My State of Mind in a Behind-the-Scenes Duty
By Wu Yan, China
In late June of 2021, because the Communist Party was arresting Christians like crazy, my host home was being monitored. I moved out right away, but it was highly likely the police were watching me, too, so I had to hide at home to work. I was responsible for some groups’ watering work at the time. My workload was increasing and some things just couldn’t be done by writing letters, and it wasn’t as effective as face-to-face communication. So, in accordance with the needs of the work, the leader appointed Sister Wang as my partner.
She didn’t know the brothers and sisters very well at first, so before every gathering I’d touch base with her on the issues that needed to be addressed to help her be more effective. Then I found out that a group member, Sister Li, was always being slipshod in her duty. She hadn’t changed after several fellowship sessions and it was holding up our work. Based on the principles, she needed to be dismissed right away. And so, I put together a document explaining the situation and the principles of dismissing people for Sister Wang to look over and shared my opinion with her on why Sister Li needed to be dismissed, so she could be really thorough in her fellowship with her to benefit Sister Li in reflecting and learning about herself. Sister Wang went to dismiss her the next day. She told me about how it went when she came home later that day, but didn’t mention me a single time through the entire thing or say that I’d helped her gain discernment or handle the problem. I was a bit disappointed. I felt like no one else knew about what I was doing behind the scenes. I wondered if they would think Sister Wang had grasped Sister Li’s state right away, that she had more discernment than me. Thinking about how much I’d done that no one knew about and which made Sister Wang look good was kind of upsetting for me.
A few days later in a work discussion with Sister Wang it came up that one group had been doing worse and worse. I couldn’t see the root of the problem, and she mentioned to me that there might be an issue with the group leader. Considering that and thinking about that group leader’s general behavior, I saw that she only protected her status and did tasks that would earn her face, but never did practical work, and that was really holding things up. Based on the principles she needed to be dismissed. I knew I couldn’t resolve the issue personally, and that I should share my understanding with Sister Wang so that she could better fellowship with the others, help them gain discernment, and get a new leader in place right away. But when I thought back on Sister Li’s dismissal, how I had been looking for principles and putting together the document, and how I had fellowshiped so much with Sister Wang but no one even knew, I felt that if I shared all my thoughts with her this time and she dismissed that group leader, the others would definitely think it was all her work. They’d think that after just a short time on the job she’d discerned two people who weren’t suitable that I hadn’t removed after being in that position of responsibility for so long. They’d think she had better discernment and understanding of the truth. I decided to keep some of my views to myself so Sister Wang’s fellowship wouldn’t be clear, the others wouldn’t admire her, and I wouldn’t look so bad. I felt kind of guilty at the time. If her fellowship wasn’t clear and the group leader didn’t understand her own issue, she could misunderstand and get negative, then not only would that impact her self-reflection, but it could also impact her duty later on. Also, playing games like this would be sure to disgust God. At that thought, I shared all my understanding with Sister Wang, but I began to feel bitter the moment that Sister Wang left to handle things. Why couldn’t I go out to take care of this work? Everyone saw Sister Wang dismissing people and discerning them, but who saw my efforts behind all that? I wasn’t too thrilled when I thought about how everything I’d been doing was just making Sister Wang look good and improving her image in the others’ eyes. I even complained about God putting me into such a bad situation. Why was He suddenly allowing me to be put under surveillance? It just so happened that a few brothers and sisters were writing to us about work issues then, and some specifically asked for Sister Wang to handle them. I was even more unhappy about that. I felt like everyone only saw Sister Wang, but didn’t see my work behind the scenes. If that went on, wouldn’t everyone say I was just a useless accessory? I felt that even though Sister Wang was out there running around, it wasn’t easy for me at home, either. No one could see all my hard work. I wasn’t happy about it and I wanted to think of a way to turn things around. Though I couldn’t go out and see the brothers and sisters in person, I could write letters to arrange tasks to prove I was doing plenty of work, and that I was front and center. That would solidify my image in other people’s minds. Just then, we got letters from a few groups about some routine church affairs that needed arranging. I wrote back about details to set them up and wrote very clearly about when Sister Wang would go so that everyone would know I was the one arranging all this, that I was calling the shots. One day, I wanted to write to a sister, asking her how she was doing, but after I wrote the letter, I wondered if she’d know that I was the one who had written the letter. If I didn’t leave some clue, she might think it was Sister Wang who was concerned for her. That wouldn’t do. I had to make sure that sister knew it was me writing. But saying that outright would be too obvious. Then I suddenly remembered that not long before, I’d recommended a (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Deceive, Draw In, Threaten, and Control People). I saw from that antichrists are constantly showing off. Everything they say and do is just to gain others’ admiration, and just a covert attempt to gain status. Considering God’s words and reflecting on the disposition I had revealed, wasn’t I just like an antichrist? I felt wronged when Sister Wang dismissed those two sisters without mentioning me at all. I felt like it had mainly been me who had discerned them, but the credit had all gone to Sister Wang in the end. She had been the only one to show her face and no matter