Freed From the Yoke of Status
By Vladhia, France
Last year, our church leader, Sister Laura, was replaced because she hadn’t been doing any practical work. After everyone discussed it, I was promoted to church leader instead. The moment that I was chosen, I began to feel a lot of pressure because I knew it was a new set of duties, but at the same time, I was really happy because my desire for status was fulfilled. I thought that I was appointed church leader because of my caliber and ability to do work. I gave my all to fulfilling my duties. Anything I didn’t understand, I proactively sought help and studied. I also often went to check up on my brothers and sisters and foundto give them fellowship. For the brothers and sisters who recently joined the church, I often went to water them. I liked it when they smiled and told me: “Thank you, Sister.” At that time, I didn’t want to take a break, even for a moment, I wanted to do all the work by myself.
Eventually, I had a university exam, so I had to do less work. When I finished the exam and returned to gather, I noticed that the brothers and sisters had made some progress. There were two sisters who could find God’s words to help solve some of the brothers’ and sisters’ problems in our groups. This was a good thing, but I actually felt a little frustrated. I thought that the brothers and sisters did not need me and would not come to me anymore. One time, I went to a group gathering. The brothers and sisters in that group used to not be able to fellowship much, but this time I saw that Sister Evelyn interacted with everyone very well. She was loving and patient, encouraging the other brothers and sisters to discuss their understanding of God’s words. Under her encouragement and guidance, everyone was communicating actively and seemed quite close with her. Seeing that, I felt rather disappointed, like one day Sister Evelyn might take my place. It began to feel like a real crisis. Not long after that, I saw that a sister sent a message in our group asking for advice. She asked: “How does one quiet one’s heart before God?” I was getting ready to answer when Sister Evelyn sent some passages of God’s words along with some of her own understandings. I thought that the passages she found were quite suitable and her understandings were very practical. She also clearly laid out the practice path to follow. I didn’t have anything to add and I was feeling quite sad. The group used to be my responsibility. It used to be me who found God’s words to help solve the brothers’ and sisters’ problems. I began to think, if she was so proactive about answering everyone’s questions, then what would everyone think of me? Would they think that their leader couldn’t answer their questions? That I was not as capable as Sister Evelyn? If she was always so enthusiastic to help them, would they think that I was useless as a leader? I thought about it over and over and began to feel envious of her. I even thought: “This won’t do. I need to work harder than you. I can’t let you beat me.” But after that, I started making mistakes all the time. I would make mistakes doing even the simplest tasks. One time, I wrote a message that I meant to send to remind the other leader and deacons of our gathering time. I accidentally sent the message to the newcomer group. I only realized that I sent it to the wrong group after a sister called and told me. It was pretty awkward, so I quickly deleted the message. Even though it wasn’t a big deal, I still felt pretty bad about it. At the time I thought, how could I mix up the newcomer group with the leader group? At that moment I felt so useless, like I couldn’t do anything right. I also had my university exams so I couldn’t fully dedicate myself to my duties. I thought to myself: “It’s over. My role is going to have to be adjusted. I’m going to get replaced by Sister Evelyn.” I felt really down after that. I started just going through the motions of my duties, not wanting to do anything. I felt like time dragged on during gatherings, and sometimes I would even scroll through Facebook. I even started watching some funny videos that were totally useless for my life. I used to always prepare before gatherings, carrying a burden while carefully pondering God’s words and thinking over any of my brothers’ and sisters’ unresolved problems, and how I should fellowship with them. But I stopped taking on that burden and stopped pondering God’s words. One time before an evening gathering, I even went out to buy some clothes. I didn’t get home until a few minutes before the gathering was meant to start. In the mornings I didn’t read God’s words carefully and I didn’t send them to the groups to have the brothers and sisters ponder them. At that time, I felt like my heart was far away from God. So, I prayed to God. I said to Him: “, I know I have strayed far from You. I also know that my attitude towards my duties has not been good. I want to repent, but my heart is very weak. I hope You will help me.”
Later, I read some of God’s words that were really helpful. God says, “Deep down, people harbor a few wrong states—negativity, weakness, and depression or fragility; or a persistent base intent; or always being in the thrall of worrying about prestige, selfish desires, and their own benefits; or they think themselves of poor caliber and are in possession of certain negative states. When you live constantly within these states, it is very difficult for you to gain the work of the Holy Spirit. If you have difficulty gaining the Holy Spirit’s work, there will be little that is positive within you; and with little that is positive, it will be hard for you to gain the truth” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). When I read that passage, I was really moved. God had laid out my problems perfectly. I was living in negativity, unable to fulfill my duties because I thought others would take over my position. I was afraid that my status was threatened, which made me feel weak and distanced me from God and the brothers and sisters.
