Why Am I So High and Mighty?
By Rui Zhi, South Korea
I was responsible for the church’s video work. After a period of practice, I came to grasp some of the principles and made progress in my skills. I also generally tended to discover issues in our work, and in work discussions, my suggestions were often taken by the others. After a while, I got kind of smug. I believed in myself more and more, feeling that I had some caliber, a fairly pure understanding of the principles, and a comprehensive perspective on issues. Although I wasn’t a church leader and wasn’t in charge of any major work, I figured being able to manage our team’s projects wasn’t bad! I noticed that my partner, Brother Liu, was a little passive in his duty for a while. I always took the lead in our work discussions and team learning, and had disdain for him for not carrying a burden. In our discussions after that, I’d just disregard Brother Liu’s suggestions and I rejected his views a lot. I was thinking that in our partnership, we ended up going with my ideas most of the time, so I may as well do things myself. After a while, I just took over some of Brother Liu’s work. In our work discussions, when the others didn’t adopt my suggestions, I’d stress repeatedly that my perspective was correct, and sometimes I’d trot out rules and doctrines as proof, as if they were principles, to get them to listen to me. I would get a little uneasy after the fact, feeling like I was always forcing others to listen to me. Wasn’t that showing arrogance? Sometimes I’d try to accept other people’s suggestions, but in the end my thinking was proven right, so I became even more self-assured. Sometimes I realized I was showing an arrogant disposition, but I didn’t take it to heart. I felt I was a little arrogant, but I was still right. My intent was to get our work done well, so that couldn’t be too big of an issue. During that time, I didn’t feel comfortable with anything the others did. I felt they weren’t skilled enough and didn’t see the full picture in their considerations. When they made suggestions, if they didn’t fit with my ideas, I’d shoot them down without a second thought and quietly look down my nose at them. Once, a video that a sister had produced went through several rounds of editing and still didn’t turn out great. I didn’t ask her about any struggles she was having, but started scolding her, “Were you being at all attentive in this? Can’t you see what others are doing and learn from that?” Sometimes when the brothers and sisters shared an idea for making a video, I’d reject it summarily, before I understood. As a result, the brothers and sisters were all afraid to work with me and didn’t even dare send their videos for me to watch. Another time, a sister found materials to organize some team study. I gave them a quick glance, and without discussing it with anyone, totally disparaged the materials she’d found, saying they had no reference value. In fact, even though the learning materials she’d found were less than perfect, they’d still be helpful for skill building. A sister later pointed out that doing things without any discussion with others was arrogant of me. At the time I didn’t know myself at all, thinking I’d just failed to ask for input, and paying more mind to that in the future would be enough. I even thought that I was the one handling and resolving most of the problems in our work, and I had final say in matters, large and small, so without my oversight, our team’s work would be a mess. Though I was paired with someone else, I thought I was actually the team supervisor, both in name and in fact, and maybe God had arranged for me to be there to watch over the team’s work. That thought made me feel like I was different from the others, that I was at the helm. I got even more arrogant. Once, a couple sisters and I set up an appointment with another team to chat about work, but something came up at the last minute and I couldn’t attend, so I had them go without me. They panicked as soon as they heard I couldn’t go, saying they couldn’t take on that responsibility, so they’d wait until I had time.
