Why Is It So Hard to Admit Mistakes?
By Li Fei, Italy
I’m responsible for video work at my church. One day, one of my sisters called me up in a hurry. She hadn’t checked a video properly and it needed to be reworked, which had caused delays and cost us manpower and resources. When I heard the name of the video, I realized that I had also helped check the video but hadn’t seen any problems either. After the call, I hurried to find out what this was all about, and saw that the name of the video had been spelled wrong. Of course, mistakes at work should be reported to the leader, or highlighted for everyone to avoid similar problems in the future. But then I thought about how I’d made such a basic mistake, and wondered how the leader would see me afterwards. Would he think that I wasn’t serious or reliable in my duty? If so, then I’d lose my position as the person in charge. Then, I thought about how I always stressed the importance of attentiveness in making videos to my brothers and sisters. If everyone knew that I’d made this mistake, would they think I wasn’t fit to be in charge? Then how would my reputation fare? But at the time, I lacked this awareness. I found excuses for myself: “We weren’t being deliberately careless. We checked what we should’ve checked. I couldn’t have predicted these special circumstances. The damage done cannot be undone, but as long as I’m more careful in the future, it’ll be fine. Besides, I’m not the only one who checked this video. Even if everyone finds out what happened, I’m not the only one to blame. This matter can end here. All the relevant people know, and that’s enough.” So, I didn’t tell the leader or the other brothers and sisters in the group. Even though I felt uneasy and knew I was avoiding responsibility, when I thought about what this mistake might do to my reputation, and even my position, I just carried on as though nothing had happened.
One day, I read (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct). From God’s words, I realized that pretending, covering up and failing to admit one’s mistake are much more serious than simply making a mistake. They are deceitful, and treacherous! Conversely, when people lay themselves bare and take responsibility for a mistake, not only will others not look down on them, but they’ll respect that person for speaking the truth simply and openly. We all have times when we make mistakes. God does not casually condemn people for their errors—He sees if they can genuinely repent afterwards. But I hadn’t grasped this. I thought it was shameful to make mistakes, especially as a supervisor—I thought that if I made basic mistakes, people would look down on me. They’d think I was no better than my brothers and sisters, and I might be replaced. So when an error was found in a video I’d checked, I didn’t dare own up to it and persisted in covering it up. I acted like nothing had happened in order to avoid responsibility, and sweep the matter under the rug. I felt guilty about it, but I still wasn’t willing to tell everyone the truth. I was so deceitful! I had obviously harmed the work of the church, but I didn’t say a word, and tried to cover up my error. I let the leader and my brothers and sisters see only my good side, not my mistake. That way, everyone would think I was serious and down-to-earth in my work. I could maintain my image, and my position as a supervisor. It was such a despicable way for me to act! I was afraid of people finding out about my mistake, so I did everything I could to disguise myself. I covered up my ugly side, deceived people, and hid the truth from them. I was living without character or dignity. I couldn’t go on covering up my mistake and deceiving others. So, I wrote to my leader, informing him of the situation, and I opened up to everyone about my corruption. I told them the truth, so that they could learn from my example. After doing this, I felt a little more at ease.: “Corrupt human beings are good at disguising themselves. No matter what they do or what corruption they display, they always have to disguise themselves. If something goes wrong or they do something wrong, they want to put the blame on others. They want credit for good things to go to themselves, and blame for bad things to go to others. Isn’t there a lot of disguise like this that goes on in real life? There is too much. Making mistakes or disguise: which of these relates to disposition? Disguise is a matter of disposition, it involves an arrogant disposition, evil, and treachery; it is especially disdained by God. In fact, when you disguise yourself, everyone understands what is happening, but you think others don’t see it, and you try your best to argue and justify yourself in an effort to save face and make everyone think you did nothing wrong. Isn’t this stupid? What do others think about this? How do they feel? Sick and disgusted. If, having made a mistake, you can treat it correctly, and can allow everyone else to talk about it, permitting their commentary and discernment about it, and you can open up about it and analyze it, what will everyone’s opinion of you be? They will say you are an honest person, for your heart is open to God. Through your actions and behavior, they will be able to see your heart. But if you try to disguise yourself and deceive everyone, people will think little of you, and say you are a fool and an unwise person. If you do not try and put on a pretense or make excuses, if you can admit your mistakes, everyone will say you are honest and wise. And what makes you wise? Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has faults and flaws. And actually, everyone has the same corrupt disposition. Do not think yourself more noble, perfect, and kind than others; that is being utterly unreasonable. Once people’s corrupt dispositions and the essence and true face of man’s corruption are clear to you, you will not try to cover up your own mistakes, nor will you hold other people’s mistakes against them—you will be able to face both correctly. Only then will you be insightful and not do stupid things, which will make you someone wise. Those who are not wise are foolish people, and they always dwell on their minor mistakes while being sneaky behind the scenes. It is disgusting to see. In fact, what you’re doing is immediately obvious to other people, yet you are still blatantly putting on an act. To others, it looks like a clown performance. Isn’t this stupid? It really is”
