Reflections on Not Promptly Dismissing a False Leader

February 7, 2023

By Cathy, Myanmar

In August of 2021, I was chosen as a watering deacon. At the time, I was both watering newcomers and spreading the gospel. Because I lacked gospel experience, I wasn’t getting great results in my gospel work. One day, the leader arranged for Sister Janine to partner with me for gospel work follow-up. Sister Janine quickly got a grasp on the problems everyone was having in gospel work, gathered brothers and sisters together for fellowship and review, and then shared some successful experiences and approaches. Gradually, they became more enthusiastic in their gospel work and they mastered some principles of the work. Before long, more than 20 people in our village had accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days, and more and more people were accepting it in other places, too. Soon, we set up a new church. I thought, Janine had believed for so long, had great caliber, and was capable in her work. Since she came, the gospel work had picked up quite a bit. I really admired her. I felt she was a capable worker and that she pursued the truth. She had a good impression of me. She’d say I was responsible and shouldered a burden, and talk up how good my caliber was and how capable I was in front of the others. I was really surprised to hear her say that. It turned out that she thought very highly of me, and it seemed I held quite a place in her heart. I was so happy. Later, I was chosen as a leader, and I was still partnered with Janine in my duty.

In June of 2022, I became a preacher, Janine was chosen to be a leader, and I took charge of her work. But Janine’s gospel work wasn’t making any improvements and I didn’t know why. She wasn’t focusing on nurturing newcomers, wasn’t gathering with gospel workers, and didn’t fellowship on or resolve the states or difficulties others were in. I was very worried when I saw these problems and sent her a message to find out about her work, and though she read it, she didn’t respond. I thought: “You’re a leader, how are you being so irresponsible about church work?” I was furious. I really wanted to deal with her and expose her problems, but I thought about how well we’d collaborated in the past. What about her good impression of me, and how she said I was a good leader? If I dealt with her, would her good impression of me vanish? I felt it was best to keep quiet to protect our relationship. At this thought, I chose to say nothing. I just sent her the responsibilities of leaders and workers to read and informed her of the scope of her responsibilities and the work she was to do to give her a sense of burden. I felt I’d made things clear for her, that she should know what to do next, and that her gospel work should slowly pick up. Yet after a while, her work still wasn’t showing results. This really upset me. She hadn’t been like this before, why was she this way now? I really wanted to prune and deal with her, to point out that she was being irresponsible in her duty and not doing real work so that she’d amend her attitude in her duty. But then I thought: “She’s always thought of me as a good leader and she’s often talked up how much of a burden I have for church work and how patient and compassionate I am. If I expose her problem, her good impression of me will vanish.” At this thought, I just said some comforting words to her and encouraged her to find more time for gatherings and to follow up on church work. When Janine heard this, she said she had to mend her attitude toward her duty and expressed that she wanted to do it well in the future. Overjoyed, I thought: “Janine is sure to do her duty well this time. With her leading the gospel workers, their results are sure to pick up.” Not long after, my partner sister told me: “As a leader, Janine doesn’t follow up on work or nurture people. She’s a leader in name only and never does real work. She’s a false leader. I suggest she be dismissed and another leader chosen. This way, the church’s work can pick up.” Another sister pointed out to me that Janine not doing real work had already delayed church work, and that she should be dismissed soon. But I still thought Janine was capable and had good caliber, that she was just going through a rough patch with her family oppressing her, and that if she turned her state around, the gospel work would improve. So I put off dismissing her. Later, Janine’s performance continued to decline and others kept reporting she was the same as before, saying something nice, but doing nothing. The brothers’ and sisters’ feedback made me very sad and I felt like I couldn’t see her clearly. I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to learn discernment.

