My Story of Working With a New Believer

February 9, 2024

By Ouzhen, Myanmar

In April of 2020, I was selected to serve as a church deacon. At first, I was quite nervous and worried I would do poorly, but thanks to my brothers’ and sisters’ help and support, I gradually grasped some principles and was able to do some work. Later on, I was selected as a church leader and supervised even more work. Sometimes my upper leader would have high praise for me. For example, he’d say he wouldn’t have to worry when assigning me work whereas he’d have to supervise others given the same assignment. This made me come to think I was doing quite well. Later on, a brother named Christopher that I had watered was selected as a church leader. Christopher had just average caliber, but he liked spreading the gospel and got decent results. I was happy he was selected as it reflected my own prowess, given that I had watered and cultivated him.

In June of 2022, I went to a village to check up on the gospel work. Christopher wasn’t able to attend in person due to safety concerns, and so he partnered with me remotely. He would ask me about my situation in the village, and this would help us identify issues and rectify them in time. But, at the time, I thought because he was new to the faith and had just become a leader that he would be incapable of doing work. I had been a leader for two years and had grasped some principles; what’s more, I had watered Christopher myself, so I didn’t want to partner with him and didn’t want him to participate in the work I supervised. One day, Christopher sent me a message: “What are your plans for the village going forward? Let’s have a discussion when you have time.” Seeing that message, I felt a bit resistant: “It’s only been a few days and you’re already asking about my work progress? It doesn’t go that quickly. After all, this isn’t my only project.” I didn’t want to discuss the matter further with him, so I just replied: “I’ve just arrived and haven’t started planning yet.” He replied: “Then you should start planning as soon as possible.” When I saw his message, I thought: “Can this project really be successful if I let someone with less caliber than me and less experience act as my partner?” I was not happy about the whole thing. After that, when Christopher would come to get updated on my work progress, I just wanted to ignore him. I barely discussed work with him at all, feeling that it was pointless to do so and that, in the end, I would have to do it all myself. So I arranged all the work in the village myself. One time, Christopher sent me a message that said: “There are a few newcomers in a neighboring village that won’t spread the gospel for fear of being arrested. They used to be highly motivated, but recently they’ve stopped attending gatherings. Could you go give them some support?” When I saw his message, I thought: “I don’t need you to tell me that. Obviously, they need my support, but I don’t have time now. That village is pretty far away too, it’s not as easy as just getting up and going. In the end, I’m the one that’s going to end up going there anyway, not you. You don’t really do anything, anyway, so there’s no point in discussing with you. I have my own ideas and plans for these projects; and I’ll proceed according to my own schedule, I don’t need your guidance and checking-in.” So I responded saying: “I haven’t had time to go yet. The newcomers work during the day, and schedules haven’t lined up.” Christopher wrote back a one-line response, saying: “Oh, alright then.” At that time, I felt he was feeling constrained by me. With anyone else, he would have inquired further into work details, but he didn’t dare do so after I responded. After that, I basically stopped discussing work with Christopher, and when he tried to schedule a meeting with me, I’d always say: “I’m busy with other work. We can meet later when I have time.” Even when I did have free time, I didn’t seek him out and would just go do other work. Gradually, the brothers and sisters in the three teams I supervised weren’t able to partner harmoniously, and they would just work on their own and rarely discuss with each other. The atmosphere during our gatherings was less lively than other churches, and we got poor results in our gospel work. I had some self-awareness at the time that it was because I hadn't partnered with Christopher, and that God was reminding me through it, but I just made excuses for myself. I wasn’t avoiding partnering with him, I’d say, I just had other work to do and didn’t have much time to discuss with him. After that, I continued to work on my own. One time, Christopher invited me to meet with the supervisors of the three teams to summarize and fellowship on the problems we were having in our duties. Referencing God’s words, Christopher said: “God’s words say that when we encounter hangups in our duties, we should pause to summarize any issues and identify any deviations. Currently, we are not partnering harmoniously, everyone works on their own, we are not of one mind, and we haven’t truly supported the brothers and sisters, which has led to progress stalling in our work. Going forward, we should communicate and discuss more and work together to get the job done well.” He and the others also fellowshiped on good methods of practice that other churches had adopted, but I didn’t feel like listening and kept practicing in my own way. As a result, the work I supervised didn’t produce any results for a full three months. Later on, five officials from the village I was living in came to question me, attempted to search my phone and warned me saying that if they caught me spreading the gospel in the village they’d send me to the district government and let them deal with me. I was a bit struck by what had happened and thought: “Why would this happen? These few months I’ve had poor results in my duty and rarely discussed work with Christopher—is God using this situation to remind me to take lessons from these setbacks? If I don’t reflect and rectify my issues, I might not be performing this duty for much longer.”