But when I opened our work list, I found out that another video might have been made twice. I couldn’t believe it was real. I kept track of who I assigned to each task, so how could there be another mistake? But when I checked, the video had indeed been made twice. At the time, I was paralyzed. This was bad. I’d just admitted my mistake to the leader, and before he could even understand the situation in detail, I’d messed up again. What would he think of me? Would he think that I was always getting things wrong, and wasn’t fit to be in charge? And if the other brothers and sisters found out, would they think I was too unreliable? If these basic mistakes kept happening, then the next time I fellowshiped about being serious and responsible in our duties, would they still take it seriously? No, I had to find out exactly what the reason was for this mistake, and hoped that I was not the main person responsible. Even if I shared part of the blame, it had to be a smaller part. That way, I wouldn’t lose face, and my status would be safe. In the end, after careful inspection, I discovered that after I’d assigned the task, I only recorded it on an older worklist, which led the group leader to assign the task again. There was no doubt—I was mainly responsible. When I realized this, I was petrified. How could I have been so unlucky? I’d run into all these problems that shouldn’t have happened. What bad luck! I was completely at a loss. Should I tell the leader about this mistake, or not? If everyone knew that I’d made two of these basic mistakes in a row, what would they think of me then? I thought of God’s words I read before. Lies and deceit are much more serious than mistakes, and God detests them even more. In my heart, I was afraid. I had to bite the bullet and tell the leader about this mistake, but I couldn’t let go of my fears. I was filled with apprehension. My heart felt heavy, as though it was weighed down by a stone. I felt distracted when I did my duty, and I couldn’t sleep at night. I knew that this state wasn’t right, so I prayed to God, asking for Him to guide me to know myself.
Later, I read a passage of God’s words and gained an understanding of my state. (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eleven). I saw from God’s words that antichrists especially value their own status and reputation. No matter how many flaws or omissions they commit in their duty, or how much they harm the church’s work, they never admit fault. They’re afraid that others will see their shortcomings and look down on them. So, once they realize that they’ve committed a mistake that would disgrace themselves, they’ll be ill at ease, unable to eat or sleep well. They’ll rack their brains, thinking up ways to cover their tracks and restore their own reputation. The same was true of my behavior. I viewed my own status and reputation as being so important that when I found a problem at work, I didn’t feel any remorse for my oversight. I didn’t reflect on what happened to avoid future mistakes. All I could think about was how everyone would view me when they learned I’d made such basic errors, and whether they would look down on me, or think I wasn’t up to doing my job. To maintain my own status and reputation, I spent all day feeling uneasy, to the point that I couldn’t sleep. All I thought about was how to cover up my mistake, and avoid being found out. I wanted to shirk my responsibility, hide my mistakes, and prevent others from finding out. I didn’t want to stand up and admit fault. I was truly deceitful, without character or dignity! In fact, as the person in charge, I knew those processes well. There was no doubt that I was the main person responsible. Still, I hoped I could get away with it, or find some evidence that let me spread the blame around. In the end, when I realized that I couldn’t shirk responsibility, I persisted in playing the victim, chalking it all up to bad luck. I didn’t receive it from God. I didn’t self-reflect. I just complained about my bad luck. I covered up my mistakes and engaged in deceit to protect my status. It was the behavior of an antichrist. When I realized this, I felt scared. I knew how dangerous it was for me to continue this way, unrepentant, just like an antichrist!says, “No matter how many wrong things an antichrist does, no matter what kind of wrong things they do, whether it be embezzling, squandering, or misusing God’s offerings, or if they are disrupting and disturbing the work of the church, making a huge mess of this work and provoking God’s wrath, they always remain calm, collected, and unconcerned. No matter what kind of evil an antichrist does or what consequences it brings about, they never come before God to confess their sins and repent as soon as possible, and they never come before the brothers and sisters with an attitude of baring themselves and opening up to admit their wrongdoings, come to know their transgressions, recognize their own corruption, and regret their evil deeds. Instead, they rack their brains to find various excuses to shirk responsibility and shift the blame onto others to restore their own face and status. What they care about is not the work of the church, but whether their reputation and status are damaged or impacted. They do not consider or think of