Reporting a False Leader: A Bumpy Road
By Li Ming, USA
In July 2019, I had just elected by my brothers and sisters as church leader, and my partner was Sister Lin. Sister Lin had believed in God for longer than me, and she had been a leader for several years. I thought, “This must mean she possesses some realities of truth. In the future, I’ll have to seek more with her and work with her to do church work together.” I was surprised when, after a period of contact, I found that her fellowship at meetings was mostly words of doctrine, she never analyzed her own corruption. She often exalted herself and showed off, talking about what duties she did, how far she traveled, or how much she suffered, and when she was dealt with, how she persisted in her duties and satisfied God’s will. When the brothers and sisters heard her fellowship, some were moved to tears, and others sadly said, “If we had performed our duties properly, you wouldn’t have been dealt with.” I was a little shocked when I saw these things. I thought, “Isn’t fellowship like this showing off to make others admire and worship her?” Once, I gave her a reminder about her behavior. I said, “You are exalting yourself and showing off with fellowship like that.” When I finished, I was taken aback when she answered unhappily, “How was I exalting myself and showing off? Everything I said was a fact. If that was wrong, how should I fellowship?” Seeing her attitude, I could only say, “You should read God’s word and reflect on yourself.”
Before long, without mentioning anything to me, Sister Lin transferred a sister to preach the gospel who was unskilled at it, and transferred the sister who was skilled at preaching to another duty, which directly impacted the progress of gospel work. After just a few days, without considering the actual background, Sister Lin transferred a newcomer without roots in the true way to preach the gospel. The pressure made the newcomer so miserable he nearly stopped believing. Luckily the watering deacon offered help and support in time and the newcomer’s state improved. When I heard about these things, I reminded her again that we have to have principles, can’t act arbitrarily, and need to speak with partners before deciding things. But she refused to accept, denied responsibility, and defended herself. I saw that she didn’t reflect or know herself at all. I also recalled how her fellowship was always words of doctrine, and how she acted arbitrarily and didn’t seek principles of truth. I was certain she was a false leader, and I wanted to report it to my leader, but I was also a little hesitant. I thought, “Sister Lin has been a leader for years now. Recently, our leaders discussed promoting her. If I report her as a false leader now, won’t our leaders say I am too arrogant, and that I’m blindly accusing others after just becoming a leader? Also, if Sister Lin learns I reported her, she might say something negative about me to our leaders. Will our leaders dismiss me if that happens?” Once I thought of that, I didn’t want to report her. But if I didn’t report her, she would continue to be a leader, which would harm our brothers and sisters, and damage church work. Over those few days, I felt very conflicted and unsure what to do, so I went before God and prayed to ask God to help me understand His will and find a path of practice.
After I prayed, I read a passage of: “What is the cause of the emergence of the category of people who are leaders and workers, and how did they emerge? On a grand scale, they are required for God’s work; on a smaller scale, they are required for the work of the church, they are required by God’s chosen people. … The difference between their duty and that of other people is a matter of a special characteristic of theirs. What special characteristic is that? What is principally highlighted is the function of leadership. For example, there is a team of people with a person leading them; if this person is referred to as a ‘leader’ or as a ‘worker,’ what is their function within the team? (The function of leadership.) What effect does this person’s leadership have on the people they lead and on the team as a whole? It affects the team’s direction and its path. This implies that if this person in a position of leadership walks the wrong path, then, at the very least, it will cause the people beneath them and the entire team to veer from the right path; beyond that, it might disrupt or destroy the entire team’s direction as they move forward, as well as their speed and pace. So when it comes to this group of people, the path they follow and the direction of the path they choose, the extent to which they understand the truth as well as their belief in God affect not only themselves, but all the brothers and sisters who are within the scope of their leadership. If a leader is a right person, one who is walking the right path and pursues and practices truth, then the people they lead will eat and drink properly and seek properly, and, at the same time, the leader’s personal progress will be constantly visible to others. So, what is the correct path that a leader should walk? It is being able to lead others to an understanding of the truth and an entry into the truth, and to lead others before God. What is an incorrect path? It is frequently to elevate oneself and to bear witness to oneself, pursuing status, fame, and profit, and never bearing witness to God. What effect does this have on the people beneath them? (It brings those people before them.) People will stray far from God and come under this leader’s control. If you lead people to come before you, then you are leading them to come before corrupt mankind, and you are leading them to come before Satan, not God. Only leading people to come before truth is leading them to come before God. Leaders