One day at the end of August, I met online with a few co-workers to discuss whether I should leave that village. A team leader asked me: “You haven’t had any results in that village for the last three months, why do you think that is?” I said I wasn’t sure. The team leader then said: “Shouldn’t you reflect a little bit on this issue? The brothers and sisters have been saying you act arbitrarily and don’t partner with others. You aren’t available when they seek you out to discuss work. We had you go to this village to motivate the brothers and sisters and promote the gospel work, but you haven’t done what you were supposed to do.” Another team leader said: “If you haven’t got done what you were assigned to do then you should come back!” I could feel my face going red and each of their words was like a gut punch. In that moment, I just wanted to crawl into a corner. I felt so wronged: I wasn’t completely refusing to cooperate and it wasn’t completely my fault we weren’t getting results. The government was persecuting us heavily and I was in charge of other projects as well. How could they say I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do? The team leader asked if I had any ideas, but I didn’t know what to say, so I just replied, saying: “I’ll head back then.” Then I quickly ended the call. After hanging up, I collapsed on my bed and burst into tears. The team leaders’ words kept replaying in my mind: “What are you still doing there if you haven’t done what you were supposed to do?” and “If you haven’t got done what you were assigned to do then you should come back!” The more I thought, the more depressed I became. During the next few days, I continually prayed to God and my leader fellowshiped with and supported me. This allowed me to quiet my thoughts and reflect on my state during that time. I thought, “I’ve been doing everything on my own recently. I looked down on Christopher and wouldn’t discuss work with him. When he tried to talk to me about work, I’d always say I was busy. In reality, I just didn’t want him to participate in my work. I was clearly mired in my corrupt disposition and delaying work, but when pruned and dealt with, I argued back and lacked even the slightest bit of reason.” I thought of how the brothers and sisters said I acted arbitrarily in my duty and didn’t discuss work with others—this was a very serious problem, so I looked for a relevant passage of God’s words to read. Almighty God says, “On the surface, it may seem like some antichrists have assistants or partners, but when something actually happens, no matter how right others may be, antichrists never listen to what they have to say. They don’t even take it into account, much less discuss it or fellowship about it. They don’t pay any attention at all, as if others may as well not be there. When antichrists listen to what others have to say, they are merely going through the motions or performing an act for others to witness. It is the antichrist’s final decision that must still be obeyed; anyone else’s words are wasted breath, they don’t count at all. For example, 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, and 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, partners simply aren’t partners. Whenever there is a problem, the antichrist thinks it over, and once they have decided on a course of action, they inform everyone 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? Fundamentally it is to have the final say, never discussing problems with anyone else, taking sole responsibility for the work, and turning their partners into window dressing. They always act alone and never cooperate with anyone. They never discuss or communicate about their work with anyone else, they often make decisions alone and deal with issues alone, and in many things, other people find out how things were finished or handled only after the deed is done. 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 partners have no use at all, and are just decoration or window dressing. When something happens, they think it over, make up their own mind, and act 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. Given this, does anything real come from their partnership with others? Not at all, they are just going through the motions and acting a part. Others say to them, ‘Why don’t you fellowship with everyone else when you come across a problem?’ 