The Misery of Chasing Status
By Zheng Yuan, China
In 2017, I was selected as a church leader, and I was partnered with two sisters to oversee the work of several churches. When my sisters saw that I worked faster than them and gave some reasonable suggestions when we discussed work, they were very envious, saying that I had good quality and ability to work. I was very happy to hear my sisters say this. I thought, “In the past, my boss valued me at the company where I worked, and after I believed in God, my brothers and sisters supported me. Now, in my duty as a leader, my partners also look up to me. Maybe I really do have a talent. When the leaders above me see my abilities, they will definitely say I’m better than my partners.” Thinking of these, I felt even more inspired in my duties. Over time, I made most of the decisions about church work. My sisters did whatever I arranged for them, and I really enjoyed that feeling.
Later, the leaders arranged for Sister Chen to join us. At meetings, I saw that her fellowship was very practical. I felt I could benefit from being her partner, so I was very happy. But after that, at each meeting, as I saw how practical and bright Sister Chen’s fellowship was and watched the brothers and sisters listen attentively and nod in agreement, I started to worry. I thought, “I used to dominate meetings and fellowship, but now everyone wants to hear her fellowship, so who will look up to me in the future?” I was very jealous because I feared she would surpass me. After that, I saw that when the brothers and sisters had any difficulties in their duties, Sister Chen could immediately offer fellowship to help them, and she implemented work very quickly. In the past, a group wasn’t set up because the right staff couldn’t be found, but it didn’t take her long to get it set up. When our leaders came to meetings, she also made good suggestions regarding church work. All this made me both jealous and envious. I wished I had the same level of caliber so that the brothers and sisters would look up to me more. I even wished our leaders would transfer her elsewhere so that no one could steal my limelight and the brothers and sisters would see me as the best. Later, several churches had elections and the leaders always asked Sister Chen to help manage them. This left me feeling especially lost. Those asked to manage elections are capable people who can discern others. Before, the leaders always asked me to help them. Now, they asked Sister Chen. It seemed like she was very important to the leaders, and that I didn’t matter to the leaders at all. Especially later, for several important church tasks, our leaders put Sister Chen in charge of them, which felt even more unfair to me.
Once, when a church needed to re-elect its leaders and deacons, and Sister Chen didn’t know the details about personnel at this church, the elected watering deacon was in a bad state and passive and negligent in her duties. I knew clearly that this sister wasn’t fit to be watering deacon, but because I was jealous of Sister Chen, I didn’t want to say anything. I thought, “You chose this sister, so it’s your fault for making the wrong choice. Let’s just see if the person you chose can actually do the work.” She managed watering for a few months before being blamed for incompetence and resigning. Later, Sister Chen criticized me twice, for being a people-pleaser and not pointing out problems I was aware of. Although I didn’t argue, I thought to myself, “You are in charge of this work, and you get the credit when it’s done well. Why should I say so much?” During that time, Sister Chen always bothered me, and I deeply resented her. I hated her for stealing the halo from my head, and I was miserable. Later, Sister Chen had a problem in her work and asked for my opinion, and I gave a perfunctory answer. That way, outwardly, I was fulfilling my duties with her, but there was no communication about work or harmonious cooperation at all. Once, there were problems in the work Sister Chen was responsible for, and our leader criticized her for it at a meeting. As Sister Chen sobbed in self-blame, I was happy, and gloated to myself, “Now the brothers and sisters see your real abilities. You don’t look so good anymore, and it looks like my chance to show my talent is here.” Later, I was surprised to see how much our leaders still valued Sister Chen. She was still responsible for several important tasks of the church, and I essentially had a breakdown. I lost all interest in my duties. I even started to get frustrated with them. Once, the video team had some difficulties, and Sister Chen asked me to go resolve them. I didn’t want the bother. I thought, “If I do this, the credit still goes to you, and no one will look at me. You’ve been responsible for this work since you came, so go handle it yourself.” A vicious idea was also exposed in me, “I hope you fail in your work, so that no one looks up to you.” I said, very insistently, “I’m not going.” At that moment, I saw Sister Chen sitting there helpless and silent, and I also felt a little uneasy, because I knew church work is our common duty, and I ought to do this, so I reluctantly agreed to go. But my intentions were wrong, I wanted to prove I was better than Sister Chen, so I lacked God’s protection and guidance in my duties, and the video team’s problems were never resolved. In that period, I lived in a state of fighting for fame and fortune, my spirit grew darker, and I always hit walls in my duties. I didn’t dare say it, because I feared being looked down on. None of the work I oversaw was effective. I was especially miserable then. I thought, “I used to perform my duties so well, my brothers and sisters supported me, and my partners usually listened to me, but now, I only feel abject. It’s because Sister Chen is here that I feel like I can’t do anything well.” At that time, I felt disgusted when I saw Sister Chen. I just wanted to get away to somewhere I didn’t have to see her.
