When the Desire for Status Acts Up

November 30, 2022

By Xin Yi, China

In July 2020, I was handling watering work along with Josiah and Jenny. They were just starting to train, so I helped them grasp the principles and familiarize themselves with the work as quickly as possible, and they asked me when there was something they didn’t understand. After a little while, I noticed they both had some strengths. Josiah had good caliber and learned the principles quickly, and Jenny was really capable—she was really orderly and efficient. Whenever work was assigned, they were able to quickly find words of God to resolve new believers’ difficulties. I felt like I paled in comparison to them. I didn’t work as efficiently and I wasn’t as quick on the uptake as them. I had to ponder new believers’ issues for quite a while. I felt like everything was slower and more taxing for me than it was for them. Later, as they gained more familiarity with the job, they gradually started to take on a central role. Sometimes we needed to respond to waterers’ questions together, because I hadn’t finished all the tasks on my plate yet, Jenny would say, “Don’t worry, there are some simple questions we can just respond to directly.” Hearing this made me feel uncomfortable. Weren’t they just afraid discussing things with me would hold everything up because I worked slowly? I felt left out in a way I’d never experienced before. I even felt disgruntled: Why was my caliber so lacking? I wasn’t a flexible thinker and I didn’t react quickly. I wasn’t as young or smart as them—they were effective at everything. Wouldn’t I be the least capable one from then on? What would they think of me? They might say that even after all my time doing watering work, I was still at a lower level than them, but they’d just trained. That would be so embarrassing. Not wanting them to think that I was no good, I started working in secret, putting more time into meeting with newcomers every day, and trying to find words of God and give thought to new believers’ issues. I even felt like washing my clothing and eating was a waste of time, and I prayed to God a lot and asked for His help so I could be more effective in my duty. But things went the other way—no matter how hard I worked, my effectiveness just fell. Before I knew it I didn’t have any drive for my duty and I was handing off lots of issues for my partners to handle. I figured I lacked caliber, so I’d just take on whatever I could manage. I slipped into a worse and worse state, became really passive in my duty, and I stopped noticing issues in my work. Seeing I wasn’t in a good state, my two partners offered me fellowship, but I wasn’t taking it in. I wasn’t ever able to change my state and some issues couldn’t be resolved in time, which was impacting my watering work performance.

The leader fellowshiped with me when she found out about my state. She said it had nothing to do with my caliber, but it was that I desired name and status too much and I had to shift my state as soon as possible so it didn’t hold up our work. I realized I wasn’t in a good state and was lacking a sense of responsibility for my duty, and wasn’t able to solve problems I’d been able to solve before. I couldn’t sense the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment; I was numb and obtuse. I thought of something the Lord Jesus said: “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(Matthew 13:12). I had to be doing something that was out of line with God’s will, so He was hiding His face from me. I felt kind of afraid, and prayed, “God, my duty is really taxing and I can’t sense Your guidance. Please enlighten and guide me, and allow me to self-reflect and understand my problems, to change my incorrect state.” After that I found words of God to address my state. God says, “The Lord Jesus once said, 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(Matthew 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’? How does that feel, as a human? It could be that you fail to attain that which your caliber and gifts could have allowed you to, and you feel nothing, and are just like an unbeliever. That is what it is to have everything 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. … 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 motive or the right path for performing your duty, and God does not approve, and your state is abnormal. You must reflect: ‘Why do I have no path in performing my duty? I’ve studied it, and it’s in my professional scope—I’m good at it, even. Why is it that when I try to apply my knowledge, I can’t? Why can’t I bring it to bear? What is going on?’ Is this a fluke? There is a problem here. When God blesses someone, they become intelligent and wise, clear-sighted on all matters, as well as keen, alert and especially skillful; they will have the knack and be inspired with everything they do, and they will think everything they do is so easy and that no difficulty can obstruct them—they are blessed by God. When someone finds everything they do to be hard, awkward, and absurd, they just don’t get it, and they don’t understand it no matter what is said to them, then what does this mean? It means they do not have God’s guidance and they do not have God’s blessing. Some people say, ‘I’ve applied myself, so how is it I don’t see God’s blessings?’ If you just apply and exert yourself but do not seek to act according to the principles, then you are going through the motions in your duty. How could you possibly see God’s blessings? If you are always careless in performing your duty and never conscientious, you will not be enlightened or illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and you will not have God’s guidance or His work, and your actions will bear no fruit. It is very hard to perform a duty well or handle a matter well by relying on human strength and learning. Everyone thinks they know a thing or two, that they have some know-how, but they do things poorly, and things always go awry, eliciting widespread comment and laughter. This is a problem. Someone may clearly not be much of anything yet think they have know-how, and not yield to anyone. This has to do with a problem in man’s nature(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Being Honest Can One Live as a True Human Being). I felt a little panicky after reading God’s words. Everything had been difficult and tiring for me lately. I wasn’t noticing issues in my work, and I felt helpless in the face of problems I’d been able to handle before. This was because I was stuck in a state of rebelliousness and God was hiding His face from me. I’d become unfeeling and dumb, idiotic and slow-witted. I’d been watering new believers for quite a while and I understood some truth of visions, and grasped some of the principles. It stood to reason that I should get better at my duty with time, but I was getting worse and worse at it. I couldn’t sense the Holy Spirit’s guidance at all, and my attitude toward my duty was disgusting to God. I could see God’s righteousness and holiness from His words. If He blesses people or takes things away, it’s based on principles. When people put their heart into their duty, when they put their all into it and their motivation is to satisfy God, it’s easy for them to gain the Holy Spirit’s work. They have insight and can discover problems in their duty, they know how to resolve issues. They get better and better at their duty. If people aren’t genuine in their duty, if they’re always thinking of reputation and status, they’ll struggle to gain the Holy Spirit’s work. Then they become numb and dumb, and can’t exhibit strengths they’d been able to before. It’s impossible to do a duty well that way. I reflected on my state over that period of time. After starting to work with my two partners, at first I had a sense of burden and I could help them learn the job as fast as possible, but when I found out they were progressing quickly and were more skilled than me in every way, I felt threatened—I was afraid of losing my leading role, so I started going astray. I didn’t want them to see me coming up short, so I worked hard, burning the midnight oil. To become more effective at watering, I put more time into gathering with new believers. But no matter how hard I worked, what kind of price I paid, I still accomplished less than them. I put all of my energy into competing with my partners. I even asked for God’s help to accomplish more in my job and to save face. I was so unreasonable. I was using God, cheating Him—how was that doing a duty at all? I was filled with regret and prayed to God, “Oh God! I’ve been pursuing name and status, not doing my duty well. I’ve been an impediment to the watering work. I want to repent to You.”

