In Letting Go of Status, I Am Liberated
By Hao Li, China
I took on a leadership position in the church in August 2019. I remember one time right after I’d wrapped up my fellowship in a gathering, Sister He said to me, “Your fellowship was really enlightening, and it can really help me with my problem.” Sister Li chimed in and agreed with her. Seeing the looks of respect and admiration in their eyes, I was thrilled, and thought, “Being chosen as leader out of so many other church members must be because I’m a cut above the other brothers and sisters. Otherwise, why would they have elected me?” And so, since I successfully addressed some problems in gatherings, the others liked being around me, and they’d seek me out for fellowship when they had struggles. I felt like I was well qualified as leader. I couldn’t help but feel a little high and mighty, and I loved that sense of being valued and admired by others.
One day when I went to a deacons’ gathering like always, Sister Wu mentioned that she’d been living within her arrogant disposition lately and always wanted to have the final say among those who worked with her. She knew that being that way wasn’t right, but she just couldn’t seem to stop. She asked us to share some fellowship to help her out. Just as I was about to start, Sister Han, our gospel deacon, jumped in and started talking, and shared some of her experience related to. I noticed that Sister Wu was listening intently, and even smiling, listening and nodding her head. The sight of this made me really uncomfortable, and I thought, “I’m the leader here, and this should be my problem to deal with. Why are you snatching it away from me? Isn’t that making it look like I don’t know how to handle it? Now you get center stage instead of me. No way, I won’t let you steal my thunder, otherwise everyone will think that as a leader, I’m not even a match for a deacon. I need to change the topic right away.” So without a second thought to whether Sister Wu’s problem had been satisfactorily addressed, as soon as the words were out of Sister Han’s mouth, I jumped in: “The central work in God’s house right now is sharing the gospel and bearing testimony for God. Let’s discuss our gospel work. Now our focus is on helping everyone understand the significance of spreading the gospel and shouldering a burden in that regard …” As I spoke, I kept an eye on Sister Wu’s expression, and didn’t feel settled until I saw that she was listening to me attentively. But to my surprise, as soon as I finished, Sister Han followed up with some approaches to take in sharing the gospel. In fact, what she was saying was very clear and it was something that hadn’t occurred to me. But when I saw the brothers and sisters engrossed in what she was saying, listening and nodding their heads, I felt really miffed and like it was an embarrassment for me. I was indignant, and thought, “I’m the leader, and you’re a deacon. How am I supposed to get my work done after you gain the upper hand this way? If everyone starts looking up to you, who will give me a second thought?” At this thought, I cut her off sternly, and started to share my own fellowship. It was a really awkward moment. That afternoon, Sister Wu mentioned that there was a lack of people working on watering. I was just about to respond, but before I could open my mouth, Sister Han started talking about her own experience in resolving shortages of people and suggested some approaches to take. Just then I saw that Sister Wu once again nodding from time to time and I felt really jealous. I thought, “I’m the leader. I should be the one sharing fellowship and arranging this work. There’s no need for you to do it. You think I don’t know how to fellowship with her? You seem to think you’re really capable, and you’re just blindly showing off.” I got really angry with Sister Han, thinking, “I should nitpick at her work so she can see that she’s not so great after all. Then she won’t be showing off so much.” So then I asked her, “Sister Han, the gospel work of the groups you’ve been managing hasn’t been very fruitful. Is it that you haven’t put your heart into it?” At this question, Sister Han looked a little awkward, then responded with, “Sister, I can accept that. I’ll give it some thought and sum up why it hasn’t been very successful, and reflect on myself.” Seeing her looking uncomfortable, I felt pretty pleased with myself, and I quickly followed up with, “Alright, then put together a summary of why it’s not going well after our fellowship and make some changes. As a co-worker, you need to set a good example and actively cooperate. Otherwise, how will the brothers and sisters be motivated?” In response, Sister Han nodded her head a little stiffly. Seeing her quietly hanging her head, I felt smug and thought, “How about those airs you were putting on just now, as if I were no match for you? Now you’re not looking so great. Happy now?” So I regained my sense of importance, speaking with authority once again and making arrangements for other work. It was already dark by this point, and Sister Wu and I had other tasks to discuss that evening. I’d originally wanted Sister Han to stay and listen in, but then I was worried she would take the spotlight from me again. Wouldn’t that make me look incapable? I figured I would just have her go home. I told Sister Han she could go ahead and leave. She grudgingly nodded her head, then got her stuff together and left. When I saw her walking off with an unhappy look on her face I did feel a little guilty. The next morning on my way to a gathering, I reflected on my state over the past couple of days. I felt like I’d been a little unreasonable in my attitude toward Sister Han the previous day. Her fellowship on the truth was pretty good. I was irritated when she took center stage so I did everything I could to hold her back. I figured she had probably looked upset when she left because she was feeling constrained by me. But at the time I just gave it a passing thought and didn’t reflect any further. I just let it pass.