Later, I read God’s word: “How can one judge if a leader is fulfilling their responsibilities, or if they are a false leader? At the most basic level, one must look at whether they are capable of doing real work, at whether or not they have this quality. Then, one should look at whether they actually do real work. Ignore what they say and what kind of understanding of the truth they have; do not focus on whether they have caliber, talent or gifts in the superficial work that they do, or whether they do this work well or not—these things are not important. What is crucial is whether they are able to properly carry out the most fundamental work of the church, whether they can solve problems using the truth, and whether they can lead people into the reality of the truth. This is the most fundamental and essential work. If they are incapable of doing this kind of real work, then no matter how good their caliber is, how talented they are, or how much they can endure hardship and pay a price, they are still a false leader. Some people say, ‘Forget that they don’t do any real work now. They have good caliber and they’re capable. Train them for a while and they are bound to be able to do real work. Besides, they haven’t done anything bad or evil, or caused any disruption or disturbances—how can you say that they are a false leader?’ How can we explain this? No matter how talented you are, what caliber you have, or how well-educated you are, what matters is whether or not you do real work, and whether or not you fulfill the responsibilities of a leader and worker. During your time as leader, did you participate in every specific project within the scope of your responsibility? How many of the problems that arose in the work did you solve effectively? How many people came to understand the principles of the truth because of your work, your leadership, and your guidance? How much of the work of the church was advanced and pushed forward? These results are what count. It doesn’t matter how many slogans you can recite, how many words and phrases of doctrine you have mastered, how many hours you spend working each day, and how exhausted you are. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve traveled, how many churches you have visited, how many risks you have taken, how much you have suffered—none of this matters. What matters is how effective the work within your scope of responsibilities has been, whether it has achieved any results, how many of the arrangements and targets of God’s house you have implemented and met, how well they were implemented, and how well you followed up on them afterward. What matters is how many issues in the work relating to oversights, deviations, or violations of principle you solved, rectified or made up for, how many problems relating to personnel, admin, or various specialist tasks you helped resolve, and whether you did so according to the principles and the requirements of the house of God. These are just some of the standards by which one can assess whether a leader or worker is fulfilling their responsibilities(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). You can’t judge whether or not a leader is competent or is a false leader by listening to whether they speak well, or by examining their caliber, abilities, or the number of their good deeds. The main things to check are whether they do real work, whether they are responsible, and whether they can do the duty of a leader. Janine had some caliber and was a capable worker, but she’d just say nice-sounding things and then not really act or do proper work. She wasn’t doing the work a leader should be doing. It didn’t look like she was doing anything bad or evil, but as a leader, she’d just send out messages and chant slogans. She never really looked into things or followed up on church work. She didn’t nurture newcomers who were just starting their duties. When others had problems in gospel work, she didn’t fellowship or resolve things, and she’d often neglect her duty. I warned her many times throughout this period to amend her attitude toward her duty, and although she’d agree to change, she’d just go on as before and was nowhere to be found. Gospel work ground to a halt and various projects weren’t getting results. She wasn’t self-reflecting, and would brush off brothers and sisters with excuses, like not having time for gatherings after work, or her family pressuring her and making it hard to do a duty. It was apparent from her attitude toward her duty and her various behaviors that she was a false leader who didn’t do real work, as revealed by God, and should be dismissed soon. But I didn’t see things or discern people based on God’s word. I only saw Janine’s brains, caliber, and capabilities. I felt she could do work, but I didn’t look at what work she was really doing or what kind of results she was getting. I still had my hopes pinned on her. I hoped she’d get church work to pick up like before, so I kept giving her more chances. What an ignorant fool I was! My partner sister had given me feedback on Janine and suggested she be dismissed, but I was sticking to my views, wanting to give her chances and support her further, so I didn’t dismiss her promptly, seriously impacting the church’s work. I saw I hadn’t been providing good oversight in my duty, impacting church work. Wasn’t this also the behavior of a false leader? I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to know my corruption.

