Learning a Lesson From Dismissing Somebody
I was a preacher last year, responsible for the textual work of several churches. I found out that the textual work of Chengnan church wasn’t getting good results. The workers were lax and inefficient in their duties and they had allowed work to pile up. The supervisor mentioned the group leader Zhang Xiao was perfunctory and didn’t accept oversight, and hadn’t changed even after fellowship, so she needed watching. I thought: “Zhang Xiao used to be my partner. As I understood her, she was lacking in life entry but had good humanity. If I give her clear fellowship, she should be able to accept it. Maybe her supervisor is treating her unfairly?” The supervisor had just been selected and wasn’t as familiar with the situation as me, so I went straight to the church to check things out. I asked Zhang Xiao about the details of the work, but she had no understanding or grasp of them, kept coming up with excuses for shirking her responsibility, and did not reflect at all. I exposed and fellowshiped on Zhang Xiao’s problems at the time. She admitted she hadn’t done real work lately and said she wanted to repent. Hearing this, I thought: “Her saying she wants to repent shows she’s still able to accept the truth.” I reminded her of how she’d been dismissed as a supervisor before, that being able to do this duty was a chance for her to repent, and if she kept going through the motions, she’d be dismissed. Remorsefully, Zhang Xiao said: “I was really engaged when I started this duty, but when I saw some results, I became complacent and stopped doing real work. The supervisor said I was being careless and irresponsible, but I didn’t accept it. I really lack self-awareness.” She cried as she spoke, saying through her tears: “I’ve been so lax, I’m not worthy of staying in this duty. But the church still gives me a chance, I’ll repent and make up for my transgressions.” Hearing her say this, I thought: “She’s willing to repent, so there’s no need to ask too much from her. She won’t gain deeper self-knowledge all at once anyway.” I fellowshiped with her on the problems in her work and gave her some paths of practice, then I arranged for Sister Lin Fan to guide and assist her and her group. Once everything had been arranged, I left, my mind at ease.
A while later, the supervisor reported that she’d asked Zhang Xiao to go over work deviations, but she’d delayed for several days, not writing anything. The supervisor urged her, but she tried to find fault with her, saying she only worked for name and status. Didn’t Zhang Xiao say she wanted to repent? Why was she being like that? She still hadn’t changed? Later, I heard from Lin Fan that Zhang Xiao had done some self-reflection. She’d asked for another month, and if she hadn’t repented by then, she was willing to be expelled. I thought, “She’s really decided to repent this time. That’s what she said. She’ll definitely change her ways after this. Her life entry was shallow to start, so she can’t change from just one or two sessions of fellowship. Best to give her another chance.” Over the next few days, she wrote some letters about how to do a duty well during the pandemic and the group’s work picked up a little. I thought she’d really repented, so I stopped watching over her work so closely.
A couple days later, Lin Fan wrote to me that Zhang Xiao and her group had let quite a bit of work pile up, and that although they looked busy, they weren’t being very efficient. The letters Zhang Xiao had written were repetitive or full of irrelevant content, and she was just as lax as she’d been before. Lin Fan had helped and fellowshiped with the group, but they’d shown no sense of urgency. As the group leader, Zhang Xiao had shown no remorse at all for holding up the work. Reading this message, I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know the work efficiency had been so low. I mistakenly thought that after my fellowship, they would repent. The work becoming like this was my responsibility. I hated myself and wanted to smack myself for being so blind and ignorant, and for trusting Zhang Xiao so much. I saw that I’d caused losses to the work, and I felt worse the more I thought about it. I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me in understanding my problems.