After that, I read a passage of God’s words that was really helpful for me. Almighty God says, “Whether you can perform your duty well is not a matter of your aptitudes, the greatness of your caliber, your humanity, your abilities, or your skills; it comes down to whether you are someone who accepts the truth and whether you are able to put the truth into practice. If you are able to put the truth into practice and treat others fairly, you can achieve harmonious cooperation with others. The key in whether a person can perform their duty well and achieve harmonious cooperation with others, lies in whether they can accept and obey the truth. People’s caliber, gifts, aptitude, age, etc. are not the main thing, they are all secondary. The most important thing is to look at whether a person loves the truth, and whether they can practice the truth. After listening to a sermon, those who love the truth and can practice the truth will admit it is right. In real life, when they encounter people, events, and objects, they will implement these truths. They will put the truth into practice, it will become their own reality, and a part of their own life. It will become the guidelines and principles by which they conduct themselves and do things; it will become that which they live out and display. When listening to a sermon, those who do not love the truth will also admit it is right, and think they understand it all. They have recorded the doctrines in their heart, but what are the principles and guidelines they use to consider something when doing it? They always consider things according to their own interests; they do not consider things using truth. They are afraid that practicing the truth will cause them to lose out, and are afraid of being judged and looked down on by others—of losing face. They go back and forth in their considerations, then finally think, ‘I will just protect my status, reputation, and interests, this is the main thing. When these things are satisfied, I will be content. If these things are not satisfied, I will not be happy to practice the truth, nor find it enjoyable.’ Is this a person who loves the truth? Absolutely not(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). I learned from God’s words that doing a duty adequately isn’t just about someone’s caliber or gifts, or their age. What’s key is whether they love the truth and put the truth into practice. If they don’t love or practice the truth, but just think of their face and status in word and deed, and don’t uphold the church’s work, no matter how elevated their caliber or gifts are, they’ll struggle to do their duty well. But I always thought that someone with good caliber and flexible thinking would be good at their duty, while those who were older and lacking in caliber wouldn’t succeed no matter how hard they worked. I didn’t understand the truth, but always looked at people and things through my notions. I was so foolish and ignorant! God bestows everyone with a different caliber, with different gifts, and He requires different things from us. The church arranges us to work together so each of us can give play to our strengths and make up for each other’s weaknesses. Then we can do our duties well together. Having two partners with good caliber could increase our work efficiency. We could resolve issues faster, and our work wouldn’t be held up. If I’d been able to let go of my ego and learn from others’ strengths, wouldn’t I have progressed faster? I didn’t have the caliber of my partners, but I wasn’t so lacking that I couldn’t get the job done. When I had the right attitude, when I was ready to put effort into my duty and treat it seriously, I could see issues more clearly and resolve things more quickly. I had to stop thinking about personal gains and losses in my own name and status. After that, I worked on carrying out God’s requirements, no longer competing with my partners, but putting my heart into my duty. My state gradually changed with time, and things picked up in my work.