After a few more days passed, I mentioned the way I’d acted toward Sister Han to Sister Li, who worked alongside me. She dealt with me, saying, “This is an antichrist disposition and you should look for words of God to resolve it. When you, as a leader, squeeze out and suppress someone who surpasses you, that is unacceptable! Won’t the more talented members of God’s house be done in with you at the helm?” Hearing this was gutting for me, and only then did I realize the gravity of the issue. On my way back home, I considered what Sister Li had said over and over again, and thought back over my interactions with Sister Han and what I’d revealed. I’d ostracized her so that she wouldn’t come out ahead of me. Wasn’t I holding her back? That was doing evil! The more I thought about my behavior, the more afraid I felt, and I quickly came before God and prayed: “Oh God! Through Sister Li dealing with me, I’ve realized that suppressing and ostracizing Sister Han was me revealing an antichrist disposition! With such an important duty, if I don’t resolve this disposition, who knows how much evil I’ll commit! God, this is such a frightening disposition. I want to change—please guide me.”
I read this in God’s words after that: “One of the most obvious characteristics of the essence of an antichrist is that they are like despots running their own dictatorship: They do not listen to anyone, they look down on everyone, and what anyone else says, does, the insights they have, their viewpoint, their strengths—in their eyes, they are all inferior to them. It seems to them that no one is fit to participate in what they want to do, nor are they qualified to be consulted, or to give suggestions—that is the kind of disposition of an antichrist. Some people say this is being of poor humanity—how could it just be commonplace poor humanity? This is entirely a satanic disposition; this kind of disposition is supremely fierce. Why do I say that their disposition is supremely fierce? Antichrists think of the work of the house of God, including the interests of the church, as entirely their own, as their personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. And so the only things they think about when doing the work of the house of God are their own interests, their own status and prestige. They reject anyone who, in their eyes, is a threat to their status and reputation; they suppress and ostracize them. They even exclude and suppress people who are useful and suitable for performing certain special duties. They do not give the slightest consideration to the work of the house of God, nor to the interests of the house of God. If anyone may be a threat to their status, does not submit to them, does not pay them any mind, then they exclude and suppress them and keep them at a distance. They do not allow them to be their partner, and would never permit them any significant position, any important role, within their scope of power. No matter what good deeds these people do—deeds that are of benefit to the house of God—the antichrists will try their hardest to cover these deeds up. They will even twist the facts to claim the credit for good things and push wrongdoing onto others; they stop the brothers and sisters from seeing other people’s strengths and virtues, to prevent these people from being commended and endorsed by the brothers and sisters and threatening their position. What’s more, the antichrists also fabricate lies and exaggerate the facts among the brothers and sisters, speaking ill of people to bring them down, finding excuses to exclude and repress them no matter what work these people do; so, too, are they judgmental about them, saying they are arrogant and self-righteous, that they like showing off, that they harbor ambitions. In fact, these people all have strong points, they are all people who love the truth, and are worth nurturing. Only minor faults are found in them, occasional manifestations of corrupt disposition; they all have relatively good humanity. Overall, they are suitable for performing a duty, they accord with the principles for those who perform a duty. But in the eyes of the antichrists, they think, ‘There’s no way I’m going to put up with this. You want to have a role within my domain, to compete with me. That’s impossible, don’t even think about it. You’re more capable than me, more articulate than me, more educated than me, and more popular than me. What would I do if you stole my thunder? You want me to work alongside you? Don’t even think about it!’ Are they considering the interests of the house of God? No. All they are thinking about is how to preserve their own status, so they would rather harm the interests of the house of God than use these people. This is exclusion” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). I saw from God’s words that the main hallmark of an antichrist disposition is seeing power as our very life, always wanting a monopoly in our duty, wanting to take charge. The moment someone threatens our status and power or surpasses us, we don’t hesitate to compromise the work of God’s house, excluding and holding them back. Reflecting on myself since taking on a leadership duty, I hadn’t been focused on what my responsibilities in my duty were and how I should do practical work, but on the prestige my status brought me. I didn’t want anyone to outperform me. Sister Han’s fellowship on the truth resolved Sister Wu’s problem. That shows she assumed a burden, and that’s a positive thing, but I wasn’t happy that Sister Wu’s state was improved. Instead, I was afraid Sister Han would look better than me, and that I would lose my place in the others’ hearts, that they wouldn’t look up to me anymore. I tried everything to take Sister Han down a notch, deliberately changing the subject when the others approved of her fellowship, and exploiting my status and authority to nitpick at issues in her work. I intentionally made things difficult for her and made her look bad and wouldn’t let it go until the others didn’t look up to her anymore. I realized that in order to consolidate my position, I’d even repress and lash out at a pursuer of the truth. Wasn’t using such an evil, despicable tactic revealing the disposition of an antichrist? Then, I thought of an antichrist the church had kicked out just a few days before. His manifestations were constantly suppressing and rebuffing people who expressed different opinions, or who were better at something, giving no thought to the work of God’s house. He ended up being expelled for doing all sorts of evil. Reflecting on everything I’d done to Sister Han, I realized, wasn’t I on the same path as that antichrist? Then I finally saw how incredibly evil my antichrist disposition was.