I saw another passage of God’s words in “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (3).” God says, “People will have many negative states before God judges and chastises them. For instance, there is a negative state often seen in people: They are negative when others perform their duties more productively than they; they are negative when others’ families are more united than theirs; they are negative when others’ conditions are better than theirs, or they are of higher caliber; and they are negative when made to wake a bit early, when their duties are tiring—negative, too, when feeling a bit downhearted. No matter what happens, they are negative. … Negativity means there is a problem within people: They cannot accept the truth, and are constantly dissatisfied with all God does; moreover, they do not in the least put the truth into practice. Why would God remain responsive to such people? What is God’s attitude toward those who are deaf to reason? He casts them aside and ignores them. Believe in whatever manner you wish; whether or not you believe is up to you; if you truly believe, and pursue, then you shall reap the rewards; if you do not believe, do not pursue, then you shall not. God treats every person fairly. If your attitude is not one of unaccepting the truth and not one of submission, and if you do not conform to God’s requirements, then believe what you will; also, if you would rather leave, you may do so at once. If you do not wish to do your duty, then, whatever you do, do not make a disgraceful scene or put on airs, but leave at once, off to wherever you like. God does not urge such people to stay. That is His attitude. If you—who are clearly a created being—never wish to act like one, and instead always want to be an archangel, then can God pay attention to you? If you—who are clearly an ordinary person—always wish for special, preferential treatment, and to be a person of status and standing who excels over others in all things, then you are being unreasonable and lack sense. How does God see people who lack sense? What is His assessment of them? Such people are deaf to reason!” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God clearly revealed that the source of my negativity and weakness was that I cared too much about my leadership role. I was afraid to lose it. I liked the status more than I liked fulfilling my duty. Everything I did was out of a desire to maintain my leadership status. I thought back to when I had just started my leadership role. I worked hard to fulfill my duty, to the point that I wouldn’t rest for even a moment. I was afraid I’d do poorly and be replaced. When I saw the progress that two of the sisters had made, I should have been happy. But I was worried that the brothers and sisters wouldn’t need me anymore, then my role as a leader would have no meaning and nobody would admire me anymore. Especially seeing how well Sister Evelyn was doing, that she could answer the brothers’ and sisters’ questions, and everyone was close with her, I was even more worried that I couldn’t hold on to my status and I felt negative and weak to the point that I started just going through the motions of fulfilling my duties. God says that these types of people are irrational. God doesn’t pay attention to them and it’s hard for them to gain the Holy Spirit’s work. I felt scared when I realized I was in the same dangerous state. God also says He does not like people who are often negative because they cannot accept truth. They live with wrong intentions and cannot reverse or forsake them. If one always lives in such negative states, then they will eventually be laid aside and eliminated. I also realized these things back then. So, I went to God and confessed and prayed for repentance. I said to God: “God, I know I’m in the wrong. I hope You can help me understand myself and bring me out of my negativity.”
