What I Learned From a Setback
By Shi Fang, South Korea
In 2014, I trained as a video producer for the church. At the time, a new video began production. During the preparation stage, there were some tasks and techniques I wasn’t yet very familiar with. When there were difficulties I fellowshiped with others on principles, and looked for solutions. After a while, I gradually became more familiar with and proficient at these techniques. When others encountered difficulties, they would all come discuss them with me. Later, I was elected as group leader, and was able to resolve some of the group’s issues. I thought I was really good at my job; otherwise, why would I have been elected as group leader? When the group discussed work, I always took a central role. When there was a difference of opinion during a discussion, I would share my previous work experience with the group, so that everyone knew my perspective had backing, and in the end, we always did things my way.
Later on, the church elected two new supervisors. I saw that they were my partners from before, Sister Zhang and Sister Li. I was shocked, “Both their skills are average, and they don’t have much experience. Can they handle the work of a supervisor? My skills are much better than theirs. Who should be directing who’s work?” Going forward, when the supervisors followed up on our work, I viewed it with disdain. Once, Sister Zhang came to talk with me, saying that a video from the group I was responsible for had some issues, and she suggested some changes. I was a bit affronted to hear this, and said impatiently, “The changes you proposed won’t work. If we go with your proposal, the beginning and end won’t match up. You should first look at the overall flow of ideas when raising issues, not just this one part. You need to learn more about this work, and study more often.” At that, the sister’s face turned bright red, and was so embarrassed that she couldn’t speak. Two other brothers echoed my view. Seeing everyone agree with me made me feel pretty smug, “See, our thought process from before was better than yours. When it comes to video production, my skills are definitely better than either of yours!” Afterward, when they gave suggestions about the videos I produced, I was even less inclined to accept them, and looked down on them, thinking, “Your skills are inferior to mine. You better not mess me up with your suggestions.” The two supervisors ended up being constrained by me. Once, a supervisor came to fellowship with me and said, “We are quite constrained by you when partnering with you. We know we are lacking in work skills, so when you see a shortcoming on our part, please help by pointing it out. Then, we can work together harmoniously. Also, I hope you will not always hold to your own views. If you can seek more when faced with different opinions, we can fellowship on principles together, complement each other’s weaknesses, and do a good job on the videos.” Hearing this, on the surface I admitted I had displayed an arrogant disposition, but inside I didn’t accept it. I thought, “I understand more principles than you do, so when you’re wrong, I should correct you. Yes, I displayed a bit of an arrogant disposition, but it’s for the sake of the work. You’ve felt constrained because you’re too vain.” In this matter I didn’t reflect on myself, but instead took a turn for the worse.
One evening, the group was discussing production ideas for a video. Because the video ideas were relatively complicated and difficult, nothing had been decided, even after several hours of discussion. I started to get impatient, thinking, “What’s up with you supervisors? If you can’t direct our professional work, fine, but you can’t even decide on a plan according to principles?” So, I said to the supervisors, “What is going on with you? You’ve been dragging on for hours, how can you not have even fixed on an idea? You supervisors are useless!” Hearing my complaint, several others followed by saying, “Yeah, we’re all waiting. Don’t just sit here wasting time.” Others said, “Hurry up and make a decision. It’s already late.” Our complaints made the supervisors even more nervous, and curtailed their speech.
Later, the church leader learned of my behavior, and dealt with me, saying, “Your disposition is too arrogant, and you like to constrain others. You can’t cooperate normally with others. You are a group leader, but you don’t protect the church’s work. Instead, you take the lead in complaining and criticizing others, sowing division within the group, and preventing the supervisors from doing their job, leading to delays in the video production. Your actions are disrupting and disturbing the church’s work.” After the leader dealt with me, I was deeply shaken, “What?” I thought. “I’m disrupting and disturbing the work? It’s obviously the supervisors whose skills aren’t up to par and who are incapable of real work. My work capabilities are better than theirs, and I have a handle on more principles. I noticed they were doing things wrong, so I corrected them. This is disrupting and disturbing?” The leader saw I was intransigent and resistant, so he read several passages of God’s words to me. God says, “If, in your heart, you truly understand the truth, then you will know how to practice the truth and obey God, and will naturally embark on the path of pursuing the truth. If the path you walk is the right one, and in line with God’s will, then the work of the Holy Spirit will not leave you—in which case there will be less and less chance of you betraying God. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you have an arrogant and conceited disposition, then being told not to oppose God makes no difference, you can’t help yourself, it is beyond your control. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display; they would make you scorn others, they would leave no one in your heart but yourself; they would rob you of God’s place in your heart, and ultimately cause you to sit in the place of God and demand that people submit to you, and make you venerate your own thoughts, ideas, and notions as the truth. So much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature!” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition).