and workers, no matter whether they walk the right path or the wrong one, have a direct influence on God’s chosen people. When they have yet to understand the truth, many of God’s chosen ones follow blindly. The leader could be someone good, and they would follow them; the leader could be someone bad, and they would also follow them—they don’t differentiate. Which path the faithful walk is directly related to the path that is walked by the leaders and workers, and can to varying degrees be influenced by those leaders and workers” (“They Try to Win People Over” in Exposing Antichrists). In God’s word, I saw that what kind of path a leader takes and whether they pursue the truth impacts not just themselves, it directly affects the work of the entire church and the life entry of their brothers and sisters. When the church leader is the right person, who pursues the truth and takes the right path, then their brothers and sisters can benefit from them and find it easy to walk the path of salvation. But if church leaders don’t pursue the truth or follow the right path, they can’t guide others in understanding the truth or entry into the realities of God’s word, and they disrupt the work of God’s house. I thought of how Sister Lin didn’t seek the truth when things happened, nor did she reflect on herself, she couldn’t resolve the problems of her brothers and sisters. She spoke words of doctrine in her duties and at meetings, and she exalted herself and showed off, leading her brothers and sisters to worship and admire her. In her duties, she was arrogant, self-righteous, and arbitrary, she never accepted correct advice. If she wasn’t dismissed urgently, she would only disrupt the work of God’s house and harm her brothers and sisters. A false leader like this appearing in our church was a disaster for our brothers and sisters. I also remembered that I had prayed before God and sworn I would protect the interests of God’s house and do my best to perform my duties well, but when something that violated the truth and damaged the church’s interests happened, I retreated into my shell like a frightened tortoise and defended my own interests. I knew Sister Lin was arrogant and arbitrary in her duties, didn’t accept the truth at all, and had already affected the work of God’s house. I should have reported her to my leader, but instead I tried to protect myself, because I was worried Sister Lin would say bad things about me when she found out and our leaders would replace me. I stood by while a false leader disrupted and disturbed the work of God’s house, rather than standing up to protect it. I was selfish and despicable. I had no conscience at all! I knew I couldn’t be selfish anymore. I had to practice the truth, be someone with a sense of justice, stand on God’s side, and protect the interests of God’s house. When I realized that, I decided to report to our leaders.
Later, at a meeting with my leaders, I described all of Sister Lin’s behaviors. When I finished, I was shocked when one of my leaders read several passages of God’s word exposing antichrists and severely pruned and dealt with me, saying I had too much ambition and desire for status and that becoming a leader made me power-hungry. She told me to reflect on myself more and focus my effort on handling church work well with Sister Lin. Our other leader said Sister Lin had good caliber and was capable of practical work. I was stunned after hearing all this. I thought, “How could this be the result? Everything I told them was true, but they blindly dealt with me without investigating. This isn’t solving the problem at all.” At first, I wanted to explain more to them about Sister Lin, but then I thought, if I say any more, the leaders would say I don’t reflect on myself and accept the truth, and dismiss me, and then what would I do? Once I thought about that, I decided to drop it.
One day, a sister reported to me that Sister Lin, as the supervisor of gospel work, did nothing but force those under her to spread the gospel. When people had states or difficulties, she didn’t fellowship to resolve them, which made gospel work less and less effective. She wanted me to fellowship with Sister Lin as soon as possible. I thought, “A leader’s most important work is fellowship on God’s word and resolving the difficulties brothers and sisters have in their duties. Sister Lin gives sermons endlessly, but she doesn’t solve any real problems. Isn’t her fellowship just empty doctrine?” So, I went straight to Sister Lin to discuss this problem. After I finished, I was surprised when she turned on me and said, “Who says I don’t resolve practical problems? Who said it? Which person said that? …” I saw that she didn’t accept the truth at all, and didn’t reflect or understand herself. Her first reaction was to ask who reported the problem. I was even more certain she was a false leader. If she continued her work, she would only harm and delay the work of God’s house. I wanted to report this to our leaders. But then I remembered the last time I reported a problem. Sister Lin wasn’t replaced, and I was dealt with by our leaders. If I reported to them again, wouldn’t our leaders think I was deliberately finding problems with Sister Lin? Wouldn’t they think I was not a right person, that I couldn’t be a good partner? They would condemn me for disrupting the work of God’s house, dismiss me from my duties, and send me for spiritual reflection? When I thought about these things, I started to worry again. But not reporting it left my conscience uneasy, so I went before God and prayed, “God, I clearly know Sister Lin is a false leader I should expose and report, but I always feel constrained by the forces of darkness. I fear being dealt with and dismissed from my duties. God, please guide me and help me to know myself.”