Later, a sister read from God’s words during a gathering. The words gave me some understanding as to why we pursue fame, gain, and status. In the fourth paragraph of “God Himself, the Unique VI” God says, “What does Satan use to keep man firmly within its control? (Fame and gain.) So, Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts, until all people can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision for the sake of fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds people with invisible shackles, and they have neither the strength nor the courage to throw them off. They unknowingly bear these shackles and trudge ever onward with great difficulty. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind shuns God and betrays Him and becomes increasingly wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the midst of Satan’s fame and gain. Looking now at Satan’s actions, are its sinister motives not utterly detestable? Maybe today you still cannot see through Satan’s sinister motives because you think one cannot live without fame and gain. You think that if people leave fame and gain behind, they will no longer be able to see the way ahead, no longer be able to see their goals, that their futures will become dark, dim and gloomy. But, slowly, you will all one day recognize that fame and gain are monstrous shackles that Satan uses to bind man. When that day comes, you will thoroughly resist Satan’s control and thoroughly resist the shackles Satan uses to bind you. When the time comes that you wish to throw off all the things Satan has instilled in you, you will then make a clean break with Satan and you will truly loathe all that Satan has brought to you. Only then will mankind have a real love and yearning for God” (). After reading God’s words, I realized that Satan uses fame, gain, and status to deceive and corrupt man. It’s the invisible yoke Satan uses to ensnare people. I’d been trapped by the yoke of fame, gain, and status since I was a child. When I was in school, In order to obtain the admiration of others and become a class leader, I studied really hard out of fear that I would be surpassed by my classmates. When I started believing in God and became a leader, I worked hard to fulfill my duty in order to keep my status and not be replaced. I felt jealous of the brothers and sisters who were better than me. I was worried that they would surpass me and I wouldn’t have status in people’s minds. And the saddest part? When I realized that I was not as irreplaceable among the brothers and sisters as I thought, I felt like my desire for status was unfulfilled, and started just going through the motions in my duty, all because I didn’t get what I wanted. I realized that, for me, God’s requirements, my duty and responsibilities, church life, all these things were not important. Everything I did was to satisfy my desire for status with no reverence for God. At the same time, I realized that Satan wants us to pursue fame, gain, and status. It wants us to fight one another to get these things. It wants us to abandon God’s demands, betray God, and stray from God. This is Satan’s ploy. When I realized that, I began to detest myself. I wanted to free myself from the pursuit of fame, gain, and status so I could truly come before God. Later, I heard a called “I’m Just a Tiny Created Being” that really moved me. “Oh God! Whether I have status or not, I now understand myself. If my status is high it is because of Your elevation, and if it is low it is because of Your ordination. Everything is in Your hands. I have neither any choices, nor any complaints. You ordained that I would be born in this country and among this people, and all that I should do is to be completely obedient under Your dominion because everything is within what You have ordained. I do not give thought to status; after all, I am but a creature. If You place me in the bottomless pit, in the lake of fire and brimstone, I am nothing but a creature. If You use me, I am a creature. If You perfect me, I am yet a creature. If You do not perfect me, I will still love You because I am no more than a creature. I am nothing more than a minuscule creature created by the Lord of creation, just one among all created humans. It was You who created me, and now You have once again placed me in Your hands to do with me as You will. I am willing to be Your tool and Your foil because everything is what You have ordained. No one can change it. All things and all events are in Your hands” (Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). That’s when I understood that no matter what duty I perform in God’s house today, it is God’s ordination and His elevation. Regardless of status, as a created being, I should do my duty honestly. That is the only reasonable way. At the same time, I realized that there is no distinction between high and low status within God’s house—all that matters is fulfilling one’s duties. When I realized that, I felt liberated. Regardless of my status in the future, I will do my best to fulfill my duty and please God.
After that, I saw two passages from God’s words that left a deep impression on me. God says, “Cooperation among brothers and sisters is itself a process of offsetting one’s weaknesses with another’s strengths. You use your strengths to compensate for others’ shortcomings, and others use their strengths to make up for yours. This is what it means to offset one’s weaknesses with others’ strengths, and to cooperate in harmony. Only when cooperating in harmony can people be blessed before God, and, the more of this one experiences, the more practicality they possess, the path becomes ever brighter, and they become ever more at ease” (“On Harmonious Coordination” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “The functions are not the same. There is one body. Each does his duty, each in his place and doing his very best—for each spark there is one flash of light—and seeking maturity in life. Thus will I be satisfied” (“Chapter 21” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When I read those two passages of God’s words, I understood God’s intentions. God hopes that while fulfilling our duty we can learn from one another and make up for each other’s weaknesses. We should do our best in whatever position we have and work together in harmony to fulfill our duty. After I understood God’s intentions, I prayed to Him. I began to learn how to let go of my status and stop thinking about if I might be replaced by someone else. I also learned to put my heart into everything I do and think about how to fulfill my duty well. During gatherings I was proactive about fellowshiping with others. When others were fellowshiping, I carefully pondered their words and quickly noted down any points of light. I realized that I could learn a lot from the brothers and sisters. Slowly, I became less jealous of the brothers and sisters who progressed faster than me or who are of better caliber. I also was able to let go of myself and just learn from others. After practicing like this for a while, I felt particularly peaceful and at ease, I felt closer to God. I also thank God for using His words to judge and expose me. He helped me begin to understand my corrupt disposition. Thanks to God for His love and for saving me!