Letting Go of My Domineering Ways
By Cheng Nuo, France
Actually, when the leader first assigned Sister Lin to water a church of newcomers with me, I wasn’t too pleased. I felt like I’d managed two churches on my own, so why would I need a partner to manage just one? Any accomplishments would definitely be seen as achieved by two people, then I wouldn’t be in the spotlight and no one would look up to me. If I handled it myself, brothers and sisters would see me as capable for taking on so much alone. I’d be the backbone of that duty, indispensable. I’d really shine. Plus, with a partner, I couldn’t have final say, so wouldn’t I have half the power then? I’d have to get my partner’s opinion on everything, and I’d look inept. Thinking that way made me really resistant to that arrangement and I wondered if the leader had made a mistake, or if she looked down on me. I knew all the other churches had two people in charge, but I felt like I was particularly capable, not like the others. I was really brushing Sister Lin aside, and I didn’t even tell her about lots of things I did. One time two groups needed to merge because some members had left. I figured I could do something that simple on my own. I’d handled all that stuff before, so there was no need for discussion. I went ahead and merged them. When Sister Lin inquired, I told her confidently that I’d taken care of it. Another time, a leader wanted us to see which of the newcomers could be cultivated to share the gospel, so I just directly formed a group of good candidates. When they were learning the principles for that work, I noticed one of them tended to be busy with his job. I unilaterally transferred him out of that group and revoked his eligibility to do a duty. When Brother Zhang, who was in charge of gospel work, found out, he dealt with me, saying I was being authoritarian and arbitrary, making decisions without involving my partner. At the time I just said he was right, but I didn’t believe at heart that my corruption was that bad.
After things like that had happened lots of times, one day Sister Lin sought me out and said, “We’re partners. Even if you can do things on your own, you should keep me in the loop so I also know how our work is progressing. Sister Zhang always makes the effort to discuss things with her partner. They talk over everything together.” I thought, “If I tell you, you’ll just take my advice, so isn’t that a formality? People ask because they don’t know how to do something. Why bother when I can manage just fine? Having a partner is such a hassle, having to talk to you about everything. It’ll look like I’m a subordinate reporting to a superior, making me look inept.” She mentioned it to me quite a few more times, but I kept doing things the same way. Sometimes she’d ask me about specific things, but I snubbed her. I was thinking she asked about things we’d already discussed, so I ignored her. In our work discussions, sometimes I’d hear her sighing over and over, and I wondered if she felt constrained by me. I did feel a little bad. But then I’d think that I hadn’t done anything to her, so I didn’t take it seriously. One day she asked me, “You could manage this church on your own, couldn’t you?” At the time I didn’t realize why she’d asked me that and wondered if she was going to be transferred out. I thought that would be great, that I wouldn’t have to report things to her, but I could be in charge. I just said, “I could.” She didn’t say a word. Later on I learned that she did feel really held back by me, like she couldn’t do anything, and she wanted to resign. I just acknowledged that I didn’t have a good attitude toward her, but I didn’t self-reflect too much.
The leader had Sister Lin focus some of her efforts on another project so I was responsible for more of the church’s work. I was secretly pleased, thinking I could finally show off my skills and have full say. But things didn’t turn out that way at all. My duty obviously got a lot harder, and when brothers and sisters had a problem in their duty, I couldn’t see the essence of it, so I couldn’t resolve it from the root. After a while, more and more newcomers weren’t gathering regularly, and the leader told me that my work was performing the worst. Sister Lin also pointed out my problems lots of times, saying I was a lone wolf and didn’t consult with others, and I didn’t seek the truth in things. I was really rigid at the time, and didn’t take it in or reflect on myself. My state got worse and worse after that, and I was muddleheaded. One day, the leader said she wanted to chat with me about my state, and set up a meeting with another sister. I’d heard that sister’s work performance was poor, so I thought that meant the leader thought I was just like her. I was kind of afraid. Was my problem really that bad? Was I going to lose my duty? Everything was going fine when I was managing two churches before, and now with just one, doing work I was familiar with, that I’d done before, why wasn’t I doing well? There had to be something wrong with me. I came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me to reflect and understand my issue. Then one day, I read this passage of: “When two people are responsible for something, and one of them has the essence of an antichrist, what is exhibited in this person? No matter what it is, they and they alone are the one who gets the ball rolling, who asks the questions, who sorts things out, who comes up with a solution. And most of the time, they keep their partner completely in the dark. What is their partner in their eyes? Not their deputy, but simply window dressing. In the antichrist’s eyes, they simply aren’t their partner. Whenever there is a problem, the antichrist thinks it over in their mind, they ruminate on it, and once they have decided on a course of action, they inform everybody else that this is how it is to be done, and no one is allowed to question it. What is the essence of their cooperation with others? The fact is, they are the one who calls the shots. They act alone, speaking, problem-solving, and taking on work by themselves, their partners nothing but window dressing. And being incapable of working with anyone, do they fellowship their work with others? No. In many cases, other people only find out once they have already finished or sorted it out. Other people tell them, ‘All problems have to be discussed with us. When did you deal with that person? How did you handle him? How did we not know about it?’ They neither provide an explanation nor pay any attention; to them, their partner has no use. When something happens, they think it over and make up their own mind, acting as they see fit. No matter how many people there are around them, it’s as if these people are not there; to the antichrist, they may as well be air. In this way, does anything real come from their cooperation with others? No, they’re just going through the motions, acting a part. Other people say to them, ‘Why don’t you fellowship with everyone else when you come across a problem?’ To which they reply, ‘What do they know? I’m the team leader, it’s up to me to decide.’ The others say, ‘And why didn’t you fellowship with your partner?’ They reply, ‘I told him, he had no opinion.’ They use their partner having no opinion or not being able to think for themselves as an excuse to obfuscate the fact that they are acting as a law unto themselves. And this is not followed by the slightest introspection, much less acceptance of the truth—that would be impossible. This is a problem with the antichrist’s nature” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). This passage was really poignant for me. Every word felt like God directly exposing me. I finally saw that always wanting final say in everything, treating Sister Lin like she didn’t exist, and not consulting with her with the excuse that I could do it, was being dictatorial and taking an antichrist’s path. I’d been doing my duty that way all along. When those two groups were merged, I did it without discussing things with Sister Lin. I didn’t even tell her it was done. When I saw a newcomer was busy with his job, I didn’t discuss the best course of action, but just directly kicked him out of the group and took away his duty. When Sister Lin asked about projects and new believers, I didn’t respond patiently, but got annoyed, thinking it was like reporting to a superior, as if I were below her, and I was dismissive of her. I always wanted final say, I wanted to have authority. I was authoritarian and arbitrary in my duty, not wanting to work with anyone, and I held her back. That wasn’t doing a duty. It was disrupting the work of God’s house and acting as Satan’s minion.
I read a passage of God’s words later. “Some antichrists say, ‘When I come across a problem, I like to call the shots. I don’t like to discuss it with anyone else—that would make me look stupid and incompetent!’ What kind of viewpoint is this? Is this an arrogant disposition? They think that to cooperate and discuss things with others, to seek answers from them and ask them questions, is undignified and demeaning, an affront to their self-respect. And so, in order to protect their self-respect, they don’t allow transparency in anything they do, nor do they tell others about it, much less discuss it with them. They think that to discuss with others is to show themselves as incompetent; that to always solicit other people’s opinions means they are stupid and incapable of thinking for themselves; that working with others in completing a task or sorting out some problem makes them appear useless. Is this not the ridiculous point of view in their hearts? And is this their corrupt disposition? When their minds are governed by such a disposition, they are incapable of working well with others. Is arrogance and self-righteousness involved here? Without question. Always thinking they’re right, that they are the ones who should be in charge and call the shots—is this their mentality? On the one hand, it is their corrupt mentality and motivation; above all, it is their corrupt disposition. As part of their corrupt disposition, they believe that to work with others is to dilute and fragment their power, that when work is shared with others, their own power is lessened. Having less of a say equates to a lack of real power, which for them is a tremendous loss. And so, no matter what problem they come across, if they get the chance, and are able to do it themselves, then they won’t discuss it with anyone else, preferring to make mistakes over letting other people know, preferring to make mistakes over sharing power with someone else, preferring dismissal over letting other people get their hands on their work. This is an antichrist. They would rather harm the interests of God’s house, would rather wager the interests of God’s house, than share their power with anyone else. They think that when they’re doing a piece of work or handling some matter, as long as they understand the truth and are capable of doing it themselves, they don’t need to collaborate with anyone else, nor do they need to search for principles; they think that it should be carried out and completed alone, and that only this makes them competent. Under the cover of this pretext, they achieve their aim: doing everything they can to advertise themselves, to distinguish themselves, to wield power. Thus do the antichrists fixate upon the power they hold, and will never relinquish it, ever” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). When I read this, I reflected that the reason I was so domineering and unwilling to work with others was that I was worried if more people were involved in the church’s work, my power would be divided and I wouldn’t get to be the only one in charge, calling the shots, or gain others’ admiration. While working with Sister Lin, since I’d taken responsibility for newcomers’ churches before, I thought I was experienced, had a good head for it, and was capable. I capitalized on this and became arrogant, thinking I was someone special and should be on a higher rung. She wanted me to keep her informed before doing something, but I felt like discussing things with her would make me look incompetent, so I’d do things on my own. Occasionally I’d wonder if I should consult with her, but to show off and gain others’ admiration, I came up with the excuse that she wouldn’t have opinions to share, that she’d just agree with me anyway. The church arranged for the two of us to do the church’s work together. She had the right to partake in every type of