One day, I read the word of God. “Some church leaders, upon seeing their brothers or sisters performing their duties carelessly and perfunctorily, do not rebuke them, though they should. When they see something that is clearly detrimental to the interests of God’s house, they turn a blind eye and make no inquiries, so as not to cause the least offense to others. In fact, they are not really showing consideration for people’s weaknesses; instead, their intention is to win people over, which they are fully aware of: ‘If I keep this up and don’t cause offense to anyone, they’ll think I’m a good leader. They’ll have a good, high opinion of me. They’ll give me recognition and like me.’ No matter how much damage is done to the interests of God’s house, and no matter how greatly God’s chosen people are impeded in their life entry, or how greatly their church life is disturbed, such leaders persist in their satanic philosophy and cause no offense to anyone. There is never a sense of self-reproach in their hearts. Seeing someone causing disruption and disturbances, at most, they might make casual mention of this issue in passing, and then be done with it. They do not fellowship on the truth, nor do they point out the essence of the problem to this person, and less still do they dissect their state. They never communicate what God’s will is. The false leaders never expose or dissect what kind of errors people often make, or the corrupt dispositions people often reveal. They don’t solve any real problems, but instead always tolerate people’s misconduct and outpourings of corruption, and remain unconcerned no matter how negative or weak people are, merely preaching some words of doctrine, making a few perfunctory exhortations, trying to avoid conflict. As a result, God’s chosen ones do not reflect on and try to know themselves, they gain no resolution to the outpourings of various kinds of corruption, and live amid words, phrases, notions and imaginings, without any entry into life. They even believe in their hearts that, ‘Our leader has even more understanding for our weaknesses than God does. Our stature may be too small to live up to God’s requirements, but we need only fulfill the requirements of our leader; by obeying our leader, we are obeying God. If a day comes when the Above replaces our leader, then we will make ourselves heard; to keep our leader and stop him being replaced by the Above, we will negotiate with the Above and force them into agreeing to our demands. This is how we will do right by our leader.’ When people have such thoughts in their hearts, when they have such a relationship with the leader, and in their hearts, they feel dependence, admiration, and veneration toward their leader, then they will come to have ever greater faith in this leader, it is the leader’s words they want to hear, and they stop searching for the truth in God’s words. Such a leader has almost taken the place of God in people’s hearts. If a leader is willing to maintain such a relationship with God’s chosen people, if they derive a feeling of enjoyment from it in their heart, and believes that God’s chosen ones ought to treat them like this, then there is no difference between them and Paul, and they have already set foot on the path of the antichrists(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item One). God’s word revealed my despicable intentions in my duty. I saw Janine wasn’t doing real work, but didn’t expose or dissect her problem, or promptly dismiss her. I just indulged her and gave her chances to repent. But this wasn’t because I was considerate of her weakness or wanting to help her, my real intentions were to preserve Janine’s impression of me as a good leader and to gain others’ esteem. We’d partnered in our duties before and she’d always had a good impression of me. She would often talk up how responsible I was for church work, and how good of a leader I was in front of the others. If I exposed and pointed out her problems and dealt with her, our relationship could be ruined and her good impression of me would be gone. To protect this impression Janine had of me as a good leader, I didn’t expose her problems, deal with her, or dissect her actions and conduct, which would have made her aware of her problems and let her promptly mend her ways. I just gave her a few words of comfort and advice, encouraged her to attend more gatherings and follow up on work, brushing over things in passing. My partner sister called for me to dismiss Janine in line with principles several times, but I worried that I’d offend her by doing this, and that she’d no longer have a good impression of me, so I delayed in dismissing her. God reveals that antichrists work and speak for the sake of their name and status, that when they see others violating principles in their duties, they don’t critique them or deal with them. Their goal is to hold a place in people’s hearts, gain others’ esteem, and bring people before them. To protect the impression others had of me, I disregarded church work, and when I found a false leader not doing real work, I didn’t expose, deal with, or replace her. I did this to hold a place in people’s hearts and to make everyone think I was compassionate, patient, and a good leader. I wasn’t helping or edifying my brothers and sisters by doing my duty in this way, and this wouldn’t make them understand the truth or bring them before God. Rather, it would bring them before me and make them admire and worship me. In this I was misleading people and winning them over, walking the path of an antichrist. I thought of the antichrists expelled from the church, exposed and cast out one by one. If I carried on like this without repenting or changing, I’d be expelled and cast out just like them. At this thought, I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to reflect on myself.