I was shocked when the same problem cropped up for me before long. Some new believers who had just accepted God’s work of the last days transferred to our church. Josiah and I were in charge of watering them. Though he hadn’t been doing watering work for very long, he was able to find really fitting words of God to resolve their issues and his fellowship was really clear. I could resolve some of their problems but I couldn’t communicate as clearly as him. The newcomers enjoyed Josiah’s fellowship more than mine. I was really envious. Josiah progressed so quickly after so little time on the job, but it had taken me all those years to get to that level. I really felt inferior to him. When I saw people had problems they didn’t understand, and they went to Josiah to work on them, I was particularly envious. Having good caliber makes such a difference. It not only gained him others’ admiration, but it meant he put less effort into his duty and got better results. If I had caliber like Josiah, maybe everyone else would admire me, too. But I was already over 50 and my caliber was lacking. I’d be stuck at that level no matter how hard I worked. I lost motivation for my duty before I knew it. Whenever a new believer asked a question in a gathering, I had Josiah answer and I’d just add a few simple comments. I became increasingly passive in my duty, and increasingly distant from God. I didn’t know what to say in prayer, and sometimes at night I even fell asleep while praying. Realizing I was in a dangerous state, I was seeking and pondering. When I saw I lacked caliber, I became negative and passive in my duty: What corrupt disposition was behind that?

Later, I read some more of God’s words. “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 caused by 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, 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(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct). God’s words revealed my exact state. I compared my caliber with my partners’ caliber, and became negative and retreated when I didn’t match up. This was ruled by an arrogant disposition. Because of my arrogance, I couldn’t properly face my own weaknesses and deficiencies, and I particularly couldn’t accept it when others were better or more capable than me. Seeing my partners stronger than me in every aspect, taking center stage in the group and gaining everyone’s admiration and approval, I felt uncomfortable, out of balance, and couldn’t accept that reality. Though I acknowledged my caliber was below the others’, I wouldn’t concede in my heart. I kept secretly vying with them. I was determined to compete with them, to compare myself to them. When I couldn’t outdo them, I became negative and lacked energy in my duty. Wasn’t that my arrogant disposition acting up? I was so arrogant and ignorant!