Afterward, a sister said to me, “You have final say in everything for the team now, big and small. When anyone runs into a problem, they don’t seek the truth, but they rely on you. They feel they can’t do without you. Don’t you think you should do some self-reflection? That’s really dangerous!” I couldn’t settle my feelings for quite a while after hearing her say that. The brothers and sisters felt they couldn’t do without me, and everything had to go through me. Wasn’t that exercising control over the team? That’s antichrist behavior. But my intention for whatever I did was just to get the work done well. How could it turn out that way? I didn’t know how to understand this. Feeling really confused and kind of down, I shared my state with God, asking for His guidance. Someone sent me a passage ofexposing antichrists’ dispositions that really fit my state. God says, “One of the most common signs of antichrists controlling people is that within the scope of their control, they alone have the final say. If the antichrist is not present, no one else dares to make up their mind or make a decision. If the antichrist is not present, everyone else is like children without a mother. They have no idea how to pray or seek, nor how to discuss things together. They are just like puppets or dead people. … The methods of antichrists are always unconventional and high-sounding when they do things. No matter how correct another’s suggestion may be, they will always reject it. Even if another person’s suggestion is consistent with their ideas, if the antichrist doesn’t propose it first, they will definitely refuse to accept or implement it. Instead, the antichrist will do their utmost to belittle, deny, and condemn the suggestion until the person who offered it feels their idea is wrong and admits it. Only then does the antichrist stop. Antichrists like to build themselves up and belittle others so that others worship them and put them at the center of things. Antichrists allow only themselves to blossom, and for others to only ever serve as the backdrop that allows them to stand out. Antichrists believe that everything they say and do is right, while everything others say and do is wrong. They often put forward novel viewpoints to deny other people’s views and practices, they nitpick and find problems with other people’s opinions, and they disrupt or reject other people’s plans, so that everyone is made to listen to them and act according to their methods. They use these methods and means to continually deny you, attack you, and make you feel you are not good enough, so that you increasingly become submissive to them, look up to them, and admire them, until finally you are completely under their control. This is the process by which antichrists subdue and control people” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Five). After reading this, I held myself up to what God said. I’d been responsible for the team’s work for all that time, but the others still couldn’t do their duties in line with the principles and asked me about everything they did. Without me, they didn’t dare make any final decisions or communicate with other teams. They were all constrained by me. I was harming them. I wondered what I’d done and said that led to this kind of outcome. Whether we were discussing work or talking through ideas, if anyone had a perspective different from mine, I’d find lots of reasons to shoot them down, never focusing on fellowshiping principles of the truth. I didn’t exalt or bear witness to God, either, but had everyone listen to me. When I thought something was right, I’d become aggressive and overbearing. I was disdainful whenever I saw gaps in the brothers’ and sisters’ skills, and I was both overtly and covertly derogatory. I wanted to force everyone to listen to me, and if they didn’t, I’d stress that I was skilled and understood the principles. After a while of always negating and devaluing others and elevating myself, the brothers and sisters all felt like they were no good, and didn’t have a perspective as complete as mine, so they’d come ask me about everything. Really thinking about it, lots of times the plans they suggested were just fine, and maybe they weren’t entirely perfect, but I could have helped improve them. But instead, I insisted on emphasizing that I was right and I rejected the others’ ideas, thinking I did so for the sake of our work. I was so arrogant and lacking self-awareness! I also read this in God’s words: “Once people have grown arrogant in nature and essence, they can often disobey and resist God, not heed His words, generate notions about Him, do things that betray Him, and things that exalt and bear testimony to themselves. You say you are not arrogant, but suppose you were given a church and allowed to lead it; suppose that I did not deal with you, and that no one in God’s family criticized or helped you: After leading it a while, you would bring people to your feet and make them submit before you, even to the point of admiring and revering you. And why would you do that? This would be determined by your nature; it would be none other than a natural revelation. You do not have any need to learn this from others, nor is there any need for them to teach it to you. You do not need others to instruct you or compel you to do this; this kind of situation comes about naturally. Everything you do is about making people exalt you, praise you, worship you, submit to you, and listen to you in all things. Allowing you to be leader naturally brings about this situation, and it cannot be changed. And how does this situation come about? It is determined by man’s arrogant nature. The manifestation of arrogance is rebellion and resistance against God. When people are arrogant, self-important, and self-righteous, they tend to set up their own independent kingdoms and do things however they want. They also bring others into their own hands and draw them into their embraces. For people to be capable of doing such arrogant things, it just proves that the essence of their arrogant nature is that of Satan; it is that of the archangel. When their arrogance and self-importance reach a certain level, they no longer have a place for God in their hearts, and God is put aside. They then wish to be God, make people obey them, and they become the archangel. If you possess such a satanic arrogant nature, God will have no place in your heart. Even if you believe in God, God will no longer recognize you, will view you as an evildoer, and will cast you out” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. An Arrogant Nature Is at the Root of Man’s Resistance to God).
