Why Is Taking Advice So Hard?
By Judy, the Philippines
In June 2021, I was watering newcomers in the church. Brother Jeremy was supervising our work. He’d generally ask me about any issues or difficulties I had in my duty, guide me on how to communicate with new believers and help them resolve issues. Sometimes there were errors or issues in my work. He’d point them out when he noticed them and tell me how to address them. At first, I was happy to receive Brother Jeremy’s pointers, but when he mentioned lots of problems, I didn’t really want to take it anymore. I thought: “I’m so busy watering newcomers every day that sometimes I can’t even eat on time. I’m giving it my all, so why do you always talk about my issues? I feel my caliber is pretty good, I know what to do and I don’t need anyone else to tell me.”
One day, a new believer in a group sent a message, saying apologetically that he’d missed the last gathering because he was so busy with work. I was doing something else at the time, so I didn’t respond right away. Once I saw his message, Brother Jeremy had already responded to the message from that newcomer. He also sent me a private message reminding me to respond in a timely manner, and gave me suggestions on communicating with them. I was kind of irritated by his message and felt like he was pestering me, thinking, “I know how to communicate with them, so why are you insisting on giving me advice? If you feel like you can fellowship, just do it yourself.” I was even feeling disgruntled, “I’ve been doing everything, to the point sometimes I even forgot to eat, but you’re still saying I’m doing this poorly, doing that poorly.” When Brother Jeremy called me to check in on work, I didn’t answer or even send him a message—I didn’t want to acknowledge him. But he kept asking about my work and giving me suggestions. One time when a new believer didn’t respond to a message I’d sent, I didn’t follow up with him. Brother Jeremy told me I should keep contacting him, and said that I need patience with newcomers, and to give them lots of help. I didn’t want to take his advice. I was thinking, “The newcomer isn’t responding, so I don’t need to waste any more time. There’s nothing wrong with that, so why should I listen to you?” So, I didn’t accept his suggestion. As for the people who never got back to me, I just stopped bothering with them. Gradually, lots of newcomers in the groups I was responsible for lost interest in attending gatherings. It wasn’t until I noticed this that I realized that my attitude of not accepting advice was wrong. I also thought about how I was ignoring Brother Jeremy and rejecting his advice, but he always responded to my messages. I felt like I owed him an apology. And so, I said a prayer, asking God to guide me and give me strength. I wanted to turn my back on my own ideas and accept the brother’s advice.
I read this inlater: “Some people never seek the truth while performing their duty. They merely do as they please, acting according to their own imaginings, and are ever arbitrary and rash, and they simply do not walk the path of practicing the truth. What does it mean to be ‘arbitrary and rash’? It means, when you encounter an issue, to act however you see fit, with no thought process, or any process for searching. Nothing anyone else says can touch your heart or change your mind. You can’t even accept it when the truth is fellowshiped to you, you stick to your own opinions, not listening when other people say anything right, believing yourself right, and clinging to your own ideas. Even if your thinking is correct, you should take other people’s opinions into consideration as well, right? And if you don’t at all, is this not being extremely self-righteous? It is not easy for people who are extremely self-righteous and wayward to accept the truth. If you do something wrong and others criticize you, saying, ‘You’re not doing it according to the truth!’ you reply, ‘Even if I’m not, this is still how I’m going to do it.’ And then you find some reason to make them think this is right. If they reproach you, saying, ‘You acting like this is meddling, and will damage the work of the church,’ not only do you not listen, but you keep coming out with excuses: ‘I think this is the right way, so this is how I’m going to do it.’ What disposition is this? (Arrogance.) It is arrogance. An arrogant nature makes you willful. If you have an arrogant nature, you will behave arbitrarily and rashly, heedless of what anyone says” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words had a profound impact on me. I was doing a duty, but I wasn’t seeking principles of the truth. I was just doing things my own way, following my own ideas and I wouldn’t accept what anyone else said. I felt like I had good caliber and I was doing things the right way, so I didn’t need to accept others’ guidance or advice. I was really obstinate and self-righteous. When I ignored newcomers’ messages, Brother Jeremy reminded me to stay on top of them, and gave me advice on communicating with new believers, but I didn’t accept his suggestions because I felt I already knew what to do, and that I didn’t need him to tell me. I became irritated with him because of that, so when he wanted to talk to me about newcomers’ issues, I wouldn’t answer his calls or read his messages. He told me to be loving toward new believers, and though I knew this was a responsible way to treat them, I felt like I was already very good to them, and sending more messages was a waste of time. Being too sure of myself and not taking Brother Jeremy’s advice led to lots of newcomers losing interest in gatherings. That outcome made me see that I was just as God describes—stubborn, arrogant, and self-righteous. I was unprincipled, arbitrary and rash in my duty, and I didn’t seek the truth. I wasn’t fulfilling my responsibilities. If I’d been able to put my ego aside and take others’ advice, I wouldn’t have been doing so poorly in my work. Thinking this over, I felt truly disgusted by my arrogant disposition. I swore from then on, I’d forsake the flesh, practice the truth, and learn to accept suggestions. I would strive to do well in my duty. After that, I tried to do what Brother Jeremy suggested and I made sure to stay in touch with the newcomers who weren’t responding to me. To my surprise, before long some of them wanted to start attending gatherings again, and I finally saw how helpful Brother Jeremy’s suggestions were, and that this was the responsible way to do my duty. After that, whenever a brother or sister made a suggestion, I tried to accept it.
Later on, I started spreading the gospel. Sister Mona was supervising our work. I was really nervous when I first started sharing the gospel, but I did my best to fellowship with gospel candidates. I thought I was already doing well enough, but the first week went by, and I wasn’t getting good results at all. Sister Mona asked me if I was having any difficulties and reminded me to communicate a lot with gospel candidates to resolve their notions and issues. Hearing her say that, I got a little irritable and said, “I’ve already fellowshiped, but they’re not responding to me.” I even sent her screenshots to prove that I’d been messaging them. Then Sister Mona sent me a recording of Brother Joseph bearing witness to God’s work of the last days so I could learn from it. She said he was very skilled at spreading the gospel, and was really successful at it. That was really embarrassing for me. I felt like she was comparing me to Brother Joseph, which was hard for me to take. “Why would she send me that recording? Could it be that his fellowship is better than mine? By saying he is successful, she must mean I am no good.” I told myself, “My fellowship is fine, I am just new to the duty and am not familiar with the principles.” I felt like everyone has their own personal style, so I didn’t even listen to the recording. I responded to Sister Mona, “Other people have their style, and I have mine. If you prefer others’ styles, I can go back to watering newcomers.” I felt like Sister Mona was looking down her nose at me, that she felt like I wasn’t a good gospel worker. I was really down and upset, and didn’t want to accept her advice. I asked her, hurt, “We have different ways of preaching. Why send me that recording?” I stopped responding to her after that.
