What Comes of Not Striving in Your Duty
By Yichen, Italy
In 2019, Sister Zhang and I were put in charge of the art team. When I first started this duty, I didn’t grasp many principles, so Sister Zhang patiently fellowshiped with me and took on most of the work herself. Later, I learned she had held this duty for two years, and had some work experience, and in everything from fellowship at meetings to summing up work, she thought more comprehensively than me. When the brothers and sisters raised questions, she always had good solutions. Compared to her, I felt I was really far behind. I thought, “How much suffering and paying a price will it take to be like Sister Zhang? Since she has more experience and bears more of the burden, I’ll let her do more of the work.”
In the work summaries, she asked me to consider how to fellowship to solve problems, and I just thought, “That’s a lot of trouble. On top of summarizing existing problems in our duty, I have to find the relevant words of God and principles to fellowship on. Especially in professional issues, I don’t have much experience. To provide solution, I’d have to find so much information, and seek fellowship on what I don’t understand. That would take so much time and effort. Sister Zhang knows this field, so she can do the summaries. I’ll leave her to it.” I never thought more about work summaries after that. Later, when Sister Zhang asked what I thought, I said, “I’m not familiar with the field, so you’d best do the summaries.” Sometimes, when she was planning our direction of study, she’d ask me if I wanted to participate, so as to give her advice and help her avoid potential problems. I thought, “Sister Zhang has always been the one responsible for this field, and I understand less than her. To participate, I’d have to think about it, and study the things I don’t know. That is too much effort! Forget it, I won’t get involved.” And so, I rejected Sister Zhang.
Later, we were learning a new drawing technique. We had many difficulties and problems, but she discussed and solved them with us. Since I didn’t know the field well, I was still confused after hearing things explained twice, and I thought, “Learning new skills in this field is so tiring. I don’t think I’ll get involved this time. At any rate, we’ve got Sister Zhang, she can help us learn.” Later, when I was studying, I didn’t listen carefully. Sometimes I didn’t say a word; at other times, I went to work on other things. When Sister Zhang asked my ideas and thoughts, I always carelessly answered that I had none. Eventually, I found I bore less and less of a burden in my duty. The more I felt I wasn’t good enough, the more I stopped noticing problems. During that period, my heart felt empty every day, and I became more and more negative. I felt my caliber was low, and that I wasn’t worthy of the duty. Sometimes, I was quite envious of Sister Zhang. I thought she performed her duty well because she had experience and good caliber, but I was different. I had low caliber and no experience, so doing my duty was difficult.
One day, after discussing my work with Sister Zhang, she said to me, “You’ve had this duty for a while now, yet you say you lack experience or don’t understand. The fact is you don’t want to bear a burden or make the effort. The reason why I have some good ideas is that I often pray, rely on God, and seek principles to understand things. When we don’t understand professional aspects, we must study them. Otherwise, how can we perform our duty well?” Then she told me how she relied on God and sought to find solutions when encountering difficulties. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t realize my problem whatsoever. Instead, I felt Sister Zhang didn’t understand my difficulties, so I didn’t take her suggestions to heart, nor did I reflect on myself later.
