people do not understand or practice the truth, they often live amid the corrupt disposition of Satan. They exist amidst various satanic snares, wracking their brains for the sake of their own future, pride, status, and other self-interests. But if you apply this attitude to your duty, to seeking and pursuing the truth, then you will gain the truth. … If you always work hard on the truth, often coming before God, often seeking the truth, you shall reap the fruit of the truth, and what you live out shall have a human semblance, and normal humanity, and the reality of the truth. If you often plan, contemplate, spend time thinking about, put hard work into—even give your life—for various things that are of benefit to you, not sparing any cost, then you might gain people’s respect, and gain different benefits and forms of pride—but which is more important, these things or the truth? (The truth.) People understand this message, yet they do not pursue the truth, and only value their own interests and status. So do they truly understand it, or is this false understanding? They are, in fact, stupid. They do not see such matters clearly. When they are capable of seeing them clearly, they will have gained a little stature. This requires them to pursue the truth, to expend effort on the word of God; they cannot be muddleheaded and sloppy. If you do not seek the truth and a day comes when God says that He has finished speaking, that He wishes to say nothing more to mankind, and to do nothing more, and that the time has come to test the work of man, then you are destined to be eliminated” (God’s Fellowship). God’s words were really poignant for me. I thought back on my recent behavior, and though I appeared to be doing my duty, at every moment I was just protecting my own interests and status. When I saw Sister Fang surpassed me in caliber and capability, and that the other team members regarded her highly, I felt a sense of crisis, like my position was being threatened. I secretly started competing against her, comparing myself to her and wanted everyone to think I was better at the job than she was. I just wanted to win back everyone’s admiration. Wasn’t I just protecting my personal status while waving the flag of doing my duty? God lifted me up to act as a team leader so that I could care for His will and uphold the church’s work. It was also in the hope that I could use this chance to learn to use the truth to resolve problems and practice the truth in my duty, so my corrupt disposition could be changed somewhat. But I wasn’t practicing the truth at all. I was just stuck in a state of fighting for name and gain, and all I thought about was how to outdo Sister Fang, and whether I could get the brothers and sisters to admire me. I was completely sidelining my duty. When I failed to gain prestige and status, I wanted to give up and betray God. That was resisting God. At this point I felt a little afraid, and I realized my spirit was dark and in pain, and I’d lost the Holy Spirit’s work because everything I was doing was disgusting to God, so He had hidden His face from me. If I didn’t repent, He’d eliminate me. When I realized all this, I quickly came before God and prayed, saying, “God, I don’t want to speak and act just for my own prestige and status, but I just can’t seem to help myself. Please guide me so that I can put the truth into practice.”

I read a passage of God’s words after that, and it showed me how to let go of all that. God’s words say, “Those who are capable of putting the truth into practice can accept God’s scrutiny when doing things. When you accept God’s scrutiny, your heart is set straight. If you only ever do things for others to see, and do not accept God’s scrutiny, then is God still in your heart? People like this have no reverence for God. Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; give no thought to your own status, prestige, or reputation. Also do not consider the interests of man. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have done your utmost to be loyal, done your best to fulfill your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of God’s house. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words are perfectly clear. God has a place in the heart of someone who is truly considerate of His will and they can accept His scrutiny in everything they do. They can let go of their own face, status, and personal interests, and consider God’s interests in all things, putting everything they have into doing their duty. That’s the kind of person who brings joy to God. Really thinking about it, Sister Fang’s fellowship on the truth was really clear and could resolve problems, and her suggestions benefited our work more than mine did. This was really beneficial for the church’s work and our brothers’ and sisters’ lives. It was good for our work if the others sought out Sister Fang for help more than me so everyone could learn and grow together. That was a good thing. But instead of considering that at all, I just cared about my own interests and where I stood. Seeing the others look up to Sister Fang, I felt like she had stolen my place, so I secretly pitted myself against her. Wasn’t I disrupting and damaging the interests of God’s house? I felt terrible when all of this became clear to me. I really despised myself and wanted to practice the truth to satisfy God. After that, I made a conscious effort to let go of my face and status, and when we were in fellowship and study, I stopped thinking about showing off to look better than her. Instead, I focused on quieting myself before God and thinking about how to fellowship most effectively. I was able to handle it appropriately when I saw brothers and sisters taking their problems to Sister Fang. I felt that it didn’t matter who they asked, as long as the problem was resolved. And when I ran into problems in my duty, I started seeking her out too, and listened to what she had to say. I felt much more at peace when I did things this way, and I had the Holy Spirit’s guidance in my duty, which helped resolve some problems. The team’s work improved as a result. I was grateful for God’s guidance.

