The Aftermath of My Recommendation
By Xiangshang, USA
Early last year, I was elected as a church leader. At first, I felt I was really lacking, so I often prayed to God and pondered how I should do my duty. When I encountered things I didn’t understand or problems I couldn’t solve, I would write them down and then seek and fellowship with my coworkers. If I found that brothers or sisters had a problem, I would go and fellowship with them in a timely way. After a little while, I grasped some principles for performing church work, and when discussing work, everyone agreed with most of my viewpoints. When brothers and sisters encountered a problem or difficulty, they were happy to come to me for fellowship. Seeing this, I felt very pleased with myself. I felt I had good caliber, was capable, and was up to the task as a leader.
As our gospel work expanded, church membership continued to grow and quite a few new gathering places were added. I was rushing around to group meetings every day, and also had to water newcomers. Leaders were worried that it was too much to take on and it would delay the work, so they were keen to partner me with another leader as soon as possible. I figured, everyone could see that the workload had increased, so if I shouldered it all on my own, everyone would surely see me as talented and capable, and see me in a new light. I came up with excuses and said that there was no need to match me with anyone for the time being. I was incredibly busy during that time. Sometimes, I didn’t even have time for morning devotionals and went to bed really late at night. The sisters around me all said I should find a partner. Later on, I really felt that I had bitten off more than I could chew and finally told the leaders what was actually going on. I recommended that I be partnered with Sister Wang and the brothers and sisters were all in favor. At first, I felt that having someone to share the work made things much easier. However, before too long, I found Sister Wang had good caliber, came to understand the truth relatively quickly and was really proactive in her duty. If brothers and sisters had a difficulty or a problem cropped up in the church, she was quicker than me to notice and to deal with it. In particular, her fellowship on the truth was clear and illuminating. The brothers and sisters said it was beneficial for them. Gradually, everyone started going to Sister Wang for fellowship when they had a difficulty or problem. This left me with a feeling that is hard to describe. Before, brothers and sisters would come to me if they had a problem, but now, everyone was looking up to her within such a short period of time. If this carried on, would I be able to hold on to my position of prominence? I also heard a leader say that Sister Wang had good caliber and was worth cultivating. This gave me even more of a sense of crisis. Originally, I thought that as a new leader, she could just share the burden of my work. Little did I know, she would steal my thunder. Would there be a place for me if this went on?
Then, Sister Wang encountered something she didn’t understand in church work and came to ask me. Not wanting to share the details, I just fobbed her off, giving her a rough outline. I was worried I would be sidelined even more when she became familiar with the work. One time, I heard she found that a certain task was progressing slowly, and went directly to the leaders responsible for our work to report the situation and discuss how to resolve it. She also mentioned that a sister I had arranged for watering duty wasn’t a good fit. Hearing this, I was furious and thought: “Always stealing my thunder in front of the brothers and sisters isn’t enough, but you even went to see the leaders without me? Doesn’t this make it look like you’re taking on more than me? And you said someone I appointed was unsuitable. Isn’t this a blatant attempt to get the leaders to think less of me?” I developed a bias against Sister Wang. When she put forward a reasonable suggestion in our work discussions, I didn’t even want to acknowledge it, and if I did accept it, I only did so reluctantly. One time in a coworkers’ meeting, a coworker brought up a few problems within the church that needed addressing for us to fellowship on. This was the first meeting that Sister Wang had chaired, so she was a bit nervous and wanted me to fellowship first. But I really didn’t want to cooperate with her and thought: “Aren’t you so capable? Go and fellowship yourself!” I pointedly didn’t say a word. After a long period of silence, seeing how awkward things were, Sister Wang had no choice but to fellowship first. Afterwards, she asked me to add to what she had said, so I reluctantly shared a bit. That meeting wasn’t very productive. Afterwards, I felt a little uneasy. I felt that I hadn’t done my duty or fulfilled my responsibility. I felt really guilty. I came before God and reflected on myself. Sister Wang was partnered with me and she could solve brothers’ and sisters’ problems, which was good for the church’s work. Wasn’t that a good thing? If so, why was I unhappy, and competing against her?