I learned from God’s words that I wasn’t able to coordinate with the brothers and sisters because I was controlled by my arrogant nature. I saw that with an arrogant, self-important nature, I didn’t need to do anything particular, but that sort of situation came about naturally, and I got everyone to listen to me. Thinking about my time working with the other brothers and sisters in that duty, whether we were making suggestions for videos or organizing work, I always thought I had the best ideas. When I noticed that Brother Liu was a little passive in his duty, I didn’t help him through fellowship, but I looked down on him in my heart for having poor caliber and no burden, and just took total charge, doing everything myself, as if I were the only one who could get things done, not anyone else. When I saw areas where others’ skills were lacking, I scorned them for lacking caliber and understanding, as if my understanding were the most accurate, and I knew the principles best. I was always belittling others and elevating myself, presenting my thoughts and opinions to them as if they were the truth. After a while, the others felt like they couldn’t do anything themselves, that I had to do it, to the point that for everything, they came to ask me, and relied on me. If I wasn’t there, they didn’t dare move forward. I read in God’s words, “When their arrogance and self-importance reach a certain level, they no longer have a place for God in their hearts, and God is put aside. They then wish to be God, make people obey them, and they become the archangel.” I felt ashamed and guilty, faced with the revelation of God’s words. I realized I had a very serious problem. I put myself up on a pedestal, always thinking I had gifts and caliber, that I wasn’t a regular person, but I naturally had the material to be in charge, to captain the ship, and the others lacked caliber, so God ordained that I should lead them. Thinking about these thoughts and ideas of mine scared me and nauseated me, too. I really knew no shame! We were working together to do our duties, all accepting God’s leadership and submitting to the principles of the truth, but I was making everyone accept my leadership and submit to me. I was in the wrong. I’d become so arrogant that I’d lost all reason. God says in “The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom”: “Man should not magnify himself, nor exalt himself. He should worship and exalt God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). In my heart, I always felt I was on a higher level than the rest of the team and always placed myself above the other brothers and sisters. I was standing in the wrong place—I was putting myself on a pedestal. This thought was really alarming, really scary for me. I said a prayer right away: “God, I’m too arrogant and self-assured. I offended Your disposition without being remotely aware of it. I’d like to repent, to take the place I should, and do my duty well.” My supervisor came to fellowship with me later on. He said a few brothers and sisters had mentioned they felt really constrained working with me. They said I was disdainful and looked down on others, and always shot down others’ ideas, and some of them said, “I’ve seen arrogant people before, but never anyone this arrogant.” These words went straight to the heart for me. I’d never imagined the brothers and sisters saw me as that sort of person, that I’d held them back and hurt them so much. I felt like I had a knife in my heart for a few days. Particularly when we were discussing work, no one else dared speak up, and the atmosphere was particularly chilly, I felt even more reproved. I knew this was entirely due to the limitations I’d placed on them. In my pain and misery, I came before God in prayer, asking Him to guide me to genuinely reflect and enter in.
I read a passage of God’s words in my devotionals that gave me a better understanding of myself. God’s words say, “Some leaders never work according to the principles, but would be a law unto themselves, and are arbitrary and rash. The brothers and sisters point this out, saying, ‘You seldom consult with others before you take action. We don’t know what your judgments and decisions are until after you’ve made them. Why don’t you consult with others? Why don’t you tell us ahead of time when you make some decision? Even if what you’re doing is right, and your caliber is greater than ours, you should still inform us about it first. At the least, we have a right to know what’s going on. Always acting as a law unto yourself—you’re walking the path of an antichrist!’ And what would you hear the leader say to that? ‘I’m the one who calls the shots at home. All matters, great and small, are mine to decide. I’m used to it. When anyone in my big family has an issue, they come to me and have me figure out what to do. They all know I have lots of solutions to things. That’s why it’s always me who calls the shots and is in charge of my house’s affairs. When I came to the church, I thought I wouldn’t have to worry anymore, but as it turned out, I was chosen to be a leader. I can’t help it—I was born to this fate. God gave me this skill. I was born to figure things out and make decisions for people.’ The implication here is that they were fated at birth to be an official, and everyone else is a pawn, a commoner—they were born to be bondsmen. Even when the brothers and sisters see the problem with this leader and point it out to them, they do not accept it, nor do they accept being dealt with and pruned, but refuse and resist until the brothers and sisters clamor for their removal, thinking all the while, ‘With a caliber like mine, I’m fated to be in charge wherever I go. And with calibers like yours, you’ll be bondsmen and serving girls wherever you go. It’s your fate to be ordered around.’ What kind of disposition are they revealing by always saying such things? Clearly, it is a corrupt disposition, yet they unashamedly share it with others as their strength and merit, boasting of it. When one reveals a corrupt disposition, they should reflect on themselves. They need to know it, to repent of it, and to forsake it; they should pursue the truth until they act according to the principles. This leader, however, does not practice in this way, but remains incorrigible, persisting in their views. From these behaviors, it can be seen that they do not accept the truth in the least and are absolutely not a seeker of the truth. They do not listen to anyone who exposes and deals with them, but remain full of justifications: ‘Hmph—this is just how I am! It’s called competence; it’s called ability—do any of you have those? I’m fated by birth to be in charge, and wherever I go, I’m a leader. I’m used to having what I say go, to figuring out on my own how to handle things. I don’t consult with others. This is my characteristic, my personal charisma.’ Is this not wanton shamelessness? With them not acknowledging that they have a corrupt disposition, it is clear that they do not acknowledge God’s words that judge and expose man. On the contrary, they take their heresies and fallacies to be the truth, and have everyone else accept them, and admire them. They hold in their heart that in God’s house, it should not be the truth that reigns—it should be they. What they say should go. Is this not brazen shamelessness?” (The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (1)). I was embarrassed in the face of this revelation from God’s words. That was just how I acted. I had some skills and appeared to have a little intelligence and caliber, so I thought I should have final say. The way I saw it, the other brothers and sisters couldn’t do anything well, and I didn’t take it seriously even when someone pointed out my problem. I thought I was only arrogant because I had caliber and my suggestions were right. I didn’t know myself at all. In fact, lots of times I didn’t see the issue accurately and I didn’t consider the full picture, like when I dismissed the learning materials that sister found as useless, but the others found that they did have some reference value, and gave some good suggestions. And even though I did have the right idea in some things, I still shouldn’t have forced others to accept it out of arrogance. I should have fellowshiped on the principles, and on my personal understanding and views, and if everyone felt what I said was suitable, they’d naturally accept it. But instead, I was arrogant and self-assured, and didn’t see the others’ strengths at all or reflect on myself. I was often making internal calculations of which things I’d made the right decisions on, and which issues I’d discovered and resolved in our work. The more I calculated these “achievements,” the more I felt I was better than the others. My arrogance intensified and I looked down on other people more and more. I even thought I was made for the role of a supervisor, so I was high and mighty, and wanted to have final say in everything. I was so arrogant and unreasonable and hadn’t changed my satanic disposition one bit. I couldn’t even get along with others. What did I have to be arrogant about? Feeling so pleased with myself that way really was pathetic! Looking back on all of it, I saw how aggressive and overbearing I’d been and was filled with regret.
There was another passage I read later. “Would you say it is difficult to fulfill one’s duty adequately? In fact, it is not; people must only be able to take a stance of humility, possess a bit of sense, and adopt an appropriate position. No matter how educated you are, what awards you have won, or how much you have achieved, and no matter how high your status and rank might be, you must let go of all of these things, you must get off your high horse—this all counts for nothing. In God’s house, however great these glories are, they cannot be higher than the truth, for these superficial things are not the truth, and cannot take its place. You must be clear about this issue. If you say, ‘I am very gifted, I have a very sharp mind, I have quick reflexes, I am a quick learner, and I have an exceedingly good memory, so I am qualified to make the final decision,’ if you always use these things as capital, and see them as precious, and as positive, then this is trouble. If your heart is occupied by these things, if they have taken root in your heart, it will be hard for you to accept the truth—and the consequences of that don’t bear thinking about. Thus, you must first put down and deny those things that you love, that seem nice, that are precious to you. Those things are not the truth; rather, they can block you from entering the truth. The most pressing thing now is that you must seek the truth in performing your duty, and practice according to the truth, such that your performance of your duty becomes adequate, for the adequate performance of duty is merely the first step onto the path of life entry. What does ‘the first step’ mean here? It means to begin a journey. In all things, there is something with which to begin the journey, something that is most basic, most fundamental, and achieving the adequate performance of duty is a path of entry into life. If your performance of duty merely seems fitting in how it is done, but is not in line with the principles of the truth, then you are not performing your duty adequately. So how, then, is one to work on this? One must work on and seek the principles of the truth; being equipped with the principles of the truth is what is crucial. If you merely improve your behavior and your temper, but are not equipped with the principles of the truth, it is useless. You may have something of a gift or specialty. That is a good thing—but only by putting it to use in performing your duty are you using it properly. Performing your duty well does not require an