After that, there were many problems in the churches I oversaw. Every aspect of church work was ineffective, it was almost paralyzed, and I felt very guilty about this, but I never sought truth to resolve my state. Our leader asked us to reflect on why our work wasn’t effective, but I lacked knowledge of myself, so I pointed my finger at Sister Chen. I thought that before she came, when I was in charge, our work wasn’t so bad, but now that she was in charge, she was the one who made it this way. Once, as a sister and I were discussing these things, I poured out my dissatisfaction with Sister Chen, and said in so many words that Sister Chen was no good. After that, I felt a little self-blame: Aren’t I judging her behind her back? This is something God hates! But at the time, it was just a passing thought, and I didn’t seriously reflect on myself. Honestly, I’m really too numb and rigid. It took being dismissed to really move my heart. Our leader came to meet us and said the effectiveness of church work was declining, and also that Sister Chen and I didn’t cooperate well. I felt a little uneasy, but had no knowledge of myself, so my gaze was still fixed on Sister Chen. I thought our work only got this bad after she came. Seeing that I didn’t know myself, our leader dealt with me, saying I was fighting for fame and fortune in my duties, I didn’t reflect on myself despite my work being ineffective, that given my state, I wasn’t suited to be a leader, and that I needed a period of spiritual reflection.
Being dismissed was very painful for me. I didn’t know how my brothers and sisters would see me, and the more I thought, the more my spirit darkened. I dozed off while reading God’s word, I couldn’t quiet my heart before God, and I passed the next period in this muddled state. Then, I realized something was wrong with my state, so I prayed to God to ask for His guidance in knowing myself. One day, I saw two passages of God’s word.says, “The antichrists consider their own status and reputation as more important than anything else. These people are not only devious, conniving, and wicked, but also vicious in nature. What do they do when they detect that their status is at risk, or when they lose their place in people’s hearts, when they lose these people’s endorsement and affection, when people no longer venerate and look up to them, and they have fallen into ignominy? They suddenly change. As soon as they lose their status, they don’t want to do anything, and everything they do is shoddy. They have no interest in performing their duty. But this isn’t the worst manifestation. What is the worst manifestation? As soon as these people lose their status, and no one looks up to them, and no one is inveigled by them, out comes the jealousy and revenge, and out comes the hate. They not only have no fear of God, but also lack any shred of obedience. In their hearts, furthermore, they are liable to hate the church, God’s house, and the leaders and workers; they long for the work of the church to run into problems or come to a standstill; they want to laugh at the house of God, and at the brothers and sisters. They also hate anyone who pursues the truth and fears God. They attack and mock anyone who is faithful in their duty and willing to pay a price. This is the disposition of the antichrist—and is it not vicious?” (“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 Two)” in Exposing Antichrists). “If some people see others better than they are, they suppress them, start a rumor about them, or employ some unscrupulous means so that other people don’t look highly upon them, and that no one is any better than anyone else, then this is the corrupt disposition of arrogance and self-rightness, as well as crookedness, deceitfulness and insidiousness, and these people stop at nothing to achieve their aims. They live like this and yet still think they’re great and that they’re good people. However, do they have God-fearing hearts? First of all, to speak from the perspective of the natures of these matters, are not people who act this way simply doing as they please? Do they consider the interests of God’s family? They think only of their own feelings and they want only to achieve their own aims, regardless of the loss suffered by the work of God’s family. Not only are people like this arrogant and self-right, they are also selfish and contemptible; they are utterly inconsiderate of God’s intention, and people like this, without a shadow of a doubt, do not possess God-fearing hearts. This is why they do whatever they want and act wantonly, without any sense of blame, without any trepidation, without any apprehension or worry, and without considering the consequences. This is what they often do, and how they have always behaved. What are the consequences such people face? They will be in trouble, right? To put it lightly, such people are far too jealous and have too strong a desire for personal fame and status; they are too deceitful and treacherous. To put it more harshly, the essential problem is that such people’s hearts are not even the slightest bit God-fearing. They do not fear God, they believe themselves to be of utmost importance, and they regard every aspect of themselves as being higher than God and higher than the truth. In their hearts, God is the least worthy of mention and the most insignificant, and God does not have any status in their hearts at all. Have those who have no place for God in their hearts, and who do not revere God, attained entry into the truth? (No.) So, when they typically go around merrily keeping themselves busy and exerting quite a lot of energy, what are they doing? Such people even claim to have abandoned everything to expend for God and suffered a great deal, but actually, the motive, principle, and objective of all their actions are to benefit themselves; they are only trying to protect all of their own interests. Would you or would you not say that this sort of person is terrible? What kind of people have believed in God for many years, yet have no fear of God? People who are arrogant. And what things most lack the fear of God? Apart from animals, it is the wicked, the antichrists, the devils, and Satan. They have the gall to contend