I read this in God’s words later: “No matter what you do, whether it be important or not, there should always be people there to help you, to give you pointers, advice, and to assist you with things. This way, you will do things more correctly, it will be harder to make mistakes, and you will be less likely to go astray—which is all to the good. Particularly today, serving God is no small matter. Not resolving your corrupt disposition could put you in danger! The antichrists are stupid, they don’t realize this, they think, ‘I had enough trouble getting hold of my own authority, why would I share it with anyone else? Giving it to others means I won’t have any for myself, doesn’t it? How can I stand out if I don’t have authority?’ They don’t realize that what God imparts is duty; He does not bestow people with authority. Treating duty as authority is very dangerous. Today, it is God that you serve, and you work in the house of God—what does it mean? It means that you do not serve any person. If you worked for people, you’d get a salary, you’d receive a paycheck. But working for the house of God? Of course, to say that you are doing things for God is a little inaccurate; that’s going too far, it is a little exaggerated. Working in the house of God means accepting a commission, accepting a sacred responsibility—one that, whether large or small, is something serious. Just how serious is it? In minor terms, it concerns whether you are able to gain the truth in your lifetime, and how God sees you based on what you do. In major terms, it concerns your fate and destiny in the next life; everything you do in this lifetime is totaled up by God, who grades you, keeps a record, gives you an assessment—and after assessing you, based on what has been exhibited in you throughout your lifetime, God ultimately decides your end” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s words showed me that I needed to cooperate harmoniously with brothers and sisters and listen to their opinions in order to serve God’s will. Then I wouldn’t be likely to go astray. God gives everyone a different caliber and each person has their own understanding. A single person has limited experience and can only see things from one perspective. Achieving good results in our duty requires everyone’s cooperation, and that we all share the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination. That way we can make up for what each other lacks. Sister Han suggested some good approaches that perfectly made up for what I had missed. That was a good thing! But my status was more important to me than anything, so I just wanted to show off and get others to look up to me, to admire me. Seeing someone express a different opinion or surpass me, I just worked to exclude them and hold them back until everyone was cowed under my authority. I saw that by revealing this kind of behavior, I was living by Satan’s poisons like “In all the universe, only I reign supreme,” and “There can only be one alpha male.” I didn’t care if we had a good gathering or if the brothers and sisters could get their problems resolved. I didn’t even consider whether any harm might be done to the work of God’s house, or if Sister Han felt constrained or hurt. I saw how evil and despicable it was that I’d been living by these satanic poisons. I was serving as a church leader but failing to bring brothers and sisters before God, not helping them deepen their understanding of God. Instead, I wanted to take advantage of my duty to exercise control over them. Wasn’t that trying to wrest God’s people from Him? God’s disposition will tolerate no offense. I knew if I stayed on the antichrists’ path and didn’t repent, ultimately I would certainly offend God’s disposition and be eliminated. Thinking back one more time over how I’d treated Sister Han, I saw how shamefully I’d behaved. I saw how malicious my disposition was, how devoid of humanity I was. At that point, I felt sickened and despised myself. I wanted to seek a path of practice to resolve my satanic disposition as soon as possible.