improvement in your humanity or personality, nor that you set aside your gift or talent. That is not what is required. What is crucial is that you understand the truth and learn to submit to God. It is nigh inevitable that your corrupt disposition will pour out as you perform your duty. What should you do at such times? You must seek the truth to resolve the problem and come to act in line with the principles of the truth. Do this, and doing your duty well will not present any problems. Whatever realm your gift or specialty is in, or wherever you may have some vocational knowledge, you may bring that thing you have learned to bear in performing that duty that is yours to perform. Using gifts, specialties, or vocational knowledge in the performance of a duty is most proper, but you must also be equipped with the truth and able to act in line with the principles. Only then can you perform your duty well. This is the two-pronged approach spoken of earlier: One prong is having a conscience and reason, and the other is that you must seek the truth to resolve your corrupt disposition. One enters into life by performing their duty in this way, and they become able to perform their duty adequately” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?). Pondering God’s words, I learned that God weighs whether someone is doing their duty well enough not according to how much they appear to have done, and whether it was done right, but according to what path they take in their duty, and if they seek and practice the truth. I also learned that to resolve an arrogant disposition and do my duty well enough, first I had to set aside those gifts and strengths that I was proud of, and come before God to seek the truth. If I just kept on doing things relying on my caliber and gifts without seeking the truth or following principles, God wouldn’t approve no matter how much I did. Before, I looked down on the others for lacking skills and caliber. When I saw them make a little mistake or do something imperfectly, I was full of disdain and scorn for them, both openly and internally. But when the videos I produced went back for multiple revisions and the others gave me suggestions, no one looked down on me, but they patiently told me what needed improving. Also, I hardly ever accepted the suggestions of the people I worked with, and though some brothers and sisters didn’t have great gifts or caliber, they sought the principles in their duty, humbly listened to others’ suggestions, and could cooperate in harmony. Comparing myself to them was embarrassing for me. I saw how lacking I was in my entry into the truth. In my duty after that, when there was a disagreement between me and the others, I practiced putting myself aside, and seeking the truth and principles, seeing it as a chance to practice the truth.
Once I was discussing a video’s production with a couple of sisters, and we had different ideas. I thought I had the best idea and I was thinking about what I could say to prove that I was right, how to convince them. I suddenly realized that I was displaying an arrogant disposition again, wanting to use my own opinion to negate others’ ideas. I quickly said a prayer, asking God to guide me to set myself aside and listen to the others’ suggestions. I thought of something God said: “Of all those in the church who understand the truth or who have a capacity to comprehend it, the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and guidance may be upon any of them. One should grab hold of the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination, following right behind it and cooperating closely with it. In doing so, the path you walk will be correct; it is the path on which the Holy Spirit guides. Pay special attention to how the Holy Spirit works in and guides those upon whom He is at work. You should often fellowship with others, making suggestions and expressing your own views—this is your duty and your liberty. But in the end, when a decision is to be made, if it is you alone who makes the final verdict, having everyone do as you say and go along with your will, then you are violating the principles. You should make the correct choice based on what the majority wills, and then make the final decision. If the suggestion of the majority does not accord with the principles of the truth, you should persevere in the truth. This is what accords with the principles of the truth” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I saw from God’s words that providing ideas and making videos was my duty, but deciding which plan is best isn’t up to any one person. The brothers and sisters have to discuss and decide that together, then go with the best suggestion. I felt really at peace once I put that into practice. Once that video was made, the brothers and sisters went with my version, but I didn’t look down on those two sisters because of that. I felt that through that process, I’d finally put the truth into practice without living by my arrogant disposition. Then I also experienced that God doesn’t set situations up to see who’s right or wrong, but to see what disposition people live out. If someone is right but they’re displaying arrogance, God detests that, He hates that. After that, when I tried seriously considering other people’s ideas, I realized that the brothers’ and sisters’ suggestions had lots of aspects that could be used, and they looked at things from a different perspective than me. Before I’d always thought other people weren’t looking at the full picture because I was only looking at things from my own perspective and I hardly ever truly listened to others’ ideas. Then I realized that everyone has strengths and there are things I can learn from them. I didn’t want to keep haughtily believing in myself, but I was ready to work well with the others, seek the truth and listen to others’ suggestions more, and collaborate in our duty.