Who Says an Arrogant Disposition Cannot Be Changed
By Zhao Fan, China
I’ll read a section of God’s words: “People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him. It is under the refinement of God’s words that people’s dispositions change. Only through the exposure, judgment, discipline, and dealing of His words will they no longer dare to act rashly but instead will become steady and composed. The most important point is that they are able to submit to God’s current words, and to His work, even if it is not in line with human notions, they are able to put these notions aside and willingly submit” (“People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words are so practical! Without their judgment and chastisement, and their pruning and dealing with us, we couldn’t transform our satanic dispositions or live out a normal humanity. I used to be particularly arrogant. At work, I always felt more capable and better than others, so I thought they should all listen to me. After gaining my faith, this arrogant disposition was revealed in me frequently. I always wanted to have final say in everything, and condescendingly lectured and constrained others. This was stifling and harmful for my brothers and sisters. It was only through God’s judging and chastising and pruning and dealing with me that I gained some understanding of my arrogant nature and was able to repent and loathe myself. Later on, I started keeping a lower profile in my interactions and when coordinating with others to fulfill our duties. I learned to consciously seek the truth and take people’s suggestions on board. Only then did I live out a bit of human likeness.
I remember, back in 2015, I was chosen to serve as a church leader. At the time, I felt really happy. I thought to myself, “So many people in the church voting for me shows that I’m the best one here. I’ll have to work hard to get this duty fulfilled so that the brothers and sisters see that they don’t choose the wrong person.” After that, I kept myself busy every day; whenever I saw a brother or sister had some sort of problem, I’d quickly search for some relevant passages from God’s words, and then fellowship with them to resolve the issue. Some time went by, and our church life had improved quite a bit. There was a lot of church work to get done, but I was able to manage every part of it neatly and tidily. When I saw that life in our church was a bit better than in other churches, I was particularly pleased. The leaders later saw that our church’s work was going pretty well, they even got other churches to borrow from our playbook. What’s more, the church had some important work that they wanted me to take part in. I thought, “Even the leaders think highly of me and are praising my capability; it looks like my caliber really isn’t that bad—and certainly better than most!” Before I knew it, I had gotten full of myself. I just felt I could do it all and understood everything. Also, if my co-workers made any suggestions, I hardly paid them any mind; I always felt I was far superior to them, and would boss them around. When they didn’t do what I wanted, I couldn’t keep from criticizing and lecturing them. One time, a sister I was coordinating with was about to answer a question. After having some difficulty, she wanted to discuss it with me. I thought to myself, “What is there to discuss? This isn’t a hard question; that’s why I let you practice answering. If you can’t even resolve such a small issue, then you’re not up to the job. If it were me, I’d have resolved it just like that.” And so, I said with a haughty tone, “Don’t worry yourself; I’ll answer it.” As a result, this sister felt stifled by me, and whenever she ran into further problems, she didn’t dare come to me for help. There was another time when I recommended Sister Wang for a certain duty. Sister Chen suggested, “This duty is very important; we need a clear idea of how Sister Wang behaves ordinarily before we can be sure.” I felt a bit offended by this. I thought, “I’ve handled this sort of task a lot in the past, and you think I don’t get it? Besides, I’m in contact with her all the time, so how can you say I don’t understand her? You want me to ask everyone about her, but won’t that just delay things?” I said to her very sternly, “Stop wasting time. Let’s just move forward.” Seeing how insistent I was, Sister Chen kept quiet. I saw she was a bit constrained at the time, but I just didn’t care. From then on, whenever a brother or sister made a suggestion, I always felt like they weren’t good enough or mature enough, so I’d use all manner of excuses to reject their viewpoints, and then express what I considered to be some brilliant ideas, and tried to get everyone to do as I said. Over time, they all became constrained by me, and while discussing work, they tended to keep quiet. Later, I would just hardly discuss things with them at all, feeling that it was just a formality and a waste of time. And so, I did my duty drawing from my arrogant disposition, and grew more and more rash and arbitrary.
