The Bonds of Corruption
By Wushi, China
March 2020 I went to hold an election at a church I was responsible for, and Sister Chen was elected as church leader. I felt Sister Chen was of good caliber, but because she’d just started to perform the duty of church leader, she wasn’t very familiar with church work, so I decided to stay there and train her for a while. To help the sister get familiar with and master the church work as quickly as possible, I went to every group meeting with her, and I told her about some principles of church work. It wasn’t long before she became familiar with the work, and she focused on seeking the truth when she ran into problems, and her fellowship onwas illuminating. Some brothers and sisters attending the meetings raised some questions, and sometimes before I’d even thought it through, Sister Chen was able to react immediately, promptly finding God’s words to help communicate a solution. When discussing the work, she was also able to integrate a problem and find relevant principles for solving it. Seeing that Sister Chen was quite capable at doing work, and was progressing quickly, I suddenly felt under some pressure: I was responsible for her work, so I needed to be better at fellowshiping solutions to problems than her. But there were some things I hadn’t considered as thoroughly as she had, so would the others find a leader who had just been elected more capable than me? It was then that I thought, “No, I have to prove my work capabilities. I can’t let the brothers and sisters look down on me.” From then on, when I went to further meetings with the sister, I paid special attention to how the other brothers and sisters fellowshiped, trying to work out what ultimately were the problems with their states, as well as what had caused them, and I was obsessed with rushing to solve those problems before Sister Chen could. But the more quickly I tried to solve them, the more tense I became, and the more difficult it got to organize my thoughts. I therefore couldn’t get a very clear view of the brothers’ and sisters’ states. Later, Sister Chen’s fellowshiping ended up solving the problems. When I listened to our brothers and sisters praising Sister Chen for having communicated clearly and effectively, and they looked to her for help with problems, I felt even more uncomfortable. I hated myself and wondered, how could I be so stupid? How could I not be as good as Sister Chen? I felt a vague sense of negativity. If things went on that way, I figured I’d be left in the dust.
I remember one day I had a meeting with Sister Chen and several recently elected deacons, in which I discovered that they had not yet grasped the principles about electing individuals. This led to the election of some unsuitable people to serve as group leaders in the church. I looked at these matters, and felt somewhat concerned. Thinking about the fact that I had been a leader for longer than Sister Chen, and that I had a bit better understanding of the principles about electing people, I thought I could explain the matter to them effectively, and this could be an opportunity for our brothers and sisters to see that I understood the truth and had a clear grasp of matters, and that I was still better than Sister Chen. So, I found some relevant principles, and we all discussed them together. Sister Chen incorporated these principles and discussed what sort of person should be chosen to serve as a group leader. I listened as Sister Chen fellowshiped without using real examples, and I secretly liked it. Sister Chen had been in a leadership position for only a short time, and didn’t have much experience. I would use real examples next, and our brothers and sisters would hear that I could give lots of examples and details, and would certainly feel that I was worthy of being responsible for the work, and that my fellowshiping was meticulous and comprehensive. When I thought about this, I felt pleased with myself. I cleared my throat, smiled, and talked about all the various problems and errors other churches encountered in the elections. I talked about them all for a while, and after I had finished speaking, I just waited for other brothers’ and sisters’ praise. Suddenly, Sister Chen said that currently, the church’s main problem was that the brothers and sisters did not understand the principles of electing group leaders, and that we needed to fellowship clearly on the truths about that. She said that most of the examples I had given were not in line with the actual issues very well. Just after Sister Chen had finished speaking, another deacon expressed agreement. I didn’t feel too good at the time. The things both of them had said struck me in quite a negative manner, and I was totally confused. Those deacons were all looking at me, making me feel ashamed. I originally thought that I would be able to save some face, but things had taken a turn for the worse. Not only could I not save face, but I was even more embarrassed. Would the others think that even though I’d been a leader for so long, I still wasn’t the equal of a leader who had only just been elected, that I was no good? As soon as this dawned on me, I couldn’t look everyone in the eyes, and just sat there awkwardly. Pretty soon, a deacon asked Sister Chen a question, and she provided very clear fellowship in response. I felt like I’d been completely outdone by her, and all that nervous energy in me just brought me to my knees. It was as if I’d been utterly defeated, and I couldn’t even lift my head. I thought again about Sister Chen’s good caliber and her rapid progress. She was better than me in lots of ways. I felt worse the more I thought about it and like she’d snatched the limelight away from me. I started to develop a bias against her and didn’t even want to continue partnering with her in my duty. After the gathering, Sister Chen suggested we attend a group’s gathering together a couple days later. Without so much as a glance, I said stiffly, “Sister Zhou and I have arranged to visit another group that day.” Her face flushed and she seemed a little uneasy. Seeing I was just ignoring her, she left.