After this experience I thought I had some self-knowledge and had changed to an extent, but then something happened later that allowed me to reflect and understand myself more deeply. One afternoon a leader sent me a message, saying she wanted Sister Fang to work with me on one of my tasks, to get it finished ASAP. I wasn’t too happy about this. I’d been responsible for it all along, so suddenly having Sister Fang come on board made me feel like the leader thought she was better than me, that Sister Fang could help me improve my work efficiency. Then, if that project turned out well, Sister Fang’s efforts wouldn’t go unnoticed. I knew that she was efficient and smart, and both her caliber and work abilities were better than mine, plus all the others liked her. It felt like an impending crisis. If the leader saw that Sister Fang did better than me, would she have her take my place as team leader? At that thought, I felt my chest tighten up with anxiety. I realized I was competing with Sister Fang for status again, but when I thought about the possibility of her taking my place I got really nervous, deeply afraid of losing my position. I thought, “I have to prove to the leader right away that I’m up to the task.” And so, I split the project into two parts so we could each take half. That way the leader could see who had done what and it would be clear who had achieved the most. And so, that sense of rivalry that I hadn’t eradicated rose up again.

When dividing up the work I didn’t communicate with Sister Fang on the details, not wanting to share everything I knew with her. I was afraid she’d catch on really quickly. I just sent her a perfunctory message about splitting up the work, then we got to work separately. Over the next few days I worked on the project nonstop, thinking that as long as I got it done well and quickly, the leader would think I was more efficient and more effective than Sister Fang. Then I’d gain her approval and my position would be safe. During this time, when brothers and sisters needed help in their duty I did whatever I could to make time for it, feeling like the more I could juggle, the more I’d prove my importance within the team, that I could do it all. Then I thought I’d be solid as a rock. I also kept an eye on Sister Fang’s progress, afraid that I’d fall behind her. I was never really able to find any serenity in my duty, but got more and more anxious. I didn’t have any insight into the problems I ran into, so my progress was really slow. I was just single-mindedly pursuing name and status. If the leader hadn’t figured out what was going on, I wouldn’t have reflected on myself. After a week, seeing there was no real progress, the leader checked in with me on the status and asked how our cooperation was going. She also pointed out that none of my key tasks had been done well, and asked me what I’d been working on. I gave her some excuses, saying I hadn’t managed my time well and the work was difficult. In fact, I knew that it was because I was just going after name and gain again, so I wasn’t working well with Sister Fang and my heart wasn’t in the right place. That’s why I’d lost God’s guidance. Seeing me making excuses for myself, the leader dealt with me for not properly prioritizing my work and asked me about my state. I shared with her what I’d been revealing lately.

She read a passage of God’s words to me, and fellowshiped on and dissected the nature and root of fighting for name and gain. This helped me understand my corrupt disposition better. God’s words say, “Whenever they’re in a group, the first thing the type of people who are antichrists do is to win people’s trust and appreciation, and make more people respect them, look up to them, and adore them, in order to achieve their aim of having absolute power and having the final say in the group. … To attain status, to be the top dog in a group, they will do whatever it takes, not sparing any individual or factor that threatens their status. Of course, the antichrists are bound to employ any number of means to achieve this. Anyone who is articulate, who speaks logically, in an orderly, well-organized manner, becomes the object of their jealousy, a target for imitation, and, moreover, the target of their competition. Those who pursue the truth and have conviction, who often help and support the brothers and sisters, bringing them out of negativity and weakness, also become the target of their competition. Whoever’s adept at a certain task, and is looked up to a little by the brothers and sisters, also becomes the target of their competition. Those whose work is fruitful, and who are praised by the Above, are even more of a target for their competition. And what is their trademark saying in any group? Such people don’t necessarily want to gain the highest status or have a degree of control over people, it’s just that they have a certain disposition, a certain mentality, that instructs them to do so. What is this mentality? It is ‘I must compete! Compete! Compete!’ ‘Compete’: that is their disposition. Theirs is a disposition that no one can contain. No one can control it, not even they themselves can; they must compete” (“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). I gave some thought to what this passage reveals about these states. It described my recent state perfectly. In my duty, I was always wanting to have a certain status and to have others look up to me. When I felt like Sister Fang looked likely to take my place, I treated her like an adversary, secretly setting myself against her so that I could maintain my position. I wanted to split up the work to see which of us was more effective and wanted to use helping brothers and sisters with their problems to show I was more committed than her, that I understood the truth and the work better, hoping everyone would see I was a strong, capable team member to consolidate my position. I was obsessed with how I could show off, comparing myself with her at every turn. Wasn’t this precisely the antichrist disposition revealed by God? When I thought about it, I saw that the leader wanting us to work together in the first place was so we could be more efficient and finish the project sooner. But overcome by petty schemes, I wanted to use my duty to establish myself and the church’s work didn’t even cross my mind. I wasn’t putting my heart into God’s commission, but instead I was thinking of nothing but how to make myself look good. I was scheming and working against Sister Fang to ensure my place, delaying our work. How was that doing my duty? Obviously, I was totally serving Satan, sabotaging the church’s work!