One time, when I saw there was a team leader who wasn’t successful in his duty, I thought he must be incapable of doing real work and needed to be switched out. Discussing this with my co-workers would have been reasonable, but I had second thoughts: “Actually, forget it. Even after talking it over with them, they’ll just end up agreeing with me anyway.” And so, I just directly replaced that team leader. After going back, I told my co-workers how I had handled things. Taken aback, Sister Chen said, “There have been some problems with that team leader’s work, but he’s a person who pursues the truth; it’s just that he hasn’t been a believer for very long, so he has a rather superficial understanding of the truth, and there have been a few deficiencies and omissions in his duties, but this is normal. We should help him by fellowshiping more on the truth. Replacing him right now like that wouldn’t be in line with the principles.” Not really convinced, I came back with, “I only replaced him because I had spotted him as being unable to do any practical work. I’ve dealt with this sort of thing before. Are you saying I’m not perceptive?” Seeing that I wasn’t going to budge, Sister Chen didn’t say anything more. My co-workers later went to assess and understand the matter. They determined that I hadn’t dealt with it according to principle, and reinstated that team leader’s duties. The team’s work was disrupted from the duties being handed back and forth, and I felt a bit sheepish at that point. I could see I was arrogant and hadn’t acted according to principle, but I still didn’t seek out the truth or engage in self-reflection.
A month later, the church had an important job, and someone suitable would be chosen from our group of co-workers. At the time I was quite happy; feeling that in terms of caliber and work experience, I was better than the others, I figured they would vote for me. To my surprise, though, when the results were announced, I had not made the cut. I hadn’t even gotten a single vote. My heart sank with a “thud,” and suddenly I felt my world turned upside down. How could this have happened? Why hadn’t anyone voted for me? Was it that they lacked discernment? Deep down, I really wanted to know why, so I asked them to tell me what my shortcomings were. When I saw Sister Zhou wanted to say something but hesitated, I said to them, “If you’ve seen me fall short somewhere, say so; let’s all just talk openly.” Only then did she get up the courage to say, “I feel that you’re especially arrogant and self-righteous, and you won’t accept other people’s suggestions. Also, you are always lording it over us, and whenever I’m with you I feel a bit scared and stifled by you.” Another sister hung her head and said, “I’m stifled by you, too. I feel like you’re really arrogant, like you look down on everyone. It’s as if you’re the only one who can take on the church’s work, like you can do anything, and you think no one else is remotely capable….” Sister Chen then added, “I feel you’re quite conceited, and you don’t seek the truth or principles in your work. You also won’t accept anyone else’s opinions, and you think you should get the last say in everything. You tend to decide things arbitrarily, all by yourself….” One by one, the sisters I worked with all said I was arrogant and that they’d been constrained by me. Unwilling to accept this, I thought, “You all say I am arrogant and that I constrain you; well, then why don’t you admit you haven’t been taking responsibility for your duty? Fine then. From now on, whatever happens, I’ll keep my mouth shut. You all just do what you want.” That evening, I lay in bed tossing and turning, unable to sleep. I’d always thought myself to be of good caliber and a capable worker, so being a little arrogant was normal. My sisters and brothers should think I was not all that bad. I’d never imagined they thought of me like that—arrogant and totally lacking reason. Who’d have thought they would feel so stifled and wounded. The more I thought about it, the more upset I got. My brothers and sisters had so much distaste and loathing for me, I felt like a street rat, hated and spurned by others. There was no way God would save a person like me. I grew very negative. In my anguish, I prayed to God nonstop. I said, “God, I am in so much pain, and I don’t know how to experience this. Please, enlighten me so that I can understand Your will….”
The next morning, I turned on my computer and listened to a reading of God’s words: “Having failed and fallen down multiple times is not a bad thing; nor is being exposed. Whether you have been dealt with, pruned, or been exposed, you must remember this at all times: Being exposed does not mean that you are being condemned. Being exposed is a good thing; it is the best opportunity for you to get to know yourself. It can bring your life experience a change of gears. Without it, you will possess neither the opportunity, the condition, nor the context to be able to reach an understanding of the truth of your corruption. If you can come to know the things inside you, all those aspects hidden deep within you that are hard to recognize and difficult to unearth, then this is a good thing. Becoming able to truly know yourself is the best opportunity for you to mend your ways and become a new person; it is the best opportunity for you to obtain new life. Once you truly know yourself, you will be able to see that when the truth becomes one’s life, it is a precious thing indeed, and you will thirst for the truth and enter into the reality. This is such a great thing! If you can grab this opportunity and earnestly reflect upon yourself and gain a genuine knowledge of yourself whenever you fail or fall down, then in the midst of negativity and weakness, you will be able to stand back up. Once you have crossed this threshold, you will then be able to take a big step forward and enter into the reality of the truth” (“To Attain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I was so moved as I pondered God’s words, and my tears just kept pouring out. I felt that by setting up this sort of environment, in which my brothers and sisters had pruned and dealt with me so harshly, God wasn’t eliminating me or deliberately embarrassing me. Instead, since I really was so arrogant and stubborn, God wanted to use this as a kind of chastening to wake me up and force me to reflect upon myself in the nick of time, to be able to repent and change. This was God saving me. Realizing this, I felt really liberated, and I no longer misunderstood God. I prayed to Him, willing to use this opportunity to self-reflect and come to know myself.
