Leaders Mustn’t Hold Talents Back
By Xia Xin, Spain
In August of 2020, I was elected as a leader and was overseeing the church’s video-related work. Being new to the job, I was unfamiliar with many of its principles, and ran into some problems and difficulties while working. So I’d often seek out the team leader Sister Zhang for advice and counsel. Sister Zhang was well acquainted with the principles and work. She was a big help to me. I noticed that Sister Zhang was meticulous, took her duties seriously, and had a sense of responsibility. Sometimes, when I got overloaded, I would pass off some of my work to her. We made a good team.
Later on, I gradually found that whenever brothers and sisters ran into problems, they’d all seek out Sister Zhang and would even directly make decisions after meeting with her. I was pretty unhappy with this state of affairs. I thought to myself: “If this keeps up, won’t I lose my position as leader? This won’t do. In the future I’ll handle all of the work assigned to me myself and not ask Sister Zhang for help. Otherwise, the others will all think she’s such a good, talented worker.” One time, Sister Zhang found that one of the brothers was making slow progress in his video production work. When she looked into it, she discovered his skills weren’t up to par, and he didn’t seek the principles in his duties, so work often had to be redone. She assigned another, more talented brother to help out on that project. I didn’t hear about this until later on. Sister Zhang had made the right call, but I still felt a bit uncomfortable with the situation. I felt like it was a sign of disrespect to make such a major decision without letting me know. What authority did I have if she called the shots? Later on, I asked her why she hadn’t informed me about this. To my surprise, she said: “I got busy and forgot to tell you.” When she said that, I lost my cool: You’re gaining more and more authority and making decisions without my approval. You don’t have any respect for me. Doesn’t that make it seem like the church doesn’t need me? If this keeps up, what will the brothers and sisters think of me? Of course they’ll think I’m useless. How could I serve as leader then? When I realized this, I felt even more panicked.
Another time, Sister Zhang told me that she had put together some study materials and was planning to get everyone together to study some skills. I thought: “Sometimes I’m the one reminding you to work on this stuff, and yet, when we’re done talking, you’re the one who gets to fellowship with and guide the others. No one knows the work I put in behind the scenes, and everyone must think you bear a greater burden than me. If this continues, how am I supposed to keep my place as leader?” Actually, I knew that it was Sister Zhang’s responsibility to lead the brothers and sisters in studies and I knew this work could not be delayed, so I shouldn’t make a fuss about it. But I just didn’t want to let Sister Zhang handle this work. I thought: “Sister Zhang is getting involved in more and more projects, including some of the work that I’m responsible for. The others prefer to go to her when they have issues. Am I going to get replaced by her soon?” The thought of this all made me pretty unhappy. So I started picking out her flaws and issues in her work. I wanted to show the others that she wasn’t so skilled at her work and I was still more talented.
One day, during a discussion with an upper-level leader about our work, she casually mentioned that one of Sister Zhang’s video projects was making slow progress. This was just what I wanted to hear and I immediately replied: “That’s right. She’s had a lot of projects assigned to her, but she can’t deal with all of them. Some of her projects haven’t been very effective as well. I think it’s best not to give her too much work. She shouldn’t be given this much authority….” At the time, I felt a bit guilty: How could I say something like that? The brothers’ and sisters’ duties come from God, they are His commission. I was speaking as if I had assigned her these duties, as if I had granted her the authority to do these things and now I was taking it away. Wasn’t I in the wrong position? I couldn’t believe I could say something like that and felt a bit horrified at myself. Also, some of that work really was part of Sister Zhang’s duties, but I tried to keep her from doing it and kept picking out flaws in her work. I wanted everyone to see that she wasn’t a good worker and was inferior to me. Reflecting on my behavior, I thought, “How could I be so despicable?”