I saw a passage of, “To be a church leader, one must not only learn to use the truth to resolve problems, but also to discover and cultivate people of talent, whom one absolutely must not suppress or envy. Such performance of duty is up to standard, and leaders and workers who do so are up to standard. If you grow able to act in all things according to the principles, you will then be living up to your loyalty. There are some who are always afraid that others are better than they and higher than they, that others will be esteemed while they themselves are neglected. This leads them to attack and exclude others. Is this not a case of being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is such behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious! Thinking only about one’s own interests, satisfying only one’s own desires, showing no consideration for the duties of others or the interests of God’s house—people like this have a bad disposition, and God has no love for them” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). From the words of God, I realized I felt animosity towards Sister Wang and jealous of her ability mainly because I cared too much about reputation and position. Seeing Sister Wang’s good caliber, her proactive approach to her duty, and her ability to solve brothers’ and sisters’ problems, winning everyone’s praise and respect, I felt she threatened my own position, so I resented her and felt animosity towards her. When she found some problems in my duty and asked the leaders how to resolve the matter, my bias and resentment just grew. I felt she hadn’t only stolen my thunder, but had also revealed my shortcomings to leaders. In my mind, I was competing with her. When she put forward some reasonable suggestions, I didn’t want to listen to her. When she couldn’t solve a brother’s or sister’s problem, I looked on and laughed, secretly undermining her, which ended up making our meeting ineffective. I was obsessed with reputation and position. I considered my own interests, not caring in the least about protecting the work of the house of God. I was so selfish and base, revealing a malicious satanic disposition. It was disgusting to God!
Then, I saw these words of God: “Cooperation among brothers and sisters is itself a process of offsetting one’s weaknesses with another’s strengths. You use your strengths to compensate for others’ shortcomings, and others use their strengths to make up for yours. This is what it means to offset one’s weaknesses with others’ strengths, and to cooperate in harmony. Only when cooperating in harmony can people be blessed before God, and, the more of this one experiences, the more practicality they possess, the path becomes ever brighter, and they become ever more at ease” (“On Harmonious Coordination” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “What should people do to be useful when working alongside others? Making up for and pointing out one another’s shortcomings, keeping an eye on each other, seeking and consulting with each other” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). From God’s words I realized that having a partner isn’t just about having someone share work like I had thought, nor is it someone to compete against or compare to. Most importantly, in doing our duty, we need to complement and supervise each other, and bring things to the other’s attention. I thought about how, after Sister Wang partnered with me, she discovered quite a few finer issues in our work that I wasn’t aware of, and her fellowship on the truth was illuminating and she was able to solve some practical problems and difficulties. This helped the church’s work. She discovered problems and took the initiative to ask leaders to help resolve them. This was the expression of taking on a burden, and it was to uphold the work of God’s house. But I felt resentment and annoyance towards her. Wasn’t this clearly going against the truth and positive things? What’s more, if Sister Wang hadn’t realized the person I arranged was unsuitable and stepped in in time, the church’s work would have been compromised, and that would have been a transgression on my part. Sister Wang’s bringing up problems also allowed me to self-reflect, to see that in my duty in the future, I needed to be more diligent and seek the principles more. This helped and made up for my shortcomings.
In my work with Sister Wang from then on, when I felt jealous of her, I would consciously pray to God and forsake myself. I could put my jealousy aside and I didn’t feel so miserable. When she made reasonable suggestions, I worked with her to carry them out. Putting this into practice left me feeling more free.