I then looked up some of God’s utterances in which He talks about man’s arrogant disposition. God says, “If you really possess the truth within you, the path you walk will naturally be the correct path. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you had arrogance and conceit, you would find it impossible to keep from defying God; you would feel compelled to defy Him. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display, and, finally, sit in God’s place and bear testimony for yourself. In the end, you would turn your own ideas, your own thinking, and your own notions into truths to be worshiped. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature!” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more liable they are to resist God. How serious is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions consider everyone else beneath them, but, worst of all, they are even condescending toward God. Even though, externally, some people might appear to believe in God and follow Him, they do not treat Him as God at all. They always feel that they possess the truth and think the world of themselves. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan. Therefore, the problem of arrogance must be resolved. Feeling that one is better than others—that is a trivial matter. The critical issue is that one’s arrogant disposition prevents one from submitting to God, His rule, and His arrangements; such a person always feels inclined to compete with God for power over others. This sort of person does not revere God in the slightest, to say nothing of loving God or submitting to Him” (God’s Fellowship). While reading God’s words, I felt extremely distressed and uncomfortable, and a bit frightened. I saw how I’d been living by my arrogant disposition, not only constraining and harming people, and being unable to interact with them properly, but first and foremost, there had been no place for God in my heart, and I had not revered Him. I was prone to doing evil and resisting Him at any moment. Indeed. I thought about how, since I’d been doing my duty as a leader, I had thought I had some caliber, was capable of getting some work done, and so thought very highly of myself. When working alongside others, I always thought I was superior to them, ordering them around and constraining them. When my co-workers suggested something different, I never sought the principles of the truth. I just thought that since I had experience and a good eye for things, I could railroad people into doing what I said. It was like I’d seen my viewpoint as the truth, as the standard, so everyone else had to obey me. Even scarier was how I’d constrained others to the point that they hadn’t dared to express their own views. But I’d been totally unaware, even thinking the others were on board with me. My high opinion of myself and my capabilities had made me unwittingly put myself above my sisters and brothers, to the point that I had replaced a team leader without even discussing it with my co-workers. When my sister brought this up, I had refuted it and argued. I saw that I truly had been extremely arrogant. I didn’t have the slightest reverence or submission for God, nor had I considered whether it benefited the work of God’s house. I had just acted unilaterally and arbitrarily in accordance with my arrogant disposition, disrupting the work of God’s house and doing so much harm to my brothers and sisters. How was that fulfilling my duty? Now that I think about it, I thought I took on responsibility in my work, but I was actually just an arrogant dictator trying to satisfy my greed for power. I was committing evil and resisting God! Later, I asked myself over and over: How had I been capable of such unbridled arrogance that I’d set foot upon a path of doing evil and resisting God? Only while reflecting upon myself did I realize that I had been dominated by satanic poisons, like “I am my own lord throughout heaven and earth” and “Distinguishing oneself and bringing honor to his ancestors,” to the point that ever since I was little, I’d always liked lording over others, and in everything I’d done, I’d tried to get others to listen to me and revolve around me, focusing on me. It was like it was the only way to show I was capable, and that was the only valuable and meaningful way to live. Now I’ve finally discovered that it’s because I was always living by these satanic poisons that my arrogant nature had gotten out of control, and I was living without the slightest bit of humanity. Not only had I constrained and harmed people so much, but I had also disrupted the work of the church. Only then did I really know that “I am my own lord throughout heaven and earth” and “Distinguishing oneself and bringing honor to his ancestors,” those poisons of Satan, are fallacies. They are absurd and evil, and can only corrupt and harm people. That’s right. I used to always think that being superior and having people orbit around me was something to revel in. Then I finally saw clearly that living by these satanic poisons was like living as a ghost. No one wanted to come near me. I irritated other people and God despised me even more. These were the bitter fruits of living by Satan’s poisons! I thought about how, at first, the archangel had been extremely arrogant, and in an attempt to be on equal footing with God, it had tried to grab control over everything. In the end, it offended God’s disposition, was cursed by Him, and was cast down into the midair. So arrogantly constraining my brothers and sisters, always thinking others should listen to me, wasn’t this disposition of mine one and the same as the archangel’s? At that thought I finally realized how scary it was to live with an arrogant disposition. Without God setting up this kind of environment for me, I’d definitely still be fulfilling my duty based on my arrogance, and there’s no telling how much evil I would have committed, ultimately offending God’s disposition and being punished. After I realized this, I prayed to God: “God, I no longer wish to live by an arrogant disposition in resistance against You. I wish to seek the truth to resolve my arrogance, and genuinely repent to You.”