I also thought of a passage of God’s words in which He calls out antichrists’ dispositions. God says, “For an antichrist, status and prestige are their life, and their lifelong goal. In all they do, their first consideration is: ‘What will happen to my status? And to my prestige? Will doing this give me prestige? Will it elevate my status in people’s minds?’ That is the first thing they think about, which is ample proof that they have the disposition and essence of antichrists; they would not consider these problems otherwise. It can be said that for an antichrist, status and prestige are not some additional requirement, much less something extraneous that they could do without. They are part of the nature of antichrists, they are in their bones, in their blood, they are innate to them. Antichrists are not indifferent toward whether they possess status and prestige; this is not their attitude. Then, what is their attitude? Status and prestige are intimately connected to their daily lives, to their daily state, to what they strive for on a daily basis. And so for antichrists, status and prestige are their life. No matter how they live, no matter what environment they live in, no matter what work they do, no matter what they strive for, what their goals are, what their life’s direction is, it all revolves around having a good reputation and a high station. And this aim does not change; they can never put aside such things. This is the true face of the antichrists, and their essence. You could put them in a primeval forest deep in the mountains, and still they would not put aside their pursuit of status and prestige. You can put them among any group of people, and all they can think about is still status and prestige. Although antichrists also believe in God, they see the pursuit of status and prestige as equivalent to faith in God and give it equal weight. Which is to say, as they walk the path of faith in God, they also pursue their own status and prestige. It can be said that in the antichrists’ hearts, they believe that faith in God and the pursuit of the truth is the pursuit of status and prestige; the pursuit of status and prestige is also the pursuit of the truth, and to gain status and prestige is to gain the truth and life. If they feel that they have no prestige or status, that no one admires them, or venerates them, or follows them, then they are very frustrated, they believe there is no point in believing in God, no value to it, and they say to themselves, ‘Is such faith in God a failure? Is it hopeless?’ They often deliberate such things in their hearts, they deliberate how they can carve a place out for themselves in the house of God, how they can have a lofty reputation in the church, so that people listen when they talk, and support them when they act, and follow them wherever they go; so that they have a voice in the church, a reputation, so that they enjoy benefits, and have status—they often ponder such things. These are what such people pursue(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Three)). God’s words exposing antichrist dispositions was really poignant, really difficult for me. Their pursuit of name and status isn’t just a momentary thing, but it’s in their bones—it’s a lifelong pursuit. For them, status is above all else, even as important as their very lives. Antichrists always want a seat at the table and aren’t willing to be below others. They need everyone’s respect and admiration to have any drive in their duty. Without that, they become negative and slack off, and even lose interest in faith at all. How was my behavior any different from an antichrist’s behavior? I was motivated in my duty when others looked up to me and valued me, but when my partners excelled and surpassed me in every regard, and my desire for status wasn’t fulfilled, I no longer felt a burden for my duty. Watering work is so important now, with so many newcomers urgently in need of watering. I should have been helping them learn the truth and understand God’s work, to establish roots on the true way as fast as possible. But I wasn’t putting my heart into it. All I had in my heart was my own name and status, and I fobbed everything off onto Josiah. I wasn’t doing the duty I should have been doing. I had no humanity at all! I didn’t feel guilt or regret when I didn’t do my duty well. Seeing my reputation or status suffer was as painful for me as losing my very life. I was calculating my losses and gains, and becoming negative and weak for that reason. I always hoped to become like my partners, with better caliber, that everyone would ask me about things they didn’t understand and seek me out for discussion so that I’d take center stage in the group. That was what I’d always chased, what I’d wanted to gain. I was focused on getting others to look up to me, to admire me. That kind of pursuit and perspective was the same as an antichrist’s, right? Since I was on the wrong path and I’d lost the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I wasn’t completing the duty I should have been completing. So even if I’d gotten a higher position and gained everyone’s admiration, wouldn’t I have ended up cast out by God? When I realized that, I felt kind of afraid. I saw that by pursuing status, I was on a path against God! I wanted to change my mistaken pursuit and stop competing with others. I wanted to do the duty I should be doing.

After that, I sought out a path of practice. I thought of these words of God. “What must one do to perform their duty well? One must come to perform it with all their heart and all their energy. Using all one’s heart and energy means keeping all one’s thoughts on performing their duty and not letting other things occupy them, and then applying the energy that one has, exerting the entirety of one’s power, and bringing one’s caliber, gifts, strengths, and the things they have understood to bear on the task. If you are comprehending and acceptant and have a good idea, you must communicate with others about it. This is what it means to cooperate in harmony. This is how you will perform your duty well, how you will achieve satisfactory performance of your duty. If you wish always to take on everything yourself, if you always want to do great things alone, if you always want the focus to be on you and not others, are you performing your duty? What you are doing is called autocracy; it is putting on a show. It is satanic behavior, not the performance of duty. No one, no matter their strengths, gifts, or special talents, can take on all the work themselves; they must learn to cooperate in harmony if they are to do the church’s work well. That is why harmonious cooperation is a principle of the practice of performing one’s duty. As long as you apply all your heart and all your energy and all your faithfulness, and offer up everything you can do, you are performing your duty well(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). God’s words gave me a path of practice. My caliber didn’t matter. As long as I could have an honest heart and work well with others, do my absolute best, and do everything that I should do well without playing games, that would be in line with God’s will. In fact, God gave the three of us different calibers and strengths so we could complement each other. My two partners had good caliber and were efficient at work; they saw the key parts of issues. They made up for what I lacked. My caliber was slightly lacking, but I was a bit older than them, so I could think about things in a way a little more careful, more complete. We all had our strengths, we could work together, and this would benefit our work. But instead of seeking the truth, I was comparing my partners’ strengths with my own, which meant I was negative and passive, and I couldn’t do my duty. Thinking about it now, I really was too foolish. With this understanding, when doing a duty after that, I could be more proactive. Whatever difficulties or problems I had, I would discuss them with my partners. When I wasn’t held back by my caliber or my age, I felt much more relaxed in my duty. When we cooperate to bring out each person’s strengths, we can work together in harmony. Then everyone works well together and our watering work is more successful.

It reminded me of something God said: “Whether there are many or few of you fulfilling your duty together, no matter what the circumstances are, and no matter when, do not forget this one thing—being in accord. By living within this state, you may have the work of the Holy Spirit(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). When we let go of name and status and work well with others, we’ll gain the Holy Spirit’s guidance and get good results in our duties.

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