After a while, when I saw a few brothers and sisters with difficulties go to Sister Wang for fellowship, it started to bother me again. The two of us clearly shared responsibility, so why did they only go to her and not me? Was I really so lacking? I knew this way of thinking was wrong, but just couldn’t help feeling that way. Later, there were more and more newcomers that I was responsible for watering and new groups were organized in gatherings. I should have taken Sister Wang with me, but if I took her, what would I do if the brothers and sisters in those groups went to her with their problems? So, I didn’t take her. For several days I felt really uneasy and unsettled, but I didn’t quiet my heart and reflect on the root of my unease. One day, a leader mentioned in passing that Sister Wang was quite young and used to be short-tempered and capricious in her duty. Hearing this, I felt quite pleased because it seemed the leader’s impression of her wasn’t as good as I had thought. I then added my two cents’ worth: “Yes, when she’s doing her duty she likes to be the center of attention and show off.” I later heard that another church had a leadership position to fill, and the leaders were considering whether to transfer someone over from our church. I thought to myself: “If Sister Wang does her duty at that church, we’ll each have our own turf. Then won’t my position here be more secure?” The next day, I went to see a leader and suggested that Sister Wang be transferred to be responsible for that church, and that I could take on a bit more work here. However, the leader said that that church already had a suitable candidate. I was really crestfallen to hear that. Since Sister Wang wasn’t going to that church, I still had to take her to the new gathering locations. At the thought of that, I felt like I was just giving up my position to her. I sat there motionless, with an internal battle raging. Then these words of God suddenly came to mind: “Each of you, as people who serve God, must be able to defend the interests of the church in everything you do, instead of simply considering your own interests. It is unacceptable to act alone, undermining each other. People who behave like that are not fit to serve God! Such people have a terrible disposition; not an ounce of humanity remains in them. They are one hundred percent Satan! They are beasts!” (“Serve As the Israelites Did” in). I could feel that God’s disposition will tolerate no offense. I was unwilling to partner with Sister Wang, and even deliberately left her out of gatherings, and found an excuse to get her sent away. This disgusted God, and by doing this, I was lacking humanity and showed an entirely satanic disposition. If I didn’t repent, in the end I would be stripped of my duty because I had offended God’s disposition. This thought frightened me a bit. That night, I tossed and turned, unable to sleep. I was thinking, “I know that partnering with Sister Wang is what God wants, that it’s good for the church’s work and also good for the life entry of brothers and sisters, but I did everything I could to get her sent away. What kind of a problem is this? What disposition am I being controlled by?” I prayed to God, asking Him to enlighten me to know myself.
One day, I saw a passage of God’s words.says, “Antichrists think of the work of the house of God, including the interests of the church, as entirely their own, as their personal property that should be entirely managed by them, without anyone else interfering. And so the only things they think about when doing the work of the house of God are their own interests, their own status and prestige. They reject anyone who, in their eyes, is a threat to their status and reputation; they suppress and ostracize them. They even exclude and suppress people who are useful and suitable for performing certain special duties. They do not give the slightest consideration to the work of the house of God, nor to the interests of the house of God. If anyone may be a threat to their status, does not submit to them, does not pay them any mind, then they exclude and suppress them and keep them at a distance. They do not allow them to be their partner, and would never permit them any significant position, any important role, within their scope of power. No matter what good deeds these people do—deeds that are of benefit to the house of God—the antichrists will try their hardest to cover these deeds up. They will even twist the facts to claim the credit for good things and push wrongdoing onto others; they stop the brothers and sisters from seeing other people’s strengths and virtues, to prevent these people from being commended and endorsed by the brothers and sisters and threatening their position. … In fact, these people all have strong points, they are all people who love the truth, and are worth nurturing. Only minor faults are found in them, occasional manifestations of corrupt disposition; they all have relatively good humanity. Overall, they are suitable for performing a duty, they accord with the principles for those who perform a duty. But in the eyes of the antichrists, they think, ‘There’s no way I’m going to put up with this. You want to have a role within my domain, to compete with me. That’s impossible, don’t even think about it. You’re more capable than me, more articulate than me, more educated than me, and more popular than me. What would I do if you stole my thunder? You want me to work alongside you? Don’t even think about it!’ Are they considering the interests of the house of God? No. All they are thinking about is how to preserve their own status, so they would rather harm the interests of the house of God than use these people. This is exclusion” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). From what God reveals, it’s clear that antichrists have an evil, malicious nature. They believe “There can only be one alpha male” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme.” They see position and reputation among others as more important than anything. They want to be the only ones at the helm and won’t let anyone surpass them. They do their best to isolate and exclude anyone who can threaten their position and make every effort to cover up the strengths and advantages of others. No matter how much the people around them have done to protect the interests of the house of God, they cover it up, diminish it, and even take the credit for others’ work. I reflected on myself in light of this. Although my actions weren’t as serious as those of the antichrists exposed by God, I was showing the same kind of disposition as an antichrist. Seeing Sister Wang’s good caliber, ability to solve problems and how she was highly regarded by brothers and sisters, I thought she had stolen my limelight, so I developed resentment toward her, always feeling like she was in the way, threatening my position. When we were partnered with each other, worried that I would lose my status, I didn’t take her to several gathering places. I also spoke of her shortcomings in front of a leader, without saying anything about her strengths and advantages. I even wanted to get the leaders to transfer her to another place to do her duty so I could satisfy my wild ambition to be alone here running the show and deciding everything myself. I had used such evil and base tactics to exclude Sister Wang. How was this different from an antichrist’s authoritarianism and hunger for power? I thought of the antichrists who had been expelled who were always pursuing status. To achieve their goal of lording over everyone and being in power forever, they saw anyone who could threaten their position as a thorn in their side, stopping at nothing to attack and ostracize others, without a thought for the work of God’s house. They ended up committing all kinds of evil and were expelled. I was doing things with the disposition of an antichrist, so wasn’t I on the path of an antichrist? This realization frightened me. Without the judgment and revelation of God I never would have known myself. I don’t know how much more I would have done to resist God. I saw I was living by the satanic poison of “There can only be one alpha male.” This was the image of Satan, totally lacking humanity. I felt nauseated and disgusted with myself. I came before God and prayed: “God, recently I have been blinded by fame and status. I excluded the sister I was partnered with to hold onto power. I’m so rebellious! God, I am willing to repent and do my duty harmoniously with Sister Wang.”
