Reflections on Writing an Evaluation

February 7, 2023

By Tiantian, China

Last April, I was in charge of the church’s textual work. One day I got a letter from an upper leader asking me to write an evaluation of a leader, Liu Li, and send it back within three days. I couldn’t help but speculate: I’d been asked to evaluate Liu Li, so maybe she wasn’t doing practical work, and the plan was to dismiss her? Or maybe she had good caliber and was worth cultivating, so the plan was to promote her? Liu Li generally took on a burden in her duty and could promptly resolve problems about work effectiveness. It’s just that she wasn’t very adept, and as soon as work got busy, she’d get flustered, and she didn’t prioritize well. I kept speculating: If the leader planned to promote and cultivate Liu Li and I wrote too much about her flaws, would the leader say I lacked discernment and didn’t treat others fairly? What would she think of me after that? But if she planned on dismissing Liu Li and I wrote too much about her strengths, she might think I lacked caliber and couldn’t even write an accurate assessment, so how could I keep supervising textual work? She’d likely have a bad impression of me after that. With this in mind, I didn’t dare casually put pen to paper.

The next day, Liu Li’s partner, Sister Wang Jie, came to a gathering with us. An idea struck me—I could subtly probe her for information. So, I asked her an exploratory question: “You’ve been gathering with us a lot lately. Why haven’t we seen Liu Li? Is she really busy?” Wang Jie said, “She’s busy with other work.” I noticed she responded in a very low voice, and I surmised that Liu Li might be getting dismissed, and Wang Jie was feeling guilty because she hadn’t helped her. But I still wasn’t sure, so I asked another question: “Are you managing okay with just the two of you supervising church work?” I paid attention to her expression and how she spoke, trying to pick up on little clues, but ultimately I couldn’t get any clear hints. I felt anxious seeing the evaluation deadline approaching, but I kept dragging my feet, unsure what to write. In the end, I just didn’t write it so that the leader wouldn’t see that I lacked discernment. If she asked me about it, I could say I was too busy those days and didn’t have time. And so, I dodged the issue by not writing the evaluation. Every time I thought of that later, I felt very guilty. The leader had asked me to evaluate Liu Li mainly to understand whether she did practical work or not, and if she could be cultivated. That was directly related to the church’s work. Writing down whatever I knew was a very easy thing to do, so why did I put it off? What was constraining me? I said a prayer: “God! I was so overcautious and indecisive about that evaluation. I had so many concerns and I didn’t want to cooperate. Please guide me to understand my problem.”

I read this in my devotionals. “The antichrists are blind to God, He has no place in their hearts. When they encounter Christ, they treat Him no different from an ordinary person, constantly taking their cues from His expression and tone, changing their tune as befits the situation, never saying what’s really going on, never saying anything sincere, only speaking empty words and doctrine, trying to deceive and hoodwink the real God standing before their eyes. They are without the slightest fear of God. They are utterly incapable of speaking to God from the heart, of saying anything real. They talk as a snake slithers, the course sinuous and indirect. The manner and direction of their words is like a melon vine climbing its way up a pole. For example, when you say someone is of good caliber and could be promoted, they immediately talk about how good they are, and what is manifested and revealed in them; and if you say someone is bad, they are quick to talk about how bad and evil they are, about how they cause disturbances and interruptions in the church. When you wish to learn the truth about something, they have nothing to say; they prevaricate, waiting for you to make a conclusion, listening out for the meaning in your words, so they can tell you what you want to hear. Everything they say is flattery, brownnosing, and obsequiousness; not a word of truth comes out of their mouths. This is how they interact with people and how they treat God—they are just that treacherous. This is the disposition of an antichrist(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Ten (Part Two)). God’s words reveal that antichrists play tricks whenever they encounter Christ. They are fawning, ingratiating, and take their cues from His expressions. They don’t speak the truth before Christ; they excel at deception and putting on an act. They are very cunning and evil, and they disgust God. Although I wasn’t encountering Christ, I was behaving and revealing a disposition just like an antichrist’s. The leader asked me to write an evaluation of Liu Li due to the needs of church work. That wasn’t a complicated thing. I just needed to truthfully write out everything I knew, and share what I understood fairly and objectively. But I made things so complex by speculating about the leader’s intentions, afraid that if I didn’t write it well, she’d think I lacked discernment and think less of me. To protect my image and place in her heart, I pried into her intentions under the guise of being concerned for my sisters. If she wanted to promote Liu Li, I’d have gone along and written more about her strengths. If she wanted to dismiss her, I’d have written more about Liu Li’s shortcomings so the leader would esteem me. I wasn’t trying to evaluate her based on the facts or the principles, I was observing Wang Jie’s reactions to guess at the leader’s intentions. I was revealing a disposition like an antichrist’s—slippery and deceitful! To uncover the leader’s intentions, I asked Wang Jie some oblique questions, trying to get information from her. I was like a petty lowlife, without any dignity or character. Actually, everyone has strengths and flaws, and we need to write evaluations fairly and objectively, in line with the facts. If I write a positive evaluation about a bad person, and the leader then makes the wrong decision, I’d be disrupting the church’s work, doing evil, and resisting God. If I write a scathing evaluation about someone who pursues the truth, that’s unfair and could do them serious harm. If my inaccurate evaluation led to Liu Li being transferred or dismissed, I’d be doing evil and I’d certainly be offending God. I thought of God’s words: “Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Three Admonitions). God isn’t very demanding of us. He just hopes that we’ll be straightforward in word and deed, call a spade a spade, and become fair and honest people who don’t cheat or hide things. We just need to be frank, write down what we know, and treat people fairly in our evaluations. But I couldn’t even manage that. The leader wanted to know what I thought of someone, but she didn’t get a single honest word from me. Always being tricky and deceitful isn’t acting like an honest person at all. I hated myself when I realized that.