I read a passage of God’s words that say, “An arrogant nature makes you headstrong. When people have this headstrong disposition, are they not prone to being willful? How, then, do you resolve your willfulness? When you have an idea, you bring it out and say what you think and believe about this matter, and then, you communicate with everyone about it. First, you can shed light on your view and seek the truth; this is the first step to put in practice in order to overcome this disposition of willfulness. The second step happens when other people voice dissenting opinions—what practice can you put in place to keep from being willful? You must first have an attitude of humility, set aside what you believe to be right, and let everyone have fellowship. Even though you believe your way to be correct, you should not keep insisting on it. That, first of all, is a kind of step forward; it shows an attitude of seeking the truth, of denying yourself, and of fulfilling God’s will. Once you have this attitude, at the same time that you do not adhere to your own opinion, you pray. As you do not know right from wrong, you allow God to reveal and tell you what the best, most suitable thing to do is. As everyone joins in fellowship, the Holy Spirit brings you all enlightenment” (God’s Fellowship). In God’s words I found a path of practice: No matter what situation I encounter, I have to maintain reverence and submission before God. First, I have to pray to God and seek the truth, and then put my ideas before my brothers and sisters so we can all seek and fellowship together. Even if I think I’m right, I have to consciously deny and forsake myself, listen more to my brothers’ and sisters’ opinions, and see what will be most in line with the truth and beneficial to the church’s work. In a gathering after that, I opened myself up to my brothers and sisters, revealing my corruption, and apologized for how I had harmed and constrained them. They didn’t make a fuss over it. They all opened up and fellowshiped with me, and I felt a great weight off my chest. In work discussions after that, I would actively ask the others to express their points of view; and when different suggestions came up, we’d seek and fellowship together until we reached a consensus. Gradually, my brothers and sisters stopped feeling constrained by me, and the atmosphere in our cooperation became much more harmonious.
One day, I was discussing work with a sister I’d been matched with. She said she’d written the leaders a letter about some problems within the church, telling them about the difficulties we’d had in our duties, and how we’d experienced them. At this, my arrogant disposition reared its ugly head again. I thought, “It’s enough that we talk about it in our recent gatherings. There’s no need to write a letter.” As I was about to shoot her down, I recalled how incredibly arrogant I’d been in the past. I always wanted others to listen to me in everything, so my brothers and sisters all felt constrained by me, and I wasn’t living out a human likeness at all. So I silently prayed to God, turning my back on myself, not wanting to live by my arrogant disposition anymore. I had to practice the truth. Amen! After that, I realized how great it was that this sister took on the responsibility of communicating about work to our leaders, so I shouldn’t rein her in. I should help her write that letter well. Once I realized this, my tone softened, and I was able to patiently communicate with her about the issues in our work and listen to her views more. In some places I thought she was a little off base, but I refrained from blindly making any judgments. I figured I should seek before I spoke. It was then that I discovered that some of what she had brought up were things I’d never thought of before. I felt a bit ashamed. I saw just how incredibly arrogant I’d been, always stifling the brothers and sisters so they couldn’t play their own parts in their duties. In fact, all of them had strengths. If they hadn’t been there working with me, I never could have fulfilled the duties by myself. That’s right. After that, we drew up a summary of the issues together, and after polishing the letter, we sent it off. In performing our duties after that, whenever my arrogant nature showed itself again, I would consciously pray to God and forsake myself, discussing and fellowshiping more with others. Our cooperation went much better, Mm. and I felt especially at ease and relieved. I felt that doing my duty that way was really great. Such an arrogant person as myself changing a little really was the fruit of experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words.