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 other people having no opinion or not being able to think for themselves as excuses to obfuscate the fact that they are acting as a law unto themselves. And this is not followed by the slightest introspection. It would be impossible for this kind of person to accept the truth. This is a problem with the antichrist’s nature(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). God exposes how antichrists act arbitrarily, do not cooperate with others, make decisions on their own, always have the final word, don’t discuss work with their partners, and just go ahead after deciding by themselves. They do not adopt good suggestions made by others and often disparage others, thinking they have brilliant ideas. In the eyes of antichrists, partners are little more than background noise or props on a set. I realized that I was acting like an antichrist: Ever since I started partnering with Christopher, I looked down on him for his poor caliber, inferior work skills and comparative lack of experience. I didn’t want him to participate in my project. I thought that I had served as a leader for longer than him, understood more than him, and could arrange the work for myself; I felt that he couldn’t provide any good suggestions, so it was meaningless to discuss with him. When he asked me about my plans for the work, I was resistant and felt that he made himself seem like my superior by asking about my progress right away, so I just ignored him. When some brothers and sisters didn’t dare do their duty for fear of being arrested and Christopher asked if I’d supported them, he was just carrying out his responsibility, and yet I arrogantly thought, “Who did he think he was ordering me around when he couldn’t resolve the issue himself?” Later on, when we gathered to summarize issues, the brothers and sisters shared some paths of practice, but I didn’t adopt them. Because I acted arbitrarily, didn’t partner with others or take their suggestions, I continually failed to get results in my duty. I always performed my duty according to my own beliefs, doing whatever I thought right, didn’t partner with others at all, which resulted in delays to the work. I was doing evil! Reflecting on this, I was able to accept the team leaders’ direction and dealing. My behavior had already negatively influenced the church’s work. If they hadn’t dealt with and pruned me like that, I wouldn’t have reflected on myself or recognized how serious my problem was. Pruning and dealing are forms of God’s love!

Afterward, I came before God in prayer and seeking why I couldn’t partner with others in my duty and always had to have the last word. Later, I found a passage of God’s words that really spoke to my state. Almighty God says, “You may have performed your duties for several years, but there has been no discernible progress in your life entry, you merely understand a few superficial doctrines, and have no true knowledge of the disposition and essence of God, no breakthroughs to speak of—if this is your stature today, what will you be liable to do? What outpourings of corruption will you have? (Arrogance and conceitedness.) Will your arrogance and conceitedness intensify, or remain unchanged? (They will intensify.) Why will they intensify? (Because we will think ourselves highly qualified.) And on what basis do people judge the level of their own qualifications? On how many years they have performed a certain duty, on how much experience they have gained, is it not? And with this being the case, will you not gradually start thinking in terms of seniority? For example, a certain brother has believed in God for many years and performed a duty for a long time, so he is the most qualified to speak; a certain sister has not been here long, and although she has a little caliber, she is not experienced in performing this duty, and hasn’t believed in God for long, so she is the least qualified to talk. The person who is most qualified to speak thinks to themselves, ‘Since I have seniority, that means my performance of my duty is up to standard, and my pursuit has reached its peak, and there is nothing I should strive for or enter into. I have performed this duty well, I have more or less completed this work, God should be satisfied.’ And in this way they begin to grow complacent. Does this indicate they have entered the truth reality? They have stopped making any progress. They have still not gained the truth or the life, and yet they think themselves highly qualified, and talk in terms of seniority, and wait for God’s reward. Is this not the outpouring of an arrogant disposition? When people are not ‘highly qualified,’ they know to be cautious, they remind themselves not to make mistakes; once they believe themselves to be highly qualified, they grow arrogant, and start to have a high opinion of themselves, and are liable to be complacent. At such times, are they not likely to ask for rewards and a crown from God, as Paul did? (Yes.) What is the relationship between man and God? This is not the relationship between the Creator and created beings. It is nothing more than a transactional relationship. And when that is the case, people have no relationship with God, and God will likely hide His face from them—which is a dangerous sign(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only With Fear of God Can One Tread Upon the Path of Salvation). God exposes how if someone doesn’t pursue the truth and come to know themselves, they will think they have capital and experience after performing a duty for some time and