with God; they are bereft of the fear of God” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Seeing these words pierced my heart. Antichrists value position and reputation above all else. They are jealous when they see others pursue the truth, so they attack and exclude them because they fear being surpassed. They will do any wickedness to maintain their status, even hoping their brothers and sisters fail in their duties and work ineffectively. The better God’s house does its work, the worse they feel. They have ferocious dispositions and are devils. My behavior during this period was the same as an antichrist. When I saw that Sister Chen had good caliber, did her work well, fellowshiped on the truth better than me, and earned everyone’s admiration, I was jealous that she stole my limelight and hoped the leaders would transfer her away so that I could still stand out in the church. When I saw the leaders value and cultivate her, I became envious and upset. I knew she had just arrived, wasn’t familiar with church staff, and that the watering deacon wasn’t right for the job, but I said nothing. I just stood by and waited for her to fail. When she tried to discuss work with me, I ignored her. I hoped her work would go badly, so that she would be dismissed and no one would admire her. I even judged and tore her down behind her back, belittled her, and exalted myself to realize my own desire to stand out. I saw that despite my years of faith, I had ignored life entry, I didn’t put the work of God’s house first, and I spent all my time fighting for reputation and status. When I didn’t get them, it felt like losing my life. It made me so jealous that I retaliated against my sister and neglected church work. I was so afraid of Sister Chen doing her work well that I was willing to harm the interests of God’s house to further my own. I didn’t have the slightest fear of God or place for God in my heart. What I did was to act as Satan’s servant, disrupt the work of God’s house, and hinder the work of the church to the point of paralysis. I wasn’t performing my duty at all! I was like a fox in a vineyard, stealing grapes and trampling the vines. My nature was precisely the same as the antichrists exposed by God! I thought of the antichrists around me who were expelled. They took advantage of their duties to show off and exalt themselves in the vain hope of possessing people’s hearts and securing their support. If they see a brother or sister who surpasses them and threatens their status, they attack and retaliate, callously ruin the work of God’s house, ultimately offend God’s disposition, and are revealed and eliminated. I finally saw that chasing status is too dangerous! It was only when I realized this that I felt afraid. I prayed to God for His guidance in knowing myself, repenting, and changing. After I prayed, I asked myself, “Why do I always fight for status and cling to my position? I always chase status, so what is the root cause?”
Later, I saw a passage of God’s word, from “To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God.” “The source of man’s opposition and rebelliousness against God is his corruption by Satan. Because of Satan’s corruption, man’s conscience has grown numb; he is immoral, his thoughts are degenerate, and he has a backward mental outlook. Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words after hearing them. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, man’s original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. Thus, he has lost his obedience and love toward God. Man’s sense has become aberrant, his disposition has become the same as that of an animal, and his rebelliousness toward God is ever more frequent and grievous. Yet man still neither knows nor recognizes this, and merely opposes and rebels blindly. Man’s disposition is revealed in expressions of his sense, insight, and conscience; because his sense and insight are unsound, and his conscience has grown supremely dull, thus his disposition is rebellious against God” (). After reading God’s word, I found the source of the problem. I was so corrupted by Satan that I didn’t know how to live or behave. I only knew how to pursue fame and fortune, and viewed things like “Stand out above the rest,” “Only I reign supreme,” “There can only be one alpha male,” and “Men should always strive to be better than their contemporaries,” these satanic philosophies, as laws to live by. When I saw that Sister Chen surpassed me in all aspects, that the brothers, sisters, and leaders all looked up to and valued her, I thought she robbed me of the limelight, and treated her as a thorn in my eye and flesh. When my sister asked me to discuss work, I wanted to ignore her. I even judged her, tore her down, deliberately belittled her, hoped she would be dismissed for bungling her duties, and I was indifferent to how the work of God’s house might suffer. I saw that as I lived by these Satan’s thoughts and views, I became arrogant, selfish, and vicious, and my humanity was twisted. I would do anything for reputation and status, like the officials of the great red dragon. If anyone surpasses them or threatens their status, they will call them political enemies and ruin them. God, who is supreme, came incarnate and expresses the truth to save humankind, but the CCP feared that if people accept the true way and follow Almighty God, no one will follow or worship it anymore, so they began to frantically hunt Christ and cruelly persecute Christians in the futile hope of creating a godless zone where people only worship and obey the CCP. Checking myself against the great red dragon’s evil, tyranny, brutality, and violence, I felt terrified. Was there any difference between my disposition and the great red dragon? For status, I excluded dissenters and lost all conscience and reason. God had exalted me with the duty of a leader. I should have cooperated with my sister to fulfill our duties and repay God’s love, but I was entranced by my status and compared myself with my sister. I became negative and negligent when I couldn’t surpass her or gain fame, fortune, and status, and I seriously damaged the work of God’s house. I really was negligent in my duty and walking the wrong path!
