I No Longer Relentlessly Pursue Status

May 22, 2024

By Li Jing, China

I was someone with a strong desire for honor and status. From childhood, I pursued standing out and being superior. As the saying goes, “Officials are superior to the common folk,” even the smallest official is considered better than the common people. I believed that having an official position meant having power, being respected and revered wherever you go. When I was young, I did all kinds of dirty and tiring work in the village just to get an official position. I even worked in the fields late at night, like an unsung hero. But because of my low education, no matter how hard I tried, I could only be the head of the Women’s Federation in the village.

In 1999, I accepted God’s work of the last days and did my duty of preaching the gospel in the church. Seeing the upper-level leaders during gatherings surrounded by brothers and sisters asking them this and that, I felt very envious: Being a leader was good; everyone surrounded them wherever they went, how glorious! After God’s work was finished in the future, these leaders would definitely be saved by God. I must pursue earnestly; if I could become a leader in God’s house, not only would I be highly regarded by brothers and sisters, but I would also have more opportunities for salvation and perfection. As long as I pursued diligently and did my duty well, I would definitely have the opportunity to become a leader. At that time, the gospel had just expanded to our area, and most of the people who accepted the gospel were brothers and sisters from our old church. As soon as they were disturbed by the pastors or they became negative or faced difficulties, I hurried to support them. The brothers and sisters all looked up to me, they came to me with any difficulties they had. Although we hadn’t established a church at that time, and there was no church leadership, what I did was leadership work. The brothers and sisters who accepted God’s work of the last days together with me also said, “If someone else can’t be chosen for leadership in the future, Li Jing will definitely be chosen.” I felt delighted when I heard this, thinking, “Among the brothers and sisters who accepted with me, no one is better than me, and no one expended themselves more than I did, the brothers and sisters also support me, so when it’s time to elect leadership, everyone will surely choose me.” In the second half of 1999, the upper-level leaders came to our area for a gathering, saying they wanted to establish a church and elect a church leader. I was very happy, thinking it was a done deal that I would be chosen as a church leader. During the gathering, I confidently awaited the announcement of the election results by the upper leadership. But unexpectedly, Sister Liu Qing was chosen as the leader, and I was chosen as the gospel deacon. The moment I heard the results, my heart felt like it was doused with cold water, suddenly chilled to the core, my face sank, and I thought, “I’m busy all day preaching the gospel, watering new believers, and hosting brothers and sisters, busy all around, and I wasn’t even chosen as a leader, isn’t all this work in vain? Now that I haven’t been chosen as a leader, the brothers and sisters will surely say I’m not as good as Liu Qing, how can I show my face?” After the gathering ended and I returned home, the more I thought about it, the more aggrieved I felt, and tears flowed without me realizing it. I was jealous of Liu Qing in my heart: Before, in our denomination, you weren’t even as zealous as me, so what qualified you to be a leader? Once, Liu Qing came to ask me about watering new believers, and I was furious, thinking, “You don’t understand anything and yet you’re a leader? If you can’t handle it, why didn’t you say so earlier?” I impatiently replied, “Aren’t you the leader? You figure it out yourself.” Liu Qing said helplessly, “I asked you about these questions because I don’t understand.” Seeing her say that, I felt somewhat reproached in my heart, so I softened my tone and told her what to do. Because I wasn’t chosen as a leader, I always felt a sense of loss in my heart, and I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for my duties. Before, when I followed up on the gospel work, I would actively seek out the brothers and sisters to understand the situation of potential gospel recipients, and I would partner with them to spread the gospel, but now, even if there were no potential gospel recipients, I didn’t actively seek them out. Sometimes when I was alone at home, I thought, “I’m doing hospitality and spreading the gospel, and in the end, I wasn’t even chosen as a leader. What hope is there for salvation in the future?” The more I thought about it, the more negative I became, and I prayed to God about my state, “God, I didn’t become a leader, and I feel no motivation at all to do my duty; my heart is uncomfortable. But I don’t know how to change this state. Please lead me to understand Your will.”