Sensing I wasn’t in a good state, Sister Mona sent me some words of God that really stirred me. God’s words say, “Regardless of what kind of duty you are performing or what professional skill you are studying, you should get better at it over time. If you are able to keep trying to improve, you will get better and better at performing your duty. … No matter what duty you are performing, you need to put your heart into studying things. If you lack professional knowledge, then study professional knowledge. If you do not understand the truth, then seek the truth. If you understand the truth and acquire professional knowledge, you will be able to put them to use while performing your duty and get results. This is a person of true talent and real knowledge. If you do not study any professional knowledge at all during your duty, do not seek the truth, and your service is sub-par, then how can you perform your duty? To perform your duty well, you must study a lot of useful knowledge and equip yourself with many truths. You must never stop learning, never stop seeking, and never stop improving on your weaknesses by learning from others. No matter what other people’s strengths are, or in what way they are stronger than you, you must learn from them. And all the more should you learn from anyone who understands the truth better than you. By performing your duty this way for several years, on one hand, you will understand the truth and enter its realities, and on the other, your performance of your duty will be up to par. You will have become a person who possesses truth and humanity, a person who possesses the reality of the truth. This is achieved by pursuing the truth” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Reading God’s words showed me that to progress in a duty and be successful in gospel work, I had to learn to accept others’ suggestions and learn from their strengths and successful approaches. This was extremely important. I had a shallow understanding of the truth, and lots of faults and inadequacies. No matter what duty it was, I had to learn the relevant principles and skills. So long as I was willing to learn and accept others’ advice, I could make up for and improve on my shortcomings. But I was arrogant and self-assured. I’d just started sharing the gospel—I didn’t understand the principles and wasn’t very successful, but I felt like I’d done a good job and I wasn’t willing to take advice. Even when Sister Mona pointed out my problems, I just sent her screenshots to prove that I knew what I was doing, and didn’t need any advice. I wouldn’t accept it when she sent me a recording of Brother Joseph sharing the gospel because I felt like I had good ideas and didn’t need to learn from others. Because of my arrogance, I was unwilling to accept positive, proactive advice. I had the same attitude toward both Sister Mona’s and Brother Jeremy’s suggestions, always resistant, rejecting, and standing my ground. With that sort of attitude, I wouldn’t be able to get good results out of any duty or make any progress. God wouldn’t approve of my duty either.
I read some of God’s words later.says, “Arrogance and self-righteousness is the most obvious satanic disposition of people, and if they do not accept the truth, there is no way they can be cleansed. People have arrogant and self-righteous dispositions, they always believe they’re right, and in all that they think, say, and have opinions on, they always believe that their own view and mindset is correct, that nothing anyone else says is as good or right as what they say. They always stick to their own opinions, and do not listen to whatever anyone else says; even when what other people say is right, and in line with the truth, they don’t accept it, they merely seem to be listening, but don’t take anything in. When the time comes to act, they still go their own way; they always think they are right and justified. You might be right, and justified, or you might be doing the right thing, without issues, but what is the disposition you reveal? Isn’t it arrogance and self-righteousness? If you are unable to shed this arrogant and self-righteous disposition, will this affect your performance of your duty? Will it affect your ability to put the truth into practice? If you cannot resolve this kind of arrogant and self-righteous disposition, are you likely to encounter great setbacks in the future? There is no doubt that you will, this is inevitable. Can God see these things manifested in people? He can, extremely well; God not only surveys man’s innermost being, but is also always watching their every utterance and action. And what will God say once He sees these things manifested in you? God will say, ‘You are intransigent! Sticking to your guns when you do not know you are wrong is understandable, but if you still stick to your guns when you know full well that you are wrong, and refuse to repent, then you are a stubborn old fool, and you are in trouble. If, no matter whose suggestion it is, you react with a negative and antagonistic attitude, and do not accept the truth at all—if, in your heart, there is nothing but antagonism, closedness, refusal—then you are ridiculous, an absurd fool! You are too difficult to deal with.’ What about you is so difficult to deal with? What is difficult about you is that your behavior is not a mistaken way of doing things or a mistaken kind of conduct, but rather that it reveals a certain kind of disposition. What kind of disposition does it reveal? You are sick of the truth and hate the truth” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Often Living Before God Can One Have a Normal Relationship With Him). From God’s words, I realized how truly arrogant and stubborn my disposition was. I always felt like I understood things and did things the right way. Sister Mona and Brother Jeremy gave me advice time after time, but I never accepted it, and pitted myself against them and got petulant with them. My duty was to share the gospel and bear witness to God, so if their suggestions were helpful for my duty, for gospel candidates accepting the true way, I should have accepted and practiced them. But I didn’t do that. I thought I knew what’s what and was able to fellowship the truth, but really, I didn’t have a grasp on principles and wasn’t good at sharing the gospel. I wasn’t successful in my duty at all. When brothers and sisters pointed out my problems or gave me suggestions, I just acted arrogant and self-righteous, and struggled to accept them. Sometimes I was even resistant or irritable. That wasn’t just a mistake in my superficial behavior, but it was a disgust for the truth showing itself. My being resistant and disobedient was essentially rejecting and fighting the truth—it was hating the truth. I then understood that God doesn’t just look at people’s external behavior, He looks into their hearts, at their attitudes toward the truth and toward Him. I was a believer, did a duty, and went to gatherings, but I wouldn’t accept suggestions that were in line with the truth or accept positive things. I rejected, fought against, and even hated the truth. I didn’t have any reverence for God. If I went on that way, not only would I do my duty poorly, but I’d end up disgusting God, being condemned and punished by Him, and I wouldn’t have a good outcome. Seeing my own ugly, satanic face made me anxious and afraid. I’d never imagined I was so corrupt, and that my arrogant disposition would make me go against God. I really hated myself when I realized this.