“There are many kinds of corrupt dispositions that are included within the disposition of Satan, but the one that is most obvious and that stands out the most is an arrogant disposition. Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more irrational they are, and the more irrational they are, the more liable they are to resist God. How serious is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions consider everyone else beneath them, but, worst of all, they are even condescending toward God, and they have no fear of God within their hearts. Even though people might appear to believe in God and follow Him, they do not treat Him as God at all. They always feel that they possess the truth and think the world of themselves. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan. Therefore, the problem of arrogance must be resolved” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Hearing God’s words stirred my heart. I recognized that a person with a satanic nature will unintentionally do things according to a corrupt disposition, and can even disrupt and disturb church work. My arrogant disposition was too extreme. I thought I was experienced in video production and understood principles, so I put great trust in myself. I felt I should have the last say in everything, and that others should listen to me. When I partnered with the supervisors, I never even gave them the time of day, thinking I was better than them in every way. Whenever there was a difference in opinion, my first reaction was to think things like, “You don’t understand. I do,” or “You aren’t qualified,” and scoff at their suggestions. Sometimes I’d even retort without thinking first, without the slightest attitude of seeking and acceptance, causing the supervisors to feel constrained by me and afraid to give me suggestions. The others followed me in taking a negative view of the supervisors, making it hard for them to follow up on the group’s work. How could this not be disturbing church work? When the supervisors and I partnered together, no matter what suggestion they gave, I never sought out a way of doing it that would be in line with principles. I just clung to my own point of view. How could my perspective always have been right? Could the things I thought were right all be in line with the principles of truth? In fact, I was just looking at things based on my gifts and experience. Most of my views were not in line with principles. And the more I lived according to these things, the more I thought I had value and was right. When I partnered with people, I was constantly underestimating them and showing off. I was arrogant to the point of losing all reason! I always did things my way when performing my duty. I clung to my own views and understanding as if they were truth, didn’t accept others’ suggestions, or allow their ideas to surpass my own, as though I were the master of truth. In what way was this believing in God? I was obviously believing in myself. When I realized this, I was horrified and filled with remorse. Because my nature was so arrogant, I unwittingly did these evil things that resisted God. I saw that it was extremely dangerous for me to do my duty with an arrogant disposition.
A while later, production on the video finished, but because I couldn’t cooperate with others, constrained people, and disturbed video work, I was dismissed. Afterward, another batch of videos needed to be produced, but I was not part of it. I started to feel resistant again, and thought, “I have some understanding of my arrogant nature since my last experience. Why won’t they let me participate?” Even more unexpected was that I wasn’t one of the producers for another video, either. This was really hard for me to take. If things carried on like this, wouldn’t I just be of no use to the church? A passage of God’s word suddenly came to mind. “If you are of good caliber but are always arrogant and conceited, constantly thinking that whatever you say is right and whatever others say is wrong, refusing whatever suggestions others propose, and even unaccepting of the truth, however it is fellowshiped about, but always resisting it, then can such a person as you gain God’s approval? Will the Holy Spirit work on such a person as you? He will not. God will say that you have a bad disposition and are not worthy of receiving His enlightenment, and if you do not repent, He will even take away what you once had. This is what it is to be exposed” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). My heart skipped a beat. God’s words were speaking directly to my state. In all the years I’d believed in God, I’d always done my duty with an arrogant disposition. In that time, I had been pruned and dealt with no small number of times. But I’d never sought truth, and my disposition hadn’t changed. Now, I’d disturbed the church’s work and committed a serious transgression. Was I to be exposed and cast out by God? When I thought back about my behavior, no matter where I went, I always wanted to stand out. If I was more capable than others I’d feel self-satisfied, and talk down to my brothers and sisters. When others were more capable than me, I’d always think of how I could beat them. When my suggestions weren’t used I couldn’t accept it, and racked my brain to come up with counterarguments, so everyone would use my suggestions. When others pointed out my shortcomings, I’d not say anything, but inside I’d feel resistant. I’d think they were a nobody and that they had no qualifications, as though I was a somebody. The more I thought about it, the more frightened I became. I had performed my duty with an arrogant disposition all those years. I’d not accepted the truth, and I hadn’t reflected on or known myself, causing my corrupt disposition to get worse and worse. Being dismissed was the revelation of God’s righteousness! In my pain, I prayed to God, “Oh, God! I know I’ve not sought truth all these years I’ve believed in You. When I was pruned and dealt with, I did not reflect on or understand myself. As a result, I did evil that disturbed the church’s work. God, please lead me to understand my corruption, walk the path of seeking truth, and atone for my transgressions and debts.”