After that, I started looking for relevant passages ofto resolve my state. I found a passage where God exposes antichrists that resonated with my state. “One of the most obvious characteristics of the essence of an antichrist is that they are like despots running their own dictatorship: They do not listen to anyone, they look down on everyone, and regardless of people’s strengths, or what they say and do, or what insights and opinions they have, they pay no heed; it is as if no one is qualified to work with them, or to take part in anything they do. That is the kind of disposition of an antichrist. Some people say this is being of poor humanity—how could it just be commonplace poor humanity? This is entirely a satanic disposition; this kind of disposition is supremely fierce. Why do I say that their disposition is supremely fierce? Antichrists think of the interests of the house of God and the church as entirely their own, as their personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. The only things they think about when doing the work of the church are their own interests, their own status and image. They do not allow anyone to harm their interests, much less do they let anyone who has caliber, and is able to speak of their experiences and testimony, threaten their status and prestige. … When someone distinguishes themselves with a little work, when someone is able to talk of true experiences and testimony in order to benefit, edify, and support the chosen ones, and earns great praise from everyone, envy and hate grows in the hearts of the antichrists, they try to alienate and undermine them, and under no circumstances do they allow such people to undertake any work, in order to prevent them from threatening their status. … The antichrists think to themselves, ‘There’s no way I’m going to put up with this. You want to have a role within my domain, to compete with me. That’s impossible, don’t even think about it. You’re more capable than me, more articulate than me, more educated than me, and more popular than me. You want me to work alongside you? What would I do if you stole my thunder?’ Are they considering the interests of the house of God? No. What are they thinking about? They think only of how to hold on to their own status. Though they know themselves to be incapable of doing real work, they do not nurture or promote people of good caliber who pursue the truth; the only ones they promote are the people who flatter them, people who are apt to worship others, who praise and admire them in their hearts, people who are smooth operators, who have no understanding of the truth and are incapable of differentiation” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). In the past, I always thought this passage was exposing antichrists and didn’t apply to me, but then I realized that my antichrist disposition was quite severe. At first, when I saw how responsible and hardworking Sister Zhang was, I’d happily delegate some of my work to her, but once I realized the others all admired her, went to her with many of their questions and she went ahead with some projects without asking me, I worried she was stealing my thunder and threatening my status, so I tried to keep her from participating in more projects, including projects that were actually a part of her duties. I was worried that if she performed well, the brothers and sisters would admire her even more and I would look worse by comparison and might even lose my status as leader. I even misled the upper level leader to keep her from giving Sister Zhang more work … Reflecting on these behaviors, I saw I really lacked humanity and was clearly excluding others to preserve my own status. Antichrists value authority above all else and never consider the work of God’s house or the interests of the church. Whatever work they do, they only care about their own status and when someone is more talented than them and threatens their status, they do everything they can to suppress and exclude them and keep them from playing an important role in any duty they have responsibility over. Was my behavior any different from an antichrist? I acted like the church’s work was my private property. When considering who to assign to certain duties and how much work to assign them, I would always worry about whether they posed a threat to my status and reputation. I didn’t put the slightest thought into how this would affect the church’s work. I even suppressed and excluded people to preserve my own status. My disposition was so vile and awful.
I came across this passage: “What kind of disposition is it when a person sees someone who is better than them and they try to bring them down, spreading rumors about them, or employing certain means to denigrate them and undermine their reputation—even trampling all over them—in order to protect their own place in people’s minds? This is not just arrogance, it is the disposition of the wicked. That this person can attack and alienate people who are better and stronger than them is insidious and evil. And that they will stop at nothing to bring people down shows that there is much of a devil in them! Living by the disposition of Satan, they are liable to belittle people, to try to stitch them up, to make things hard for them. Is this not evildoing? And living like this, they still think they’re okay, that they’re a good person—yet when they see someone stronger than them, they are liable to give them a hard time, to commit evil. What is the issue here? Where is the good in such people? Is this not someone who could commit evil at any time? And in doing so, are they not acting as they please? Do they give any consideration to the interests of the house of God? They only consider their own feelings, they only consider their status and reputation in other people’s minds, and they only want to achieve their own aims. They don’t care how much damage they cause to the work of the house of God, and they would prefer to sacrifice the interests of the house of God to protect their own status and reputation in people’s minds. Are people like this not arrogant and self-righteous, selfish and vile? Such people are not only arrogant and self-righteous, they are also extremely selfish and vile. They are not mindful of God’s will at all. Do such people have any fear of God? They do not have the slightest fear of God. This is why they act wantonly and do whatever they want, without any sense of blame, without any trepidation, without any apprehension or worry, and without considering the