On the way home, I thought about the gathering Sister Chen was going to alone. She didn’t know that group of people very well. What if something came up that would need mutual discussion to resolve? If I didn’t go and she ran into something she didn’t know how to address, would that hold up our work? I wanted to go back and find her, but when I thought about how humiliated I’d been in that gathering, I was really miffed and I started pitting myself against her: “Since your caliber is so great and you’re good at everything, you can do it yourself.” And so, my corrupt disposition overpowered my pangs of conscience. Without any hesitation, I got on my bike and rode straight home. That night I lay in bed tossing and turning, totally unable to sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about how quickly Sister Chen had been making progress, how the brothers and sisters all admired her. If I stayed in that church, wouldn’t I just be like a prop for her? I figured I may as well leave this church. But this thought left me feeling uneasy. Sister Chen was doing really well, but she and some of the deacons were all new. There were lots of principles they didn’t fully understand, so they would be prone to making mistakes. That would be bad for the work of God’s house. I knew I should stay there and help them for a while longer, that taking off so suddenly would be irresponsible. I realized I wasn’t in a good state, so I came before God and prayed, asking Him to guide me to understand His will and know myself.
The next day I ran into a passage of His words in “The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct,” paragraph 5: “Let no person think of themselves as perfect, or distinguished and noble, or distinct from others; all this is brought about by man’s arrogant disposition and ignorance. Always to think oneself distinctive—this is an arrogant disposition; never being able to accept their shortcomings, and never being able to confront their mistakes and failures—this is caused by an arrogant disposition; never permitting others to be higher than oneself, or to be better than oneself—this is caused by an arrogant disposition; never permitting others to be superior or stronger than them—this is caused by an arrogant disposition; never permitting others to have better thoughts, suggestions, and views than oneself about a matter, and, when they do, becoming negative, not wishing to speak, feeling distressed and dejected, and becoming upset—all of this is caused by an arrogant disposition. An arrogant disposition can make you cherish your reputation, unable to accept others’ guidance, unable to confront your own shortcomings, and unable to accept your own failures and mistakes. More than that, when someone is better than you, it can cause hatred and jealousy to arise in your heart, and you can feel constrained, such that you do not wish to do your duty and become slipshod in performing it. An arrogant disposition can cause these behaviors and practices to arise in you” (Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words are extremely clear. When people live in arrogance, they want to come out on top in every way, to be better than others. That sort of person puts their reputation and status above all else. When they can’t outdo others or gain others’ approval, they become negative and despairing, and don’t even want to do their duty anymore. I saw I was the type of person God was exposing. I had a really arrogant disposition and longed for name and status. When I was first getting to know Sister Chen, I thought I was more capable in work and better at fellowshiping on the truth to resolve problems, and I was happy to put effort into helping her and fellowshiping with her. But later when I saw how good her caliber was and how quickly she learned, and that the others thought highly of her, I felt like my position was threatened. I started secretly comparing myself to her, competing with her, trying everything to make myself look more competent. I wanted to prove my own capability. Especially with the problem selecting a team leader, I wanted to use my fellowship on the principles to show off and be admired, and as a result, some of it missed the mark, so Sister Chen gave me a heads up. I didn’t reflect on myself, and what’s more, I got a chip on my shoulder about her and didn’t want to work with her anymore. I even wanted to abandon my commission and leave that church. I saw through reflection that I had been totally preoccupied with reputation and status, not at all with doing my duty well. I realized I was totally derelict in my duty. Being laid bare that way was God’s judgment and chastisement of me so that I could reflect and set my incorrect motives and perspectives straight. I had more peace of mind after understanding God’s will.
