Goodbye to the Rat Race

January 17, 2022

By Si Fan, South Korea

I took on the duty of watering newcomers a couple years ago. I felt it was an honor from God. I also knew it was a really important duty, so I wanted to put more effort into the truth so I could water the newcomers well to help them quickly get their footing on the true way. I’d read God’s words to equip myself with truth whenever I had time, and in gatherings, I earnestly pondered new believers’ questions and problems, and looked for God’s words for fellowship and a solution. I’d seek with other brothers and sisters when I couldn’t understand or resolve something. Over time, the others started seeking me out for fellowship with their problems. It occurred to me that everyone already looked up to me even though I was new to watering. I felt really happy and had even more enthusiasm for my duty.

Later on, the leader assigned Sister Cheng to work alongside me. I found after a little while that she took on a lot of responsibility in her duty and excelled at uncovering issues in our work. Her fellowship in gatherings was really clear and organized, and she was able to solve some problems. Everyone really liked her and would seek her out for fellowship when they had problems. Seeing all this got me worrying: “Sister Cheng is pretty new, but the others already think so highly of her. When they need help, will they start only seeking her out, and not me? Will they think I don’t match up to her? No, I have to work harder so that everyone sees I’m not playing second fiddle, that I’m still capable of addressing problems. It’s the only way to keep my place in everyone’s hearts.” I started going out and asking about brothers’ and sisters’ states and difficulties, and before every gathering I worked to find words of God and make notes on them. During gatherings, I was preoccupied with how to give better fellowship than Sister Cheng so everyone would think I was more capable. To my surprise, one day the leader told us that Sister Cheng was going to serve as group leader. I was stunned. I thought, “Did I hear that wrong? Sister Cheng is going to be group leader? Why did it turn out this way? I’ve been on this duty longer than her. What will the others think when they find out? Will they think she’s better than me? How can I show my face again?” The more I thought about it the more wronged I felt, and I just couldn’t accept that fact. I was in a really dark, painful place. I knew I shouldn’t think about it that way, that it was living for name and status, but I couldn’t control myself. I tried to comfort myself, that this was perfectly fine, too, and all I needed to do was perform my own duty well without worrying so much. At the time, I didn’t really seek the truth or reflect on myself in this aspect.

Then one day, I found out that Sister Zhang’s family had been taken in by CCP rumors and lies, and they were trying to stop her from believing. She was held back, and wasn’t attending gatherings. I contacted her, hoping to fellowship with her, but she said she’d been in touch with Sister Cheng, that they’d already had seeking and fellowship. This was kind of upsetting for me to hear. Sister Zhang always used to come to me with her problems, but now, she was running straight to Sister Cheng instead. Did she think I wasn’t as good? Was everyone about to forget all about me? This thought left me feeling really demoralized. I thought it was Sister Cheng stealing my thunder, and I developed a bias against her. I stopped being so ready to respond to her messages, and sometimes would just give a quick “Sure” in return. And there was one time when we were in an online gathering with some brothers and sisters. Sister Cheng gave fellowship in response to a sister’s question. I wasn’t able to take any of it in, just worried that her fellowship would steal the stage. I just wanted a chance to share fellowship so the others would see I also took my duty seriously, and I could uncover problems. When Sister Cheng was done, the sister who had posed the question said her fellowship hadn’t addressed the practical problem. I was thrilled to see her put in a difficult spot. I was thinking, “You talked quite a bit without resolving the real problem. It didn’t hit the mark. Now you’ve got egg on your face. The others could tell right away. I need to jump on this chance to make a good show so everyone sees my fellowship is better than yours.” I started sharing fellowship right away. When I was done, it became evident that I hadn’t understood this sister’s question at all, and my response was way off the mark. She even messaged me a heads-up. I felt like an idiot at the time and wanted to find a hole to crawl into. I got off the call right then because something urgent had come up. Later, I saw they were still online in the gathering and a malicious thought sprung to mind: “If you keep talking like this, who knows how long you’ll go on. If I can’t be in the gathering, then no one can, or else it’ll just be you on display.” So, without really giving it any thought, I sent this message: “The gathering time is up, no need to drag things out. We can discuss any problems later.” They were all offline within a few minutes. I sat there in front of the computer feeling really unsettled. I was so embarrassed about the fellowship I’d shared, and I felt bad when I thought about how I’d reveled in sister Cheng’s setback. What was I doing? I wasn’t trying to work with her to do our duty well, but I was in a jealous struggle, both openly and secretly, trying to undermine her. Was that even doing my duty? I just couldn’t settle my feelings.