The next day, I read some of God’s words in a group that Sister Mona had sent, and found a path of practice. Almighty God says, “There are several characteristics of change in a person’s life disposition. The first characteristic is to be able to submit to matters that are correct and conform to the truth. No matter who offers an opinion, whether they are old or young, whether you are able to get along with them or not, whether you know them or not, whether you are familiar with them or not, or whether your relationship with them is good or bad, as long as what they say is correct, conforms to the truth, and is beneficial to the work God’s house, you can listen, adopt, and accept, without being influenced by any factor. To be able to accept and submit to matters that are correct and conform to the truth is the first characteristic. The second characteristic is being able to seek the truth when something happens; not only being able to accept the truth, but also to practice the truth, and not handle matters according to your own will. No matter what issue you are facing, when you don’t understand, you can seek, and look at how to handle the issue, and how to practice, so that it conforms to the principles of truth and satisfies God’s requirements. The third characteristic is that you consider God’s will no matter what issue you face, rebelling against the flesh to achieve submission to God. You consider God’s will no matter what duty you are performing, and perform your duties according to God’s requirements. Whatever requirements God has for this duty, you are able to carry it out according to His requirements, in order to satisfy God. You must grasp this principle, and perform your duty responsibly and faithfully. This is what it means to consider God’s will. If you don’t know how to consider God’s will or how to satisfy God in a certain matter, then you must seek. You should compare these three characteristics of a changed disposition with yourselves, and look to see if you possess these characteristics or not. If you have practical experience in these three aspects and have the path to practice them, then this is what it means to be principled when handling matters. Regardless of what matter you face or what problem you are dealing with, you must always seek the principles of practice, what details are included in each principle of truth, and how to practice without violating principles. Once these problems are clarified, naturally you will know how to practice the truth” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Cast Off the Shackles of a Corrupt Disposition). “If, when you don’t understand a truth, someone offers you a suggestion, and tells you how to act according to the truth, the first thing you should do is accept, and ask everyone to fellowship together, to see if this is the correct path, if it is in accordance with the principles of the truth. If you ascertain that it is in accordance with the truth, then practice in this way; if you ascertain that it is not, then don’t. It’s that simple. You should search for the truth from many people, listening to what everyone has to say and taking it all seriously; don’t turn a deaf ear or snub people. This falls under your duty, so you should treat it seriously. This is the right attitude and state. When you have the right state, you will no longer betray a disposition of being sick of and hostile toward the truth; practicing in this way takes the place of your corrupt disposition, and is practicing the truth. And what is the effect of practicing the truth in this way? (There is the guidance of the Holy Spirit.) Having the guidance of the Holy Spirit is one aspect. Sometimes, the matter is very simple, and is achievable by using your own intellect; once people have given you suggestions and you have understood, you set things straight and simply proceed according to principle. To human beings, this may seem trivial, but in the eyes of God, it is a big deal. Why do I say this? When you practice in this way, God sees that you are able to practice the truth, that you are someone who loves the truth, not someone who is sick of the truth, and at the same time as seeing your heart, God also sees your disposition. This is a big deal. And when you perform a duty and do things before God, what you live out and reveal is the reality of the truth that ought to be found in people; before God, your attitude, thoughts, and state in everything