Learning From the Failures of Others

February 7, 2023

By Daisy, South Korea

In October last year, two of the video work supervisors were dismissed. This was because our leader had repeatedly stressed the importance of this work but they never had any urgency. They just attended to general affairs and didn’t resolve any problems, or actually participate in video production, which held back the work. The leader was very angry and said that people like them were slippery and irresponsible, disengaged from their work, and not suited to being supervisors, so he dismissed them. I was shocked to hear this. I thought that they were doing their duty normally. Even if they were a little inefficient, passive, and didn’t bear a burden, that wasn’t such a big issue. Everyone is like that, to a certain degree. Did they really deserve to be dismissed for that? Later, the leader asked us how we usually did our duties: Were we stretching ourselves, giving it our all, and really working hard? Were we trying to be as efficient and productive as possible? Hearing these questions made me so nervous, I didn’t dare raise my head. I knew that I wasn’t even close to meeting those standards, and hearing the leader call those supervisors “disengaged,” “not having any urgency” and “not bearing a burden” in their duties made me even more nervous. I realized that I’d been doing my duty like that too. The leader had arranged for me to follow up on the video work, and at first, I sought the principles, studied the relevant skills, and thought about how to get the work done quickly. But after a few days I started to think: “Video production is pretty complex. I’ve just started and there’s much I’m still unfamiliar with; problems are unavoidable. I’ll just do what I can. It’ll end up being checked by the leader anyway. Even if there are problems, he’ll understand.” So I just did things in a routine way each day. I said that I appreciated the urgency of the work, but when the leader wasn’t pressing us, our progress slowed down without me noticing. Work that could have been done in a week took twice as long, and I also stopped following up on the watering work I was responsible for. Sometimes I’d feel guilty, but because the work wasn’t being delayed too much, I didn’t worry about it. Later, the leader put me in charge of other work, and I kept the same attitude. Though I looked busy on the outside, I didn’t have any sense of urgency or solve many real problems. Sometimes I’d wonder: “I’m responsible for more work, so my schedule should be busier, I should have more things to worry about, and I should feel more stressed. Why don’t I feel that way? I feel quite relaxed at the end of the day.” I thought about planning out my time more wisely. With a tighter schedule, I’d be more efficient and get more work done. But then I thought, “I’m already quite busy. Why ask so much of myself?” So I dropped the idea. I didn’t feel any urgency in my duty until those two supervisors were dismissed. The leader had set two standards for our duties: We had to stretch ourselves and give it our all, and be as efficient and productive as possible. I was achieving neither of those. In my duty, I was mostly being slippery and perfunctory. I had no loyalty, let alone any reverence for God. I felt gripped by an unspeakable fear. If the leader found out about my attitude, would I be the next one dismissed? If I didn’t mend my ways, I could be exposed any second. I came before God in prayer: “God, I’ve been so slippery in my duty lately. I’m afraid that one day I’ll be exposed and cast out. But right now I’m just afraid and worried, I don’t have true knowledge or hatred of my corrupt disposition. Please guide me to know myself and amend my incorrect state.”