work, to know its details and progress, but I pushed her aside to do things on my own, taking away her right to know things and speak, making her a figurehead. I kept all the work within my own hands without letting her participate. Hadn’t I become an antichrist setting up my own empire? I thought of the great red dragon’s dictatorship, and its ultimate control, that people have to listen to it without question. And I wanted to be in charge in everything I did, domineering and unwilling to discuss things with others. I was dictatorial in the church and had final control. How was I any different from the great red dragon? The more I thought about it the more serious I saw my problem of refusing to cooperate with others was, and I felt kind of afraid. Christ and the truth hold power in the church. No matter what happens, we should seek the truth and do things according to principle. But I always wanted to have the final say in the church I took charge of. Didn’t I just want to be king of the hill? I wasn’t considering how to practice the truth and protect the interests of God’s house, but whether my personal desires would be satisfied. In the end there wasn’t any progress in the church work I was leading, but I was just completely standing in the way. God had uplifted me to do that duty, hoping I’d really pursue the truth, work well with brothers and sisters and water new believers so they could quickly find a foothold on the true way. But I took it as a chance to show off, exercise my power, and get others to look up to me. I was always imperious, showing off my skills. This not only stood in the way of the work of God’s house, but hurt brothers and sisters, plus it brought harm to my own life.
I saw a video reading of God’s words that turned my mistaken views around.says, “Harmonious cooperation requires letting others have their say and allowing them to make alternate suggestions, and it means learning how to accept others’ help and tips. Sometimes people say nothing, and you should prompt them for their opinion. Whatever problems you encounter, you should search for the principles of the truth and try to reach consensus. Doing things in this way will result harmonious cooperation. As a leader or a worker, if you always think yourself above others, and revel in your duty like some government official, always coveting the trappings of your station, always making your own plans, always running your own operation, always striving for success and promotion, then this is trouble: acting like some government official in this way is extremely risky. 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, if you turn your back on the flesh, on your own motivations and designs, if you take it upon yourself to work with others, and often open up to them, asking their advice and seeking guidance from them, if you are able to take other people’s opinions on board, and listen carefully to their thoughts and ideas, then this is the right path and direction. If you can get off your high horse and put titles aside, if you can disregard these things, and treat them as unimportant, and do not regard them as a kind of status or accolade, and believe, in the depths of your heart, that you are the same as everyone else, and if you put yourself on an even footing with them, and can even stoop to asking what other people think—earnestly, closely, attentively listening to what they say—then you will work in harmony with others. And what effect will this harmonious cooperation achieve? The effect is huge. You will gain things you never had before, new things, things of a higher realm; you will discover others’ virtues and learn from their strengths. There’s something else: You conceive of other people as stupid, dim-witted, foolish, inferior to you, but when you listen to their opinions, or other people open up to you, you will unwittingly discover that every person is complex, that they all have complex thoughts. And in this way, you will stop being a know-it-all, you will no longer consider yourself smarter and better than everyone else, and will cease to always live in this narcissistic and self-appreciative state. And that will protect you, will it not? Such is the outcome and benefit of working with others” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). When I saw this, I realized that the reason I didn’t want to cooperate with Sister Lin and I was afraid to divide my power was that I didn’t see the duty God gave me as His commission and my mission. I took it as my official post, as if it were my position and crown. I refused to cooperate with others, but was always high and mighty, wanting to stand out on my own. That was the wrong path. What that period of time revealed was that I had a shallow understanding of the truth and approach to problems. I wasn’t considering our work in a holistic way, and did hardly any practical work. Helping brothers and sisters with their problems in life entry was a struggle, and there was plenty of work I couldn’t do on my own. I needed someone else there to work with, discuss things with, and get feedback from, to learn from their strengths to bolster my own weaknesses. I thought of God incarnate expressing so many truths for mankind’s salvation, but He’s never placed Himself in the position of God. He listens to people’s suggestions in lots of things. He doesn’t have the slightest arrogance and never shows off. He’s always quietly expressing truths to water and sustain mankind. I saw how kind and lovely God’s essence is. But I was corrupted by Satan, full of satanic dispositions, and didn’t understand the truth. There was a lot I couldn’t understand. But I was still high and mighty, thinking I was something special, that I could take on a bunch of work on my own without a partner, without considering anyone. I saw I was incredibly arrogant. In fact, discussing things and fellowshiping more in your duty is reasonable and wise, not a display of incompetence. It’s gaining things from others that you can’t see or understand, and avoiding the wrong path because of your conceit. It’s the only way to do a duty well and gain God’s protection. Now I understand God’s will. Discussing things, being cooperative, and bolstering each other’s weaknesses is the only way to do a duty well and please God.