how much I did, no one would see it. Nobody would know it if I kept doing things silently, which was extremely vexing. I was racking my brains and going to great lengths to show myself off, so that the brothers and sisters would admire me and I’d have status in their eyes. It looked like I was just writing letters arranging work, but really, I was covertly trying to remind everyone not to forget about my existence, and that Sister Wang was just doing some work on my behalf, but I was primarily responsible. Under the pretense of helping a sister with her state, I acted like I cared about her, to remind her of my existence and gain her admiration without letting her see my own despicable motives. I had such a cunning and evil disposition! The reality is that without God’s revelation and guidance, I never would have known those two sisters weren’t fit for their duties. Also, plenty of damage had been done to the work by the time they were dismissed. That was particularly true for that group leader. Without Sister Wang mentioning it, I wouldn’t have discerned it and would have kept her in place. I hadn’t been doing my work well, and not only did I lack any sense of guilt, I was shamelessly demanding credit and using despicable means to show off and gain status, to make everyone look up to me. I was so incredibly shameless!to that sister, so I could ask her if she’d been learning it and this way she might know it was me. With that idea, I quickly finished the letter and sent it off. I saw from the response that the sister knew I was the one who wrote it and I was so happy. I felt like I could still make myself look good even from behind the scenes and get the others to see I had realities and was able to resolve problems. So in this way, I never really saw that I wasn’t in the right state. A sister telling me about her own state was a warning for me. She told me, really distressed, that some study documents she’d worked really hard on were sent out by her partner, so she felt like her partner had robbed her of credit for her work, and she felt less enthusiasm for her duty. Hearing this was a real shock for me. Hadn’t I been living in the very same state lately? I wasn’t seeking the truth to resolve it either. Could God have been setting up that situation as a warning to get me to self-reflect and learn about myself? So, I looked for words from God to resolve the state I was in. I read this passage. “When antichrists act, they do so with intention. Their language, actions and even the words they choose are all very intentional. They aren’t momentarily exposing their corruption, of small stature, or ignorant and foolish people who spout nonsense wherever they go. That is not the case with such people. When we look at their techniques, their ways of doing things, and their choice of words, we can see that antichrists are cunning and evil. For the sake of their own status, to achieve their goal of controlling people, antichrists flaunt themselves at every opportunity they get, without ever letting a single chance pass them by. Do you think such people will reveal these behaviors before Me? (Yes.) Why do you say they do? (Their nature and essence is to flaunt themselves.) Are the antichrists merely flaunting themselves? What is their goal in flaunting themselves? They are asking for status. What they mean to say is, ‘Don’t You know who I am? Look at the things I’ve done, I did this good thing, and I made significant contributions to God’s house. Since You are aware of this, shouldn’t You give me more important work? Shouldn’t You think highly of me? Shouldn’t You be relying on me for whatever You do?’ Do they not have a goal here? Antichrists want to control everyone, no matter who they are. What is another way of describing control? It is manipulating others and toying with people, trying to govern what they do. For example, when the brothers and sisters praise something for being done well, the antichrists immediately say they did it, so that everyone thanks them. Would a genuinely reasonable person do this? Absolutely not. When antichrists perform even the slightest good deed, they try to let everyone know, so that everyone will look up to them and praise them. This is what satisfies them”
Then there was a passage of God’s words I read. “Those who are capable of putting the truth into practice can accept God’s scrutiny when doing things. When you accept God’s scrutiny, your heart is set straight. If you only ever do things for others to see, always want to gain others’ praise and admiration, yet you do not accept God’s scrutiny, then is God still in your heart? Such people have no reverence for God. Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; do not consider the interests of man, and give no thought to your own pride, reputation, or status. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have been loyal, fulfilled your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of the church. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently and figure them out, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). God’s words are so right. Accepting God’s scrutiny is key to practicing the truth, and we can’t care what people think, but just care about satisfying God and performing our duty. Reading God’s words gave me a path of practice, so in my later letters and fellowship with others, I always made an effort to have the right motives and accept God’s scrutiny instead of using the letters to gain others’ admiration and gain a place in their hearts. I thought of all those letters that Paul wrote to the churches. He never exalted or bore witness to the in them and he didn’t urge believers to follow the Lord Jesus’ words. He just elevated and bore witness to himself, talking about how much he’d worked, how much he’d suffered. He said “I was not a whit behind the very most chief apostles” (2Co 11:5), and brought people before himself, on a path against God. The letters I was writing to brothers and sisters didn’t exalt or bear witness to God either, but I was indirectly showing off. Wasn’t I essentially doing the same thing as Paul? I knew that if I didn’t repent, I’d end up cast out and punished just like he was. Realizing this, I said a prayer to God: “God, I’m too concerned with my status. I don’t want to be controlled by it and do something to harm the work of God’s house. Whether I get to stand out or not, I just want to steadfastly perform my duty.”