will start asserting their seniority, looking down on others, swelling with arrogance, failing to seek the truth principles and partner with others in their duty, acting arbitrarily, doing things as they please and walking a road of resistance to God. From the time I entered the faith, I always performed a duty and had been a leader for two years. I thought that I had been in the faith for a long time, had good work skills and had some work experience, so I became arrogant. I was more than happy to cultivate others and check up on their work, but I was displeased when Christopher became my partner and began participating in my work. I kept thinking that I was the one who had watered and cultivated him, that his caliber was inferior to mine, and that he was just starting and didn’t have much experience, so I didn’t want him to be a part of my work. When he asked me if I had supported the newcomers and what my work schedule was, I became fed up and would just answer him perfunctorily. I didn’t think it was necessary to discuss with him, and even if I did, he wouldn’t have any worthwhile suggestions. I could do it without him, I thought, and so I didn’t discuss or partner with him and made most decisions and arrangements myself. I saw him as a mere prop. God demands that we learn to partner with others in our duties, this is a key principle for performing our duties, but I ignored God’s demand and the principles of God’s house. I always thought I was fine on my own, could do the work myself and didn’t need to partner with anyone else. I thought I could handle all of it and didn’t need anyone to supervise my work. How arrogant and conceited I was! My arrogant disposition led me to have no regard for others and no space for God in my heart. I didn’t have a God-fearing heart and was walking a path of antagonism toward God. When I first arrived in the village, I was full of faith and wanted to fulfill my duty to satisfy God. I never thought things would go like they did. How could I have been so arrogant and numb? I didn’t have the slightest awareness of the mistaken path I was walking. If I kept on like that, I would become an antichrist that disrupted God’s work and would ultimately be exposed and cast out by God, after which my life of faith would be over. Realizing all this, I felt a bit afraid and silently prayed to God: “Oh God, I have disrupted the church’s work. Now I recognize my corruption and the severity of my issues. I want to repent and do not want to resist You with my corrupt disposition.”

I also reflected on what I had gotten wrong in my tendency to focus on people’s caliber and work experience in our interactions. What was the most important aspect of my duty? As I struggled with these questions, I came across another passage of God’s words. God’s words say: “In God’s house, no matter what you do, you are not working on your own enterprise; it is the work of God’s house, it is God’s work. You must constantly bear this knowledge and awareness in mind and say, ‘This is not my own affair; I am doing my duty and fulfilling my responsibility. I am doing the church’s work. This is a task God entrusted to me and I am doing it for Him. This is my duty, not my own private affair.’ This is the first thing people should understand. If you treat a duty as your own personal affairs, and do not seek the truth principles when you act, and carry it out according to your own motives, views, and agenda, then you will very likely make mistakes. So how should you act if you make a very clear distinction between your duty and your own personal affairs, and are aware that this is a duty? (Seek what God asks, and seek principles.) That’s right. If something happens to you and you don’t understand the truth, and you have some idea but things still aren’t clear to you, then you must find brothers and sisters who understand the truth to fellowship with; this is seeking the truth, and before all else, this is the attitude you should have toward your duty. You shouldn’t decide things based on what you think is appropriate, and then slam the gavel down and say case closed—this easily leads to problems. … God is not concerned with what happens to you each day, or how much work you do, how much effort you put in—what He looks at is what your attitude toward these things is. And what does the attitude with which you do these things, and the way you do them, relate to? It relates to whether or not you pursue the truth, and also to your life entry. God looks at your life entry, at the path that you walk. If you walk the path of pursuing the truth, and you have life entry, you will be able to cooperate harmoniously with others when you perform your duties, and you will easily perform your duties in a way that is adequate(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?). God’s words are quite clear. Doing our duty in God’s house does not entail doing our own thing as we please with no involvement of other people. Our duty is part of the work