Later, I read this in God’s words. “What is fearing God and shunning evil? When you give your appraisal of someone, for example—this relates to fearing God and shunning evil. How do you appraise them? (We must be honest, just, and fair, and our words must not be based on emotion.) When you say exactly what you think, and exactly what you have seen, you are being honest. And above all, the practice of being honest means following the way of God. This is what God teaches people; this is the way of God. What is the way of God? Fearing God and shunning evil. Is being honest part of fearing God and shunning evil? And is it following the way of God? (Yes.) If you are not honest, then what you have seen and what you think is not the same as what comes out of your mouth. Someone asks you, ‘What is your opinion on that person? Do they take responsibility for church work?’ and you reply, ‘They’re pretty good, they take more responsibility than I do, their caliber is better than mine, and their humanity is good, too, they are mature and stable.’ But is this what you are thinking in your heart? What you are actually thinking is that although this person does have caliber, they are unreliable, and rather crafty, and very calculating. This is what you’re really thinking in your mind, but when the time comes to speak, it occurs to you that, ‘I can’t tell the truth, I mustn’t offend anyone,’ so you quickly say something else, you choose nice things to say about them, and nothing you say is what you really think, it is all lies and hypocrisy. Does this indicate that you follow the way of God? No. You have taken the path of Satan, the way of demons. What is the way of God? It is the truth, it is the basis of people’s behavior, it is the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Though you speak to another person, God is also listening, and watching your heart, He is scrutinizing your heart. People listen to what you say, but God scrutinizes your heart. Are people capable of scrutinizing the hearts of man? At best, people can see that you are not telling the truth. They can see what’s on the surface. Only God can see into the depths of your heart, only God can see what you are thinking, what you are planning, what little schemes you have within your heart, what treacherous ways, what devious thoughts. And seeing that you are not telling the truth, what is God’s opinion of you, what is His evaluation of you? That in this, you have not followed God’s way, because you did not tell the truth(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I learned from God’s words that we need to fear God and accept His scrutiny while writing evaluations. That way we’ll be cautious and face God while doing that, out of fear that if we have the wrong intent we’ll write an incorrect and biased evaluation and thereby offend God. And when writing an evaluation we should pray, focus on seeking the principles of the truth, and objectively share our true understanding and views of that person without harboring our own intents. We should tell everything like it is without watering it down. That’s a sign of fearing God. But those who don’t fear God speak and act according to their whims, sometimes saying whatever they think will benefit them, or even spinning reality and distorting the facts. They’re people with really cunning dispositions. They behave just like unbelievers and they’re not trustworthy. Writing that evaluation exposed me. After years of faith, I still had devious intentions and wanted to see which way the wind blew while writing it, and say whatever would benefit me. I didn’t fear God at all. I was too cunning, and this disgusted God. Upon realizing this, I felt that going on this way would be dangerous, so I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to reflect and know myself.

After that, I read another passage of God’s words. “What is true evil? Which states are evil when they manifest? Is it an evil disposition when people use high-sounding statements to hide the evil and shameful intents that lie in the depths of their hearts, and then make others believe that these statements are very good, aboveboard, and legitimate, and ultimately achieve their ulterior motives? Why is this called being evil and not being deceitful? In terms of disposition and essence, deceitfulness is not quite as bad. Being evil is more serious than being deceitful, it is a behavior that is more insidious and vile than deceitfulness, and it is difficult for the average person to see through it. For example, what kind of words did the serpent use to entice Eve? Specious words, that sound correct and seem to be said for your own good. You are not aware that there is anything wrong with these words or any malicious intent behind them, and at the same time, you are unable to let go of these suggestions made by Satan. This is temptation. When you are tempted and you listen to these kinds of words, you cannot help but be enticed and it is likely that you will fall into a trap, thereby achieving Satan’s goal. This is called evil. The serpent used this method to entice Eve. Is this a type of disposition? (It is.) Where does this type of disposition come from? It comes from the serpent and from Satan. This type of evil disposition exists within man’s nature(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth). God says that when people sound reasonable, but harbor trickery in their hearts, and use nice-sounding words to achieve their ulterior aims, that’s not just being cunning, it’s an evil disposition. God hates that sort of person most. To gain the leader’s approval and respect, I guessed at her intentions while writing my evaluation, wanting to go along with them, even feigning concern for Liu Li just to sound them out, asking if she was busy with work since I hadn’t seen her for a while, if they were managing okay, and so on, trying to find out what was going on and whether she’d be staying or going. On the surface, it seemed like I was considerate and cared about her, but my words were full of trickery and I wasn’t being genuine at all. I really was too deceitful and evil. The nature of how I spoke was the same as the serpent that tempted Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge with nice-sounding and misleading words. I was cunning in my words and actions, deceiving and toying with others. I was being devilish. If I didn’t change, I’d likely sin with my words and offend God and His disposition. When I realized this, I said a prayer, wanting to repent and change, and to stop living by an evil disposition.