Over the next few days, I consciously corrected my motives, often reminding myself that the church’s interests are most important, and to do my duty well. Then one day, we received a resignation letter from Brother Chen saying he wanted to quit because he wasn’t getting along well with his partner. We’d known a little bit about his issue before. Mainly, he was too arrogant and obstinate, so he didn’t work well with others. Sister Wang had already fellowshiped with him a few times but he hadn’t changed. When he suddenly resigned this way, it seemed like it would be difficult for us to resolve this problem. When Sister Wang and I discussed his issues, I shared my own perspective and found a few relevant passages of God’s words. Sister Wang also felt like this was appropriate fellowship. At that point it occurred to me that no matter how useful my fellowship was, she was the one who would actually speak to him. Who would know that it was my effort behind the scenes, and that I was taking the lead? That made me want to stop fellowshiping with Sister Wang, but knowing that God was scrutinizing all my thoughts and ideas, I felt a bit troubled. Why did I always want to protect my own name and status? I read a passage of God’s words that helped me understand the consequences of going after status. (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part One)). I always used to think that pursuing name and status only impacted a person’s life entry and as long as we don’t commit great evil, we won’t disrupt the church’s work. I didn’t understand why God detests and despises pursuing name and status so much. Reading God’s words showed me that going after personal status in my duty, and not protecting the interests of God’s house is sure to harm the church’s work and the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry in the end. It will obstruct and disrupt the church’s work, and that is condemned by God. When discussing Brother Chen’s problem, I didn’t want to fellowship anymore because I couldn’t be in the limelight. It didn’t seem like a big thing, but it really was serious. If we delayed fellowshiping with Brother Chen on his issues, it wouldn’t just hurt his life entry, it would also impact the work of watering newcomers. Holding responsibility, I should have helped out right away with someone struggling in their duty to keep the church’s work on track. Particularly with the Communist Party doing so many arrests, Sister Wang was risking arrest every single time she went out for a gathering. If she wasn’t adequately prepared, she wouldn’t be able to resolve issues in the gatherings, which would mean she might not be effective in work despite the risk she was taking. Wouldn’t that be terrible for her? I wasn’t thinking about how to resolve the problems as soon as possible or about Sister Wang’s safety. I was solely preoccupied with her potentially stealing my thunder. I was so selfish and lacking humanity! I had responsibility but wasn’t doing practical work. I was even protecting my own status at the expense of the work of God’s house. That was resisting God, and I was on the path of an antichrist. I’d been solely responsible before, and I did my best no matter how hard or tiring it was. But because of the Party’s arrests, I couldn’t go out anymore—I could only work from behind the scenes. I was reluctant about doing my duty, always wanting to vie with Sister Wang for the limelight. I then realized that all my enthusiasm in my duty before was all just for name and status. That situation was revealing my wrong motives and pursuits. It was entirely God’s salvation and love for me.says, “If someone says they love the truth and that they pursue the truth, but in essence, the goal they pursue is to distinguish themselves, to show off, to make people think highly of them, to achieve their own interests, and the performing of their duty is not to obey or satisfy God, and instead is to achieve prestige and status, then their pursuit is illegitimate. That being the case, when it comes to the work of the church, are their actions an obstacle, or do they help move it forward? They are clearly an obstacle; they do not move it forward. All who wave the banner of doing the work of the church yet pursue their own personal prestige and status, run their own operation, create their own little group, their own little kingdom—is this kind of person performing their duty? All the work they do essentially interrupts, disrupts, and impairs the work of the church. What is the consequence of their pursuit of status and prestige? First, this affects how God’s chosen people eat and drink God’s word and understand the truth, it hinders their life entry, it stops them from entering the right track of faith in God, and leads them onto the wrong path—which harms the chosen ones, and brings them to ruin. And what does it ultimately do to the work of the church? It is dismantlement, interruption and impairment. This is the consequence brought about by people’s pursuit of fame and status. When they perform their duty in this way, can this not be defined as walking the path of an antichrist?”
