Prestige Is a Curse
By Xiaoen, Spain
Some time ago, a supervisor in charge of the church was transferred away due to work needs and new supervisor needed to be selected. I thought, “Most in the church are newcomers, and I am the only watering worker. Maybe another supervisor will be transferred from another church.” But a few days later, the leaders said Sister Yang should be promoted to be the supervisor. When I heard this, I was shocked, and thought, “Sister Yang fellowships very little at meetings. How could she be the one? Besides, under normal circumstances, the supervisor is selected from among the watering personnel. If the leaders would rather choose Sister Yang than consider me, that means I am inferior to Sister Yang in their eyes. How am I worse than Sister Yang? Why did they choose her instead of me?” I was very upset. I felt it was humiliating to choose Sister Yang over me as the supervisor. It was an embarrassment, and it came as a big blow to me, so I developed opinions about the leaders, and felt that they looked down on me. When I cooperated with Sister Yang in my duty, I was also very conflicted.
Once, Sister Yang wanted to gather with the newcomers, so she told me to prepare some of God’s word to fellowship based on their states, and asked me to help her with the fellowship. I didn’t want to at all, and thought, “This is your work. If you want me to look up God’s word and help you fellowship, then what’s the point of having you as a supervisor?” But to keep from wounding her pride, I didn’t say it. All I could do was reluctantly agree. Then, a second time, she asked me to look up God’s word and help her fellowship with newcomers. I was especially opposed, thinking, “I’m not a supervisor, so I won’t do it. Go do it yourself, and then you’ll see it’s not so easy to be a supervisor!” So, after I looked up the sections of God’s word, I told her, “You go ahead and do the fellowship alone.” She said I had a better understanding of the states and difficulties of those newcomers, and I was the one who looked up God’s word, so we could produce better results if we fellowshiped together, and the gathering would be more effective. I knew what she said was right, but I just didn’t want to cooperate with her. I thought, “Now you are in charge, so it’s your business if the gathering isn’t effective. The sooner the leaders find out, the better. That way, they can see your ‘real talent,’ and they’ll understand the consequences of choosing you instead of me.” So, I made an excuse, saying I had another gathering and couldn’t go. She said this gathering was more important, and asked if I could adjust the time of the other gathering, but I still refused on the grounds that I couldn’t change the time. She then asked me to come to her gathering as soon as possible after mine. I didn’t want to, so I said perfunctorily, “I’ll try.” After refusing her, I felt a little uneasy. I knew I wasn’t upholding the work of the church, but I didn’t reflect on myself after that, and I still chose to attend my own gathering. However, the brothers and sisters left that gathering before it was over. I did not go to Sister Yang’s gathering after that. Later, I learned that Sister Yang didn’t know much about those newcomers, and her fellowship wasn’t targeted to their states, so the gathering wasn’t effective. Because I didn’t cooperate with her, after some time passed, church life didn’t produce good results. Newcomers’ problems and difficulties weren’t resolved in time, they no longer wanted to come to gatherings, and even a group leader who was usually proactive stopped coming to gatherings. I was clearly aware that I had an unmistakable responsibility for the ineffectiveness of church life. Only then did I come before God to reflect on myself.