There was another passage I read: “When you are coordinating with others to fulfill your duties, are you able to be open to differing opinions? Can you accept what others say? 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 a fact. This is also the most appropriate attitude of any who are correctly looking at their strengths and advantages 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 are armed with 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” (“Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Possess Normal Humanity” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). It’s true. Being great and capable can’t make someone complete. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and they should be approached properly. We have to learn to listen to others’ suggestions and bolster each other so we have the good sense to cooperate well with others. Before, I’d just been paying attention to watering new believers, and Sister Lin took on the gospel work. If I’d taken charge of all that work, there’s no way I could have managed it or done it well. And my perspective was limited in lots of things in my duty. I was rash. Whenever a leader asked about my work, there were lots of mistakes and things that weren’t done quite right. I realized I really did need a partner in that duty. I never understood that before, and I didn’t know myself. I was arrogant, wanted to be in charge, and couldn’t work with others. This held up the church’s work. I felt incredibly guilty, so I silently prayed to God, not wanting to live in corruption anymore, ready to work well with Sister Lin in my duty.
In our work together after that, I saw she had a lot of strengths. She was more considerate than I was and sought the principles of the truth when things came up. She was detailed in her fellowship on problems. I hadn’t been a leader very long, so I just had a vague idea of how to manage the church’s work. I was sort of lacking clarity when it came to details of the work and of fellowship. I didn’t match up to her in those ways. And she was more loving than me in her watering of new believers. When helping them out, she’d fellowship over and over, and keep following up. When I thought she’d already done a great job, she’d say she needed to follow up more. I thought about how I hadn’t been cooperating with her, but treated her as superfluous. She’d been negative at times, but she’d quickly turn her thinking around and keep doing her duty. Even though I’d been dismissive of her, she kept asking questions again and again. She was loving and patient, and took on genuine responsibility for her duty. Those were qualities I lacked. I felt really terrible when I realized that. I saw how much my corrupt disposition had hurt Sister Lin and the work of God’s house. If I’d been eager to cooperate with her from the very start, discussing everything with her, things wouldn’t have turned out that way. Full of regret, I came before God and prayed, “God, I can see my corruption and flaws, and now I understand Your will. I’m going to cooperate with Sister Lin from now on and live out a human likeness.”
In my work with Sister Lin after that, I made sure to ask her things like, “Does this look okay to you? Do you have another suggestion?” One time when we were discussing our work, she asked me how watering of newcomers was going. I thought, “We just talked about it a couple days ago, why go over it again? If there’s any problem, I can handle it.” I wanted to brush her off again. Then I realized my old problem was rearing its head again, that I wanted to be in charge. I said a prayer quickly, asking God to guide me so I didn’t act out of corruption. After my prayer I thought of all my failures along the way, how I was dictatorial and domineering, always wanting to do things my own way and show off. It was entirely an expression of Satan. I had to forsake myself and practice God’s words, and cooperate with her. So, I earnestly shared everything I knew about my work with her, and when I was done, she shared her thoughts. I learned some things from her fellowship and felt that’s a wonderful way to do a duty. After that, I’d seek her out to discuss our duty, and we’d seek the truth and fellowship on newcomers’ issues together. After a while of this, my state improved and my performance in my duty improved. I’m so grateful to God. And I’ve seen how practicing the truth in my duty, working well with others and supporting each other is blessed by God!