Later, I read more of God’s words that gave me a path of practice. Almighty God says, “My kingdom requires those who are honest, those who are not hypocritical or deceitful. Are not the sincere and honest people unpopular in the world? I am just the opposite. It is acceptable for the honest people to come to Me; I delight in this kind of person, and I also need this kind of person. This is precisely My righteousness(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 33). “Being an honest person is a requirement God has of man. It is a truth that man must practice. What, then, are the principles man should observe in their dealings with God? Be sincere: This is the principle that should be followed when interacting with God. Do not engage in the unbelievers’ practice of currying favor or brown-nosing; God has no need of man’s brown-nosing and favor-currying. It’s enough to be sincere. And what does it mean to be sincere? How should this be put into practice? (Simply opening up to God, without putting up a front or hiding anything or keeping any secrets, meeting God with an honest heart, and being straightforward, without any deceit or trickery.) That’s right. To be sincere, you must first put aside your personal desires. Instead of focusing on how God treats you, say what is in your heart, and do not ponder or consider what the consequences of your words will be; say whatever you are thinking, put aside your motivations, and do not say things just to achieve some objective. When you have too many personal intentions and contaminants, you are always calculated in the way you speak, considering, ‘I should talk about this, and not that, I must be careful about what I say. I will put it in a way that benefits me, and which covers up my shortcomings, and will leave a good impression on God.’ Do you not have motivations? Before you open your mouth, your mind is filled with devious thoughts, you emend what you want to say several times, so that when the words come out of your mouth they are no longer so pure, and are not in the slightest bit genuine, and contain your own motives and the schemes of Satan. This is not what it is to be sincere; this is having sinister motives and ill intentions. What’s more, when you talk, you always take your cues from God’s facial expressions and the look in His eyes: If He has a positive expression on His face, you keep talking; if not, you hold it in and say nothing; if the look in God’s eyes is bad, and it seems as if He doesn’t like what He is hearing, you think it over and say to yourself, ‘Well, I’ll say something that interests You, that makes You happy, that You will like, and which makes You well-disposed toward me.’ Is this being sincere? It is not(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Ten (Part Two)). From God’s words I understood that God likes honest people. Honest people speak simply and openly, and are frank with God and other people, without deceit or pretense. They tell everything like it is, and are clear and direct. That’s how a normal person should be. I saw that quite a few of the brothers and sisters were working on being honest people. When they saw someone violate the principles of the truth, they’d fellowship and help them, or prune and deal with them. They were forthright, and helped and supported each other. They opened up in fellowship at gatherings and they were so free. I admired them and wanted to strive to be an honest person like God requires. There were some things I didn’t understand and some of my views might be wrong, but at least I shouldn’t harbor any deceit, and I needed to have the right intentions. That’s what’s key. Understanding this brightened my heart, and I gained clarity on a path of practice.

Not long after that, I wrote an evaluation of another leader, Sister Chen Xiao. I thought to myself: “I don’t know her very well. If I’m not clear in my evaluation, will the upper leader say I lack discernment and look down on me? Maybe I should write more about her strengths?” When I thought that, I realized that I was trying to play games again. Evaluations are no small matter—they impact promotions and dismissals. Lying about that would offend God. I couldn’t write based on my own interests, so I hurried to pray to God and forsake myself. I read this passage of God’s words. “To protect your fame and your reputation, you speak in such a roundabout way, and put so much thought into every word you say. Your life is indeed exhausting! If you live in this way, will God be happy? Deceitful people are whom God loathes most. If you wish to cast off Satan’s influence and be saved, you must accept the truth. You must begin by being an honest person, saying true and real things, not being constrained by emotion, ridding yourself of pretense and trickery, and coming to speak and act with principles. Living like this is free and happy, and you are able to live before God(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’s words gave me a path of practice. I couldn’t be insincere to protect my reputation and status. That’s not a true human likeness. God requires us to be honest people, we should be truthful and not think of our own reputations and status. I had to write whatever I knew and leave out anything I wasn’t clear on, and not worry what others thought of me. So, I objectively and fairly wrote out my understanding of Chen Xiao in line with the facts and sent it off. By doing this I felt very calm and at peace. Thank God for His guidance!

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