Not Striving in My Duty Harmed Me
By Xiaowen, Spain
In 2018, I was working in the church as a video editor. At first, because I didn’t have a background in video editing and wasn’t familiar with the relevant principles, I studied hard and tried to master the relevant skills. After a while, my technical competency was much improved and I was selected as group leader. I was thrilled and was more than willing to work hard to fulfill my duty. Later on, a problem arose in one of our more complicated video projects, and my leader sent me to look into it and resolve the issue. Faced with a complicated workload and my weak skillset, I worked with the brothers and sisters to come up with solutions at first. But after a period of hard work during which things started to run more smoothly and my own technical skills improved, I began to get lazy. I thought to myself: “This project might not yet be running optimally, but it’s way better than it was before. I just need to keep things running like they are now. There’s no need to check in that often. It’s so tiring to be on edge all the time.” After that, I rarely looked into new skills and neglected to learn more about the job. A few times, there were problems with the videos I edited and the others advised me to improve my performance. Even though I knew they were right, I thought to myself: “I have enough work as it is. If I were to squeeze in more time for study―setting aside how tiring it would be―what if, after spending this extra time and energy, my results didn’t improve? Wouldn’t all that extra work be in vain?” So I didn’t pay any mind to the others’ advice. After that, my leader noticed that progress on our work was slow and asked me to identify what the problem was. My work partner reminded me again and again to resolve this issue. At the time, I was a bit resistant. I thought: “We might be progressing a little bit slowly, but we’re getting better results than before. We shouldn’t rush this.” But deep down I knew that if I went through and planned the work more carefully, there really was still more room for improvement. But every time I thought about the work stress I already had and how tiring it would be to spend even more time on this project, I put it off again. Later on, my leader brought up the problem with me twice more, and only then did I reluctantly review the situation. Ultimately, though, I still couldn’t find a suitable solution.
Afterwards, I wasn’t willing to put any thought into the group’s work or make sacrifices for progress. When I had free time, I just wanted to rest and even overslept on a few occasions, delaying our work. When running errands, I sometimes lingered outside, avoiding my duty for a time. During lulls in our work, I also didn’t think about how to improve my skills, resting while I had the chance instead. Just like that, I became lazier and lazier, just going through the motions while monitoring and assigning work. I almost never helped others examine mistakes in their work, and when problems arose, I didn’t want to put any thought into how to resolve them. As a result, we ended up procrastinating on videos that clearly could have been finished ahead of schedule. During that time, problems continually arose in the videos I edited and none of the brothers and sisters in my group improved in their work. If even the slightest difficulty arose in the work, everyone would complain. Not only did I fail to solve this through fellowship, but I even went along with this complaining. Because I failed in my practical work and didn’t improve after my leader fellowshiped with me several times, I was soon dismissed from my position as group leader. After being dismissed I felt awful, so I prayed to God and reflected.