I read a passage of God’s word revealing antichrists. “The antichrists consider their own status and reputation as more important than anything else. These people are not only devious, conniving, and wicked, but also extremely vicious. What do they do when they detect that their status is at risk, or when they have lost their place in people’s hearts, when they lose these people’s endorsement and affection, when people no longer venerate and look up to them, and they have fallen into ignominy? They suddenly change. As soon as they lose their status, they become unwilling to perform any duty, everything they do is shoddy, and they have no interest in doing anything. But this isn’t the worst manifestation. What is the worst manifestation? As soon as these people lose their status, and no one looks up to them, and no one is inveigled by them, out comes the hate, jealousy, and revenge. They not only have no fear of God, but also lack any shred of obedience. In their hearts, furthermore, they are liable to hate God’s house, the church, and the leaders and workers; they long for the work of the church to run into problems or come to a standstill; they want to laugh at the church, and at the brothers and sisters. They also hate anyone who pursues the truth and fears God. They attack and mock anyone who is faithful in their duty and willing to pay a price. This is the disposition of the antichrist—and is it not vicious?” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Two)” in Exposing Antichrists). As I read God’s word, I felt like God was exposing me face to face. All this time, I had lived for prestige and status. When I saw the leaders promote Sister Yang to supervisor instead of me, I didn’t reflect on my problems, but became dissatisfied instead, complained that the leaders underestimated me, and was unwilling to perform my duty. When Sister Yang asked me to cooperate with her to fellowship with the newcomers, I didn’t want to at all. I even hoped her gathering would be ineffective, which would embarrass and humiliate her, so that I could appear to be superior to her, which might make the leaders see it was a mistake not to choose me in the first place. I was so despicable and vicious! Even at the cost of hindering church work, I wanted to protect my image and status. Wasn’t I showing viciousness in this? God hates and loathes such things. Once I realized this, I felt guilt and remorse, and realized how much I owed God, so I prayed, “God! I didn’t think about how to be considerate of Your will in my duty, I was difficult, behaved unreasonably, and didn’t cooperate with my sister, and I didn’t consider the church’s work. I have no humanity at all! God! I wish to accept Your judgment and chastisement and seriously reflect on myself.”
Afterward, I spoke with a sister about my state, and she sent me two passages of. “For an antichrist, if their reputation or status is attacked or taken away, it is a matter even more serious than trying to take their life. No matter how many sermons they listen to or how many of God’s words they read, they will not feel sadness or regret over never having practiced the truth and their having taken the path of the antichrist, nor over their possession of the nature and essence of an antichrist. Instead, they are always racking their brains for ways to gain status and increase their reputation. It can be said that everything this sort of person does is done in front of others, and is not done before God. Why do I say this? It is because such people are so in love with status that they treat it as their very life, as their lifelong goal. Moreover, because they love status so much, they never believe in the existence of truth, and it can even be said that they harbor absolutely no belief in God’s existence. Thus, no matter how they calculate to gain reputation and status, and no matter how they try to use false appearances to trick people and God, in the depths of their hearts, they have no awareness or guilt, let alone any anxiety” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Three)” in Exposing Antichrists). “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” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). Through what God’s word revealed, I realized my unwillingness to cooperate with Sister Yang’s work, my being difficult, and my unreasonable behavior, were all because I treasured prestige and status too much. I wasn’t willing to be inferior to others or be directed by others, and I put my prestige and status above all else, as if it was my life. When I saw Sister Yang being promoted, I felt jealous and dissatisfied. I was also very resistant to her, and I didn’t want to do my duty with her. I was even deceitful and deliberately didn’t cooperate with her to embarrass her. Although I realized it wasn’t upholding church life, and God didn’t approve, I was so obsessed with image and status that I put aside the interests of the church. How could I say I was doing my duty? Clearly, I was disrupting and disturbing the work of the church! Paul was always fighting for status and always wanted to be looked up to and admired. When he saw Peter’s prestige in the church, he was jealous and dissatisfied, so he belittled Peter and exalted himself. What I did was no different from what Paul did. I wasn’t working hard in pursuit of the truth, and I didn’t think about how to cooperate with my brothers and sisters and be faithful in duty. Instead, to gain status and make people look up to me, I disrupted the work of God’s house. I was nothing but a servant of Satan. Prestige and status hurt me so deeply. I didn’t want to pursue status anymore. I wanted to seek the truth to solve my corrupt disposition as soon as possible.