During one of my devotionals, I saw a video reading of God’s word that was very helpful to me.says, “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus causing the work of God’s house to suffer losses, and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? It is none of these; it is that you are being controlled by several kinds of corrupt dispositions. One of these dispositions is cunning. You think of yourself first, thinking, ‘If I speak up, how will it benefit me? If I speak up and displease someone, how will we get along in the future?’ This is a cunning mentality, right? Is this not the result of a cunning disposition? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? Why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. Even if I see it and hear it happen, I don’t need to do anything. It’s not my responsibility—I’m not a leader.’ Such things are inside you, as if they had sprung from your unconscious mind, and as if they occupy permanent positions in your heart—they are the corrupt, satanic dispositions of man. … You never say what you really think. It all has to be pre-edited by your brain, in your mind. Everything you say is a lie, at odds with the facts, it is all in your own spurious defense, to your own advantage. Some people are taken in, and it’s good enough for you: Your words and actions have achieved your objectives. This is what is in your heart, these are your dispositions. You are wholly controlled by your own satanic dispositions. You have no power over what you say and do. Even if you wanted to, you could not tell the truth or say what you really think; even if you wanted to, you could not practice the truth; even if you wanted to, you could not fulfill your responsibilities. Everything you say, do, and practice is a lie, and you’re just sloppy and perfunctory. Evidently, you are wholly shackled and controlled by your satanic disposition. You may want to accept and strive for the truth, but it’s not up to you: You are nothing but a puppet of corrupt flesh, you have become a tool of Satan, you say and do whatever your satanic disposition tells you to. In your heart, you think, ‘I’m going to try hard this time, and I’ll pray to God. I have to take a stand and reprimand those who disrupt the work of God’s house, who are irresponsible in their duty. I must take on this responsibility.’ So with great difficulty, you muster your courage and speak out. As a result, the moment the other person slaps the table and loses their temper, you shrink back. Are you really in charge? What use have your determination and resolve been? They’ve been useless. You’ve surely found yourself in this situation many times. You excuse yourself at the first difficulty, feeling that there’s nothing you can do. You give up on yourself, believing yourself not to be a lover of the truth, and that you’ve been utterly eliminated. It is true that you don’t love the truth, but have you been pursuing the truth? Have you been practicing the truth? Have you understood nothing after hearing the sermons for all these years? Why are you incapable of practicing even a shred of truth? You never seek the truth, much less do you practice the truth. You just keep on praying, building up your determination, making resolutions, and swearing oaths. And what has come from all of this? You are still a yes-man; you don’t provoke anyone, nor do you offend anyone. If a matter is none of your concern, then you will stay away from it, and think: ‘I won’t say anything about things that have nothing to do with me, and this goes without exception. If anything can harm my own interests, my pride, or my self-regard, I will pay none of it any heed, and will approach all of it cautiously; I mustn’t act rashly. The nail that sticks up gets hit first, and I’m not that stupid!’ You are totally under the control of your corrupt dispositions of wickedness, cunning, hardness, and detesting the truth. They are running you into the ground, and have grown harder for you to bear even than the Golden Hoop the Monkey King wore. Living under the control of a corrupt disposition is so exhausting and excruciating!” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I understood from God’s word that I didn’t dare report Sister Lin because I was too selfish and deceitful. When things happened to me, I always considered my own interests instead of church work. I clearly discerned that Sister Lin is a false leader. I knew if she wasn’t replaced urgently, she would harm church work even more and I knew I should keep exposing and reporting her, but I feared that if my report failed, I would be dealt with or even dismissed, so I tried to protect myself and kept one eye shut. In everything, I protected my own interests and ignored the interests of God’s house. I really was too selfish and despicable. I was not only harming my brothers and sisters, I was betraying God’s commission. How could anyone say I loyally fulfilled my duties? I was standing on Satan’s side and serving as a false leader’s accomplice. Although outwardly I wasn’t doing any great evil, there was a false leader disrupting the work of God’s house, but I didn’t practice the truth or protect the work of God’s house. Instead, I tolerated a false leader harming it. How was what I did any different than Sister Lin’s disruptions of church work? Didn’t this also make me a false leader? As I thought of this, I quickly said a prayer to repent to God, saying that I didn’t want to be selfish, despicable, and only protect my own interests anymore, and that I wanted to stand up, practice the truth, and report Sister Lin again.