Later, I read a passage of God’s word. “When something arises, you live by a philosophy of life, and do not practice the truth. You are always afraid of offending others, but God, you do not fear offending, and will even sacrifice the interests of God’s house to protect your interpersonal relationships. What are the consequences of acting in this way? You will have protected your interpersonal relationships quite well, but you will have offended God, and He will detest and reject you, and be angry with you. Which is better, on the balance? If you cannot tell, then you are completely muddled; it proves that you do not have the slightest understanding of the truth. If you go on like that without ever waking up to it, the danger is great indeed, and in the end, you will be unable to attain the truth. It will be you who has suffered a loss. If you do not seek the truth in this matter, and you fail, will you be able to seek the truth in the future? If you still cannot, it will no longer be an issue of suffering a loss—you will ultimately be cast out. If you have the motivations and perspective of a ‘nice person,’ then, in all matters, you will be incapable of practicing the truth and abiding by principle, and you will always fail and fall down. If you do not awaken and do not ever seek the truth, then you are a nonbeliever, and you will never gain the truth and the life. What, then, should you do? When faced with such things, you must call out to God in prayer, begging for salvation, and asking that God give you more faith and strength, to enable you to abide by principle, do what you should do, handle things according to principle, stand your ground, protect the interests of God’s house, and prevent any harm from coming to the work of God’s house. If you are able to forsake your self-interests, reputation, and the standpoint of a ‘nice person,’ and if you do what you should do with an honest, undivided heart, then you will have defeated Satan, and will have gained this aspect of the truth. If you always live by the philosophy of Satan, maintaining your relationships with others and never practicing the truth, not daring to abide by principle, then will you be able to practice the truth in other matters? You will have no faith, no strength. If you are never able to seek or accept the truth, then will such faith in God allow you to obtain the truth? (No.) And if you cannot obtain the truth, can you be saved? You cannot. If you always live by the philosophy of Satan, utterly devoid of the reality of the truth, then you can never be saved. It should be clear to you that obtaining the truth is a necessary condition for salvation. How, then, can you obtain the truth? If you are able to practice the truth, if you can live by the truth, and the truth becomes the basis of your life, then you will gain the truth and have life, and so you will be one of those who is saved(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). From God’s word I understood the reason I was safeguarding my status, image, and relationships, and disregarding church work was mainly because I was too influenced by people-pleasing, worldly philosophies. I was influenced by satanic, worldly ideas like “Keeping silent on the faults of good friends makes for a long and good friendship,” and “Stay on good terms with those you can’t avoid.” I thought that to make others like and admire you, you had to be gentle and kind, and you should never snap at people, that when you saw others’ problems, it was ok to just brush over them, that you shouldn’t be too severe, and this way, everyone would like you. I’d lived by these people-pleaser ideas and when I saw Janine not doing real work, I didn’t expose, deal with, or dismiss her. I’d protected my status and image but because I hadn’t exposed Janine’s problems or promptly dismissed her, the gospel work had been delayed. I’d put my reputation, status, and relationship ahead of my duty and to protect my image and status, I hadn’t protected the church’s work at all. I was truly selfish and despicable. Living by these people-pleaser ideas had made me more and more slippery, devious, and lacking in humanity. God’s words say, “All those who stick to the middle ground are the most sinister. They try not to offend anyone, they are people-pleasers, they go along with things, and no one can see through them. A person like that is a living Satan!(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Cast Off the Shackles of a Corrupt Disposition). God despises and loathes people-pleasers. You can never gain the truth or be saved by relying on people-pleaser ideas. I felt pretty scared at this realization. I knew that I’d transgressed before God and that if I didn’t amend this state and truly repent, I would be abandoned and cast out by God. God’s word also pointed out a path of practice to me, that when I want to protect my name and status, I should pray more to God, ask Him to give me strength, and then act with principles and learn to do my duty with an honest heart. This not only benefits brothers’ and sisters’ life entry, but also the work of the church. I prayed to God that I would practice the truth, act with principles, and protect the interests of the church.