I reflected on myself after that, on what was really wrong with me. Constantly comparing myself to Sister Cheng in everything was an exhausting, painful way to live. I wasn’t getting any enlightenment from God’s words, I was just going through the motions in prayer, gatherings were dry and dull, devoid of illumination. My heart was filled with darkness. In pain, I came before God to pray: “God, I’m living for name and status, always competing, comparing myself with others, wanting their admiration. I know this isn’t the right state, but I can’t escape it. God, please guide me to know myself.”

One day, I saw these words of God in a gathering: “When the ilk of antichrists fulfills a duty, no matter what it is and regardless of the group they are in, they demonstrate a distinct form of conduct: They always tend to constrain people and control them. They always want to lead people and have the final say. They always want to be seen, to be in the limelight; they want more people’s eyes and attention on them. Whenever the antichrists join a group, regardless of its numbers, who the members of the group are, what is their profession or identity, the antichrists will look first to see who speaks well, who is impressive, who is highly qualified, and who has the most capital. They look to see whom they can beat and whom they cannot, who surpasses them and who is inferior. These are the first things they evaluate. After quickly assessing the situation, they begin their work, setting aside those who are beneath them and ignoring them. They go first to those who they believe are superior, who have some prestige and some status, those with some gifts who are somewhat capable. These are the people they first measure themselves against. If any of these people are held in esteem by the brothers and sisters, or have been long-time believers in God and are in good standing, then they become targets of their envy. They become their competition. Then, the antichrists quietly compare themselves to these people, who are esteemed, who have status and whose speech can make the brothers and sisters follow, looking at what they can do and what they have mastered. Watching and observing, the antichrists realize that these people are expert in a certain profession, and that everyone holds them in high regard, because they have believed in God for longer or for some other reason. Once they have discovered such ‘prey,’ recognized such a competitor, and found the reason, the antichrists will come up with a plan of action. They will see where they do not match up with their opponent, and that is where they will get to work. If they are not as good at a profession as the other person, they will study that profession, sourcing out all sorts of information and humbly asking others for instruction. They will participate in every kind of work related to that profession, gradually accumulating experience and cultivating their own power. Once they believe that they have the capital to face their competitor, they will regularly stand up to make their ‘enlightened views’ known. They often deliberately negate and belittle their competitor to make them look foolish and tarnish their reputations. They are thereby able to demonstrate that they are unlike the rest and are more brilliant than their opponent. Can the average person recognize these things? Throughout the process, it is only the antichrists themselves who know what they are doing—them, and God. Ordinary people just see their passion, their pursuit, their suffering, the price they pay, and their seemingly good behavior. Yet the truth of the matter is hidden deep in their hearts. What is their core objective? It is to gain status. Unbeknownst to them, the target toward which all their work, all their toil, and all the price they pay is aimed is that thing in their hearts they can never forget and never forgo: status” (“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). God’s words really hit home for me, and I felt terrible. I also felt that God could see my thoughts and feelings, as clear as day. Thinking about it, since taking on watering duty, I’d treated it as a chance to show off. I wanted to use resolving others’ problems as a way to gain their admiration and approval. After the leader assigned Sister Cheng to work with me, my concern wasn’t how we could do our duty well together, but competing with her, comparing myself with her. I was obsessed with who the brothers and sisters sought out for help, which of us had more prestige, more standing among the others. I felt threatened when I saw how everyone looked up to Sister Cheng and felt cast aside, so I started to see her as someone to compete against. I wanted to beat her, surpass her in everything I said and did, and tried everything to get the others to think I was better. I’d been taken over by ambition and desire and even reveled in her failure in my pursuit of status. I appeared to be doing my duty, but my thoughts weren’t remotely on how to do it well, how to get the most out of gatherings, or how to help brothers and sisters with their problems. Every single thing I did was for the sake of reputation and status. Isn’t that an antichrist disposition? Antichrists place status and prestige above all. They envy, fight against, and compare themselves to anyone better than them. They’ll stop at nothing to trample, belittle, and smear anyone for the sake of status, to elevate themselves and show off. In everything I was doing, weren’t my ulterior motives the same as an antichrist’s? Doing my duty with that kind of aim was taking the path of an antichrist, resisting God. Realizing this, I was overcome with regret and knew I had to change. I had to really seek the truth and self-reflect to address my corrupt disposition.