There were other passages of God’s words that I read: “An antichrist could be in any group, and they could be a fake, or a hard worker, but one thing always lurks in the depths of their hearts: status. In everything they do, they have to compete with others for status, for pride, for advantage. The most common manifestation is competing for a good reputation, for a favorable verdict, for a place in people’s hearts, so that these people venerate them, and think highly of them, and make them the center of their orbit. This is the path that the antichrists walk—and these are the very things that the antichrists compete for” (“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). “If you really cherish status and prestige, are deeply attached to them, can’t bear to give them up, if you always feel that without status and prestige there’s no joy or hope in living, that you must live your whole life for status and prestige, that you must be directed by these two things, that even if you ultimately won’t achieve your goals, you can’t completely give up, and must persevere to the very end as long as there’s a thread of hope—if you have such thoughts, then you are unlikely to be very demanding of yourself in terms of what you practice, and are liable to turn a blind eye to your practice. … such pursuit of status affects your ability to be an acceptable creature of God, and of course affects your ability to perform your duty to an acceptable standard. Why do I say this? Nothing is more loathsome to God than when people pursue status, because the pursuit of status is corrupt disposition; it is born of the corruption of Satan, and in God’s view should not exist. God did not ordain that it should be given to man. If you are always competing and fighting for status, if you constantly cherish it, if you always want to seize it for yourself, does this not bear a little of the nature of antipathy to God? Status is not ordained for people by God; God provides people with the truth, the way, and the life, and ultimately makes them become an acceptable creature of God, a small and insignificant creature of God—not someone who has status and prestige and is revered by thousands of people. And so, no matter what perspective it is viewed from, the pursuit of status is a dead end. No matter how reasonable your excuse for pursuing status is, this path is still the wrong one, and is not praised by God. No matter how hard you try or how great the price you pay, if you desire status, God will not give it to you; if it’s not given by God, you will fail in fighting to obtain it, and if you keep fighting there will only be one outcome: death! This is a dead end—you understand this, yes?” (“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). I was terrified after reading this in God’s words. I wasn’t pursuing the truth in my duty, but instead I’d been charging after name and status to fulfill my own desires. I was on the path of an antichrist. I wondered, why was I so focused on pursuing these things? It was because of Satan’s corruption. Since I was little, I’d heard things like “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” and “Any good soldier dreams of becoming general.” Steeped in these poisons of Satan, I felt like I wasn’t worth anything if I was happy with being average. I wanted to be on top no matter where I went, otherwise I wouldn’t have value. That had become my foundation as a person. I couldn’t stop myself from living by these satanic philosophies even after becoming a believer. Seeing someone who could outdo me, I just had to go up against them and think of everything to prove myself. I wanted to have a place in people’s hearts, to have everyone crowd around me and look up to me. I thought that meant I was worthy. With that kind of perspective and pursuit, I wasn’t able to do my duty from the place of a created being, but instead I was pretending to do my duty while vying with God for status. I was offending God’s disposition and resisting Him! I knew that if I didn’t repent, God would eliminate me sooner or later. The thought of this really frightened me. I saw that the path I was on was incredibly dangerous. I came before God in prayer right away and repented. Whether I could keep serving as team leader, whether Sister Fang would take my place, I was ready to submit. I used to always think that it was just showing a little bit of corruption, so I didn’t take it too seriously. But through the judgment and revelation of God’s words, I realized how serious it is and then I had a true desire to resolve this corruption. After that, I started reading words of God that expose people who pursue this sort of thing. There was one passage that left a particularly deep impression on me, and it helped me find a path. “As one of the creatures, man must keep his own position, and behave conscientiously. Dutifully guard that which is entrusted to you by the Creator. Do not act out of line, or do things beyond your range of ability or which are loathsome to God. Do not try to be great, or become a superman, or above others, nor seek to become God. This is how people should not desire to be. Seeking to become great or a superman is absurd. Seeking to become God is even more disgraceful; it is disgusting, and despicable. What is commendable, and what the creatures should hold to more than anything else, is to become a true creature; this is the only goal that all people should pursue” (“God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words really brightened my heart and helped me understand His will. Being a great person, a superman isn’t what a created being should pursue. We should take our place as a creature of God and steadily carry out what God entrusts us with. This is the right pursuit, and the only one God approves of.

When I found myself wanting to fight for name and gain again after that, I would make an effort to pray to God and forsake myself, and go seek out Sister Fang to speak with her about issues in our duty. When I really opened up to her I discovered that she had some pretty good ideas about how to do things and we had a plan of action in no time at all when we put our heads together. Sister Fang also made the effort to share a summary of her experience with me to help me improve my efficiency. I felt both ashamed and really touched. Having a partner like that at my side was such a great help for me, and I hated myself for having been so blind, for just fighting for name and gain and missing so many chances to gain the truth. I stopped worrying about Sister Fang replacing me as team leader after that. I became much more relaxed and a lot more effective in my duty. And once we were working as a team, we finished that project before I knew it. Going through all of this, I truly felt that God is by my side, and He set up so many situations to cleanse and transform my corrupt disposition. He also judged, exposed, enlightened, and guided me with His words, allowing me to gain some self-knowledge. I was overflowing with gratitude toward God and I resolved to do my duty well and satisfy Him.

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