Later on, I wondered, “Why have the dismissals of those supervisors made me so afraid and guarded against God?” I realized it was partly because I hadn’t seen through to the essence of their problems. I thought their issues weren’t that serious, so I wasn’t able to truly accept what happened to them. I found the relevant words of God for this issue. God’s word says: “All God’s chosen people are now practicing performing their duties, and God makes use of people’s performance of their duties to perfect one group of people and cast another out. So, it is the performance of duty that reveals each sort of person, and each sort of deceiver, nonbeliever, and evil person is revealed and cast out in the performance of their duty. Those who perform their duty faithfully are honest people; those who are consistently careless and perfunctory are deceitful, shrewd people, and they are nonbelievers; and those who cause disruptions and disturbance in performing their duties are evil people, and they are antichrists. Right now, a wide range of problems still exist in many of those who perform duties. Some people are always very passive in their duties, always sitting and waiting and relying on others. What sort of attitude is that? It is irresponsibility. God’s house has arranged for you to do this duty, yet you ponder on it for days without getting any concrete work done. You are nowhere to be seen at the workplace, and people cannot find you when they have problems that need resolving. You do not bear a burden for this work. If a leader inquires about the work, what will you tell them? You are not doing any kind of work right now. You are well aware that this work is your responsibility, but you do not do it. What on earth are you thinking? Do you not do any work because you are incapable of it? Or are you just greedy for comfort? What attitude do you have toward your duty? You preach only the letters and words of doctrine and say only pleasant-sounding things, but you do not do any practical work. If you do not wish to perform your duty, you should resign. Do not hold your position and not do anything there. Is doing so not inflicting harm on God’s chosen people and compromising the work of the church? In the way you talk, you seem to understand all manner of doctrine, but when asked to perform a duty, you are careless and perfunctory, not conscientious in the least. Is that what it is to expend oneself sincerely for God? You have no sincerity for God, yet you feign it. Are you capable of deceiving Him? In the way you usually talk, there seems to be such great faith; you would like to be the pillar of the church and its rock. But when you perform a duty, you are not even as useful as a matchstick. Is this not open-eyed deception of God on your part? Do you know what comes of trying to deceive God? His detesting you and casting you out! All people are revealed in performing their duties—just set a person to a duty, and it will not take long before it is revealed whether they are an honest person or a deceiver and whether or not they are a lover of the truth(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Being Honest Can One Live as a True Human Being). God’s word made it clear: Those who are always perfunctory, slippery, and satisfied with just scrounging off the church with what little they do, are of poor humanity, slippery and cunning by nature, and don’t truly expend for God. In the end they are all cast out by God. God is righteous. He decides each person’s end based on their attitude toward their duty. I thought back to those dismissed supervisors. They were in charge of such important work but only took on the post of “supervisor,” not the burden, and did their duties in a routine way each day without reviewing why their work was so inefficient, what problems others were having in their duties, or how they should be guiding or following up on work. The others kept reminding them to be more proactive, to plan the work wisely, and increase its efficiency. They promised to do so, but then didn’t make any changes. They were passive and had to be pushed to do work. One of them in particular was well-spoken, gifted, and had caliber, but after more than a month as supervisor still didn’t know the basics of the work or how to allocate it. She was very careless and irresponsible. I thought of how clearly God’s word fellowships the responsibilities of leaders and how our leader had often spoken of the importance of duties. They knew all this and were still perfunctory. They weren’t people who loved or pursued the truth and they had no reverence for God. I remembered that God said: “If you do not take God’s commissions seriously, then you are betraying Him in the most grievous way; in this, you are more lamentable than Judas, and should be cursed(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). Before, I thought that only those who refuse to do their duties are betraying God, but from God’s word I saw that when the church gives you an important task and you’re sluggish, careless, always have a perfunctory attitude, and bring harm upon the work, that’s negligence and betrayal. It wasn’t harsh of the leader to dismiss those supervisors. It was in line with God’s word and the principles. I hadn’t been able to accept it because I wasn’t seeing things according to God’s word, which made me guarded against God. I was truly ignorant. I realized that my behavior was much like theirs, so I needed to reflect on the problems in my own duty quickly.