Later, I saw this passage of God’s words: “Harmonious cooperation requires letting others have their say and allowing them to make alternate suggestions, and it means learning how to accept others’ help and tips. Sometimes people say nothing, and you should prompt them for their opinion. Whatever problems you encounter, you should search for the principles of the truth and try to reach consensus. Doing things in this way will result harmonious cooperation. As a leader or a worker, if you always think yourself above others, and revel in your duty like some government official, always coveting the trappings of your station, always making your own plans, always running your own operation, always striving for success and promotion, then this is trouble: acting like some government official in this way is extremely risky. If you always act like this, not wishing to work with others, not wanting to dilute your power and share it with anyone else, not wanting anyone else to have the upper hand, to steal the limelight, if you only want to enjoy the power on your own, then you are an antichrist. But if you often seek the truth, if you turn your back on the flesh, on your own motivations and designs, if you take it upon yourself to work with others, and often open up to them, asking their advice and seeking guidance from them, if you are able to take other people’s opinions on board, and listen carefully to their thoughts and ideas, then this is the right path and direction” (“They Would Have Others Obey Only Them, Not the Truth or God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s words describe the path of practice very clearly! The most important thing for partnering harmoniously with others is putting ourselves aside and learning from others’ strengths, carefully listening to others’ opinions and reaching out for help when we don’t understand something. I realized I didn’t really have particular capability and I especially didn’t have any truth reality. God elevated me to do this duty as a chance to train myself, allowing me to gain the truth and grow in life. But when I accomplished a little bit, I wanted to be high up, occupying a leading position. I even wanted to monopolize that position, hold all the power, and be a lone wolf. I was so unreasonable! Realizing this, I was full of regret and self-hatred. I quickly started taking Sister Wang to the new gathering points and briefed her in detail so she could get up to speed as quickly as possible. Sister Wang had a sense of burden and was attentive in her duty, and she focused on seeking truth principles. I no longer saw this as a threat to my position. Instead, I thanked God for arranging such a partner to help me. From then on, whenever I encountered a question I didn’t know the answer to, I would seek out Sister Wang for fellowship, and when brothers and sisters had a problem I couldn’t solve, I would have them seek her out. Putting this into practice gave me a sense of liberation and the church’s work could progress smoothly. Seeing all this, I thought that if Sister Wang had been sent away as I had wanted, I wouldn’t have been able to handle this work on my own. The church’s work would have surely suffered and been delayed. That really would have been doing evil! The more I thought about it, the more I felt how great the partner God had arranged for me was. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart.
A few months later, I found that Sister Lin in our church had good caliber and understood the truth, and she was also more mature than me. According to principle, she was more suited to being a church leader than I. I wanted to recommend her. Then it occurred to me that my position would be in jeopardy if she became a church leader. Just then, I thought of this passage 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 learn to back off, 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, and the more space will open up 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!” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). The words of God gave me a path of practice. I had to consider the church’s work first and no longer think of my selfish desires. Sister Lin was more suited to being a church leader than I was, so I should recommend her. This was God’s will and was the only upright thing to do. So, I recommended her. After she became a church leader, I shared everything I knew with her, without reservation, and supported and cooperated with her work as much as I could, providing suggestions. Seeing Sisters Lin and Wang do their duty with a burden and achieve results, winning everyone’s affirmation, I was close to tearing up. But this time, it wasn’t because I felt like I’d lost status. It was seeing everyone partnering together to uphold the work of God’s house. I was moved in a way I can’t describe. Through all of this, I truly experienced how critical putting the truth into practice and partnering harmoniously with others is in order to do your duty well.