After that I read God’s word. “Keep abreast of the circumstances of supervisors of different work and personnel responsible for various important jobs, and promptly reallocate or replace them as necessary, so as to prevent or mitigate losses caused by employing inappropriate people, and guarantee the efficiency and smooth progress of the work(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “Part of the obligations of leaders and workers is knowing what’s going on with the people in charge of various projects and those responsible for important work. So, who are these personnel? The most fundamental are church leaders, followed by team supervisors and team leaders. People in charge of various projects and those responsible for important work: Is it not critical and of great importance to understand and ascertain whether they possess the reality of the truth, are principled in their actions, and can do the church’s work well? If leaders and workers gain an accurate understanding of the situation of the main supervisors in charge of various projects, and make suitable adjustments in personnel, it is like standing guard over each work program. It is the equivalent of fulfilling their responsibility and duty. If these personnel are not correctly arrayed and a problem arises, the work of the church will be greatly impacted. If these personnel are of good humanity, possess a foundation in faith, are responsible in handling matters, and are able to seek the truth to resolve problems, then putting them in charge of work will save a lot of trouble. What is important is that the work can progress smoothly. But if the supervisors of teams are not dependable, are of poor humanity and not well-behaved, and do not put the truth into practice—and, furthermore, are liable to cause disturbances—then it will have a negative impact on the work for which they are responsible and on the life entry of the brothers and sisters whom they lead. Of course, that impact may be large or small. If the supervisors are merely unserious or neglectful of their duties, this can cause delays in the work; the progress will be somewhat slower, and the work somewhat less efficient. If they are an antichrist, however, the problem is serious: This is not a problem of the work being a little inefficient and ineffective—they will disturb and damage all of the work they are responsible for. And so, staying informed of the status of the people in charge of various projects and those responsible for important work, and making timely adjustments and dismissals when they find that someone is not doing practical work, is not an obligation that leaders and workers can dodge—it is very serious, very important work. If leaders and workers can keep abreast of the personality of the people in charge of various projects and those responsible for important work, and their attitude toward their duty and the truth, as well as their states and manifestations during each period and at each stage, and can promptly adjust or handle those people according to the circumstances, then work can proceed steadily. On the contrary, if those people run amok and do not do real work in the churches, and the leaders and workers are not prompt in identifying this and making adjustments, but wait until serious problems of all sorts have cropped up, incurring substantial losses on the work of God’s house, before trying, casually, to handle them, make adjustments, and rectify and redeem the situation, then those leaders and workers are wastrels. They are genuine false leaders who must be replaced and cast out(The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). From God’s word I understood that a leader is obliged to promptly look into the status of every project’s supervisor and other important personnel and to promptly dismiss or reassign anyone unsuitable they might find to ensure the successful development of church projects. When they find that a supervisor, leader, or worker is not doing real work, impacting and delaying church work, they need to promptly fellowship with them, and if they don’t change and aren’t even worthwhile for providing service, they need to be promptly reassigned or dismissed. This benefits the church’s work. Keep those who are fit for use and dismiss those who are not, provide fellowship and help to those in need of it, deal with those who are to be dealt with, and nurture those who pursue the truth. Janine had been perfunctory, unburdened, and irresponsible in her duty all along. Leaders had fellowshiped with her for many times, but she never changed. It was seriously impacting church work. She was indeed a false leader who did no real work and she needed to be dismissed immediately, while a responsible person with good humanity needed to be nurtured. This would benefit church work and allow the gospel work to develop smoothly. At this thought, my heart felt completely clear and bright, and I made a promise to God: “When I encounter this type of problem again, I will practice according to principles and fulfill my responsibilities.” I also asked God to guide me in practicing the truth.

I later brought up each of Janine’s problems with her, exposing her as a false leader who didn’t do real work. I saw that she was furious and didn’t dare say anything more. I thought: “If I expose more of her problems, our relationship will sink into deadlock and the good impression she has of me will be ruined.” I then realized I was relapsing into my old ways, so I prayed to God: “God, I want to practice the truth, do my duty, fellowship what I ought to fellowship, and stop caring about the image others have of me. Please give me the strength to overcome the constraints of my corrupt disposition.” After praying, I continued to fellowship with Janine, bringing up her problems one at a time and exposing her lack of real work. Though she was displeased at the time, in the end she said without my exposure and criticism, she wouldn’t have seen her problems. She admitted the depth of her corruption and said she wanted to change, and that she’d accept however the church wanted to handle her. I thanked God when I heard her say this. Practicing by God’s words, my relationships didn’t fall apart like I’d expected, and I felt a great sense of peace and ease. After dismissing Janine, we chose another brother to supervise the gospel work. He really shouldered his duty and led the others in spreading the gospel. After a while, the gospel work started to pick up.

This experience made me realize that relying on a satanic disposition to do your duty will not only hurt yourself, but also impact church work. Only doing your duty in accordance with God’s word and the principles of the truth aligns with God’s will.

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