One day, during devotionals, I saw that God’s words said: “There are some people who are unwilling to suffer at all in their duties, who always complain whenever they encounter a problem and refuse to pay a price. What kind of attitude is that? It is a perfunctory one. What is the result of performing your duty perfunctorily, and treating it lightly? It is the poor performance of your duty, though you are capable of performing it well—your performance will not be up to standard, and God will not be satisfied with your attitude toward your duty. If you could have prayed to God, sought the truth, and put your whole heart and mind into it, if you could have been capable of such cooperation, then God would have prepared all for you in advance, so that everything would fit into place when you did it, and the results would be good. You do not need to exert much strength; when you spare no effort in cooperating, God will have already arranged everything for you. If you are wily and treacherous, if you are indifferent toward your duty, and always go astray, then God will not act; you will lose this opportunity, and God will say, ‘You are not good enough; you are useless. Go stand off to the side. You like being wily and treacherous, no? You like being lazy, and taking it easy, do you not? Well then, take it easy forevermore!’ God will give this grace and opportunity to someone else. What do you say: Is this a loss or a win? (A loss.) It is an enormous loss!” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). After reading God’s words, I thought back on my time as group leader. I saw that I had been just as God’s words revealed. I was disrespectful, irresponsible and sloppy towards my duty, unwilling to put in the effort. When I first started serving as group leader, I put in the time and effort, but once my skills improved and I achieved some results, I became complacent, resting on my laurels and always pandering to the flesh. I only ever thought about how to relax and have an easy go of it. I wasn’t willing to devote any effort to the work to make it better. Even when I clearly saw there were issues, I didn’t resolve them at once, and when others pointed them out, I ignored them. As group leader, when I saw others in the group complaining about their issues, not only did I fail to fellowship the truth to resolve their issues, I even went along with and agreed with them. It was as if no matter how much the video production work was delayed or how many problems people had, it had nothing to do with me. I just wanted to feel good and avoid tiring myself out. As a result, issues continually cropped up in the videos we produced that seriously delayed the production progress. I was trifling with a very important duty; for the sake of the comfort and ease of my flesh, I was willing to act perfunctorily, deceive God and others. Where was my reverence for God? God abhorred and despised such attitudes towards work. Thinking back on all the issues in my work, if I had just put the time in and made sacrifices, things wouldn’t have gotten that bad. But I was lazy and didn’t want to suffer or feel fatigue. As a result, I harmed the video production work. I was so selfish, despicable and unconscionable! I had become so degenerate and decadent and I didn’t even realize! God had orchestrated reminders for me and I still didn’t reflect and repent. How could I have been so numb and intransigent? Having realized all that, I felt guilty and sad. I really didn’t deserve to be a leader given how irresponsible and unconscionable I was. It was my own fault that I had been dismissed.
One day, during devotionals, I saw another passage of God’s words: “Take a person with a sense of responsibility, whenever they are told something or something is instructed to them, regardless of whether it is by a leader, worker, or the Above, they will always think, ‘Well, since they think this highly of me, I must handle this matter well and not let them down.’ Would you dare entrust a matter to such a conscientious and sensible person? The person you can entrust to handle a matter is someone you believe to be trustworthy and whom you think well of. You have a good opinion of this type of person, and you think highly of them. Particularly if the things they have done for you have all been carried out very conscientiously and have completely reached your requirements, you will think they are a person worthy of trust. Inside you will really admire and think highly of them. People are willing to associate with this type of person, to say nothing of God. Do you think God would entrust a duty man is obligated to perform to a person who is not trustworthy? (No, He would not.) What is God’s expectation of a person to whom He has allocated a particular task in the church? Firstly, God hopes that they are responsible and diligent, that they treat the task with great importance, and do it well. Secondly, God hopes they are a person who is worthy of trust, that no matter how long it takes them, and no matter how their environment changes, their sense of responsibility does not waver, and their character stands up to the test. If they are a trustworthy person, God is reassured. He will longer monitor or follow up on this matter because inside, God trusts them. When God gives them this task, they are sure to complete it without any slipups” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). Through God’s words, I learned that a person with humanity is responsible in their work, able to accept God’s scrutiny and able to stand fast in their duty, following through on their duties exactly according to principles, no matter what situation they find themselves in. This is the attitude we ought to have in our duties. Given that the church had assigned me to be in charge of its video work, at the very least I should have done what I could to the best of my abilities, and identified and resolved problems that occurred in the work in a timely fashion to ensure our work proceeded normally. But while I happily agreed to take on my duty, later on, I only cared about my own comfort and ease and didn’t do any practical work, even when others repeatedly prodded and exhorted me to. I held the title of “group leader” but didn’t get anything done, and failed to fulfill even the bare minimum of the duties I was assigned. As a result, I delayed the church’s video production work. I was truly unconscionable and unreliable! Based on how I’d acted, I should have been cast out long before. It was only through God’s mercy and tolerance that I was allowed to continue working in that group. At the time, I thought: “I’ve got to cherish this opportunity and do my utmost in my duty.” After that, I stopped being content with how things were in my duty and on top of completing work on the videos I was assigned, I kept looking for ways to increase my efficiency, pinpointed our issues, and reported them to the group leader in a timely fashion. I also discussed ways to solve problems with everyone else. Even though it was more tiring to work in this way, I felt much more peaceful and at ease, knowing I had fulfilled my responsibilities.