Before long, Sister Zhang was put in charge of other work. I was really sad when she left, because faced with so much work, my mind was blank. I asked myself, “I’ve been in charge of this work for a year now, so why am I still unable to take on this work?” This is when I remembered what Sister Zhang had said to me. Had I really not borne a burden in my duty? I prayed to God to ask for His guidance as I reflected on myself. Later, I read this passage of God’s word: “Much of the time, you are unable to reply when asked about work issues. The work involves a large number of people, but you have never asked whether or not it is going well or even thought about this. Given your caliber and knowledge, you shouldn’t know nothing, because all of you have taken part in this work. So why do most people say nothing? It is possible that you really don’t know what to say—that you don’t know whether or not things are going well. There are two reasons for this: One is that you are totally indifferent, and have never cared about these things, and have only ever treated them as a task to be completed. The other is that you are not inclined to care about these things. If you truly cared, and were really engaged, you would have a view and perspective on everything. Having no perspective or view often comes from being indifferent and apathetic, and not taking any responsibility. You are not diligent toward the duty you do, you do not take any responsibility, you are not willing to pay a price or get involved, nor do you take any pains, or are willing to expend any greater energy; you merely wish to be an underling, which is no different from when an unbeliever works for their boss. Performing one’s duty in this way is not beloved of God, it is not approved by God, God despises this, and sooner or later this person will be eliminated” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live Out a True Human Likeness” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word precisely revealed my state. When I worked and discussed with Sister Zhang, I never had my own views or ideas. I had always felt it was because I didn’t know the field or the work well. Only after reading God’s word did I understand that it was due to my carelessness and irresponsibility. Thinking back on my partnership with Sister Zhang, each time I had a professional problem, I never worried about it. I used my inexperience with the duty and poor understanding of principles as an excuse to avoid it. When discussing work, I was just a listener. I’d never thought about it carefully. I often said in front of Sister Zhang that I didn’t understand, and that she had more work experience, but these were just lies and excuses. My real purpose was to gain her sympathy and understanding, so that she would do more of the work and I could keep enjoying my leisure. I was so cunning and deceitful! I had held this duty for a year, and I had a professional basis, so if I had been responsible and studied diligently, I would have had some of my own views when I discussed work. I may even have been able to take it up when Sister Zhang was transferred. I had done nothing but muddle through my duty and be irresponsible, as if I was simply working for a wage to get by, surviving day to day with as little effort or worry as I could get away with. I never thought about how to do things properly, do my best, and fulfill my responsibility. I was simply muddling through, thinking only how to avoid fleshly suffering. I didn’t consider God’s will whatsoever. How could I say I had a place for God in my heart? How could God not detest me for my attitude toward my duty?
After that, I read another passage of God’s word: “Theonce said that, ‘For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has’ (Mat 13:12). What is the meaning of these words? What they mean is that if you don’t even carry out or dedicate yourself to your own duty or job, God shall take away what was once yours. What does it mean to ‘take away’? What does this make people feel? It could be that you failed to attain that which your caliber and gifts could have allowed you to, and you felt nothing, and returned to the same state that you had when you were an unbeliever. This was all taken away by God. If, in your duty, you are remiss, and do not pay a price, and are not sincere, God shall take away what was once yours, He shall take back the right of performing your duty, He shall not accord you this right. Because God gave you gifts and caliber, but you did not perform your duty properly, did not spend for God, or pay a price, and did not put your heart into it, God not only does not bless you, but also takes away what you once had. God bestows gifts on man, giving them special skills as well as intelligence and wisdom. How should man use these things? (They should use these gifts to perform their duty well.) You must dedicate your special skills, your gifts, your intelligence and wisdom to your duty. You must use your heart and rack your brain in applying everything you know, everything you understand, everything you can achieve, and everything you think of to your duty. By doing so, you will be blessed. What does it mean to be blessed by God? What does this make people feel? (That there is a path when they perform their duty, that they have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit.) That they have been enlightened and guided by God. To people it can seem that within the scope of your abilities, your caliber and the things you have learned are insufficient to allow you to do what you wish to—but if God works and enlightens you, you are not only able to understand, but also to do better. You wonder to yourself, ‘I wasn’t that skilled. It feels that there is now much more within me. How is it that I suddenly understand the things I never learned, and am able to do so much? How have I suddenly become so smart?’ You can’t explain it. This is the enlightenment and blessing of God; this is how God blesses people. If you do not feel this when performing your duty or doing your job, then you have not been blessed by God. If doing your duty always feels meaningless to you, if it feels like there is nothing to be done, and you cannot bring yourself to contribute, if you are never enlightened, and feel yourself without any cleverness or wisdom to bring to bear, then this is trouble: It shows that you do not have the right motives for performing your duty, that you do it sloppily and carelessly, and do not walk the right path, and God does not approve of you, or bless you; these are the kind of circumstances you have fallen into” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live Out a True Human Likeness” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After contemplating God’s word, I understood that God blesses honest people and those who sincerely expend for Him. The more a person is diligent and tries to improve in their duty, the more the Holy Spirit guides them, and the more effective they are in their duty. But if you perform your duty with cunning, aren’t diligent, and don’t pay a price, you’ll never make progress or benefit from your duty, and you may even lose what you could have achieved. At this moment, I recalled an experience Sister Zhang told me about. She didn’t understand much of the work at first, but she often brought her difficulties to God, praying seeking, and contemplating, and fellowshiped on them with others, and, unconsciously, she was enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and always had new ideas. She continually made progress and became more effective at her duty. However, I tried to maintain the status quo, didn’t seek progress, tried to enjoy leisure, and never wanted to suffer or pay a price. As a result, I never even reached my potential. As say, “Whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has” (Matthew 13:12). God detested my slipshod and irresponsible attitude toward my duty. I realized that if I didn’t repent, I’d be rejected and loathed by God, and ultimately I’d lose my duty altogether. Thinking of this, I felt afraid, so I immediately prayed to God to seek His guidance in finding a path of practice and to say I wished to repent.
I read this passage of God’s word: “How should people understand their duties? It is when the Creator—God—gives someone a task to do, and at that point, that person’s duty arises. The tasks God gives to you, the commissions God gives to you—these are your duties. When you pursue them as your goals, and you truly have a God-loving heart, can you still make a refusal? (No.) This is not a matter of whether you can or not—you should not refuse them. You should accept them. This is the path of practice. What is the path of practice? (To be utterly devoted in all things.) Be devoted in all things to meet God’s will. Wherein lies the focal point here? It is ‘in all things.’ ‘All things’ does not necessarily mean things that you like or are good at, much less things with which you are familiar. Sometimes you are not good at something, sometimes you need to learn, sometimes you will encounter difficulties, and sometimes you must suffer. However, regardless of what task it is, as long as it is commissioned by God, you must accept it from Him, regard it as your duty, be devoted to fulfilling it, and meet God’s will: This is the path of practice” (“People Can Only Truly Be Happy by Being Honest” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). One more passage: “When people have a corrupt disposition, they are often perfunctory and careless when they perform their duty. This is one of the most serious problems of all. If people are to perform their duty properly, they must first address this problem of perfunctoriness and carelessness. As long as they have such a perfunctory and careless attitude, they will not be able to perform their duty properly, which means that solving the problem of perfunctoriness and carelessness is extremely important. So how should they put this into practice? Firstly, they must solve the problem of their state of mind; they must approach their duty correctly, and do things with seriousness and a sense of responsibility, without being deceitful or perfunctory. One’s duty is performed for God, not any one person; if people are able to accept God’s scrutiny, they will have the correct state of mind. What’s more, after doing something, people must examine it, and reflect on it, and if they have any doubts in their heart, and after detailed inspection, they discover there really is a problem, then they must make changes; once these changes have been made, they will no longer have any doubts in their heart. When people have doubts, this proves there is a problem, and they must diligently examine what they have done, especially at key stages. This is a responsible attitude toward performing one’s duty. When one can be serious, responsible, dedicated, and hard-working, the work will be done properly. Sometimes you are in the wrong state of mind, and cannot find or discover a mistake that is clear as day. If you were in the right state of mind, then, with the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you would be able to identify the issue. If the Holy Spirit guided you and gave you such awareness, allowing you to sense that something is wrong, yet you were in the wrong state of mind, and were absent-minded and careless, would you be able to notice the mistake? (No.) You would not. What is seen from this? (Only when people’s hearts are at peace before God, and they perform their duty with all their heart and strength, will their spirits be astute.) That’s right. This shows that it is very important that people cooperate; their hearts are very important, and where they direct their thoughts and intentions is very important” (God’s Fellowship). After pondering these words of God, I was deeply inspired. My duty was a commission from God, God’s task for me, and regardless of whether I was skilled at it, or whether it was simple or complex, it had come from God, so I had to be responsible, and be as loyal as I could. Only once I did my best and fulfilled my responsibility would I receive God’s blessings. I thought of all the times I swore before God that I’d loyally perform my duties to repay His love. Now that the duty was a little complicated and challenging, and I had to suffer and pay a price, I muddled through and tried to avoid it. When I realized this, I felt I owed God and was unworthy to enjoy His love. I couldn’t go on like that. I had to practice according to God’s word, treat my duties sincerely, and fulfill my responsibilities to avoid having regrets in the future.