After that I read more of God’s words where He exposes antichrist dispositions. “When antichrists are fulfilling their duties within a group, their first thought is not to seek the principles their own duties entail, what God requires, or what the rules of God’s house are. Rather, they ask whether fulfilling their duty will result in more people looking up to them, whether the Above will know of it, who in the group is best at their job and who is the supervisor. Once they enter the environments where they are to fulfill their duties, what they think about, what they want to know and understand, is not primarily related to the truth, nor resolving the issue of how to fulfill their duties, nor how to avoid causing interruptions or disturbances, nor how they would be able to fulfill their duties well and satisfy God’s will. Rather, their first thought is about getting a foothold for themselves within the group, securing their position, winning admiration, and standing out from the group. They think about how they can be above other people and how they can become the group leader. In doing so, are they fulfilling their duty? (They are not.) What have they come to do? (To hold an office.) They say, ‘As for me, in the secular world I want to outdo everyone else. Whatever group I’m in, I will always be the boss, I’ll never play second fiddle. No one better try to make a follower of me. Whatever group I go to, I’m going to be the head, and I want to have the final say. If they don’t listen to me, then I’ll find a way to convince them all and get them to choose me. And once they’ve picked me, then what I say goes, and I’ll do whatever I like.’ In any group, when an antichrist performs their duties, they are not content to be an insignificant follower. What are they most passionate about? Giving orders and making others do what they want. They are not passionate about fulfilling their own duties, working harder, paying a greater price, expending more time and energy, or fulfilling the share that falls to them. Rather, they study how to become people who lead others in matters of staffing and in their professions. They are not willing to be led by others. They are not willing to be followers or to go quietly about fulfilling their duties without fanfare. Whatever their duties, if they cannot be front and center, if they cannot be the leader, they find no purpose in fulfilling their duties. If they cannot have things their own way, it is even less interesting to them, and they have even less desire to fulfill their duties. But if they can be front and center while fulfilling their duties and get to have the final say, then they will do their part with more vigor than anyone. In their hearts, they understand their duty to be standing head-and-shoulders above others, satisfying their need to surpass others, and satisfying their desires and ambitions” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Seven)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s words dissect why people never want to be secondary to anyone else, why they chase after reputation and status. They’re driven by the desire to be adored and admired, and this is the path of an antichrist. Status is more important than anything else for antichrists. They never do their duty to understand the truth or to apply the principles, and they really don’t care about satisfying God. They’re just scheming ways to lord over others, how to get people to admire and follow them to achieve their wild ambition of seizing people from God. Compared to God’s words on antichrists, I saw that I hadn’t gotten to a point quite that serious yet, but I was displaying signs of an antichrist disposition. When I saw Sister Chen making so much progress and being praised by brothers and sisters, I started to dislike her and exclude her. I felt like she kept me from shining, that she stole my thunder. I was living by “Stand out above the rest” and “There can only be one alpha male,” these sorts of satanic poisons. I was constantly fighting for status, to be first. I felt like whoever was on top had power and had the final say, and that power and status were more important than anything. I even treated God’s church as my own personal arena to fight for status, to satiate my unhinged desires. I was on an antichrist’s path, opposing God, and seriously offending God’s disposition. I saw how dangerous the path I was on was and how much God hated it. There was also the fact that Sister Chen was new to her duty, so if she had been constrained, held back in her work, and this had harmed her duty, that would be me doing evil. I felt really guilty and saw how I was living by my satanic disposition, just struggling for position. That not only harmed and hindered others, but I could also be eliminated for doing evil and disrupting the church’s work. I really saw that going after personal status is not a good path to take. I felt genuinely afraid and didn’t want to live within that corrupt disposition anymore. I wanted to repent to God.