Then, I read God’s word. “It is not possible for false leaders to see someone’s nature and essence through what is manifested in them, and to judge what kind of path a person walks based on their nature and essence, and to see whether or not a person is fit to be a supervisor or to do the work of a leader based on the path they walk. They can’t see it that way. False leaders are only capable of doing two things in their work: one, pulling people for chats and going through the motions; two, giving people chances, pleasing others, and not offending anyone. Are they doing practical work? Clearly not. But false leaders believe that pulling someone for a chat is practical work. They regard these conversations as very valuable and important, and view the empty words and doctrines they spout as incredibly significant. They think that they have resolved major problems through these conversations and done practical work. They do not know why God judges and chastises, prunes and deals with, or tests and refines people. They do not know that only (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). Through the revelation of God’s word, I saw my biggest issues were that I wasn’t a good judge of others and I was arrogant. God says that to judge whether a person is worthy of keeping on or cultivating, we must look at their nature, essence, and the path they walk. But I’d just judged by appearances. No matter their problems, as long as they said they were willing to repent after fellowship, I’d keep them on, thinking they’d change. Just like when I dealt with Zhang Xiao; I relied on my prior understanding of her and decided that she could accept the truth. I was so self-assured. On that trip to the church, it was clear to me that she was lax and not doing real work, and with her still not making changes after the supervisor’s fellowship and help, she should’ve been harshly dealt with and exposed, and then dismissed if she still didn’t repent. But after my fellowship with her, I saw her crying and saying she wanted to repent, and I believed her. After that I stopped supervising her and didn’t check if she’d really repented. Confident in myself, I didn’t take it seriously when the supervisor mentioned her situation. I felt since I’d fellowshiped with her and she’d said she was willing to change, we had to give her time to change. But in fact, Zhang Xiao didn’t change or have any understanding of her lack of real work or of the losses she’d brought upon the work. Her attitude was just as lax as ever, leading to really low work efficiency. I saw I was a false leader, just the kind God revealed. I was arrogant, ignorant, and blind. I clearly didn’t have the reality of the truth or the ability to perceive people’s essence, but I thought I was insightful and that my words of fellowship were more precious than gold. When Zhang Xiao made statements and shed a few tears, I believed her entirely and then didn’t really investigate or follow up on things, resulting in losses to the work. I was doing evil. I recalled another passage of God’s word. “Although, today, many people perform a duty, there are only a few who pursue the truth. Rarely do people pursue the truth and enter the reality of the truth as they perform their duty; for most, there are still no principles to the way they do things, they are still not people who truly obey God; their mouths merely say that they love the truth, and are willing to pursue the truth, and are willing to strive for the truth, yet it is still unknown how long their resolve will last. People who do not pursue the truth are liable to have outpourings of a corrupt disposition at any time or place. People who do not pursue the truth are devoid of any sense of responsibility toward their duty, they are often careless and perfunctory, they act as they wish, and are even incapable of accepting pruning and dealing. As soon as they become negative and weak, people who do not pursue the truth are liable to throw in the towel—this happens often, nothing is more common; such is the way all who do not pursue the truth behave. And so, when people have yet to gain the truth, they are unreliable and untrustworthy. What does it mean that they are untrustworthy? It means that when they encounter difficulties or setbacks, they are likely to fall down, and to become negative and weak. Is someone who is often negative and weak someone who is trustworthy? Definitely not. But people who understand the truth are different. People who truly understand the truth are bound to have a heart that fears God, and a heart that obeys God, and only people with a heart that fears God are trustworthy people; people without a heart that fears God are not trustworthy. How should people without a heart that fears God be approached? They should, of course, be given loving assistance and support. They should be checked up on more as they perform their duty, and given more help and guidance; only then can they be guaranteed to perform their duty effectively. And what is the aim of doing this? The chief aim is to uphold the work of God’s house. Secondary to this is in order to promptly identify problems, to promptly provide to them, support them, and deal with and prune them, setting right their deviations, and making up for their shortcomings and deficiencies. This is