So, I started to look into and become familiar with the work that once confused me, and I no longer tried to avoid some complicated problems. Instead, I discussed and fellowshiped about them with my brothers and sisters and asked them to teach me when I didn’t understand. Eventually, I began to master the details, and was able to provide solutions when others had difficulties. When I summarized our work, at first I had no ideas and wanted to avoid it, but I recalled what I’d read in God’s word, so I consciously forsook my flesh, thought about the problems in our duty, and worked to seek principles and look up information. After practicing that way for a while, I clearly felt God’s blessing and guidance. I started mastering things I didn’t understand or that confused me, and my work summaries achieved some results. My brothers and sisters practiced what I had summarized, and also made progress.
I thought my attitude toward my duty had changed a bit, but when God arranged another environment for me, I fell into my old ways.
In September 2021, due to work needs, I partnered with Sister Li to water newcomers. I thought this duty wouldn’t involve technical issues, so it’d be less of a headache, but once I started doing it, I discovered watering the newcomers well wasn’t easy. I not only had to communicate in English, I had to fellowship on the truth to quickly resolve their notions and confusion. I saw that Sister Li was very proficient in all aspects of the work. She could quickly find the relevant truth to resolve the newcomers’ problems, but I was really bad at it. I often couldn’t fellowship on the truth clearly or resolve their problems. To reach Sister Li’s level, I’d need to study and equip myself for a long time and pay a significant price. I thought, “Forget it, Sister Li is my partner now, so I don’t need to worry about it.” At this thought, I didn’t seek the truth so eagerly, and after meetings, I didn’t proactively ask newcomers about their problems. One day, I reflected that I’d been doing watering duty for two months, yet I still couldn’t water a newcomer alone. I always felt I didn’t understand, but I didn’t strive to pay a price. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why is it that as soon as I encounter a duty I’m not skilled at, I use not knowing how as excuses to muddle through the duty, and don’t want to pay a price?” I brought my state and my confusion before God and prayed.
One day, during my devotionals, I came across two passages of God’s word: “Always going for the easy jobs when performing your duty, the jobs that aren’t tiring, the ones that don’t involve going outside in the burning sun or driving rain; dodging the tasks that are risky and involve hard work, pushing them onto someone else and finding an easy task for yourself; looking for an excuse, saying you are of poor caliber, that you are incapable of this work, that you couldn’t do it, that you are foolish, and won’t be able to handle any issues that come up—this is someone who is work-shy, and is the manifestation of coveting the comforts of the flesh. … There’s also when people always complain while performing their duty, when they don’t want to put any effort in, when, as soon as they have a little down time, they have to take a rest and have a chat, and keep complaining as soon as they start working, when they back off at the sight of anything difficult, and try to escape, looking for a reason or excuse, saying ‘I’m not up to this, my caliber is too bad! So-and-so has better caliber than me, they’re more insightful than me, more capable, they can succeed at this work,’ and go off looking for some light work so that they have more time to entertain themselves. … This is someone who covets the comforts of the flesh, is it not? Are these the manifestations of coveting the comforts of the flesh? Are such people suitable for performing a duty? Bring up the subject of performing their duty, talk about paying a price and suffering hardship, and they keep shaking their head: They would have too many problems, they are full of complains, they are negative about everything. Such people are useless, they are not entitled to perform their duty, and should be cast out” (“Identifying False Leaders (2)” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Some false leaders do have a little caliber, but they