Well, I did some pondering and seeking on this too, and prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to understand its cause so I could truly repent. There was a passage of God’s words I read one day. Almighty God says, “In Satan’s camp, be it in a small office or a large organization, among the masses or in governmental capacities, what is the atmosphere in which they act? What are the principles and guidelines for their actions? Each is a law unto themselves; each goes their own way. They act in their own interests and fend for themselves. Whoever has authority gets the final say. They do not give a thought to others; as long as it does not violate national laws or government stipulations, they do as they will, striving for fame, fortune, and status. If you neither understand the truth nor put it into practice, would you, in a situation where you have not been provided with God’s words, be any different from them? Absolutely not—you would be absolutely the same as them. You would fight in the same way that unbelievers fight. You would struggle in the same way that unbelievers struggle. From morning to night, you would envy and dispute, plotting and scheming. What is the root of this problem? It is all because people are controlled by corrupt dispositions. The reign of corrupt dispositions is the reign of Satan; corrupted humanity dwells within a satanic disposition, without exception. So, you should not think that you are too good or too meek and honest to engage in struggles for power and profit. If you do not understand the truth and are not led by God, you are certainly not an exception, and in no way will you, on account of your guilelessness or kindness, or because of your youth, keep yourself from struggling for power and profit. You’ll never give up this grasping for power and profit as long as you have the chance and circumstances permit. Struggling for power and profit is emblematic behavior of Satan’s evil nature. Everyone, without exception, fights, grapples, and jockeys for fame, fortune, and status, at any cost. In their efforts to achieve this objective, people reveal their corrupt dispositions. So, as long as you do not understand the truth, do not accept the truth, and cannot act based on principle, these corrupt dispositions will dominate your thoughts and dictate your actions. You cannot escape this. Now, as you fulfill your duty in God’s house, you are somewhat obedient, somewhat resilient of heart, somewhat serious, and you have something of a sense of responsibility, or you can set aside concern for your own status and often are able to resist fighting, capable of gentleness and peaceful cooperation, able to seek and wait. How does a person achieve such an attitude? This is related to God’s provision and instruction. Without those, people do not understand these things. What are people taught since their childhood? Many parents teach their children: ‘You need to fight to be number one. If you don’t fight to be first, you’re a worthless coward, and everyone will look down on you and bully you!’ When children are a little older, they think this way on their own, without their parents instructing them. Wherever they go, they will fight. They think they would be fools not to fight. Within a group of people, they feel they are good-for-nothings if they cannot establish some credibility and do not have a bit of prestige. Therefore, beyond imagination, notions, and knowledge, all that man has is corrupt disposition. Mankind, whose essence is corrupt disposition, lives out the image of Satan. Every action and deed centers around Satan’s disposition and Satan’s thoughts. No one is able to escape this” (“The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s words, I saw why I couldn’t keep myself from fighting over name and gain. It was because I’d been steeped in and corrupted by satanic perspectives and poisons, taught things at home and school like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” and “No pain, no gain.” So I wanted others’ admiration no matter what group I was in, and I reveled in the feeling of being admired and approved of. I thought that was the only dignified, valuable life. Being beneath someone made me feel worthless, unable to show my face. Doing my duty in God’s house, I was still going by these satanic ideas and concepts, pursuing others’ admiration. But doing a duty with brothers and sisters is about mutual support and making up for what each other lacks so we can be more effective. We should be helpers, even more, partners to each other. But I’d been treating Sister Cheng as my adversary, obsessed with how to outdo her. When I couldn’t, I resorted to underhanded means to disrupt her fellowship in the gathering. Doing these inhumane things showed me what a sinister, malicious disposition I had. I’d always thought that climbing the ranks and being admired was the only dignified way to live. Living by these satanic poisons, my ambition grew and grew, and my perspective shrank and shrank, until my behavior was unpalatable to others and particularly disgusting to God. Where’s the dignity in that? I finally saw how deeply corrupted I’d been by Satan’s poisons. I couldn’t tell the difference between positive and negative things, and I’d lost my conscience and reason. The antichrists who’d been expelled from the church didn’t pursue the truth at all, only name and status, and they were exposed and eliminated in the end. Always pursuing these things was a path of resisting God, of destruction. I saw how terrifying the consequences of living that way were, and that without God’s words exposing me, I’d never know myself, and who knows what kind of evil I’d do?