During a morning devotion, I read these words of God: “I love all those who sincerely want Me. If you focus on loving Me, I shall surely bless you tremendously. Do you understand My intentions? In My house, there is no distinction between high and low status. Everyone is My son, and I am your Father, your God. I am supreme and unique. I control the universe and all things!(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 31). “You ought to ‘serve Me with humility and in obscurity’ in My house. This phrase should serve as your motto. Do not be a leaf on a tree, but be the root of the tree and take root deeply in life. Enter into a genuine experience of life, live by My words, seek Me more in every matter, and draw near to Me and fellowship with Me. Do not pay attention to any external things, and do not be constrained by any person, event, or thing, but only fellowship with spiritual people about what I am. Understand My intentions, let My life flow among you, and live out My words and comply with My requirements(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 31). After reading God’s words, I understood that in God’s house, there is no distinction of high or low status. God’s intention is for us to pursue the truth, to quietly do our duties to satisfy Him. God does not want us to pursue status, but rather to pursue the truth and gain life. Gaining status is a kind of external glory, but it is meaningless and hollow. Just like how leaves, though beautiful, fall in autumn; flowers, though beautiful and praised by people, without bearing fruit, lack life. I always wanted to be a leader, to be supported, admired, listened to, and held up by people, to have status in their hearts, but what meaning did pursuing these things really have? God’s work of the last days was to judge and cleanse people, to supply them with truth. If I did not pursue the truth, if my corrupt disposition remained unchanged, and I did not gain the truth, then hadn’t I believed in vain? I held status in such high regard, felt negative without it, and lost enthusiasm for spreading the gospel. I realized that what I pursued wasn’t truth but reputation and status, wasn’t that diverging from God’s intentions? I prayed to God, “God, my desire for status is too great. When I see others becoming leaders and I am not chosen, I become negative. In the world, I pursued being an official and a cadre member. Now that I am in God’s house, I’m still pursuing the same things. How was that any different from when I was a part of the world? God, I no longer want to pursue status. I am willing to do my duties as a created being according to Your requirements to satisfy You.” Afterward, my state changed, and I became enthusiastic about spreading the gospel. When Liu Qing had difficulties and came to ask me, I would fellowship with her as long as I understood, feeling that this was all part of the church’s work, that when the sister had difficulties, I had a responsibility to help her, and that this was also the duty I should do. Two months later, Liu Qing was dismissed because she couldn’t do real work, and the brothers and sisters chose me to be the church leader. I felt especially happy in my heart, thinking this was God’s favor, and I needed to work hard. Next, I selected leaders for each group, and fellowshipped with the brothers and sisters about the significance of spreading the gospel, and the effectiveness of spreading the gospel improved. I spread the gospel during the day and watered new believers at night, and if any brothers and sisters were negative or weak, I would visit them to offer support. Everyone welcomed me warmly, and if they had questions, they would come to me. Seeing the brothers and sisters gathering around me, respecting me greatly, I enjoyed this feeling very much, thinking, “Being a leader was good. If I do all of church work well, there will be opportunities for further advancement. If I can become a senior leader, I will gain even more respect.”

Later, the upper-level leaders came to gather with us, saying they wanted to select a preacher from several church leaders. I thought to myself, “Our church performs better in both the effectiveness of spreading the gospel and the life entry of brothers and sisters, and coupled with my recent arrest by the Communist Party and standing firm in my testimony, I have advantages in every aspect compared to them. I’m sure to be selected as the preacher this time.” Unexpectedly, Sister Wang Xue was elected. I felt completely chilled in my heart, thinking, “Why was she chosen and not me? All of our church’s work has the best results, where am I not better than her? Now that I wasn’t chosen as a preacher, how would the brothers and sisters view me? Who would respect me in the future?” During the next gatherings, I didn’t say anything, feeling that no matter how hard I tried or how busy or tired I was, what was the point? I was embarrassed to open up my state and seek a solution, afraid of losing face, so I kept it to myself.

Later, Wang Xue convened a gathering for several church leaders, and everyone listened attentively, but I took it pretty poorly. I thought being a preacher was really different, having prestige and respect wherever you go, with people listening to you. If I were the preacher, the brothers and sisters would surely revolve around me too, but now I had to listen to her, and that made me feel unbalanced. During the gathering, when she implemented the work, I felt reluctant to cooperate, thinking, “We used to be peers, and you’re no better than me, now you’re arranging work for us. If I follow your instructions, won’t that make me look inferior to you?” Wang Xue asked me about the problems in our church work, and I casually replied with an indifferent face, “Our church doesn’t have many problems. We’ve solved them on our own.” She then asked about the progress of our gospel work, and I didn’t want to answer anymore, so I replied with a stiff face, “The effectiveness of our gospel work goes without saying, other churches don’t even reach half of our monthly results.” When she asked about the situation with the newcomers, I became impatient, saying, “The newcomers are being watered by a few of us leaders and workers, and they’re doing well. If you don’t believe it, you can go and find out for yourself.” Wang Xue felt constrained by my attitude, and the atmosphere of the gathering became awkward. I was constantly living in a state of jealousy and dissatisfaction, and my soul was dark. I lost interest in doing my duties, just going through the motions. When there were potential gospel recipients, I didn’t want to spread the gospel to them anymore. The effectiveness of spreading the gospel began to decline. When leaders came to fellowship with me and help me, I was unable to listen. In the end, I was dismissed.