I later watched a video of the reading of God’s.says, “There is a principle to God’s actions. He is protective of people, considerate of them, He loves them, and wishes the best for them; this is the source and original intention behind all that God does. Satan, meanwhile, flaunts itself, it forces things on people, then makes them worship it, people are duped and degraded by it, and little-by-little, they become living devils. Satan does not wish the best for people, it cares not whether they live or die, it thinks only of itself, of its own profit and satisfaction, it has neither love nor compassion, much less tolerance or understanding. Only God has these things. God has done so much work in man—but has He ever spoken of it, has He ever tried to explain Himself, to vindicate Himself? No. … God is humble and hidden, and Satan flaunts itself. Is there a difference? Could Satan be described as humble? (No.) Judging by its wicked nature and essence, it is a worthless piece of trash; it would be extraordinary for Satan to not flaunt itself. How could Satan be called ‘humble’? ‘Humility’ is said of God. God’s identity, essence, and disposition are lofty and honorable, but He never shows off. God is humble and hidden, He does not let people see what He has done, but as He works in such obscurity, humankind is unceasingly provided for, nourished, and guided—and this is all arranged by God. Is it hiddenness and humility, that God never divulges these things, never mentions them? God is humble precisely because He is able to do these things but never mentions or divulges them, does not discuss them with people. What right have you to speak of humility when you are incapable of such things? You didn’t do any of those things, yet insist on taking credit for them—this is called being shameless” (“They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Two)” in Exposing Antichrists). This passage of God’s words showed me how humble and hidden God is. He’s the Creator, constantly doing His work, guiding mankind and providing us with everything we need to survive, but He never positions Himself as God or shows Himself off. He particularly doesn’t demand that everyone look up to and admire Him. He just quietly, discreetly expresses the truth, working to save mankind. God’s essence is so lovable, so good! But I wanted to show myself off everywhere I went. Once I’d secured a leadership duty, I put myself on a pedestal that I refused to come down from. I wouldn’t listen to others’ ideas or let anyone outdo me. I was so arrogant! I was a leader, but I wasn’t helping others with their problems, instead ostracizing and stifling those who pursued the truth. I not only demanded their adoration, but completely deprived them of any edification or benefit whatsoever. I saw that I really knew no shame, I was lacking conscience and reason, and I was of despicable character. Realizing this, I rushed to come before God in prayer: “Oh God! Thank You for setting up an environment to expose my antichrist disposition in time so I could come to know myself, seeing what I really am and the wrong path I’ve been on. God, I want to repent to You, to take my rightful place and do my duty as I should. I hope for more of Your judgment and chastisement, to help me cast off this aspect of my corrupt disposition.” Then I went and met with every group to share Sister Han’s approaches with everyone, and then laid bare and dissected my expression of corruption in contending for status with her and my antichrist disposition. Putting this into practice made me feel very calm and at peace.
Before long, God set up another environment to test me. I was in a meeting with a few group leaders one day, including, Sister Yang, who was pretty outgoing. She seemed pretty energetic from the start and was actively engaged in responding to others’ questions. She was the focal point the entire time. At one point when Sister Liu and I were talking about how to split up gatherings for new believers, Sister Yang made a different suggestion the moment I was done talking. Even though I felt at the time that she was right, when I saw all the brothers and sisters agreeing with her and that everyone’s gaze had shifted to her, I felt like I’d lost face. I thought, “She’s been so animated throughout this entire gathering, actively engaging with everyone’s questions, being front and center. I’m playing a supporting role. I’m the leader, but aren’t I just like a prop?” As soon as this occurred to me, I realized I was vying for status again, fighting to take center stage. I quickly came before God and said a silent prayer to Him: “God, I can see that You set up this situation today. I’m willing to put myself aside and work well with Sister Yang. Please guide me to change this incorrect state of mine.” Just then, a passage of God’s words occurred to me: “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” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). This passage provided me with a path of practice. I thought to myself that I couldn’t keep fretting over my reputation and status, or contend for name with others. Sister Yang was right, so I should accept her suggestion. That would be best for the work of God’s house. Once she’d finished, I expressed my agreement and told the other brothers and sisters to proceed in accordance with her suggestion. I also let go of my resentment toward her. In that gathering, everyone openly shared their own opinions and it was a really productive meeting. I was so happy to see this, and really grateful for God’s guidance. I realized that cooperating well with others, not reined in by the strictures of status, is really very freeing.
After that, I saw how I’d been excluding and oppressing people to bolster my status and taking the path of an antichrist. I saw how I’d been living controlled by my satanic disposition and could have gone astray, doing evil and resisting God at any moment. Not pursuing the truth is incredibly dangerous! By God’s words’ judgment and the revelation of the facts, I clearly saw that I was on the wrong path and was able to change a little bit. I also authentically experienced how God truly is by our side, and as long as we wholeheartedly pursue the truth and work to resolve our corrupt dispositions, God will lead the way. Thank Almighty God!