After that, I arranged a meeting with several church deacons and Sister Xiao, who was in charge of church work. I told them about all of Sister Lin’s behaviors and asked them to discern according to principles and see how we should handle the matter. When I finished, the watering deacon also mentioned a few of Sister Lin’s problems. At the time, Sister Xiao didn’t say anything except that she would investigate the matter, and then the meeting quickly ended. At first, I thought I had clearly reflected the problem, and that Sister Lin would be replaced soon. I never could have imagined that I would be severely pruned and dealt with again. One day, Sister Xiao came to speak with me privately. She said I should come to her if I found some problems, and not speak about Sister Lin in front of the other church deacons. She said I was suppressing someone who had the work of the Holy Spirit, forming a clique, and disrupting church life. She also said I should regard people with a developmental view and not arbitrarily label others. Finally, she asked me, “You reported her as a false leader, so do you have a better replacement in mind? If not, she will keep her duties as a leader. We’ve already looked into it. Sister Lin has enough caliber to perform the duties of a leader….” When I heard her say that, my heart sank instantly. I didn’t even know how to finish the conversation. I sobbed after I went home that night. I didn’t know how to experience this environment. I thought, “Why do things get more and more complicated? Everything I’ve said is a fact, and these are obvious problems. Why won’t you seriously investigate the issue and find out? Why is it that every time I report Sister Lin’s problems, everyone deals with and exposes me?” The more I thought about it, the more I felt wronged. I realized that now, I was someone who was causing a disruption in their eyes. Did that mean our leaders would dismiss me from my duties? Did this mean there was no chance things would go well for me? If that was true, I’d be better off getting out of this environment. “I’d rather just not be a leader. It’s too much torment,” I thought. With those thoughts in my mind, I decided to write a resignation letter. But just as I was getting ready to write it, I felt a deep sense of self-blame. In my misery, I again went before God and prayed through my tears. I said, “God, I don’t know what to do. Please guide me in understanding Your will and show me a path of practice.”
After I prayed, I read a passage of God’s word that helped me understand the principles of how we should treat leaders and workers. God’s words say: “What is the attitude that people should have in terms of how to treat a leader or worker? If what a leader or worker does is right, then you can obey them; if what they do is wrong, then you can expose them, and even oppose them and raise a different opinion. If they are unable to do practical work, and are revealed to be a false leader, a false worker, or an antichrist, then you can refuse to accept their leadership, and you can also report and expose them. However, some of God’s chosen people do not understand the truth and are particularly cowardly, and so they do not dare do anything. They say, ‘If the leader kicks me out, I’m finished; if he has everyone expose or forsake me, then I will no longer be able to believe in God. If I leave the church, then God will not want me and will not save me. The church represents God!’ Do these ways of thinking not affect such a person’s attitude toward those things? Could it really be true that if the leader expels you, you can no longer be saved? Is the question of your salvation dependent upon your leader’s attitude toward you? Why do so many people have such a degree of fear? If, as soon as one who is a false leader or an antichrist threatens you, you do not dare to report it higher up and even guarantee that from then on, you will be of a single mind with the leader, then are you not done for? Is this the sort of person who pursues the truth? Not only do you not dare to expose such wicked behavior as might be committed by satanic antichrists, but on the contrary, you obey them and even take their words as the truth, to which you submit. Is this not the epitome of stupidity? Then, when you are harmed, is that not what you deserve? Has God caused you to be harmed? You have wished it upon yourself. You took an antichrist to be your leader, and treated them as though they were a brother or sister—and that is your fault. What is the attitude with which one should treat an antichrist? One should expose them and struggle against them. If you cannot do this alone, then multiple people must come together and report them. Upon discovering that certain leaders and workers higher up were walking the path of an antichrist, making the brothers and sisters suffer, not doing real work, and coveting the benefits of status, some people signed a petition to remove those antichrists. What a fantastic job these people did! It shows that some people understand the truth, that they possess a certain amount of stature, and that they are neither controlled nor deceived by Satan. This also proves that antichrists and false leaders do not hold a dominant position in the church, and they do not dare to show their true selves too plainly in anything they say and do. If they do reveal themselves, there are people to monitor them, identify them, and spurn