The Pain Brought by Reputation and Status
By Fangxiang, China
In March of last year, I was promoted to a group leader and was in charge of the watering work for several groups. At the time I thought that because I was selected as a group leader, I must have better caliber than my brothers and sisters. This made me very happy, but I was also a bit worried. I had never been in charge of any work before—if I couldn’t resolve my brothers’ and sisters’ problems, and couldn’t manage the work well, what would my brothers and sisters think of me? It would be so embarrassing to be replaced because I couldn’t handle the duty. Despite being a little worried, I knew that this was God’s commission and I should accept it from God and submit, so I accepted the duty. Seeing that I was still unfamiliar with the work, my co-worker sister first put me in charge of just two groups. When I thought about how I had to gather with the other brothers and sisters, I got so nervous. In the past, my main duty was watering. If my fellowship was a little superficial or I didn’t fulfill my duties adequately, this was considered fairly normal. But now I was a group leader and was expected to fellowship the truth to resolve my brothers’ and sisters’ states, as well as help them through any problems or difficulties they were having in their duties. Only then would people approve of me and say I was a talented worker. If I was unable to resolve their problems, they would inevitably look down on me, and have a lowered opinion of me. Thinking of all of this, I felt less sure of myself and thought it would be better to continue fulfilling my previous duty. At least then my inadequacies wouldn’t be so thoroughly exposed, and I could preserve some face. For the next few days, I kept getting distracted while thinking about all this. During gatherings, I couldn’t quiet down my heart. I kept worrying that my brothers and sisters would look down on me if I didn’t fellowship well, and the more I worried, the more nervous I became. I couldn’t see to the root of my brothers’ and sisters’ problems or help resolve them, and I was even scared to go to gatherings. I was incredibly distressed, so I came before God in prayer many times, asking that He guide me to better understand my state. It was then that I saw a passage of; it was from “To Resolve One’s Corrupt Disposition, One Must Have a Specific Path of Practice.” “All corrupted humans suffer from a common problem: When they have no status, when they are ordinary brothers and sisters, they do not put on airs when interacting or speaking with anyone, nor do they adopt a certain style or tone in their speech; they are simply ordinary and normal, and do not need to package themselves. They do not feel any psychological pressure, and can fellowship openly and from the heart. They are approachable and are easy to interact with; others feel that they are very good people. However, as soon as they attain status, they become high and mighty, as if no one can reach them; they feel that they deserve respect, and that they and ordinary people are cut from different cloths. They look down on ordinary people and stop fellowshiping openly with others. Why do they no longer fellowship openly? They feel that they now have status, and are leaders. They think that leaders must have a certain image, be a bit loftier than ordinary people, and have more stature and be able to assume more responsibility; they believe that compared to ordinary people, leaders must have more patience, be able to suffer and expend more, and be able to withstand any temptation. They even think leaders cannot cry, no matter how many of their family members might die, and that, if they do have to cry, they must do it in secret, so that no one can see any shortcomings, defects, or weakness in them. They even feel that leaders cannot let anyone know if they have become negative; instead, they must hide all such things. They believe this is how one with status should act. When they repress themselves to this extent, has status not become their God, their Lord? And this being so, do they still possess normal humanity? When they have these ideas—when they put themselves in this box, and put on this kind of act—have they not become enamored with status?” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words revealed to me how I was unable to live freely because I was bound and constrained by status and reputation. Before I became a group leader, I would always discuss work and talk through problems with everybody. I thought that since we were all brothers and sisters, we all had more or less similar stature, and so I didn’t worry about what others thought of me and was able to be open and free. But as soon as I became a group leader, I suddenly thought that since I had a higher status than my brothers and sisters, I must understand more of the truth than them, so I was only doing my job if I was able to resolve every one of their problems and difficulties. Before I even attended a gathering, I worried that if I couldn’t resolve my brothers’ and sisters’ problems, they’d look down on me. To avoid making a fool out of myself in front of them, I didn’t even dare attend any gatherings. I was deeply anguished and distressed. I put myself on a pedestal and couldn’t let go of my status. Reflecting on this, I realized that I was too preoccupied with my reputation and status. I was always trying to look good in front of everyone and as soon as I was in danger of having my weaknesses exposed, I would package and disguise myself. I took my promotion as a sign of status, not as a commission and duty given by God. I wanted to use status to build myself up and win the admiration of my brothers and sisters. I was so lowly and shameful!