After that, I read God’s words to find a path of practice. God’s words say: “If God made you foolish, then there is meaning in your foolishness; if He made you bright, then there is meaning in your brightness. Whatever expertise God gives you, whatever your strengths, however high your IQ, they all have a purpose for God. All these things are preordained. The role you play, the duty you fulfill—God also determined these long ago. Some people are not convinced. They want to change things by learning more, seeing more, and being more diligent. But they cannot transcend. Over time, they will learn this from experience. No matter how much you fight, you cannot fight destiny. God has determined what you will be and your fighting this is futile. Whatever you are good at, that is where you are to make an effort. Do not try to apply yourself by force to areas outside your skillset and do not envy others. Everyone has their function. Do not think that you can do everything yourself, that you are perfect, that you are better than others, desiring always to take on other people’s work, putting yourself and no one else on display. This is a corrupt disposition. For example, perhaps you are quite good at keeping time when you dance—this is where you should become an arbiter, achieve breakthroughs, master the principles, and perform your duty well. Some people like to design clothing and are relatively skilled at it. This, then, is where you should make an effort and advance your studies. There are those who think that they cannot do anything well. If that is the case, you should just be a person who listens conscientiously to the directions of others. Do what you can do and do it well, with all your strength. That is enough. God will be satisfied” (“The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). By reading God’s words, I saw that however great someone’s caliber is or what kinds of gifts they have is all predestined by God, and it all contains God’s wisdom. God doesn’t need us to understand everything, be able to do everything, be better than everyone else. He wants us to fill our own roles well. If we can put our own strengths, our own parts to the best use, He is happy. If we’re arrogant and self-assured, always wanting to go fight for ourselves, we’ll just make fools of ourselves and live miserable lives. I also found a path of practice in God’s words, which is being brave enough to admit my shortcomings. I didn’t have Sister Chen’s caliber or her work skills. Those were facts, determined by God. I needed to be reasonable and submit to God’s rule and arrangements, dutifully be a decent person, put my heart into my duty, and give more thought to how to work hand in hand with Sister Chen so we could take on the church’s work as a team. That was really God’s will. God’s words also mentioned that the work of God’s house can’t be taken on by any one person. Everyone needs to work together. We all look at things differently, so when we compensate for each other’s weaknesses, we’ll be able to consider things from a broader perspective. It’s only when we’re really united that the Holy Spirit guides us, and we can be effective in our duties. Once I realized all of this, I sought out Sister Chen and opened up to her about my state over that period of time, and I offered her an apology. From then on, in gatherings together, I didn’t try to make my fellowship better than hers anymore, but I listened carefully when she was talking and gave it heartfelt consideration. If she missed something, I tried to pitch in with my fellowship. I shared just as much as I understood, no more. With that kind of collaboration, our fellowship became more and more effective, and Sister Chen and I were closer than ever.
Sister Chen was promoted a couple months later, and we were working side-by-side. We jointly managed a few churches’ work. One day, we got a message from a leader saying that one part of our work had been really successful. This left me feeling kind of down, because if the leader knew that was taken care of by Sister Chen, would she think more of her? That evening, Sister Chen asked me how she could do that work to make it more effective. I thought, “This work has already yielded results. If we talk it out together, it can only get better and better. Then wouldn’t that really make her look better than me?” At that thought, I didn’t want to discuss it with her anymore. But then I realized I was falling into a state of fighting for name and gain again, so I made the effort to pray to God and forsake my flesh. And these words of God came to mind: “Do not always do things for your own sake and do not constantly consider your own interests; give no thought to your own status, prestige, or reputation. Also do not consider the interests of man. You must first give thought to the interests of God’s house, and make them your first priority. You should be considerate of God’s will and begin by contemplating whether or not you have been impure in the fulfillment of your duty, whether you have done your utmost to be loyal, done your best to fulfill your responsibilities, and given your all, as well as whether or not you have wholeheartedly given thought to your duty and the work of God’s house. You must give consideration to these things. Think about them frequently, and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God says we can’t only think of our own interests, but that the interests and the work of God’s house have to come first. We have to do things to benefit others’ life entry. That’s the only way to show we’re devoted to our duty. I knew I had to do what God requires, so I talked with Sister Chen about how we could work on that work, the current issues, and how we could address them. In a gathering the next day, I gave fellowship on my recent state and what I understood from that. The more I shared, the more I felt that pursuing name and status really isn’t a good path. I felt so much disgust and hatred toward myself. I didn’t want to be reined in by my satanic disposition anymore. I felt happy to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and to do my duty, down-to-earth. Since then, whenever I run into problems, I pray to God and really think about what would benefit God’s house. I’ve learned to pick up on Sister Chen’s strong points so we can make up for each other’s weaknesses. Doing this left me feeling at ease and at peace, and we’re much more efficient in our duty. This little bit of change I’ve achieved has been entirely thanks to God’s judgment and chastisement. Thanks be to God!