don’t do real work, and covet fleshly comforts. To Me, those who covet fleshly comforts are no different from pigs. Pigs spend every day eating and sleeping. That you gladly feed them so much grain is so that you can eat their meat in the future. If false leaders are also raised like pigs, reared to be big and fat, but are a waste of space, and don’t do any work, then what are you doing raising them? Should they not be removed? And so, raising a false leader is inferior to raising a pig. Though a pig does nothing, eating and drinking for free three times a day, when you get to eat meat at the end of the year, you feel that the pig made a contribution. Feeding it all year was tiring, it was hard work, but all this effort wasn’t for nothing, it wasn’t in vain; in your heart, you feel it was worth it. But false leaders? They may have the title of ‘leader,’ they may occupy this position, and eat well three times a day, and enjoy many of God’s graces, but ultimately, at the end of year, when they have eaten themselves fat and pale, how has the work gone? Look at all that has been accomplished in your work this year: Which jobs were fruitful, what real work did you do? God’s house does not ask that you do every job perfectly, but you must do the key work well—the work of the gospel, for example, or AV work, the work of written testimony, and so on. These must all be fruitful. After a year, see what work within your scope of responsibility has been most successful, in which you paid the greatest price and suffered the most. Look at your achievements: In your heart, you should have some idea of whether, after enjoying a year of God’s grace, you made some valuable achievements. Just what were you doing while you ate the food of God’s house and enjoyed God’s grace for all this time? Did you achieve anything? If you achieved nothing, then you are a freeloader, a veritable false leader” (“Identifying False Leaders (4)” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). As I pondered these words of God, I felt like they had pierced my heart. Only then did I understand I always shrank back from difficulty in my duty and used not understanding or knowing how as a shield, because I was too lazy and craved fleshly comfort too much. In the past, when I was a supervisor with Sister Zhang, I’d always picked simple and easy tasks for myself and given her anything I wasn’t skilled in or that required careful thinking. In watering newcomers with Sister Li, I still didn’t want to worry, suffer or pay a price. I reflected on why I behaved like that, and realized the main reason was that I was controlled by satanic philosophies. Things like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” and “Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,” had taken root deep in my heart. I’d always felt people had to live for themselves, and when we have fleshly comfort and no worries, we’re living as we should. When I came to God’s house to fulfill my duty, I still held this view, and when there were difficulties or things I wasn’t good at, when I had to suffer or pay a price, I shrank back like a coward and put my fleshly comfort first. Living that way, I was no different from a pig. Pigs don’t have any thoughts or do anything. They only know to eat, drink and sleep. I was the same, concerned only with my fleshly comfort. I was living such a vulgar life! In the past as a supervisor, and now in watering, God had exalted me so much, but I didn’t try to make progress, or consider my responsibilities and duties at all. I was irresponsible with the church’s work and my brothers’ and sisters’ lives. I didn’t have the slightest conscience! I clearly didn’t want to suffer or pay a price, but I always used the excuse of not understanding or knowing for sympathy to make others think I could admit my flaws, so they’d see me as sensible and honest. The truth is that I used these words to cover up my own laziness and irresponsibility. I was so cunning and deceitful that I fooled all my brothers and sisters. Although I could fool them for a while, God sees everything, and God is righteous. I was trying to fool and deceive God, so how could God not detest me? This is why I never saw God’s blessings or guidance in my duties during that time. When issues always confuse you and your progress isn’t obvious, these are signs of danger!