of God’s house, and if we act arbitrarily and do not cooperate, we’re liable to disrupt and disturb the work. I also learned that God does not measure people based on how long they’ve been in the faith, how much work they’ve done, or how much experience they have in their duty, but rather based on their attitude toward the truth, their orientation in their duty and whether they walk the path of pursuing the truth. If I didn’t seek the truth, didn’t accept good suggestions from others, and had to always have the last word, I would not get good results in my duty. I always took my supposed caliber and my having been a leader for a while and having experience as capital. I thought that with these qualifications, I’d fulfill my duty well. In truth, having that experience and caliber didn’t mean I had truth principles; they were just tools I could use in my duty. I realized I took experience and caliber as the truth principle and thought that I understood the truth and acted according to principle. I became increasingly arrogant, looked down on brothers and sisters and did whatever I pleased. As a result, after three months of work, I didn’t produce any results at all. I realized that to do one’s duty well, it doesn’t matter how long one has been a believer, how much one has previously contributed, or how much experience one has. What’s key is to seek the truth, act according to principle and partner harmoniously with others.

Later on, I read another two passages of God’s words that gave me a clearer path of how to partner harmoniously with others. God’s words say: “Harmonious cooperation involves many things. At the very least, one of these many things is to allow others to speak and make different suggestions. If you are genuinely reasonable, no matter what kind of work you do, you must first learn to seek the truth principles, and you should also take the initiative to seek the opinions of others. As long as you take every suggestion seriously, and then work together to resolve problems, you will essentially achieve harmonious cooperation. This way, you will encounter far fewer difficulties in your duty. No matter what problems come up, it will be easy to solve and deal with them. This is the effect of harmonious cooperation. Sometimes there are disputes over trivial matters, but as long as these don’t affect the work, they will not be a problem. However, on key matters and major matters involving the work of the church, you must reach a consensus and seek truth to resolve them. … You must let go of leadership titles, let go of the filthy air of status, treat yourself as an ordinary person, stand on the same level as others, and have a responsible attitude toward your duty. If you always treat your duty as an official title and status, or as a kind of laurel, and imagine that others are there to serve your position, this is troublesome, and God will despise and be disgusted with you. If you believe that you are equal to others, you just have a little more of a commission and responsibility from God, if you can learn to put yourself on an even footing with them, and can even stoop to asking what other people think, and if you can earnestly, closely, and attentively listen to what they say, then you will work in harmony with others. What effect will this harmonious cooperation achieve? The effect is huge. You will gain things you never had before, which are the light of truth and the realities of life; 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 no one is quite as ordinary as you think, that everyone can offer up different thoughts and ideas, and that everyone has things to teach you. If you learn to harmoniously cooperate, beyond just helping you learn from the strengths of others, it can reveal your arrogance and self-righteousness, and avoid you imagining you are clever. When you no longer consider yourself smarter and better than everyone else, you will cease to live in this narcissistic and self-appreciative state. And that will protect you, will it not? Such is the lesson you should learn from and the benefit of working with others(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part One)). “Do you think anyone is perfect? No matter how strong people are, or how capable and talented, they still are not perfect. People must recognize this, it is fact, and it is the attitude that people should have to correctly approach their own merits and strengths or faults; this is the rationality that people should possess. With such rationality, you can properly deal with your own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others, and this will enable you to work alongside them harmoniously. If you have understood this aspect of the truth and can enter this aspect of the truth reality, then you can get along harmoniously with your brothers and sisters, drawing on their strong points to offset any weaknesses you have. In this way, no matter what duty you are performing or what you are doing, you will always get