beneficial to people; there is nothing malicious about it. Supervising people, keeping an eye on them, getting to know them—this is all in order to help them enter the right track of faith in God, to enable them to perform their duty as God asks and according to principle, so that they do not cause any disturbance or disruption, so that they are not wasting time. The aim of doing this is entirely born of responsibility to them and to the work of God’s house; there is no malice to it” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). God’s word clearly reminded me that before people attain the truth and are perfected, they live by corrupt dispositions and are untrustworthy. No matter how a person appears to pursue the truth and have a burden in their duty, they may still stumble and fail, or do things that go against principles sometimes. Leaders must supervise them closely to find issues and give them timely pointers. If it’s of a serious nature, they need to be dealt with, exposed, and analyzed. This is being responsible for the church’s work and for people’s life entry. I had so many shortcomings and inadequacies in my duty, and I often acted out of a corrupt disposition. I wasn’t a trustworthy person, but I was quick to trust others. I didn’t supervise or follow up with Zhang Xiao, a seriously careless person who had difficulty accepting the truth. Based solely on my prior understanding of her, I concluded that her life entry was shallow, and she wouldn’t do anything to disturb or disrupt the church’s work. As a result, I didn’t handle her problems in a timely way and allowed her to stay on and disrupt the group’s work. I was so irresponsible and conceited!and the truth can resolve man’s corrupt dispositions, and they greatly oversimplify God’s work and God’s salvation of mankind. They believe that speaking a few words and phrases of doctrine is a substitute for God’s work, that it can resolve the problem of man’s corruption. Is this not the foolishness and ignorance of false leaders? False leaders do not have the slightest bit of the reality of the truth, so why are they so confident? Is spouting a few doctrines enough to make people know themselves? Is it enough to help them cast off their corrupt dispositions? How can these false leaders be so ignorant and childish? Is resolving a person’s erroneous practices and corrupt behavior really that simple? Is the issue of man’s corrupt dispositions so easy to resolve? False leaders are so foolish and shallow-minded! God does not use merely one method to resolve the issue of man’s corruption. He uses many methods and orchestrates different environments in order to expose, cleanse, and perfect people. The way of false leaders’ work is too simple and superficial: They pull people for chats, do a little ideological work, give people a little advice, and think that this is doing real work. This is superficial, is it not? And what issue is hidden behind this superficiality? Is it naivety? False leaders are extremely naive, extremely naive in their view of people and things. Nothing is harder to fix than people’s corrupt dispositions. A leopard can’t change its spots. False leaders have no perception of this problem. Therefore, when it comes to the kind of supervisors in the church who are constantly disruptive, who always hold people back, who are likely to make things hard for people, the false leaders do nothing but talk; a couple of words of dealing and pruning, and that’s it. They are not quick to reassign or replace people. The false leaders’ way of doing things causes tremendous harm to the work of the church, and often stops church work from progressing normally, smoothly and efficiently because it is held up, delayed, and harmed as a result of the interference of a few wicked people—which is all a grievous consequence of false leaders acting on emotion, violating the principles of the truth, and employing the wrong people”
I later asked the supervisor about the group’s situation and looked into their low efficiency. The supervisor said: “Zhang Xiao has an arrogant disposition and often rejects suggestions on the grounds that she is group leader. She is resistant whenever I follow up on her work and tries to find fault with me, saying I’m working for name and status. She’s inefficient and when we fellowship on paths of practice, she says she can’t practice them and keeps others from doing so. When a sister gave her a suggestion, she was unable to accept it and even dealt with her, undermining her motivation for her duty. Because of her, several sisters feel constrained and negative in their duties. One of them even quit altogether.” I was filled with shame and guilt when I heard this. The group’s inefficiency was clearly due to Zhang Xiao’s problems. Not only was she lax, careless, and lacking good humanity, she wasn’t driving on the group’s work as the group leader, and instead of cooperating with the supervisor following her work, she created disruptions. She was walking the path of an antichrist. I hated myself for being so arrogant. If I’d just looked into things sooner, the work wouldn’t have been impacted so badly. The next day, the supervisor and I fellowshiped with Zhang Xiao on her issues. But she kept making excuses and showed no sign of self-reflection, and so she was dismissed.