Later, I read another passage of God’s word. “God hates nothing more than when people pursue status, because the pursuit of status is a satanic disposition, it is a wrong path, it is born of the corruption of Satan, it is something condemned by God, and it is the very thing that God judges and cleanses. God despises nothing more than when people pursue status, and yet you still mulishly compete for status, you unfailingly cherish and protect it, always trying to take it for yourself. And in nature, is all of this not antagonistic 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. No matter how reasonable your excuse for pursuing status is, this path is still the wrong one, and is not praised by God. No matter how hard you try or how great the price you pay, if you desire status, God will not give it to you; if it’s not given by God, you will fail in fighting to obtain it, and if you keep fighting there will only be one outcome: You will be exposed and cast out, which is a dead end. You understand this, yes?” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Three)” in Exposing Antichrists). In God’s word, I saw God’s exhortation and warning for people, and that God hates and despises the pursuit of status. If I didn’t repent, I would eventually come to a dead end. God has expressed so much truth, and gave me the chance to do my duty so that I could pursue the truth in my duty, know the truth, and enter into its realities, but I blindly pursued prestige and status. Wasn’t this going against God’s requirements? In order to save humans, who are deeply corrupted, God personally became flesh and came to earth, God is supreme and great, yet He never shows off. He expresses the truth and does the work of saving people in secret. God is so humble and so lovely! I am a creature full of filth and corruption, yet I always wanted to have a place in people’s hearts and make people look up to me. It was so arrogant and so shameless! I also thought of the antichrists who were expelled from God’s house. To compete for status, they attacked and excluded dissenters everywhere, and never hesitated to harm the interests of the church or seriously disrupt church work, In the end, they offended God’s disposition and were revealed and cast out. During this time, I didn’t play a positive role, and I disrupted the work of the church to pursue prestige and status, but God didn’t treat me as I deserved for what I did. Instead, He exposed my corrupt disposition in His words of judgment, and helped me know myself and understand God’s will. Recognizing this, I swore to myself that I would properly repent and not continue down the wrong path.
Once my state changed a bit, my view of Sister Yang also changed. I saw that she bore a burden in her duty, and all aspects of her work were done well. Although there was some work she hadn’t been exposed to before, she could humbly seek from others and cooperate with others to perform her duty well. She was responsible in her duty, she pursued the truth, and she could be cultivated. However, I was lazy and bore no real burden and had no sense of responsibility in my duty, I had a strong desire for status, and I was unsuitable as a supervisor. My brothers and sisters didn’t select me. They had discernment and acted with principle. I shouldn’t fight with her. I should learn from her strengths and work with her to do church work well.
Later, one time, Sister Yang mentioned that a newcomer had some problems, and asked me if there were any good solutions. I thought, “If I told her my thoughts, and she solved the problem, then the newcomers would think highly of her, not me.” When I had this thought, I realized I was thinking about my image and status again, so I immediately prayed to God. At this time, I thought of God’s words, “You must learn to let go and set aside these things, to recommend others, and to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle or rush to take advantage the moment you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain glory. You must be able to put aside these things, but must not delay the performing of your duty. Be a person who works in quiet obscurity, and who does not show off to others while you loyally perform your duty. The more you let go of your prestige and status, and the more you let go of your own interests, the more peaceful you will become, the more light there will be within your heart, and the more your state will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker your state will be. If you do not believe it, try it and see! If you want to turn this sort of corrupt state around, and not be controlled by these things, you must seek the truth, and clearly understand the essence of these things, and then put them aside, relinquish them” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word pointed out the path of practice for me. When it comes to my own image and status, I have to learn to forsake, let go, and recommend others, do my duty before God, and accept God’s scrutiny. This is the correct pursuit, and this is in line with God’s will. Now, my sister was coming to me to discuss ways to solve a problem, and no matter who appeared to solve it, the most important thing was that the newcomers’ problems could be solved. This was also an opportunity God gave me to practice the truth. Thinking of this, I told my sister everything I understood. After practicing like this, I felt very secure and at ease. After that, when my sister asked me how to solve newcomers’ problems, I told her my thoughts and ideas, and no matter what she arranged for me to do, I could treat it correctly. I knew that this was my duty, and I willingly offered my contribution. This way, my cooperation with her normalized, and church life became more effective.
Through this experience, I gained some knowledge of my wrong path of pursuing prestige and status. I saw that in my pursuit of prestige and status, I could do things that harmed the interests of the church, and cause disruptions and disturbances to the work of the church. I felt deeply that pursuing prestige and status is not the right path. It can only cause people to resist God more and more, and eventually be rejected by God. At the same time, I also understood that what God likes are those who can focus on pursuing the truth and dispositional change in their duty. Only by fulfilling the duty of a created being in a down-to-earth way can we be in line with God’s will. Thanks be to God!