Soon after, the church leader saw that I’d improved and assigned me to oversee a video project. I cherished the opportunity to do this job and I wanted to give it my best effort. I checked in on the work every day and compiled all the issues we were having. When I noticed issues, I’d find a way of solving them right away and if I couldn’t resolve them, I’d consult and discuss with the group leader. But a little while later, when we were succeeding in our work and my skills had improved, my former laziness came creeping back in. I thought: “These days the work is all going according to schedule and there are no big issues. I should rest up a bit. If I work this much every day and have so much to worry about, it’ll eventually be more than I can handle.” As soon as I thought this, I became complacent, only going through the motions in my work, no longer worrying about improving my skills or resolving issues and errors, and not even bothering to check in with the others on the status of their work. Whenever I had any free time, I just wanted to relax and sometimes, during work or study, I watched amusing videos or dramas to pass the time. As a result, videos that could have been finished ahead of time were held up and my work performance began to go south. Those days, I was all dazed and muddleheaded. I lacked a clear thought-process in my video editing, didn’t enjoy reading God’s words and felt a darkness spreading within me. Also, when I prayed to God, I couldn’t feel His presence. Even though I knew that continuing in that way was dangerous, I still couldn’t control myself and I felt truly pained and tormented. At that time, I happened to see a passage of God’s words: “If believers are just as casual and unrestrained in their speech and conduct as unbelievers are, then they are even more evil than unbelievers; they are archetypal demons” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth). It was as if God’s words had revealed my precise situation. I had believed in God for many years, but I still failed to attend to my duties and sought leisure when I should have been working. This wasn’t just a lack of loyalty; I wasn’t even meeting the basic standards set for our work. In the secular world, one has to abide by the rules set by one’s company, and while at work, you have to do your job diligently and not slack off. But while doing my duty in the church, I didn’t even possess a basic sense of responsibility, and casually set my duties aside just to pander to my flesh. Given how wantonly and unrestrained I had acted, did I really deserve to be called a Christian? I wasn’t even providing a service in my duty, much less fulfilling my duty adequately. I hated myself for pandering to my flesh—why did I lack even the slightest bit of resolve to forsake my flesh? I thought of my brothers and sisters in China who would risk arrest and torture by the CCP before abandoning their duties, yet there I was doing my duty in a free and democratic country, having escaped from China, and I wasn’t even willing to put a little more thought into my work or make some sacrifices. I was acting like a complete good-for-nothing—I didn’t have the slightest bit of dignity or character. The more I thought about it, the more I felt ashamed to face God or the others. At that time, I began to reflect: “I already failed once before due to pandering to my flesh and shirking my duties. Why hadn’t I learned from my previous mistakes? Why was I so flighty and fickle in my work?” I prayed over and over to God asking Him to enlighten me so I could find the root cause of my issue.