Later on, I found the words of God to practice and enter in relation to my state and attitude to my duty. God’s word says: “If you are not assiduous in reading God’s words, and you do not understand the truth, then you cannot reflect on yourself; you will merely be satisfied with making a token effort and committing no transgression, and use this as capital. You will pass each day in a muddle, live in a state of confusion, merely do things on schedule, not apply yourself, never engage your mind, and always be cursory and slapdash. In this way, you will never perform your duty to an acceptable standard. To put all your effort into something, you must first put all your heart into it; only when you first put all your heart into something can you put all your effort into it, and do your best. Today, there are those who have begun to be assiduous in performing their duty, they have begun to think about how to properly carry out the duty of a created being in order to satisfy God’s heart. They are not negative and lazy, they do not passively wait for the Above to issue orders, but take some initiative. Judging by your performance of your duty, you are a little more effective than before, and although it is still below standard, there has been a little growth—which is good. But you must not be satisfied with the status quo, you must keep searching, keep growing—only then will you perform your duty better, and reach an acceptable standard. When some people perform their duty, they never pull out all the stops and give it their all, they only give 50-60% of their effort, and just make do until what they are doing is done. They can never maintain a state of normalcy: When there’s no one to keep an eye on them or offer support, they slacken off and lose heart; when there’s someone to fellowship the truth, they perk up, but if the truth isn’t fellowshiped to them for a while, they become indifferent. What is the problem when they always go back and forth like this? This is how people are when they haven’t gained the truth, they all live by passion—a passion which is incredibly difficult to maintain: They must have someone preach and fellowship to them every day; once there is no one to water and provide for them, and no one to support them, their hearts go cold again, they slacken once more. And when their hearts slacken, they become less effective in their duty; if they work harder, effectiveness increases, their performance of their duty becomes more productive, and they gain more(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. In Believing in God, What Is Most Important Is to Practice and Experience His Words). “Some people do not do their duties properly. They are always trying to get up to little tricks, like amusing themselves when they should be working, sleeping in late, or turning a blind eye to problems they see and not mentioning them to anyone. Are these not things that a person with no conscience would do? The busier their duties become, the more preoccupied they are with their personal affairs. They date, they play video games, they read useless magazines and news. They always deal with personal matters when they are supposed to be doing their duties. Do they have consciences? (No.) If I were to speak to you about loyalty and absolute submission, this would be quite a hefty topic for you, you would find it fairly difficult. It would make you feel constrained and a bit uncomfortable. But what if I were to talk to you about conscience and humanity? Are you equipped with those two things? If you do not even understand conscience, humanity, and the sense that normal people possess, if you do not know how to hold these things against yourselves for comparison, if you do not know how to use them to regulate your minds and restrain your conduct, then loving and pursuing the truth is out of the question, and all of your actions and conduct have nothing to do with the truth. God looks for potential recipients of His salvation among those who possess humanity, consciences, and sense. People who do not have these things are far from capable of understanding or practicing the truth, and they are even further from salvation(God’s Fellowship). From God’s word I learned that we must take initiative in order to perform our duties adequately. We must be willing to work hard, suffer and pay a price. Also, we must do our best at everything we can, put our whole hearts into it, fulfill our responsibilities, and achieve results, and not just go through the motions. That’s doing a duty adequately. When the leader put me in charge of video work, at first, I wanted to get better at following up on the work, and really studied the skills and principles, but after doing it for a while, I found video work to be very difficult. I’d just started, there was still so much I didn’t know, and I needed to suffer and pay a price, so I started to slack off and didn’t fill up my schedule. Though I looked busy every day, I wasn’t working efficiently or getting that much real work done. I even had time to think about what I’d eat or drink, and when there was time, I’d take a rest, go out for a stroll, or have some fun. I had the title of supervisor, but I was more idle in my duty than the others. When I ran up against difficulties in work, I didn’t think to seek the principles or