I prayed to God in my heart, telling Him I was willing to forsake these bad intentions and notions. Then, a passage of God’s word came to mind. “What God requires of people is not the ability to complete a certain number of tasks or accomplish any great undertakings, nor does He need them to pioneer any great undertakings. What God wants is for people to be able to do all they can in a down-to-earth way, and live in accordance with His words. God does not need you to be great or honorable, nor does He need you to bring about any miracles, nor does He want to see any pleasant surprises in you. He does not need such things. All God needs is for you to steadfastly practice according to His words. When you listen to God’s words, do what you have understood, carry out what you have comprehended, remember what you have seen, and then, when the time is right, practice as God says, so that God’s words may become what you live out, and become your life. Thus, God will be satisfied. … Performing a duty isn’t actually difficult, nor is it hard to do so devotedly, and to an acceptable standard. You don’t have to sacrifice your life or do anything problematic, you merely have to follow the words and instructions of God honestly and steadfastly, without adding your own ideas or running your own operation, but walking the right path. If people can do this, they basically have a human semblance. When they have true obedience to God, and have become an honest person, they will possess the likeness of human being” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). Through God’s words, I saw that God doesn’t ask that much of us—He doesn’t demand a certain amount of work or accomplishments, or that we become some kind of omnipotent superhuman. He just wants us to be true created beings, practically fulfilling our duties according to His demands. When God elevated me with this group leader duty, He didn’t want me to chase after reputation and status, He wanted me to accept His commission and practically pursue the truth. If I met with any difficulty in my duty, I should take it upon myself to pray to God and rely on Him to find a path of resolution. In gatherings with brothers and sisters, I should only fellowship as much as I understand, and, if I was unclear on something, I should just be honest with them and seek a solution together. Only then could I gain God’s guidance. Once I understood God’s intentions, I had the confidence to take on my duty. During gatherings with my brothers and sisters, I consciously prayed to God, didn’t worry about face or status, and was able to be open about my corruption with my brothers and sisters. During discussion, I could feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit and was able to discover some problems. I was also able to apply that guidance to real situations and make suggestions. I still had a lot of flaws and inadequacies, but I found some ways forward through discussion with everybody and felt much more liberated. I saw that if I set the right intention, focused on my tasks, and fulfilled my duty in a practical way according to God’s demands, I would gain His guidance.