One morning, I read another passage: “What God requires of people is not the ability to complete a certain number of tasks or accomplish any great undertakings, nor does He need them to pioneer any great undertakings. What God wants is for people to be able to do all they can in a down-to-earth way, and live in accordance with His words. God does not need you to be great or honorable, nor does He need you to bring about any miracles, nor does He want to see any pleasant surprises in you. He does not need such things. All God needs is for you to steadfastly practice according to His words. When you listen to God’s words, do what you have understood, carry out what you have comprehended, remember what you have seen, and then, when the time is right, practice as God says, so that God’s words may become what you live out, and become your life. Thus, God will be satisfied. You are always seeking greatness, nobility, and dignity; you always seek exaltation. How does God feel when He sees this? He loathes it, and does not want to look upon it. The more you pursue things like greatness; nobility; and being superior to others, distinguished, outstanding, and noteworthy, the more disgusting God finds you. If you do not reflect upon yourself and repent, then God will despise you and forsake you. Be sure not to be someone whom God finds disgusting; be a person that God loves. So, how can one attain God’s love? By receiving the truth in a down-to-earth way, by standing in the position of a created being, by firmly relying on the word of God to be an honest person and perform one’s duties, and by living out the likeness of a true human. This is enough. Be sure not to hold ambition or entertain idle dreams, do not seek fame, gains, and status or to stand out from the crowd. Moreover, do not try to be a person of greatness or superhuman, who is superior among men and makes others worship them. That is the desire of corrupt humanity, and it is the path of Satan; God does not save such created beings. If some people still pursue fame, gains, and status and refuse to repent, then there is no cure for them, and there is only one outcome for them: to be eliminated” (“The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days).

From God’s words, I realized that God doesn’t ask people to be famous or great, or to accomplish anything incredible. God just wants us to simply practice His words, and fulfill the duty and responsibility of a created being. That’s the only kind of person worthy of dignity in God’s eyes, who pleases God. But my pursuit wasn’t to do the duty of a created being. All along, it was to get people to look up to me and approve of me, to gain standing among others, the polar opposite of what God requires. Our hearts should be temples for God, where we worship and exalt God. In the face of problems, we should pray to and rely on God, live by His words. But I was always seeking a place in people’s hearts so they’d look up to me and adore me. I was fighting for God’s place, offending His disposition. I totally lacked truth reality. There were lots of things I couldn’t understand or resolve, but could just spout some doctrine. I still thought I was pretty great and thought highly of myself. I shamelessly wanted to be applauded and revered by others, and fought for it when that didn’t happen. I didn’t know myself at all, and I knew no shame! God is the Lord of creation and He is utterly supreme. He has personally become flesh and come to the earth, expressing the truth to save mankind. He’s done such tremendous work, but He still doesn’t show off or position Himself as God. He is hidden and humble. God’s essence is so lovable. This thought left me even more ashamed, more chagrined. I resolved to forsake my flesh and practice the truth. I came before God and prayed: “Oh God, my wild ambition is out of control. I’m always wrestling, comparing myself with others, seeking to be looked up to. This is not a good path, and it disgusts You.” “I don’t want to live this way anymore. I want to live by Your words and do my duty well. Please guide me.” After that, I sought out Sister Cheng and opened up to her about my state and corruption. We fellowshiped on the importance of harmonious cooperation. I felt so steady and at peace in that moment.

From then on, I still had urges to compete with Sister Cheng in our work together, but I would see it, quickly say a prayer, forsake the flesh, and follow God’s words. Once when it was Sister Cheng’s turn to host a gathering, I saw she was too busy to prepare, so I found some words of God to address the others’ issues. I thought, “I was the one that found these passages. If the gathering goes well, will the brothers and sisters think it was Sister Cheng who did all the work? Will they think she takes on more of a burden than me? Maybe I should host this one.” But, just as I was trying to figure out what to say, I realized that this was me fighting for name and gain again. These words of God came to mind: “You must learn to let go and set aside these things, to recommend others, and to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle or rush to take advantage the moment you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain glory. You must learn to back off, but must not delay the performing of your duty. Be a person who works in quiet obscurity, and who does not show off to others while you loyally perform your duty. The more you let go of your prestige and status, and the more you let go of your own interests, the more peaceful you will become, and the more space will open up within your heart and the more your state will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker your state will be. If you do not believe it, try it and see! If you want to turn this sort of state around, and not be controlled by these things, then you must first set them aside and give them up” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words gave me a path of practice. We have to learn to let go, to give up any opportunities to show off and let other people take the spotlight. We don’t get to show off or be admired by others, but inside it’s very freeing. We’re not controlled by corruption and we gain God’s approval. That is the greatest reward. So I sent her a message, saying, “Go ahead and host tomorrow, I’ll help with fellowship.” In the gathering the next day, I wasn’t thinking about how I was seen, but about how to fellowship on God’s words to help with people’s problems. Sister Cheng and I fellowshiped together, each contributing our part. Afterward, everyone said the gathering had been really beneficial for them. I gave thanks to God for this and felt the joy of practicing the truth.

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