After this, I wondered: “When I exposed Zhang Xiao and saw her crying and talking about self-knowledge, I thought she’d truly repented, so I kept giving her chances. Where exactly did I go wrong?” Later, I read God’s word. “The specific way that people practice repentance is by knowing themselves and resolving their problems. When a person reveals a corrupt disposition or commits a transgression, and realizes that they are resisting God and invoking His hatred, they should then self-reflect and know themselves within the relevant words of God. Consequently, they will gain some knowledge of their corrupt disposition and acknowledge that it comes from Satan’s poisons and corruption. After that, when they have found the principles for practicing the truth and been able to put the truth into practice, that is true repentance. No matter what corruption a person reveals, if they are first able to know their corrupt disposition, seek the truth to resolve it, and come to practice the truth, that is true repentance. Some people know a bit about themselves, but there are no signs of repentance within them, nor any testimony to their practice of the truth. If one remains unchanged after gaining self-knowledge, that is far from true repentance. To achieve true repentance, one must resolve their corrupt dispositions. So, how, specifically, should one practice and enter in order to resolve their corrupt dispositions? … Say you have an arrogant disposition, and no matter what happens to you, you are very willful—you always want to call the shots, have others obey you, and do what you want them to. The day then comes when you realize that this is caused by an arrogant disposition. Your admission that it is an arrogant disposition is the first step toward self-knowledge. From there, you should seek out a few passages of God’s words that expose arrogant disposition against which to compare yourself, and reflect on and know yourself. If you find that the comparison is completely apt, and you admit that the arrogant disposition that God exposes exists in you, and then you discern and uncover where your arrogant disposition comes from, and why it arises, and which of Satan’s poisons, heresies, and fallacies govern it, then, having seen to the heart of all these questions, you will have dug down to the root of your arrogance. This is true self-knowledge. When you have a more precise definition of how you reveal this corrupt disposition, it will facilitate deeper and more practical knowledge of yourself. What should you do next? You should look for the principles of the truth in God’s words, and understand what sort of human comportment and speech are manifestations of normal humanity. After you find the path of practice, you must practice according to God’s words, and when your heart has turned around, you will have truly repented” (The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (1)). I understood that true repentance isn’t limited to surface-level deeds or words, but it is founded upon a true understanding of yourself. You must first admit to the evils you have committed and the corrupt dispositions you’ve shown and in doing so, come to truly hate yourself. Then you’ll stop acting out of corruption and you’ll be able to follow principles. But those who feign understanding and repentance sound off about how they’ve done evil and are arrogant, that they’re willing to repent, but they do not reflect on or understand the behaviors, essences, or consequences of the corrupt dispositions they reveal. They don’t have any hatred for their evil deeds, and do what they like after the fact. No matter how good this kind of talk and self-knowledge may sound or how much they cry, it is all useless and only misleads people. Just like the Pharisees: They proclaimed that they loved and served God, performing long prayers in synagogues and at crossroads, and even fasting. But when the came they publicly judged and condemned Him to protect their status and livelihoods and then had Him nailed to the cross. The Pharisees’ knowledge and repentance were nothing but hypocrisy to mislead people. But the equally sinful people of Nineveh were truly repentant. Not only did they fast, but they also repented to God in sackcloth and ashes. What’s key is that they sincerely acknowledged their sins and cast aside their evils. This was true repentance. Zhang Xiao always said things that sounded good, proclaimed that she was arrogant, doing evil, disrupting church work, and willing to repent. But she never mentioned details of things like what evils she had committed, how she was disrupting church work, what knowledge she had of her arrogant disposition, humanity, and essence, and how she hated herself and then practiced. Having proclaimed those platitudes, she didn’t do as she should and made no changes. I saw that the tears she shed and the self-knowledge she claimed were all deception and that she was no different from the hypocritical Pharisees. But I was so blind, ignorant, and lacking in discernment. I took her empty platitudes as genuine repentance and kept giving her chances. That allowed her to hold up textual work for over two months. Reflecting on this filled me with remorse and guilt. I resolved to myself that I would let go of my own will in my duty and practice according to God’s word. From then on, I’d often write letters to understand and follow up on work, as well as to put forward my own views and suggestions. Gradually, work results began to improve, and the brothers and sisters became more engaged.