Three months later, I was put in charge of a few more groups. The mere thought of fellowshiping for so many brothers and sisters at gatherings made me feel so nervous. Each group had a different situation, and I’d never met any of the brothers and sisters in these groups and wasn’t acquainted with their situations. If I went and wasn’t able to resolve their issues, would they look down on me and say I couldn’t resolve practical problems and wasn’t cut out to be a group leader? To gain everyone’s approval, I spent hours and hours reading God’s words to arm myself with truth, but when it came time for the gathering, I was still a nervous wreck. Early on, when I went to a gathering, I was extremely anxious and all my facial muscles tightened up. I didn’t want my brothers and sisters to notice, so I pretended that I was calmly looking up God’s words on the computer, but in my heart I was frantically praying to God, beseeching Him to help me calm down. I asked a few brothers and sisters about their states and difficulties, and after fellowshiping I realized that everyone had a different problem, and would need fellowship with different passages of God’s words. This really threw me off—if I could find passages that applied to and could help everyone’s state, then everyone would be happy and I’d look good, but if I couldn’t find anything, it would be a very dull gathering. How awkward! The more nervous I became, the less clearly I could think. A lot of time went by and I still couldn’t find an appropriate passage of God’s words. Actually, I wanted to open up in fellowship with my brothers and sisters and search for good passages together, but I also worried that I’d make a fool out of myself if I, a group leader, couldn’t find an appropriate passage. When this occurred to me, I just couldn’t get myself to open up and finally had no choice but to just randomly select a few passages of God’s words that weren’t really relevant to my brothers’ and sisters’ states. No one fellowshiped after reading God’s words and I didn’t feel the least bit illuminated. In the end, I just gave some forced fellowship based on doctrinal knowledge, but the atmosphere was terribly awkward. The gathering was a failure and ended like that. I returned from the gathering to hear my co-worker sister excitedly chatting about her takeaway from a different group gathering, but I was all frowns and felt so distressed I could barely catch a breath. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like I wasn’t cut out for this duty, and I just wanted to quit. In utter misery, I prayed over and over to God: “Dear God! I feel so miserable. I’m always so preoccupied with status and reputation, I don’t know how I should fulfill this duty, nor do I have the will to strive harder. I pray that You guide me to understand myself and extricate myself from this negative state.”
In my seeking, I found a passage of God’s words that reveals the nature and substance of antichrists and was deeply moved. God’s words say, “And so for antichrists, status and prestige are their life. No matter how they live, no matter what environment they live in, no matter what work they do, no matter what they strive for, what their goals are, what their life’s direction is, it all revolves around having a good reputation and a high station. And this aim does not change; they can never put it aside. This is the true face of the antichrists, and their essence. You could put them in a primeval forest deep in the mountains, and still they would not forsake status and prestige; you can put them among a group of ordinary people, and all they think about is still status and prestige. Once they acquire faith, they see their own status and prestige as tantamount to the pursuit of faith in God; which is to say, as they walk the path of faith in God, they also pursue their own status and prestige. It can be said that in their hearts, they believe that faith in God and the pursuit of the truth is the pursuit of status and prestige; pursuit of status and prestige is also the pursuit of the truth, and to gain status and prestige is to gain the truth and life. If they feel that they have no prestige or status, that no one admires them, or venerates them, or follows them, then they are very frustrated, they believe there is no point in believing in God, no value to it, and they say to themselves, ‘Is such faith in God a waste of time? I haven’t been blessed, have I?’ They often deliberate such things in their hearts, they deliberate how they can carve a place out for themselves in the house of God, how they can have a lofty reputation in the church, so that people listen when they talk, and offer their aid when they act, and follow them wherever they go; so that they have a voice in the church, a reputation, so that they enjoy benefits, and have status—they often ponder such things. These are all what such people pursue” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Two)). I compared this with my own state and behavior and saw how obsessed I was with reputation and status. I always wanted to make a name for myself and feel recognized. In fulfilling my duty, I was only concerned with winning admiration and building up my own image. God had no place in my heart. I had shown myself to have an antichrist’s disposition. From the moment I was promoted to a group leader, I began thinking of myself as someone with status—I put myself on a pedestal and was so afraid that if I couldn’t resolve practical issues and lost the respect of my brothers and sisters, I’d lose my title as well as my perceived status and image in their eyes. When dealing with my brothers’ and sisters’ issues, I didn’t know which passages of God’s words to use to resolve them and I wasn’t willing to open up and be honest, to seek and fellowship together. In order to safeguard my own status, I kept up appearances and disguised myself, giving forced fellowship based on doctrinal knowledge to make things less awkward without considering if I had really resolved my brothers’ and sisters’ problems. And so the gatherings were all ineffective. I didn’t reflect on myself when these issues came up, but even became negative and wanted to quit when I lost face. I was so lacking in humanity! Having realized all this, I felt so regretful and so I prayed to God and was willing to repent and transform.