Afterward, I reflected on myself: Why did I feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied when Wang Xue became the preacher? So I prayed to God, asking Him to enlighten and lead me to know and resolve my own issues. Later, I read these words of God: “In your seeking, you have too many individual notions, hopes, and futures. The current work is in order to prune your desire for status and your extravagant desires. Hopes, status, and notions are all classic representations of satanic disposition. … For many years, the thoughts that people have relied upon for their survival have been corroding their hearts to the point that they have become treacherous, cowardly, and despicable. Not only do they lack willpower and resolve, but they have also become greedy, arrogant, and willful. They are utterly lacking any resolve that transcends the self, and even more, they don’t have a bit of courage to shake off the strictures of these dark influences. People’s thoughts and lives are so rotten that their perspectives on believing in God are still unbearably hideous, and even when people speak of their perspectives on belief in God it is simply unbearable to hear. People are all cowardly, incompetent, despicable, and fragile. They do not feel disgust for the forces of darkness, and they do not feel love for the light and the truth; instead, they do their utmost to expel them. … Although you have arrived at this step today, you still have not let go of status but struggle constantly to inquire about it, and observe it daily, with a deep fear that one day your status will be lost and your name will be ruined. People have never put aside their desire for ease(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?). From God’s words, I understood that this kind of situation today was meant to reveal my desire for status and my corruption, and to help me turn around my wrong views on pursuit. I had always pursued reputation and status, and after becoming a church leader, I even wanted to be a preacher and a higher leader, desiring to occupy a high position and enjoy the benefits of status. Before the preacher was selected, I used to get up early and work late spreading the gospel and watering new believers, busy all day long, but when I failed to become a preacher, I became negative and negligent in my duties, not even wanting to spread the gospel when there were potential gospel recipients. Clearly, what I pursued was this status of leadership. Later, I pondered: Why was I so obsessed with status? It was because I lived by the poisons of Satan, like “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards” and “Officials are superior to the common folk,” thinking that one should strive in life to be higher than others, and that only then can they be highly regarded and respected by others, and live a valuable and meaningful life. Under the control of these thoughts, I was unwilling to be the smallest in the crowd. At sixteen or seventeen, in order to become a village cadre, I did all kinds of hard and tiring work in the village, working as an anonymous hero in the fields late at night. At nineteen, I became the head of the women’s federation in our village. After accepting God’s work of the last days, when the upper-level leaders gathered us together, with the brothers and sisters surrounding them seeking answers, I envied them in my heart. In order to be selected as a leader, I forsook and expended myself, working diligently from dawn till dusk, willing to endure any hardship. After becoming a church leader, I even wanted to be a preacher, desiring to having a higher position. When I wasn’t chosen as a preacher, I couldn’t accept not having status, rejecting the newly elected preacher. I was unwilling to listen to her fellowship and work implementation, and when she inquired after our church work, I was indifferent, showing disdain and contempt toward her, which led her to feel constrained by me. The fact that I could exclude and degrade others when I didn’t attain status showed that I was truly malicious! What I revealed was the disposition of an antichrist. God is the Creator. Only God is worthy of worship and reverence. I was just a created being, a corrupt person. What qualification did I have to make others look up to me? I truly lacked reason and shame! God gave me the opportunity to practice the duties of a leader, hoping that I would pursue the truth, cooperate with brothers and sisters in harmony, complement each other, and perform our duties together, but I did not pursue the truth, always pursuing status to make others admire me. For the sake of reputation and status, I could even be jealous and envious, constraining and excluding others, causing harm to brothers and sisters, and disruptions to the work of the church. I realized that pursuing status was the path of resisting God, and if I didn’t repent, I would ultimately face God’s punishment. I prayed to God, “O God, I, this corrupt person, always seek to be admired by others, my actions and deeds are so hateful to You. I am willing to turn back to You, no longer pursuing reputation and status. Please lead me onto the path of pursuing the truth.”