In one of my devotionals, I came across a passage of God’s words. “If people’s knowledge of themselves is too shallow, they will find it impossible to solve problems, and their life dispositions simply will not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a profound level, which means knowing one’s own nature: what elements are included in that nature, how these things originated, and where they came from. Moreover, are you actually able to hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If you are truly able to see the truth about yourself, then you will loathe yourself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh and have the strength to carry out truth without believing it to be strenuous. Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, ‘I must be earnest and down to earth in practicing some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.’ One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly loathing oneself is not a simple matter. There are several things that must be found in them: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). After reading God’s words, I was ashamed. God said it is only by recognizing your own nature, seeing clearly how you stack up, your destitution and pitifulness, that you can be disgusted with yourself, hate yourself, and repent to God. So I started to reflect why I was so arrogant. I thought about how after I joined the video group, produced several important videos, and received respect and praise from everyone, I thought I had experience and a handle on many principles. I also thought I was of good caliber, that I learned quickly, and that I was a rare talent in the church. This caused my arrogant disposition to get worse and worse. I thought of how little I knew when I first started video production, and how my brothers and sisters took me by the hand and showed me. Sometimes I still couldn’t do it right despite their clearly explaining the details and I needed repeated mentoring before I could produce things properly. Through this, I saw that it was not that I was smart or of high caliber, just that I had had many opportunities to practice and had amassed some experience. But I saw it as capital, and I didn’t do my duty with my feet on the ground. Especially when I was somewhat effective in my duty, I’d think I really knew my stuff, and so I’d arrogantly look down on others and be unwilling to cooperate with them. Where were my humanity and reason? Thinking of the two supervisors I partnered with, I always looked down on them. Actually, through my interactions with them, I found they had many strengths. Although they were relatively lacking in video production skills and experience, their hearts were in the right place, and they were proactive in surmounting difficulties. They also had sharp minds and didn’t stick to rules. They dared to innovate and were willing to learn new things. When faced with difficulties or problems they could put themselves aside and ask others for advice. But my disposition was too arrogant and no one measured up to me. I was blind to others’ strengths. I thought of how Paul was particularly arrogant. He thought he had caliber, gifts, and his heart bent for no one. He always testified that he was above other disciples, even saying abominable words that for him to live was Christ. He was arrogant to the point of having no reason. I reflected that my nature was the same as Paul’s. I always looked down on the supervisors, and always made others do everything the way I said. I was following Paul’s path. When I recognized this, I felt a boundless sense of remorse. I prayed to God, “God! Only now do I have some understanding of my nature and essence. During these years of believing in God, God’s house has always watered me and supplied truth. But I didn’t seek truth and walked the path of an antichrist, disregarding Your painstaking concern. You orchestrated so many people, events, and things to remind me, but I hardened my neck and did not know to repent. I followed my arrogant nature down the wrong path, and made You despise me. God, I am willing to repent. No matter what arrangements the church makes after this, I will obey.”
When I realized this, to my surprise the next day, a sister brought me news, saying some new group members’ work wasn’t up to par, and that she was hoping I’d train them. She asked me if I was willing. My heart was so grateful to God. Just when I wanted to repent, the church gave me a chance to do my duty. I had to cherish it this time, and so I happily accepted. What was even more unexpected was a few days later, the leader arranged for me to take part in producing a new video. I was truly grateful to God!
Thinking about how I would be partnering with others soon, I sought a path to cooperate with others. I saw that God’s word says, “When you are cooperating with others to fulfill your duties, are you able to be open to differing opinions? Are you able to let others speak? (I am, a little. Before, a lot of the time I wouldn’t listen to the suggestions of the brothers and sisters and would insist on doing things my own way. Only later, when the facts proved I was wrong, did I see that most of their suggestions had been correct, that it was the outcome that everyone discussed that was actually suitable, that my own views were wrong and lacking. After experiencing this, I realized how important harmonious cooperation is.) And what can we see from this? After experiencing this, did you receive some benefit, and understand the truth? Do you think anyone is perfect? No matter how strong people are, or how capable and talented, they still are not perfect. People must recognize this, it is fact. Such is also the attitude that people should have toward their own merits and strengths or faults; this is the rationality that people should possess. With such rationality, you can properly deal with your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others, and this will enable you to work alongside them harmoniously. If you have understood this aspect of the truth and can enter this aspect of the reality of the truth, then you can get along harmoniously with your brothers and sisters, drawing on each other’s strong points to offset any weaknesses you have. In this way, no matter what duty you are performing or what you are doing, you will always get better at it and have God’s blessing” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words made me understand that nobody’s perfect. Everyone has shortcomings and inadequacies. No matter a person’s gifts or experience, these things do not mean they have truth, or that their actions always align with the truth. Everyone needs to cooperate harmoniously and complement each other’s weaknesses. Especially when there are differences in opinion, you must put away your ego and fellowship and investigate the issue together with an attitude of seeking. This is the only way to have humanity and reason, receive the Holy Spirit’s work, reduce oversights in your duty, and ultimately perform your duty well. We don’t understand truth. So we need to work together and make up for each other’s weaknesses. This is the only way to behave reasonably. Having understood this, I would continue by practicing this path. If there were differences in opinion again when investigating with others, I would consciously deny my view in favor of listening to others’ opinions. Where there was disagreement, I would fellowship on applicable principles with everyone, and ultimately practice in a way that abided by the principles. After a while, my relationship with others improved considerably, and I understood that only by putting aside my ego and cooperating harmoniously could I easily gain the Holy Spirit’s work and guidance, and be effective while performing my duty.
Through experiencing these situations, I gained some understanding of my arrogant disposition and made some changes. This result is all thanks to eating and drinking of the word of God! I am so grateful to God!
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