One day, during devotionals, I came across these passages. “Why are people always undisciplined and lazy, as though they are sleepwalking through life? This has to do with a problem in their nature. There is a kind of laziness in human nature. No matter the task, people always need someone to monitor them and spur them on. Sometimes it is that people heed the flesh and lust after comforts of the flesh, always holding back. They are overly calculating, and are truly not good people. They always do less than their best, no matter what important duty they are performing. This is irresponsible and disloyal. I have said these things today to remind you not to be passive at work. You must be able to do whatever I say” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “False leaders do not do real work, but they know how to be an official. What is the first thing they do once they become a leader? They start trying to win people over. They take the approach of ‘a new manager must make a strong impression’: First they do a few things to win people over, they introduce a few things to make people’s lives easier, they try to make a good impression on people, to show everyone that they are in tune with the masses, so that everyone praises them and says they are like a parent to them, after which they officially take over. They feel that now they have popular support and their position is secure, it is right and proper for them to enjoy the trappings of status. Their mottos are, ‘Life is just about eating and dressing,’ ‘Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,’ and ‘Drink today’s wine today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.’ They enjoy each day as it comes, they have as much fun as they can, and they give no thought to the future, much less do they consider what responsibilities a leader should fulfill and what duties they should perform. They parrot a few words and phrases of doctrine and do a few tasks for appearance’s sake as a matter of course, but they do not do any real work. They do not try to delve into real problems in the church in order to completely solve them. What is the point in doing such superficial work? Is this not deceitful? Can serious responsibilities be entrusted to this kind of fake leader? Are they in line with principles and conditions of God’s house for selecting leaders and workers? (No.) These people don’t have any conscience or reason, they are devoid of any sense of responsibility, and yet they still wish to serve in an official capacity as church leader—why are they so shameless? Some people who have a sense of responsibility are of poor caliber, and cannot be leaders—and that’s to say nothing of human trash that has no sense of responsibility at all; they are even less qualified to be leaders. Just how lazy are such indolent false leaders? They discover an issue, and they are aware that this is an issue, but they treat it like nothing and pay it no mind. They are so irresponsible! They may be good talkers and seem to have a little caliber, but when various problems arise in the church, they are incapable of solving them. Though the church’s problems keep piling up and become like family heirlooms, these leaders do not concern themselves, yet they still insist on carrying out a few frivolous tasks as a matter of course. And what is the end result? Do they not make a mess of church work, do they not screw it up? Do they not cause chaos and fragmentation in the church? This is the inevitable outcome” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). Pondering over God’s words, I realized that the reason I was complacent and lacked initiative in my duty was because I was lazy and pleasure-seeking by nature. My mind was full of satanic philosophies like “Life is just about eating and staying warm,” “Drink today’s wine today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow,” and “Eat, drink and be merry, for life is short.” I lived according to these satanic fallacies, thinking that in this life on earth, I should enjoy myself. I couldn’t justify constant suffering and exhaustion. As a result, I was unable to persevere in anything I did. I took the smallest result in my work as capital and became complacent and decadent. It was just like my school years: Whenever I got good grades and was praised by my teachers and classmates, I wouldn’t want to continue putting thought and energy into my studies and would just want to have fun. I would stop caring about listening in class or doing my homework, but as soon as my grades started suffering and my parents and teachers got stricter with me, I’d intensify my studies and put in the effort until my grades came back up, at which time I’d get complacent again and want to go back to having fun. Those years, I was continually controlled by these decadent philosophies and became ever lazier, more dispirited and lacking in initiative. I was flighty and fickle in everything I did, wasn’t willing to suffer or sacrifice and was becoming less and less willing to put in the effort. Both in my previous role as group leader and my current role as a group member checking on work progress, I was equally lazy and lacking in initiative. I coasted as soon as I produced any results, wanted to alternate work with rest so I wouldn’t suffer losses and become exhausted. Even when I clearly knew there were issues in the work, I didn’t resolve them, preferring to waste away my time with petty amusements rather than sacrifice a little more of myself for my duty. I only did enough to keep up appearances and deceive and fob off my leader. I realized that not only was I lazy, I was also cunning and deceitful, wanting nothing more than to live my life in relaxation and ease. I had enjoyed so much of the watering of God’s words as well as God’s protection, but still failed to do even the bare minimum. Wasn’t I just an idling waste of space, a parasite in the church? Where was my humanity and rationality? I’m reminded of a line from the Bible that says: “And the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32). If I didn’t repent, even if the church didn’t cast me out for the time being, God scrutinizes all things, and the Holy Spirit would stop working within me. Sooner or later I would be cast out.