find someone who understood to help, I aimed for “good enough” and “more or less,” then left the rest up to the leader to check. Because I was perfunctory and didn’t seek real results in my duty, the leader could always find problems in my work and it had to be sent back for revision, delaying our progress. I wasn’t putting all my effort into my duty, let alone all of my heart. I was doing it in a slapdash, adulterated way, and I wasn’t truly paying a price. Even if I put in some effort, I didn’t get real results. How was that doing a duty? I was clearly deceiving and cheating God! I felt so guilty when I realized this. The church was training me as a supervisor, hoping that I’d be responsible and get the church work done properly, but I was just slacking off. I was truly heartless. I was treating my duty like an unbeliever working for a boss, and rendering subpar service. I recalled a passage of God’s word: “The standard that God requires of you in your duty is ‘adequacy.’ How should the word ‘adequacy’ be understood? It means that you must meet God’s requirements and satisfy Him, and your work must be called adequate by God and have His approval; only then will you have fulfilled your duty adequately. If God says that you are doing your duty inadequately, then no matter how long you have been performing it for and how much of a price you have paid for it, it is still inadequate. What will be the consequence of this? You will just be rendering service. Only a small number of loyal service-doers will be able to survive the disasters. If you are not loyal in the service you render, you will have no hope of surviving. To put it plainly, you will be destroyed in the disasters(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?). God’s word made me realize I wasn’t even achieving the most basic standard of conscience in my duty. This attitude was hated by God and made me unworthy of salvation. The dismissal of those two supervisors was a warning for me. I saw that those who are perfunctory and careless in their duties don’t last in the church. In the end, they are exposed and cast out. Though I was doing a duty in the church, this didn’t mean that I was doing it adequately. If I didn’t amend my state as soon as possible, even if the church didn’t cast me out, I would be cast out by God. That is decided by God’s righteous disposition. Realizing this, I prayed to God: “God, I’m not paying a true price in my duty, I’m so perfunctory, and I have so many regrets. I now realize how dangerous my state is, and that I can’t keep this attitude toward my duty. I want to properly repent and do my duty as best I can.”

After this, I wondered: “Sometimes I know how important my responsibilities are, but I often can’t help but slack off and not want to pay a price in my duty. What is the reason for this?” I read God’s word. “What kind of behaviors and characteristics do those who are excessively lazy display? Firstly, in whatever they are doing, they act perfunctorily, go through the motions, dawdle about, go at a leisurely pace, and take rest and procrastinate whenever possible. Secondly, they pay no mind to the church’s work. To them, whoever likes applying themselves may do so. They will not. When they do apply themselves to something, it’s for the sake of their own reputation and status—all that matters for them is that they are able to enjoy the benefits of status. Thirdly, they cannot accept their work becoming even slightly more tiring; they become very resentful and unwilling to bear hardship or make sacrifices. Fourthly, they are unable to persevere in their work, always giving up halfway and unable to see things through. Doing something novel for a moment may be acceptable to them as a lark, but if something requires long-term commitment, and it keeps them busy, requires a lot of thought and fatigues their flesh, over time they will begin to grumble. For instance, some leaders, in supervising church work, find it new and fresh at first. They are very motivated in their fellowship of the truth and when brothers and sisters have problems, they are able to help and resolve them. But when countless problems continue to crop up and they are never able to resolve them all after having persisted in the work for some time, they can persevere no more and wish to switch to an easier job. They are not willing to bear hardship, and they lack perseverance. Fifthly, another characteristic that distinguishes lazy people is their unwillingness to do practical work. As soon as their flesh suffers, they make excuses and find reasons to evade and shirk their work, assigning someone else to do it for them. When that person finishes the work, they reap the rewards. These are the five major characteristics of lazy people. You should check to see if there are such lazy people among the leaders and workers in the churches. If you find one, dismiss them immediately. Can lazy people do good work as leaders? No matter what kind of caliber they have or the quality of their humanity, if they are lazy, they will be unable to do their work well. They will delay the work and the greater project. The church’s work is multi-faceted; each project includes many smaller parts and requires fellowshiping about the truth to resolve problems in order to be done well. If not enough action is