better at it and have God’s blessing(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). From God’s words, I realized that in partnership, we should stand on the same level as others and learn to listen to them closely and actively ask about what we don’t understand. Practicing in this way we can discover the strengths of brothers and sisters and areas in which they are stronger than us. Then we won’t look down on them and will stop being so self-satisfied and arbitrary in our behavior. We also should have a clearer understanding of ourselves and stop holding ourselves aloft. We have to learn to identify other people’s strengths and have the right attitude toward their weaknesses. Looking back, despite having served as a leader for two years, I wasn’t talented at spreading the gospel and needed support when checking up on gospel work. As for Christopher, he hadn’t been in the faith for long, but he had always spread the gospel, got great results and had converted many people. He had more experience when it came to spreading the gospel, and so I should have actively sought his help. Also, Christopher was very responsible in his duty, bore a burden in his work, actively sought me out to summarize our work and would implement good practices from other churches. These were all strengths that I could learn from. I used to be too arrogant and I couldn’t recognize Christopher’s strengths, I even looked down on him. I didn’t accept his suggestions and didn’t let him participate in my work. I was nothing and yet I was so self-assured—how embarrassing. I didn’t have the slightest bit of self-awareness. Had I been able to cooperate well with Christopher before, the work wouldn’t have been delayed. Thinking back, I felt so regretful. My past transgressions were irredeemable, but I was willing to do my duty well going forward. I would discuss and communicate with others when facing issues, prioritize the church’s interests, learn to partner with others and stop going down that old path.

Later on, I left the village. I was assigned different projects and received a new partner. This time I was partnered up with Sister Mina. I was happy to partner with her harmoniously to get our duties done well. Later on, I slowly began to notice that even though Mina was older than me, she hadn’t been in the faith or done her duty for as long as I had. As for how to oversee and check up on work, she was still lacking. Sometimes, I would also hear the brothers and sisters bringing up certain problems of hers. My arrogant disposition began to reemerge. I began to think I was the key role in our work and Sister Mina was just there to practice. One time, when we had to write a work proposal, our leader specifically told us that we should discuss the work together, but I thought to myself: “This isn’t a hard assignment, I could easily handle it myself and there’s no need for both of us to work on it. It’s not like I can’t do it myself.” After the gathering, I had wanted to just go ahead on the work by myself, but Mina called me right away and I knew she’d want to have a discussion. I really didn’t feel like it though, so I didn’t pick up the phone. Afterward, I felt a bit guilty. I thought about how my arrogance and unwillingness to partner with Christopher had obstructed work previously, if I continued on like that, it would certainly affect our work. So I prayed to God, saying: “Oh God, Mina proactively sought me out to discuss work, but I was arrogant and didn’t want to partner with her. God, I don’t want to continue acting arbitrarily and disturbing the church’s work, Please guide me to stop living by my arrogant disposition so that I may partner with Mina harmoniously.” I then recalled a passage of God’s words: “You must achieve harmonious cooperation for the purpose of the work of God, for the benefit of the church, and so as to spur your brothers and sisters onward. You should coordinate with one another, each amending the other and arriving at a better work outcome, so as to care for God’s will. This is what true cooperation is, and only those who engage in it will gain true entry(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Serve As the Israelites Did). God’s words deeply impacted me. To do my duty well, I had to learn to partner with Mina harmoniously and stop living by my arrogant disposition and acting arbitrarily. With that, I called Mina and discussed our work arrangements going forward. Mina shared her ideas with me and I found them to be quite good, so I ended up implementing them. In no time, we had put together a plan much faster than I had previously been able to on my own. I was really happy. It wasn’t some big achievement, but it felt great to forsake myself and practice according to God’s words. After that, I learned to partner with other brothers and sisters, and I found that we got better results in our work with every passing month. I gave thanks to God in my heart!

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