After that, through eating and drinking God’s words, I started to change my attitude towards my duty. God’s words say, “How you regard God’s commissions is extremely important, and this is a very serious matter. If you cannot complete what God has entrusted to people, then you are not fit to live in His presence and should be punished. It is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth that humans should complete whatever commissions God entrusts to them; this is their supreme responsibility, and is just as important as their very lives. If you do not take God’s commissions seriously, then you are betraying Him in the most grievous way; in this, you are more lamentable than Judas, and should be cursed. People must gain a thorough understanding of how to view what God entrusts to them and, at the very least, must comprehend that the commissions He entrusts to humanity are exaltations and special favors from God; they are most glorious things. Everything else can be abandoned; even if one must sacrifice one’s own life, he must still fulfill God’s commission” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature). “Man must pursue to live out a life of meaning, and should not be satisfied with his current circumstances. To live out the image of Peter, he must possess the knowledge and experiences of Peter. Man must pursue things that are higher and more profound. He must pursue a deeper, purer love of God, and a life that has value and meaning. Only this is life; only then will man be the same as Peter. You must focus on being proactive toward your entry on the positive side, and must not submissively allow yourself to backslide for the sake of momentary ease while ignoring more profound, more specific, and more practical truths. Your love must be practical, and you must find ways to free yourself from this depraved, carefree life that is no different from an animal’s. You must live out a life of meaning, a life of value, and you must not fool yourself or treat your life like a toy to be played with. For everyone who aspires to love God, there are no unobtainable truths and no justice for which they cannot stand firm. How should you live your life? How should you love God, and use this love to satisfy His desire? There is no greater matter in your life. Above all, you must have such aspirations and perseverance, and should not be like those who are spineless, those who are weaklings. You must learn how to experience a meaningful life and experience meaningful truths, and should not treat yourself perfunctorily in that way” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment). Through God’s words I realized that the value and meaning of life are found in doing one’s duty as a created being. If you’re always seeking comfort and ease, lack initiative and are sloppy in your duties, this is a betrayal of God, and He curses and abhors such behavior. I thought of how Peter diligently sought to love and satisfy God his whole life, always holding himself strictly to God’s words and trying to improve. He always endeavored to practice the truth and satisfy God, ultimately being crucified upside down and bearing a resounding testimony. Then there’s Noah. After accepting God’s commission, he worked for 120 years to construct the ark, never balking even when faced with countless difficulties and enormous suffering, striving endlessly until the ark was finished. Comparing myself to how Noah and Peter treated God and their duty, I felt incredible ashamed. I realized that I was both selfish and lazy and didn’t have the slightest bit of humanity. I didn’t have the slightest sense of responsibility towards my duty, I was sloppy, and I procrastinated. As soon as more was asked of me or work got busy, I’d start complaining about being tired and would slack off and pander to my flesh even when prodded by my leader. I didn’t have the slightest reverence for God. I was no different from a nonbeliever! The way I was going about things, I’d ultimately only be doing myself in. But I always thought I was in the right and was satisfied with just putting in the smallest effort. I was so numb, foolish and ignorant. Even though I’d been doing my duty this way, God still hadn’t given up on me and gave me chances to repent. I couldn’t keep hurting God’s feelings through decadence. So I prayed to God, saying: “Dear God, I recognize that my nature is indolent and I lack humanity. I don’t want to keep living in this way. I want to earnestly seek the truth and fulfill my duty. Please scrutinize my heart.”