I reflected and realized there was also a mistaken viewpoint in me. I always thought having status in God’s house made me a useful person, and that I would be saved and perfected, but I didn’t know that God doesn’t look at your status in the church or whether people admire you. God looks at your heart and your attitude toward your duties. In God’s house, if you accept the truth, have the right intentions and act with principle in your duties, obey God, and are loyal to God, only then will God approve of you. I really was ignorant. I didn’t seek God’s will, I lived by satanic philosophies and views, I pursued fame and fortune, and I wanted high status. But seeking those things is a mistake. I was walking the path of the antichrist, and if I didn’t turn back to God, I would be eliminated and destroyed by God. I was dismissed because of God’s righteousness and God’s protection of me. God repeatedly used His words to awaken my numb heart and make me see the truth of my corruption. This is when I realized God’s good intentions. All that God does is to lead me toward the right path. In my heart, I prayed to God to repent and ask Him to guide me in changing my ways.
After that, I saw another passage of God’s word: “Status and prestige are not easily put aside. For those who are somewhat gifted, have some degree of caliber, or are possessed of some work experience, putting these things aside is even harder. … When they have no status, their competitive urge is in the nascent stage; once they have acquired status, when the house of God has entrusted them with some important task, and particularly if they have worked for many years and have a lot of experience and capital, the urge is no longer nascent, but has already taken root, blossomed, and is about to bear fruit. When someone has the constant desire and ambition to do great things, to become famous, to become some great figure, they’re finished. And so before this leads to calamity, you must quickly turn the situation around and put these things to one side. Whenever you do anything—and whatever the context—you must practice training yourself to search for the truth, to be someone who is honest and obedient to God, and must not only cease to fight for those things, but also put them aside. You should be aware of when you have the constant urge to compete. Left unresolved, the desire to compete can only lead to bad things, so waste no time in searching for the truth, nip your competitiveness in the bud, and replace this competitive behavior with practicing the truth. When you practice the truth, your competitiveness, wild aspirations, and desires will be thoroughly diminished, and will no longer interfere with the work of God’s house. In this way, your actions will be remembered and praised by God. So what I would stress is that you must eradicate your competitive urge and ambition before they blossom and bear fruit. Some people ask, ‘How can I eradicate them? Should I just keep them in the nascent stage?’ This depends on how you experience, it depends how you feel about this, how determined you are. Some people say, ‘I won’t even let them sprout.’ That’s good. You don’t try to be some honorable individual with status and standing, but someone ordinary; even if God says you’re worthless, that’s fine, you’re happy to be someone who is lowly in God’s eyes, a small and insignificant follower, but one who is ultimately called an acceptable creature by God. Such a person is good” (“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 Three)” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s word made me understand that I shouldn’t pursue things like becoming lofty or being the best. “Stand out above the rest” and “only I reign supreme” are satanic lies. If things really develop to that point, I’ll be a devil, not a human being. God requires us to be ordinary people, be the smallest followers, and fulfill the duties of created beings to win His approval. This is the most important thing. At the same time, I understood that when things happen, we should pray to God, consciously forsake ourselves, and practice the truth, and our ambitions and desires will shrink over time. In the past, I didn’t know myself or pursue the truth. I always felt I was talented and wanted to be admired and valued. My ambition made me get carried away, so that I fought everywhere for fame and fortune. I was clearly inferior but couldn’t bear seeing others surpass me. I was so arrogant that I lost all reason. I prayed to God and said I didn’t want fame and fortune anymore, I just wanted to be an ordinary person and cooperate well with my partners in my duties. I know my partners at any given time are chosen by God’s sovereignty and there are lessons for me to learn. Sister Chen had good caliber, experience, and could fellowship on the truth to solve problems, which was helpful to the work of God’s house and the life entry of our brothers and sisters. I should have learned from her strengths to make up for what I lacked and worked harmoniously with her to do church work.
Soon, the leader arranged for me to be the watering deacon. At a co-worker meeting, I opened up to Sister Chen about my corruption during this period. She didn’t look down on me, and also shared fellowship on God’s word with me. My estrangement with her was eliminated, and I felt a great sense of release. Next, I tried to discuss things with her during work and did my best to cooperate with her. When I focused on my duty, I felt God’s guidance. I started to get better results in areas of my work, and I felt grateful to God.
After being dismissed, I saw that God’s love for me is very practical. The judgment and chastisement in God’s word showed me my corruption. It allowed me to clearly see the essence and results of chasing fame and status. At the same time, God’s word guided me toward the right path and allowed me to forsake myself and practice the truth. Without it, I still wouldn’t know myself, I would still fight others for fame and fortune, and I would be toyed with by Satan as I did evil and resisted God. I am grateful to God for saving me!