them. That is, in the hearts of people who genuinely understand the truth, a person’s status, prestige, and authority are not the things that hold sway; all those who understand the truth have discernment, and they rethink and reflect upon what path people ought to follow in their faith in God, as well as how they should treat leaders and workers. They also begin to think about whom people should follow, which behaviors constitute following people, and which behaviors constitute following God. Having pondered these truths for several years, and listened often to sermons, they have unconsciously come to understand the truths about believing in God, and so they have gained some stature. They have embarked upon the right track of believing in God” (“They Exclude and Attack Those Who Pursue the Truth” in Exposing Antichrists). I contemplated God’s word and realized we should uphold the principles of truth in how we treat leaders and workers, not blindly obey them. When they do the right things that accord with the principles of truth, we should support them and cooperate. But false leaders who don’t do practical work should be exposed, reported, and banished. When I fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters in the past, I always said that in God’s house, the truth and righteousness rule, and that false leaders and antichrists ultimately find no footing here. In the end, they will be revealed and eliminated. But when a false leader actually appeared, I didn’t dare to expose and report her, and mistakenly thought, once I offended my leaders, they would suppress me, punish me, and dismiss me from my duties, and I would lose any hope of salvation. To protect myself, I wanted to compromise, withdraw, and even resign, like a soldier deserting the battlefield. This could produce no testimony and I was a coward. My fate was in God’s hands. My salvation is in His hands, and it was determined by whether I practiced the truth and changed my life disposition, not by any leader. The truth and Christ rule in God’s house, and reporting a false leader was protecting the interests of God’s house, a positive thing, and something in accordance with God’s will. Even if the leaders dealt with me or dismissed me, I believe God examines everything, and sooner or later, the facts will be revealed. I also realized that God allows false leaders to appear in the church so that we can develop real discernment and not be deceived or constrained by them. At the same time, it’s also so that we can practice the truth, stand up, and expose false leaders, and actually fight against Satan, because what God wants are good soldiers of the kingdom, those who can bear witness to God before the evil forces of Satan. As a church leader, my duty was to protect church work, protect my brothers and sisters from the harms of false leaders and antichrists, and guide them in understanding the truth and gaining discernment, so that they can reject false leaders from the heart. Once I realized these things, I understood I shouldn’t feel constrained by my leaders, and I should continue reporting this false leader. So I came before God and prayed. I said, “God, I was wrong. I want to repent, and I want to stop protecting myself and choosing to escape. I put this matter into Your hands. If another chance comes, I will report this false leader. Please open the way for me.”
Not long after that, because they were arrogant, arbitrary, and didn’t do practical work, the leaders above me were replaced one after another. So, I quickly reported Sister Lin’s behavior to the newly elected leaders. At the same time, my brothers and sisters also came to me and fellowshiped with me to evaluate Sister Lin’s behavior, and we unanimously determined she was a false leader and that she had to be reported. When I saw that my brothers and sisters discerned Sister Lin, and they were ready to stand up and protect the interests of God’s house, I was ashamed, because I felt I was negligent. If I could continue to expose and report Sister Lin, my brothers and sisters might develop discernment of her earlier. When I heard our leaders say she would be replaced soon, I was so moved I almost cried.
A few days later, Sister Lin was dismissed from her duties, the church elected a new leader, and all aspects of church work returned to normal. Not long after Sister Lin was dismissed, Sister Xiao, who oversaw our church work, was also dismissed and sent home to reflect for having an arrogant disposition, neglecting her duties, and acting as a shield to a false leader. When I saw these results, I praised God’s righteousness in my heart, but I felt even more ashamed. To protect my own interests, I didn’t consider the interests of God’s house at all. When my report of the false leader was suppressed, I wanted to turn traitor and run away, and I didn’t dare uphold the principles. I had no understanding of God’s righteous disposition. I was truly blind.
After this experience, I genuinely saw how God’s house and the world are different. Everyone in the world lives by satanic worldly philosophies, and only those bootlickers who are insidious can prosper. But the truth, Christ, and righteousness rule in God’s house. Even if false leaders and antichrists hold power for a time, they find no footing in the end. Practicing the truth, protecting the interests of God’s house, and acting with principle is the only way to accord with God’s will.