consequences. This is what they often do, and how they have always behaved. What are the consequences such people face? They will be in trouble, right? To put it lightly, such people are far too jealous and have too strong a desire for personal fame and status; they are too deceitful and treacherous. To put it more harshly, the essence of the problem is that such people’s hearts are not even the slightest bit God-fearing. They do not fear God, they believe themselves to be of utmost importance, and they regard every aspect of themselves as being higher than God and higher than the truth. In their hearts, God is not worthy of mention and insignificant, and God does not have any status in their hearts at all. Can those who have no place for God in their hearts, and who do not revere God, put the truth into practice? Absolutely not. So, when they typically go around merrily keeping themselves busy and exerting quite a lot of energy, what are they doing? Such people even claim to have abandoned everything to expend for God and suffered a great deal, but actually, the motive, principle, and objective of all their actions are for the sake of their own status and prestige, of protecting all of their interests. Would you or would you not say that this sort of person is terrible? What kind of people have believed in God for many years, yet have no fear of God? Are they not arrogant? Are they not Satan? And what things most lack the fear of God? Apart from animals, it is the wicked, the antichrists, the devils, and Satan. They have the gall to contend with God; they are bereft of the fear of God. They are capable of any evil; they are the enemies of God, and the enemies of His chosen ones” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading through God’s words, I felt as if He was right there judging me and exposing my arrogant and sinister nature. There were clearly no big issues with the work Sister Zhang oversaw, but because she posed a threat to my status, I found a way to suppress her, seizing the opportunity to disparage her in front of the upper-level leader, hoping to mislead her into giving Sister Zhang less work so she wouldn’t gain even more admiration from the others and replace my position. I was willing to do any evil deed to cement my own status and didn’t have the slightest fear of God in my heart. I lived by satanic toxins like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “There can only be one alpha male,” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme.” My nature was truly selfish, despicable, arrogant and evil. I acted just like the tyrannical and autocratic CCP, suppressing and excluding anyone that posed a threat to my authority and status. I would particularly suppress any brothers and sisters that were talented and effective in their work. I tried to establish my authority in the church and make the brothers and sisters only admire me and have me in their hearts. Was I not trying to establish my own kingdom and vying with God? I was walking the path of an antichrist, doing evil and resisting God! I thought of those antichrists who used any means possible to punish and abuse people in order to maintain their status, treating those that threatened their status like thorns in their flesh, wrongfully accusing them, punishing them, and never giving up until they are expelled, and after doing all kinds of evil, ultimately being expelled from God’s house. If I kept on like that and failed to repent, wouldn’t I ultimately meet the same fate? These past two years, God has been fellowshiping on how to discern antichrists, and how to avoid walking the path of an antichrist. God has fellowshiped very clearly on this aspect of the truth, so that we will have discernment of antichrists, reflect on our own antichrist-like behaviors, and pursue the truth, repentance and transformation. But I didn’t focus on resolving my own antichrist disposition in my work, didn’t ponder over how best to fulfill my duties and protect the work of the church. Instead, I vied for status, treated my duty like my own personal enterprise, like a means for attaining status and securing the admiration of my brothers and sisters, and wanted all the authority in my duty. I got carried away by my desires.
One time during devotionals, I came across two passages of God’s word that were very helpful: God’s words say, “As a leader or a worker, if you always think yourself above others, and revel in your duty like some government official, always indulging in the trappings of your station, always making your own plans, always considering and enjoying your own fame, fortune, and status, always running your own operation, always seeking to gain higher status, to manage and control more people, and to expand the scope of your power, this is trouble. It is dangerous to treat an important duty as a chance to enjoy your position as if you are a government official. If you always act like this, not wishing to work with others, not wanting to dilute your power and share it with anyone else, not wanting anyone else to have the upper hand, to steal the limelight, if you only want to enjoy the power on your own, then you are an antichrist. But if you often seek the truth, put aside the flesh, forsake your own motivations and designs, and are able to take it upon yourself to work with others, open up your heart to consult and seek with others, attentively listen to others’ ideas and suggestions, and accept advice which is correct and in line with the truth, no matter who it comes from, then you are practicing in a wise and correct manner, and you are able to avoid taking the wrong path, which is protection for you” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). “No matter what you do, whether it be important or not, there should always be people there to help you, to give you pointers, advice, and to assist you with things. This way, you will do things more correctly, it will be harder to make mistakes, and you will be less likely to go astray—which is all to the good. Serving God, in particular, is a big deal, and not resolving your corrupt disposition could put you in danger! When people have satanic dispositions, they can rebel against and resist God in any time and at any place. People who live by satanic dispositions can deny, resist, and betray God at any time. The antichrists are stupid, they don’t realize this, they think, ‘I had enough trouble getting hold of my own power, why would I share it with anyone else? Giving it to others means I won’t have any for myself, doesn’t it? How can I demonstrate my talents and abilities without power?’ They do not know that what God has entrusted people with is not power or status, but a duty. They only accept power and status, they put their duties aside, and they don’t do practical work. Instead, they pursue fame, fortune, and status and enjoy the benefits of status. Doing things this way is very dangerous—this is resisting God! Anyone who pursues fame, fortune, and status rather than properly performing their duty is playing with fire and playing with their life. Those who play with fire and their lives can doom themselves at any moment. Today, as a leader or a worker, you are serving God, which is no ordinary thing. You are not doing things for some person, much less working to pay bills and put food on the table; instead, you are performing your duty in the church. And given, in particular, that this duty was entrusted to you by God, what is the significance of performing it? You are accountable to God for your duty, whether you do it well or not; ultimately, an account must be given to God, there must be an outcome. What you have accepted is God’s commission, a hallowed responsibility, so no matter how important or minor it is, it is a serious business. How serious is it? It directly relates to your future and fate, to your end; if you commit evil and resist God, you will be condemned and punished. Everything you do when you perform your duty is recorded by God, and God has His own principles and standards for how it is scored and evaluated; God determines your end based on all that is manifested by you as you perform your duty” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). In the past, I saw my position as a leader as a status symbol. Only after reading God’s words did I realize my duty is a commission granted to me as a created being by God. It is a responsibility bestowed by God and has nothing to do with status and authority. Doing one’s duty in God’s house is not like having a career in the outside world. There’s no competition. Everyone fulfills their responsibilities in their own posts. I realized that God had exalted me to handle the church’s work and given me many opportunities to practice, to learn how to act according to principles through my work and come to understand the truth. God also assigned talented brothers and sisters who understood principles to work with me so that I could perform at my very best in my duties, and do the church’s work well. But I failed to live up to God’s expectations, I didn’t focus on pursuing the truth and working harmoniously with others. Instead, I cherished status and even suppressed and excluded others to keep my status, robbing brothers and sisters of the chance to practice. I’d not only harmed my brothers and sisters, but also sabotaged the work of God’s house. Given all my behaviors, I really wasn’t fit to be a leader … I didn’t want to keep going down this mistaken road. I just wanted to honestly and practically carry out my responsibilities, to fulfill my duties. After that, I started to apply myself more to my duty and when I saw the others going to Sister Zhang with questions, I didn’t feel quite as bad anymore, and stopped worrying that they’d look up to her instead of me. I only thought of how best to work with Sister Zhang to fulfill our duties. When I noticed Sister Zhang having problems in her work, I would communicate with her and help her get back on track. When certain projects were progressing slowly, I would discuss with her how to increase efficiency. If I lacked insight or didn’t know how to handle a certain issue, I would also seek her out for fellowship. As time went on, we began working better and better together and I felt so grounded and free.
I also thought of this passage of God’s words, I’ll read it for you now. “To be a church leader is not merely to learn to use the truth to resolve problems, but also to discover and cultivate people of talent, whom you absolutely must not envy or suppress. That way, it is easier for you to do your job well. If you can cultivate a few pursuers of the truth to cooperate with you in all the work you do, and in the end, all of you have experiential testimonies, then you will be a qualified leader. If you grow able to act in all things according to the principles, you will then be living up to your loyalty. There are some who are always afraid that others are better than they and higher than they, that others will be esteemed while they are neglected. This leads them to attack and exclude others. Is this not a case of being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is such behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious! Thinking only about one’s own interests, satisfying only one’s own desires, showing no consideration for others or the interests of God’s house—people like this have a bad disposition, and God has no love for them. If you are truly capable of being considerate of God’s will, then you will be able to treat other people fairly. If you recommend a good person and nurture them to competence, adding a person of talent to God’s house, will your work not then be easier to do? Will you not then have lived up to your loyalty in this duty? This is a good deed before God; it is the minimum of conscience and sense of which one who is a leader should be possessed” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From God’s words, I knew that cultivating talents is the responsibility of a leader and is the need of the work of God’s house. This experience helped me realize how meaningful this work really is. In one way, it’s beneficial for the overall work of God’s house allowing more people to put their talents to play in fulfilling their duties, and advancing the work of God’s house even more. In another way, it also gives brothers and sisters an opportunity to practice, which benefits their life entry. These are all good deeds and will be commemorated by God. Sister Zhang had been a big help to me in our time working together. She helped me grasp some principles and make some progress and our work went along much more smoothly. I realized how crucial it is to follow God’s demands and learn to work with others to fulfill duties. Only in this way can we do the work of the church and fulfill our duties well.
Through this experience, I gained some understanding of my satanic disposition and absurd views and was gradually able to let go of my preoccupation with status and fulfill my duty. This was God’s salvation for me. Thanks be to God!