you do are of the utmost importance, they are what God scrutinizes” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Often Living Before God Can One Have a Normal Relationship With Him). God’s words really opened my eyes, too. If someone gives me advice, no matter who it is, so long as they’re right and it fits the truth, I should accept it and carry it out, and act according to God’s will. That’s behavior of accepting and practicing the truth. That’s the only way I can more easily gain God’s guidance and get good results in my duty, and then my corrupt disposition can gradually change. Because of my pride and arrogance before, I didn’t seek the principles of truth in my duty, or accept others’ advice, which led to me performing poorly. Now I understood God’s will and requirements. I have to heed God’s will in my duty, seek the truth, practice according to principles, and fulfill my responsibilities. I really can’t slack off in anything related to spreading the gospel. I have to take it seriously and resolve gospel candidates’ questions about accepting the true way. I don’t have the reality of the truth or understand its principles, so I need pointers and help from others. When they give me advice, it’s entirely to help me make progress in my duty and so I can carry out my responsibilities. They’re not looking down on me, so I shouldn’t distort their intentions. That afternoon, I sent Sister Mona a message, apologizing for my behavior. She wasn’t remotely angry with me, but I still felt kind of guilty because I felt I was to blame. It was all because I wouldn’t accept the truth; I was too arrogant and headstrong. From then on, no matter what kind of advice Sister Mona gave me or what issues of mine others pointed out, so long as they were right and it would help in my duty, I tried accepting it. Sometimes when I ran into challenges in sharing the gospel, I would proactively seek out others’ suggestions. When I did that, I got better results sharing the gospel and brought more people into the faith. Once, after I bore witness to some gospel candidates on God’s work of the last days, some of them wanted to continue looking into it, but some of them didn’t respond after reading my message, so I didn’t pay them any further mind. Sister Mona noticed that I was getting sloppy, and suggested that I not give up on them so easily. So long as they read my messages, I should stay in contact with them and try to think of a way to draw them in. This time, I didn’t reject her advice. I remembered something God says: “There are several characteristics of change in a person’s life disposition. The first characteristic is to be able to submit to matters that are correct and conform to the truth. No matter who offers an opinion, whether they are old or young, whether you are able to get along with them or not, whether you know them or not, whether you are familiar with them or not, or whether your relationship with them is good or bad, as long as what they say is correct, conforms to the truth, and is beneficial to the work God’s house, you can listen, adopt, and accept, without being influenced by any factor” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Practicing the Truth Can One Cast Off the Shackles of a Corrupt Disposition). I knew that if I wanted to change my corrupt disposition and do my duty well, I had to learn to accept other people’s suggestions. I tried following Sister Mona’s advice, and kept messaging those gospel candidates, asking about their difficulties. I was surprised when the ones that hadn’t responded before started communicating with me about what they’d gotten out of the preaching. They started to actively look into the true way. I was so happy, and I personally saw how beneficial taking others’ advice is. I’ve learned a lot that way. I’ve not only learned some truths about sharing the gospel, but also known how to fellowship on the truth to resolve the gospel candidates’ struggles and questions. Communicating with them doesn’t feel so difficult anymore and I’m doing better and better in my duty.
I learned through this experience how invaluable God’s words are, that they can help us know ourselves. When we practice according to His words, our corrupt dispositions can change. Though I still reveal some arrogance sometimes, I’m willing to put my ego aside, learn to accept the truth, take others’ advice, and learn more truths. I hope God continues to guide me and scrutinize me.