From then on, I put more time and energy into my duty, and even though my schedule was full most days, I still squeezed in some time to study and improve my technical skills. I also regularly summarized the problems in my work and ceaselessly strove to improve my skills. A little while later, I started getting better results in the videos I produced. I noticed that when I shared what I’d learned with my brothers and sisters it seemed to be helpful for them as well. I felt really peaceful and at ease. It was a bit more work to fulfill my duty in this way, and there was less time to rest, but I didn’t feel tired or as if I were suffering. In fact, I felt much more lucid and energized—nothing like before when I’d gone through every day muddle-headed and scatterbrained. It also became easier to see any problems in our work and through fellowship with my brothers and sisters and God’s enlightenment, we resolved many issues in a timely manner. But because I’d been corrupted too profoundly by Satan, its philosophies of indolence still affected me from time to time. When I started getting good results, I once again became a bit complacent and wanted to pander to my flesh. Once, while inspecting one of our videos, I noticed an action film come up in my feed. I thought: “It’s been so stressful at work recently—it won’t hurt to watch a little bit and let off some steam.” As I watched, I suddenly realized that I was back to my old tricks. I thought of a passage of God’s words. “You wanted to be careless and sloppy when you performed your duty. You tried to slack off, and tried to avoid God’s scrutiny. At such times, hurry before God to pray, and reflect on whether this was the right way to act. Then think about it: ‘Why do I believe in God? Such sloppiness might get past people, but will it get past God? What’s more, my belief in God is not to slack off—it is in order to be saved. My acting thus is not the expression of normal humanity, nor is it beloved by God. No, I may slack off and do as I please in the outside world, but now I am in the house of God, I am under the sovereignty of God, under the scrutiny of God’s eyes. I am a person, I must act according to my conscience, I cannot do as I please. I must act according to God’s words, I must not be careless and perfunctory, I cannot slack off. So how should I act to not slack off, to not be careless and perfunctory? I must put some effort in. Just now I felt it was too much trouble to do it thus, I wanted to avoid hardship, but now I understand: It may be a lot of trouble to do it like that, but it is effective, and so that is how it should be done.’ When you are working and still feel afraid of hardship, at such times you must pray to God: ‘Oh God! I am lazy and deceitful, I beg You to discipline me, to reproach me, so that I have a feeling in my conscience, and a sense of shame. I don’t want to be careless and perfunctory. I beg You to guide and enlighten me, to show me my rebelliousness and my ugliness.’ When you pray thus, reflect and try to know yourself, it produces a feeling of regret, and you are able to hate your ugliness, and the wrong state in your heart begins to change, and you are capable of contemplating this and saying to yourself, ‘Why am I careless and perfunctory? Why am I always slacking off? Acting thus is devoid of any conscience or sense—am I still someone who believes in God? Why don’t I take things seriously? Should I not put in a little more time and effort? It’s no great burden. This is what I ought to be doing; if I can’t even do this, am I fit to be called a human being?’ As a result, you make a resolution and swear an oath: ‘Oh God! I have let You down, I truly am too deeply corrupted, I am without conscience or sense, I have no humanity, I wish to repent. I beg You to forgive me, I will surely change. If I do not repent, I would that You punish me.’ Afterward, there is an alteration in your mentality, and you begin to change. You act and perform your duties with conscientiousness, with less carelessness and perfunctoriness, and you are now able to suffer and pay a price. You feel that performing your duty in this way is wonderful, and your heart is peaceful and joyous. When one can accept God’s scrutiny, when they can pray to Him and rely on Him, their state is soon changed” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Treasuring God’s Words Is the Foundation of Belief in God). After pondering God’s words, I found a way forward. I was indolent by nature, preferred comfort and leisure, and was not willing to suffer. On my own, I wouldn’t be able to resolve this issue; I had to pray to and rely on God and accept His scrutiny. The next time I wanted to pander to my flesh and slack off, I should pray to God right away and ask Him to discipline and chasten me. Only then would I be able to forsake my flesh and do my duty well. So I told God about my state in prayer and asked for Him to discipline me. After my prayer, a sudden calm came over me and I continued reviewing the video, carefully considering principles and looking up relevant information. When I was thinking over my work, I could feel God’s guidance and I was able to quickly identify issues in the video and devise a way to resolve them. Through that experience, I gained more confidence in dealing with my laziness. I saw that I just had to truly rely on God and accept His scrutiny in my work. If I started pandering to my flesh again, I could rely on God to consciously restrain myself. In that way, I’d have the strength to prevail and peacefully fulfill my duty.
These days, even though I still often have this corrupt desire for comfort and ease, I know that as long as I follow God’s words and ceaselessly practice them, I will ultimately cleanse myself of this corrupt disposition and achieve transformation.
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