I also saw this passage of God’s words: “In sum, regardless of the direction you’re striving in, or the goal you’re striving for, regardless of how demanding you are of yourself about relinquishing status, as long as status has a certain place in your heart, and is able to control and influence your life and the goals you strive for, the changes in your disposition will be greatly compromised, and God’s ultimate definition of you will turn out to be a different story. What’s more, such pursuit of status affects your ability to be an acceptable creature of God, and of course affects your ability to perform your duty to an acceptable standard. Why do I say this? Nothing is more loathsome to God than when people pursue status, because the pursuit of status is corrupt disposition; it is born of the corruption of Satan, and in God’s view should not exist. God did not ordain that it should be given to man. If you are always competing and fighting for status, if you constantly cherish it, if you always want to seize it for yourself, does this not bear a little of the nature of antipathy to God? Status is not ordained for people by God; God provides people with the truth, the way, and the life, and ultimately makes them become an acceptable creature of God, a small and insignificant creature of God—not someone who has status and prestige and is revered by thousands of people. And so, no matter what perspective it is viewed from, the pursuit of status is a dead end” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). At first, the severity of God’s words made me a bit scared. I realized that nothing disgusts God more than people pursuing status. If one didn’t repent, it would eventually lead to personal harm and ruin. I had believed in God for many years, and had enjoyed so much of God’s grace and the supply of His words. Now He had also given me the opportunity to train as a group leader. He’d increased my burdens and allowed me to learn how to seek truth and principles through fulfilling my duties, enlightening me even further so that I could understand the truth and gain life entry. But I never considered how I should seek the truth to repay God’s love. I only ever considered my own reputation, profit and status. I was completely lacking in conscience and reason! In order to save deeply corrupted humanity, God incarnated and came to this world, suffering untold humiliation. God is supreme and great, but He was never self-aggrandizing. He just quietly went about expressing the truth and judging and cleansing our corrupt dispositions, so that we could cast off our filth and reap His salvation. I saw how humble and lovable God is. I am just a miniscule created being, full of filth and corruption, and yet I’m always trying to build up my image to get people’s respect and draw them in before me. I’m so insufferably arrogant and shameless. I also thought of Paul, who liked to preach and do work to earn the admiration and respect of others. In his many years of belief, he never sought to transform his disposition, only ever striving for status, rewards and crown. Ultimately he even claimed he was God, and vainly attempted to take God’s place in people’s hearts. Paul was walking the God-resisting path of the antichrist and eventually offended God’s disposition and was cast down by Him into hell to suffer eternal damnation. If I didn’t turn things around, I would suffer the same fate as Paul. Once I was aware of these consequences, I threw myself before God and repented to Him, asking that He guide me to find the right path of practice.
Later on, I saw a video of the reading of God’s words.says, “Relinquishing status and prestige is hard. People must pursue the truth. Partly, they must know themselves, and be proactive in laying themselves bare; partly, they must acknowledge that they are without the truth, and lack too much. If you try to make people think that you’re good at everything, that you’re perfect, then this is risky—you’re very likely to strive for fame and prestige. You must show people that you are flawed, that you have weaknesses and defects, things that you can’t do, that are beyond you. You’re only someone ordinary, you’re not superhuman or omnipotent. When you acknowledge this fact, and make others aware of it too, the first thing this does is to curb your competitive behavior; it allows you, to a certain extent, to control your competitive mentality and your desire to compete. When other people scorn or satirize you, don’t object to what they say simply because it’s unpleasant, or rebuff it by telling yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you, that you’re perfect—this shouldn’t be your attitude toward such words. What should your attitude be? You should say to yourself, ‘I have my faults, everything about me is corrupt and flawed, and I’m simply an ordinary person. Their scorn and satirizing of me notwithstanding, if part of what they say is true, then I must accept it from God.’ If you can achieve this, it is proof that you are indifferent to status, prestige, and other people’s opinions of you. … You should be aware of when you have the constant urge to compete. Left unresolved, the desire to compete can only lead to bad things, so waste no time in searching for the truth, nip your competitiveness in the bud, and replace this competitive behavior with practicing the truth. When you practice the truth, your competitiveness, wild aspirations, and desires will be thoroughly diminished, and will no longer interfere with the work of God’s house. In this way, your actions will be remembered and praised by God” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). Through reading God’s words, I realized I’m just a created being that’s been corrupted by Satan, so it’s normal that I would have flaws and inadequacies. God has never demanded that I be the best worker, have excellent caliber and stature, or become a towering and perfect person. He just wishes for me to have a pure, honest heart, to practically pursue the truth and walk the path of fearing God and shunning evil. In God’s house, leaders and group leaders were only created because they are necessary for the work, but we’re all just created beings fulfilling our duties, and there is no real difference in status between us and our brothers and sisters. God assigns us to different duties based on our caliber and stature. Just because I’m a group leader doesn’t necessarily mean that I have the truth reality, but I always demand of myself that I get to the bottom of every issue and resolve every problem. This is really impractical and results from my arrogance and not understanding myself. I should put myself on a level plane with my brothers and sisters, we should learn from each other and seek the truth together to resolve any problems we encounter while fulfilling our duties. If I don’t I understand something, I shouldn’t put on a false front—I should bravely open up about my inadequacies and seek with my brothers and sisters. Only then can I fulfill my duties even better.
Later on, there were a few brothers and sisters living in negativity and I needed to gather and fellowship with them. At first I was a little nervous. I worried about what they’d think of me if I didn’t fellowship well, and so I wanted to prepare ahead of time at home by finding relevant passages of God’s words, thinking that way, I could make easy work of their problems during the gathering and win everyone’s respect. Then I realized that I had the wrong intention in fulfilling my duty. I only wanted to resolve all of my brothers’ and sisters’ problems so that I could earn their admiration and respect—I was still working for reputation and status. So I prayed to God, asking Him to help me rebel against my incorrect intentions. I saw a passage of God’s words that said: “For the Holy Spirit to work within a person and effect a positive change in their state requires of that person a high degree of transformation, letting go, suffering, and abandonment, so that the person can gradually come around. It takes a long time—but for God to expose someone takes mere seconds. If you do not perform your duty well, but always seek honor and compete for position, face, reputation, and your own interests, then while living in such a state, do you want to do service? You can serve if you want to, but it’s possible that you will be exposed before your service ends. As soon as you are exposed, the question is no longer whether your state can be improved; rather, it is likely that your outcome will already have been determined—and that will be a problem for you” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth). While reflecting on God’s words, I realized that If my intention was to use gatherings and fellowship to promote myself and garner admiration, and not to resolve any problems my brothers and sisters had while fulfilling their duties, then I was still walking a God-resisting path. Even if I attended a gathering, I wouldn’t have God’s guidance and the gathering would be ineffective. Realizing this, I prayed to God, set my intentions right, and openly fellowshiped with my co-worker sister about my corruption and inadequacies. During gatherings, I only offered fellowship on what I understood, and my brothers and sisters also discussed their understanding. Together, we found a path of practice through our fellowship and their states improved. I could sense the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and I felt very relaxed and free. I saw how by letting go of my concern for status and reputation and fulfilling my duties together with my brothers and sisters, I could gain God’s blessings and guidance.
Through this experience, I learned that I’ve been far too preoccupied with reputation and status and that God holds too small a place in my heart. I haven’t loved and submitted to God in my heart and I’ve been going down the wrong path. Thanks to God’s guidance and the judgment and revelation of His words, I’ve finally begun to know myself and my intentions and attitude in fulfilling my duty have improved. I now clearly see that chasing after reputation, status and the respect and admiration of others has no meaning or value—it only brings harm. Only focusing on practicing the truth, seeking dispositional change, and fulfilling one’s duty well to satisfy God are proper pursuits.