taken, things will fall far short of the desired result. Therefore, leaders and workers must be diligent—they have to do a lot of talking and a lot of work every day to ensure the work’s effectiveness. If they speak too little, or do not do enough work, there will be no results. So, if a leader or worker is a lazy person, they are certainly a false leader and are incapable of doing practical work. Lazy people do not do practical work, much less go themselves to work sites, and they are not willing to resolve problems or involve themselves in any specific work. They do not have the slightest understanding or grasp of the problems in any project. They just muddle through by listening to what others have to say, having a superficial knowledge of what’s going on, and preaching a bit of doctrine. Are you able to discern this kind of leader? Are you able to tell that they are false leaders? (To a degree.) Lazy people are perfunctory and go through the motions in whatever duty they do. No matter the duty, they lack perseverance, work in fits and starts, and complain for days on end when they suffer some hardships. They lash out at whoever criticizes or deals with them, like a shrew screeching in the streets, always wanting to vent their anger and not do their duty. What does it show that they will not do their duty? It shows that they do not bear a burden, are unwilling to take on responsibility, and are lazy people. They do not want to suffer hardships or make sacrifices. In particular, if the leaders and workers do not bear a burden, can they fulfill the responsibilities of a leader or worker? Absolutely not(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). Pondering God’s word made me realize why I lacked perseverance in my duty, and why, after a brief burst of zeal, I no longer wanted to pay a price for it. It was mainly because I was so lazy and craved fleshly comfort too much. I didn’t seek efficiency in my work. If no one pushed or dealt with me, I lacked urgency. I was very unwilling to expend mental energy on work issues, always indulging myself with the excuse that I’d just started, and pushing problems onto the leader. I would think to myself, “We should enjoy ourselves whilst we’re still alive. No matter how urgent the work is, we shouldn’t mistreat or overwork ourselves. So long as I’m not cast out, I’m fine with just putting in a little effort and doing a little work.” I never sought to progress, which meant I advanced very slowly. I thought about my brothers and sisters: Some of them put so much time and energy into finishing tasks, always focusing on their duties. Even when they’d finished their work, they kept pondering on if there were any deviations in it, and how they could do better. All they thought of was how to do their duties well. They did proper work, they had humanity, and were devoted to their duties. They easily gained the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their work, and over time they progressed and made gains. However, I had been put in charge of video work by the church, but I had no conscience, my views and pursuit were like an animal’s. When I had time, I’d think about my fleshly desires and not about my duty at all. I had a post, but I wasn’t doing real work, which not only stopped us getting good results, but also delayed the work. I was so selfish and despicable! If I carried on like that, I wouldn’t be able to take on any work, I’d achieve nothing, and be bound to be cast out by God. I came before God in prayer: “God, my scummy nature is too serious. I’m being irresponsible and slippery in such important work and I lack reverence for You. Before, I knew my scumminess was serious, but didn’t truly hate it. I know this now. God, I want to change. I want to amend my attitude toward my duty, and do it well. Please guide me to resolve my corrupt disposition and live out human likeness.”

I later recalled another passage of God’s word that I’d read. “You must at least be clear of conscience in performing your duty, and you must feel at least that you earn your three meals a day and are not scrounging for them. This is called a sense of responsibility. Whether your caliber is high or low, and whether or not you understand the truth, you must have this attitude: ‘Since this work was given me to do, I must treat it seriously; I must make it my concern and do it well, with all my heart and strength. As for whether I can do it perfectly well, I can’t presume to offer a guarantee, but my attitude is that I’ll do my best to see it done well, and I certainly won’t be careless and perfunctory about it. If a problem arises, I should take responsibility then, and ensure I draw a lesson from it and perform my duty well.’ This is the right attitude. Do you have such an attitude? Some people say, ‘I don’t necessarily need to do a good job on the work I’m assigned. I’ll just do what I can and the end product will be what it will be. I don’t need to tire myself out so much, or become wracked with anxiety if I do something wrong, and I don’t need to take on so much stress. What’s the point of making myself so tired? After all, I’m always working and I’m not freeloading.’ This kind of attitude toward one’s duty is irresponsible. ‘If I feel like working, I’ll do some work. I’ll do what I can and the end product will be what it will be. There’s no need to take things so seriously.’ Such people do not have a responsible attitude toward their duty and they lack a sense of responsibility. What kind of person are you? If you are the first kind of person, then you’re someone with reason and humanity. If you’re the second kind of person, then you’re no different from the kind of false leaders I’ve just dissected. You’re just drifting along: ‘I’ll avoid fatigue and hardship and just enjoy myself a bit more. Even if, one day, I’m dismissed, I won’t have lost anything. At least I’ll have enjoyed the benefits of status for a few days, it won’t be a loss for me. If I’m selected as a leader, that’s how I’ll act.’ What kind of attitude do such people have? These people are nonbelievers that do not pursue the truth in the slightest. If you are truly responsible, then that shows that you have a conscience and are reasonable. No matter how large or small the task, no matter who assigns you with that task, whether God’s house entrusts you with it or a church leader or worker assigns it to you, your attitude should be: ‘This duty that has been assigned to me is God’s exaltation and bestowal of grace. I should see that it’s done well according to the principles of the truth. Despite having only average caliber, I’m willing to take on this responsibility and give it all I have to do it well. If I do a poor job, I’ll take responsibility for it, and if I do a good job, I won’t take credit for it. This is what I ought to do.’ Why do I say that how one treats one’s duty is a matter of principle? If you really have a sense of responsibility and are a responsible person, then you will be able to take on the church’s work and fulfill the duty you are supposed to. If you have a careless attitude toward your duty, then your view on belief in God is improper, and your attitude toward God and your duty is problematic(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). From God’s word I understood that responsible people do things diligently. No matter if they like the work or are good at it and regardless of their caliber, they approach it with honesty, and earnestly do their very best to perform it well. These people keep to their word, are trustworthy, and can gain God’s approval. Conversely, if a person agrees to take on a duty, but then only does enough to save face, and nothing practical, and doesn’t seek results or efficiency, then they’re just like the loafers and slackers of the secular world. They are untrustworthy and unreliable. That was how I’d been doing my duty. I always heeded the flesh and rarely practiced the truth. I was living with less and less human likeness. I had to fix my attitude toward my duty. Regardless of my work capabilities, the church had entrusted me with this task, so I had to try as hard as I could to do it well and put all my energy into it. Moreover, now is a crucial time to do one’s duty. If I kept doing less than my best, and waited until God’s work ended to put in more effort, it’d be too late to repent. After this thought, I remade my schedule in order to do as much more work as I could. When I felt like being lazy, I prayed to God and thought on His words, which made me vigilant and able to forsake the flesh. I would pray to Him before each task, asking Him to watch over me, trying to do a good job, and not just going through the motions. Practicing like this makes me feel more at ease.

Though I want to do my duty well, sometimes I fall short. Like one day, I was checking on the watering work: One newcomer still had lots of religious notions, which the waterer asked me to help resolve. At first, thinking of the difficulties the waterer was facing made me want to try my best to help, no matter how much I could achieve. But when I actually spoke to the newcomer, I only had a patchy knowledge of some of the problems and couldn’t fellowship clearly. I couldn’t help but think: “My understanding of the truth is shallow; this is all I can achieve. The leader will follow up on this anyway, I’ll let him resolve these problems.” But the leader was busy and couldn’t come, so it was up to us to resolve them. I knew that God’s will was behind this situation. I used to pick easy and straightforward tasks in my duty and not stretch myself or put my all into it. I couldn’t heed the flesh or seek comfort this time. I had to do everything I could, no matter what I was able to achieve. After thinking that, my partner and I found the waterer to fellowship with, we found words of God and gospel videos related to religious notions, and after some discussion, we all became clearer on this aspect of the truth, and in the end, the newcomer’s problems were resolved. Experiencing this made me see that some things may seem beyond my stature, but if I rely on God, and really pay a price, I can achieve results. If I work hard and still fall short of it, then I’ll have a clear conscience.

By looking at the failures of some sisters around me I learned some lessons, reflected on the attitude I had toward my duty, and saw how far I was from doing it adequately. And I saw how deeply rooted my scummy nature was. Though I’m repentant now, I’m still short of God’s requirements. I have to accept God’s scrutiny and try to do my duty adequately!

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