After that, I reflected on the problems I’d had in handling the matter of Zhang Xiao, and I read God’s word. “Some people never seek the truth while performing their duty. They merely do as they please, acting according to their own imaginings, and are ever arbitrary and rash, and they simply do not walk the path of practicing the truth. What does it mean to be ‘arbitrary and rash’? It means, when you encounter an issue, to act however you see fit, with no thought process, or any process for searching. Nothing anyone else says can touch your heart or change your mind. You can’t even accept it when the truth is fellowshiped to you, you stick to your own opinions, not listening when other people say anything right, believing yourself right, and clinging to your own ideas. Even if your thinking is correct, you should take other people’s opinions into consideration as well. And if you don’t at all, is this not being extremely self-righteous? It is not easy for people who are extremely self-righteous and wayward to accept the truth. If you do something wrong and others criticize you, saying, ‘You’re not doing it according to the truth!’ you reply, ‘Even if I’m not, this is still how I’m going to do it.’ And then you find some reason to make them think this is right. If they reproach you, saying, ‘You acting like this is meddling, and will damage the work of the church,’ not only do you not listen, but you keep coming out with excuses: ‘I think this is the right way, so this is how I’m going to do it.’ What disposition is this? (Arrogance.) It is arrogance. An arrogant nature makes you willful. If you have an arrogant nature, you will behave arbitrarily and rashly, heedless of what anyone says. … If your attitude is to stubbornly insist, to deny the truth, to reject anyone else’s suggestions, to not seek the truth, to only have faith in yourself, and to only do as you want—if this is your attitude regardless of what God does or asks, then what is God’s reaction? God pays you no heed, He sidelines you. Are you not wayward? Are you not arrogant? Do you not always think you’re right? If you are devoid of obedience, if you never seek, if your heart is utterly closed and resistant to God, then God pays you no heed. Why does God pay you no heed? Because if your heart is closed to God, can you accept God’s enlightenment? Can you feel it when God reproaches you? When people are intransigent, when their satanic and barbaric natures are in play, they don’t feel anything God does, it is all to no avail—so God does not do useless work. If you have this kind of stubbornly antagonistic attitude, all that God does is to remain hidden from you, God will not do superfluous things” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Having read God’s word, I recognized that I’d had some arrogance ever since I found out about Zhang Xiao. I felt that since we’d been partners before, I knew her pretty well, and that although she lacked life entry, it wasn’t as if she didn’t accept the truth at all. So in handling this matter, I had no reverence for God, and I didn’t seek the principles of the truth. I had such faith in my own vision. The supervisor said that Zhang Xiao was arrogant and needed to be watched, but I blew her off, still did things my own way and refused to change my views, thinking I understood Zhang Xiao better than she did. I kept believing in Zhang Xiao and giving her chances to repent, with no thoughts of seeking the truth. God has fellowshiped with us time and again on discerning different types of people and on how to do our duties according to principles. All of this has been to allow us to judge and discern people according to the principles of the truth as we do our duties, and so we can promptly dismiss disruptors and nurture those who really pursue the truth. The church’s work can proceed normally this way. But I had such an arrogant disposition and there was no place for God in my heart. In a matter as important as transferring and dismissing a group leader, I wasn’t seeking principles of the truth at all. I was clearly unable to discern or perceive things, but I was stubborn, conceited, and deaf to others’ suggestions. I held my own views and ideas to be the truth and was willful in handling things. Not only was I unable to promptly discern and dismiss an unsuitable person, but I kept giving her chances to stay, disrupting the textual work. I wasn’t doing a duty at all; I was doing evil. If I didn’t repent, I’d be rejected and cast out by God in the end.
I found a path of practice in God’s words later. God says, “When someone does something, regardless of whether they are doing their duty or taking care of personal matters, pay attention to what they are thinking. If they’re focusing on philosophies for living, this shows that they do not love or pursue the truth. If a person strives toward the truth no matter what befalls them, if they always reach toward the truth in their contemplation, thinking: ‘Would doing this conform with God’s will? What are God’s requirements? Is doing this sinning against God? Would it offend His disposition? Would it hurt God? Would God loathe it? Is there sense in doing this? Would it disturb or disrupt the church’s work? Would it harm the interests of God’s house? Would it bring shame upon God’s name? Is it practicing the truth? Is it doing evil? What would God think of it?’ if they are always pondering on these questions, what is this a sign of? (It is a sign that they are seeking and pursuing the truth.) That’s right. It is a sign that they are seeking the truth, and that God is in their heart” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). From God’s word, I learned that no matter what they do, people who revere God seek to consider God’s will and seek principles of the truth. They are able to act in line with God’s will and requirements. Only doing a duty this way is up to standard. I had so many oversights in my duty before, mainly because I was so self-confident, had no reverence for God, rarely sought God’s will or demands, and acted out of arrogance. After that, I was willing to practice according to God’s word. Later on, the church needed to transfer a few textual workers. I didn’t know much about these people and I couldn’t just look at their short-term behavior, so I asked the supervisor and church leaders for details on their consistent behavior in their duties and used the principles to judge whether they should be transferred or stay on. If there were things I was uncertain about, I just discussed them with others. If I really lacked insight into something, I went to upper leaders in seeking. With this practice, some unsuitable people were transferred, and suitable people were selected for practice. The work results also improved noticeably. I was so grateful to God.