One day, I read more of God’s words: “Man has never loved Me sincerely. When I exalt him, he feels himself unworthy, but this does not make him try to satisfy Me. He merely holds the ‘station’ I have given him in his hands and scrutinizes it; insensible to My loveliness, he instead persists in engorging himself on the benefits of his station. Is this not the deficiency of man? When the mountains move, could they make a detour for the sake of your station? When the waters flow, could they cease before man’s station? Could the heavens and the earth be reversed by man’s station?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 22). “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this. You must realize that all those who do not follow the will of God shall also be punished. This is an immutable fact. Therefore, all those who are punished are so punished for the righteousness of God and as retribution for their numerous evil acts(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination). After reading God’s words, I understood that status cannot save people, and that when disaster strikes, having status will not ensure survival. God determines people’s destination and outcome based on whether they possess the truth. Regardless of their status, as long as they pursue the truth and their disposition undergoes transformation, they can obtain God’s salvation. Before, I thought that the higher the status, the greater the chance of being saved and perfected, so I relentlessly pursued status, willing to abandon everything and endure any hardship at any cost to obtain status. I made obtaining status the pursuit goal and direction of my life. When I was not chosen as a preacher, I became negative and lost enthusiasm for doing my duty. Living with this wrong viewpoint brought me much pain, caused harm to brothers and sisters, and damaged the work of the church. I thought of how Paul had high status in the religious circles, spread the gospel, gained many people, and established many churches, but he did not pursue the truth, his life disposition did not change, and in the end, he faced God’s punishment. While Peter’s work may not have been as extensive as Paul’s, Peter pursued the truth, pursued loving God, and sought to fulfill the duties of a created being; in the end, Peter was perfected by God and obtained God’s approval. I used to live according to the wrong viewpoint, walking the same path as Paul. If I continued down this path, I would definitely end up with the same fate as Paul.

Later, I read another passage of God’s words, which made the path of practice clearer. Almighty God says: “People are created beings who have nothing worthy of boasting about. Since you are created beings, you must perform the duty of a created being. There are no other requirements of you. This is how you should pray: ‘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 submissive under Your dominion because everything is within what You have ordained. I do not give thought to status; after all, I am but a created being. If You place me in the bottomless pit, in the lake of fire and brimstone, I am nothing but a created being. If You use me, I am a created being. If You perfect me, I am yet a created being. If You do not perfect me, I will still love You because I am no more than a created being. I am nothing more than a minuscule created being of 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.’ When the time comes that you will no longer give thought to status, then you will break free from it. Only then will you be able to confidently and boldly seek, and only then can your heart become free of any constraints. Once people have been extricated from these things, then they will have no more concerns(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?). From God’s words, I understood that regardless of whether people had status or not, they were all created beings, and in God’s eyes, they were the same. Whether someone had status or not, it was all predetermined by God. Whichever person did what duties and possessed what caliber and gifts, it was all determined by God. As created beings, people should submit to God’s arrangements and sovereignty. Previously, I always had ambitions to become a leader. After becoming a church leader, I even desired to be a preacher. However, based on my caliber and stature, I was fundamentally unsuitable to be a preacher. When the church was newly established, my role as a church leader mainly involved spreading the gospel and watering new believers, and I was good at spreading the gospel and achieved some results. However, the role of a preacher involved managing multiple churches, it needed good work competency and the ability to fellowship on the truth and resolve problems; my life entry was poor and I wasn’t up to the work of a preacher. I should have submitted to God’s arrangements. Now, I was assigned to spread the gospel, and I should fulfill my duty of spreading the gospel. Realizing this, I prayed to God, “O God, I had been pursuing status and not submitting to Your sovereignty and arrangements, which harms the church’s work. Now, I am willing to repent and pursue being a created being, subject to Your orchestrations.”

In 2015, the church held a new election for leadership, and I heard that many brothers and sisters wanted to choose me. At that moment, I felt both happy and surprised. It seemed that the brothers and sisters held me in high regard, proving that I had some truth reality. If chosen, I thought, I would be respected wherever I went among the brothers and sisters. But as I had this thought, I knew my desire for status was at play again. Reflecting on how my pursuit of status caused me much suffering and harmed the church’s work in the past, I decided I no longer wanted to pursue status. I should instead submit to God’s arrangement and fulfill my duties well. I silently prayed to God in my heart, willing to let go of my desire for status and any wrong pursuits. I no longer wanted to pursue fame or status. I was willing to submit to whatever duties I was assigned. Before the vote, the senior leaders asked each of us to share our thoughts. I opened up and said, “Although I have believed in God for over ten years, my life entry is shallow; my nature is arrogant, and I have a strong desire for status, so being in a leadership position would make it easy for me to enjoy the benefits of status and constrain others. I don’t think I am suitable for a leadership role. I am sharing my true situation with you all; you can evaluate me based on the principles.” After speaking, I felt very at peace. In the end, the brothers and sisters selected two other sisters as church leaders, and I was chosen as a gospel deacon. I felt very grateful to God and was willing to do my duty wholeheartedly. After that, I focused on my gospel work. The two church leaders had just started practicing, and when I noticed certain aspects of their work were not suitable, I would bring it up and fellowship with them to turn it around. I felt that this approach was good.

In the past, whenever I saw someone in a leadership position, I would become restless, treating leadership as the goal of my pursuit. Now I understand that only by pursuing the truth can one attain salvation. Pursuing status is meaningless. I have also learned to let go of my desire for status from the bottom of my heart. No matter who becomes a leader, I can treat them correctly. I only wish to pursue the truth steadfastly, fulfill my duties well, and comfort God’s heart.

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