After that, I read another passage of God’s word.says, “From when God entrusted the construction of the ark to Noah, at no point did Noah think to himself, ‘When is God going to destroy the world? When is He going to give me the signal that He will do so?’ Rather than pondering such matters, Noah tried hard to commit each thing God had told him to memory, and then to carry each one out. After accepting what was entrusted to him by God, Noah set about carrying out and accomplishing the construction of the ark as if it was the most important thing in his life, without any thought of delay. Days passed, years went by, time marched onward, year after year. God never put any pressure on Noah, but throughout all this time, Noah persevered in the important task entrusted to him by God. Every word and phrase that God had uttered was inscribed on Noah’s heart like words carved upon a stone tablet. Heedless of the changes in the outside world, of the ridicule of those around him, of the hardship involved, or of the difficulties he encountered, he persevered, throughout, in what had been entrusted to him by God, never despairing or thinking of giving up. God’s words were inscribed upon Noah’s heart, and they had become his everyday reality. Noah located and stockpiled each of the materials needed for building the ark, and the form and specifications for the ark commanded by God gradually took shape with each careful strike of Noah’s hammer and chisel. Throughout wind and rain, and regardless of how people mocked or slandered him, Noah’s life proceeded in this manner, year after year. God secretly watched Noah’s every action, without ever uttering another word to him, and His heart was touched by Noah. Noah, however, neither knew nor felt this; from start to finish, he simply built the ark, and assembled every kind of living creature, in unwavering fealty to God’s words. In Noah’s heart, there was no higher instruction that he ought to follow and carry out: God’s words were his lifelong direction and goal. So, no matter what God said to him, no matter what God asked him to do, commanded him to do, Noah not only did not forget, he not only fixed it in his mind, but also made it the reality of his own life, using his life to accept, and carry out, God’s commission. And in this way, plank by plank, the ark was built. Noah’s every move, his every day, were dedicated to the words and commandments of God. It might not have seemed that Noah was performing a momentous undertaking, but in the eyes of God, everything he did, even his every step he took to achieve something, every labor performed by his hand—they were all precious, and deserving of commemoration, and worthy of emulation by this mankind. Noah adhered to what had been entrusted to him by God. He was unwavering in his belief that every word uttered by God was true; of this, he had no doubt. And as a result, the ark came to completion, and every manner of living creature was able to live upon it” (“Excursus Two: How Noah and Abraham Listened to God’s Words and Obeyed God (Part One)” in Exposing Antichrists). As I pondered God’s words, I was very moved. Noah was obedient and considerate to God. When God told Noah to build the ark, Noah cherished His commission and obeyed His requirements. At first, he didn’t know how to build the ark, and the difficulty of building it was too great. At every stage, he had to suffer and pay a price, but Noah was faithful to God’s commission. To complete God’s commission, he suffered, paid the price, and built the ark nail by nail. Noah persisted for 120 years and finally completed God’s commission. Although Noah suffered much to build the ark and didn’t enjoy fleshly comfort, he’d carried out God’s commission, satisfied Him, and earned His approval. Noah’s life was a very meaningful life! Compared with Noah, I saw that I had no humanity. I didn’t cherish God’s commission, I was not loyal. I was lazy and cunning, I only craved fleshly comfort, and wasn’t willing to suffer at all. I was unworthy of God’s commission. I truly was despicable! If I continued like this and didn’t change, in the end I’d lose my duty from God, which I’d regret for the rest of my life.
In the days that followed, I arranged my time, and equipped myself each day with truths regarding watering newcomers. At a meeting one day, the brothers and sisters raised a problem in the watering work, and when I heard something I didn’t understand, I wanted to avoid it. I thought of letting them solve it themselves. But this time, I was aware I wanted to muddle through and not take responsibility. I thought of Noah’s serious and responsible attitude toward his commission, and then I consciously corrected my incorrect state. I listened intently to how they fellowshiped on the truth to solve the problem, and when they summed up, I give them my advice. I was surprised when they said my advice was good. When I watered newcomers with Sister Li, I practiced resolving the practical difficulties of newcomers, and if there were problems I couldn’t solve, I’d ask her for help right away. After a while, I could water the newcomers independently, too. While I still have many shortcomings and flaws, I can feel myself growing and gaining, and I feel more at ease. The understanding and benefits I’ve received are entirely the effect of God’s work. Thank God!