I thought some of God’s words later that gave me more clarity on a path of practice. God’s words say, “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). “What must one do to perform their duty well? One must come to perform it with all their heart and all their energy. Using all one’s heart and energy means keeping all one’s thoughts on performing their duty and not letting other things occupy them, and then applying the energy that one has, exerting the entirety of one’s power, and bringing one’s caliber, gifts, strengths, and the things they have understood to bear on the task. If you are comprehending and acceptant and have a good idea, you must communicate with others about it. This is what it means to cooperate in harmony. This is how you will perform your duty well, how you will achieve satisfactory performance of your duty. If you wish always to carry the whole load and take on everything yourself, putting yourself on display instead of others, are you performing your duty? What you are doing is called autocracy; it is putting on a show. It is satanic behavior, not the performance of duty. No one, no matter their strengths, gifts, or special talents, can take on all the work themselves; they must learn to cooperate in harmony if they are to do the church’s work well. That is why harmonious cooperation is a principle of the practice of performing one’s duty. As long as you apply all your heart and all your energy and all your faithfulness, and offer up everything you can do, you are performing your duty well” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). I saw from God’s words that to do our duty well, we must consider God’s heart and cooperate with our brothers and sisters. We have to put our all into it and use our strengths to make up for each other’s weaknesses. That’s how we can gain God’s blessings and attain good results in our work. I also saw that it didn’t matter which one of us resolved problems in person. As long as others’ states and difficulties could be resolved, even if my effort was invisible and behind the scenes, doing my duty and satisfying God would bring me reassurance and peace. After that I gave some thought to what truths I should fellowship for Brother Chen’s state and found some relevant words of God for Sister Wang to review. She also found some passages that were really incisive on Brother Chen’s state and that I hadn’t thought of. Together, these things were even more comprehensive. I thought of how Moses was so tongue-tied, and Aaron was so eloquent, but they carried out God’s commission together, leading the Israelites out of Egypt. I wasn’t able to go out for work, but I could clearly fellowship with Sister Wang about everything I saw and thought. Working together, we had a more comprehensive view of issues, so we could resolve them better. Isn’t that more beneficial to the church’s work? Sister Wang went to fellowship with Brother Chen after we’d discussed everything. I was praying for them in my heart, hoping God was guiding them.
Then one day, we got a letter from some brothers and sisters. The letter said that through Sister Wang’s fellowship, they’d been able to correct some errors and were doing better in their duties. I was a little disappointed after reading that. I felt like I’d discovered those errors and issues, but all everyone saw was just Sister Wang’s work. No one saw what I was doing behind the scenes. Then it came to me that I was vying for name and gain again, so I prayed and forsook myself. Later on, I read a passage of God’s words in an essay that was really moving for me. God’s words say, “You may be of little strength, but if you are capable of working with others, and are able to accept suitable suggestions, and if you have the right motivations, and can protect the work of God’s house, then you are a right person. Sometimes, with a single sentence, you can solve a problem and benefit everyone; sometimes, after you fellowship on a single statement of the truth, everyone has a path to practice, and is able to work harmoniously together, and all strive toward a common goal, and share the same views and opinions, and so work is particularly effective. Although no one might remember that you played this role, and you might not feel as if you made much effort, God will see that you are a person who practices the truth, a person who acts according to the principles. God will remember your having done so. This is called fulfilling your duty faithfully” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). It’s true. Though no one could see my work behind the scenes, I was fulfilling my responsibilities before God. It didn’t matter if other people knew. Practicing the truth and satisfying God are what matters. As a supervisor, it was my duty and what I should do to talk to the others when I noticed errors and issues. That was not something I should take credit for. Before, I’d always tried to show off in front of others, but now I could only work from behind the scenes. That was God’s arrangement, and it was what I needed. I had to submit to it, put myself to good use, focus on practicing the truth in my duty, and strive to do my duty well.
When I noticed problems in our work after that, I’d take the initiative to reach out to Sister Wang. Sometimes when I wrote to brothers and sisters about issues, I wanted to make a point to show that it was me writing, but realizing I was covertly elevating myself and showing off, I’d pray and let go of my incorrect motives. I would calm myself and think about what I could write that would help the others and how I could fulfill my own responsibilities. Practicing in this way really brightened my heart and felt really freeing. It’s such a great way to conduct myself!