ways to make up for the losses caused to God’s house due to their transgressions, nor do they try to make up for their debt to God. That is to say, they never admit that they are capable of doing something wrong or that they have made a mistake. In the hearts of antichrists, proactively admitting mistakes and providing an honest account of the facts is foolishness and incompetence. If their evil deeds are discovered and exposed, antichrists will only admit to a momentary careless mistake, never their own dereliction of duty and irresponsibility, and they will attempt to pin the responsibility on someone else to remove the stain from their record. At times like these, antichrists are not concerned with how to repair the damage caused to God’s house, how to open up to God’s chosen people to admit their mistakes, or how to give an account of what happened. They are concerned with finding ways to make major problems seem like small ones and small problems seem unproblematic. They give objective reasons to make others understand and sympathize with them. They try their utmost to restore their reputations in other people’s eyes, minimize the negative influence of their transgressions on themselves, and ensure that the Above never has a bad impression of them, so that they are never held accountable, dismissed, investigated, or punished by the Above. To restore their reputation and status, so that their own interests are not harmed, antichrists are willing to endure any amount of suffering, and they will try their best to solve any difficulty. From the very start of their transgression or mistake, antichrists never have any intention of bearing any responsibility for the wrong things they do, they never have any intention to recognize, fellowship about, expose, or analyze the motives, intents, and corrupt dispositions behind the wrong things they do, and they certainly never have any intention to make up for the damage they cause to the work of the church and the harm they cause to the life entry of God’s chosen people. Therefore, no matter what perspective you view the matter from, antichrists are people who never admit their wrongdoings and never repent. Antichrists are shameless and thick-skinned beyond all hope of redemption, and they are no less than living Satans”
I also realized that part of why I was so stubborn and unwilling to admit fault was because I’d been bound and controlled by my position as person in charge, which led me to deal with my mistakes incorrectly. I found some of God’s words about this. Almighty God says, “How should you practice to be an ordinary and normal person? How can this be done? … Firstly, don’t give yourself a title and become bound by it. Don’t say, ‘I am the leader, I am the head of the team, I am the supervisor, no one knows this business better than me, no one understands the skills more than me.’ Don’t get caught up in your self-appointed title. As soon as you do, it will bind your hands and feet, and what you say and do will be affected; your normal thinking and judgment will also be affected. You must free yourself from the shackles of this status; first lower yourself from this official title and position and stand in the place of an ordinary person; if you do, your mentality will become normal. You must also admit and say, ‘I don’t know how to do this, and I don’t understand that, either—I’m going to have to do some research and studying,’ or ‘I’ve never experienced this, so I don’t know what to do.’ When you are capable of saying what you’re really thinking and speaking honestly, you will be possessed of normal sense. Others will know the real you, and will thus have a normal view of you, and you will not have to put on an act, nor will there be any great pressure on you, and so you will be able to communicate with people normally. Living like this is free and easy; anyone who finds living exhausting has caused this themselves” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Treasuring God’s Words Is the Foundation of Belief in God). “When someone in the church is promoted and cultivated to be a leader, they are merely promoted and cultivated in the straightforward sense; it does not mean that they are already a qualified leader, or a competent one, that they are already capable of undertaking the work of a leader, and can do real work—that is not the case. Most people do not see clearly about these things, and they look up to these promoted ones relying on their imaginings, but this is a mistake. No matter how many years they may have believed, do those who are promoted really possess the reality of truth? Not necessarily. Are they able to bring to fruition the work arrangements of the house of God? Not necessarily. Do they have a sense of responsibility? Are they possessed of commitment? Are they able to submit to God? When they encounter an issue, are they able to search for the truth? All of this is unknown. Do these people have a heart that fears God? And just how great is their fear of God? Are they liable to follow their own will when they do things? Are they able to seek God? During the time that they perform the work of leaders, do they regularly and frequently come before God to search for the will of God? Are they able to guide people in entry into the reality of the truth? They are certainly incapable of such things right away. They haven’t received training and have too little experience, so they are incapable of these things. This is why promoting and cultivating someone doesn’t mean they already understand the truth, nor is it saying that they are already capable of performing their duty satisfactorily” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). From God’s words, I understood that being a leader or a person in charge doesn’t automatically mean you are qualified, higher up, or better than other people. It’s a chance to develop your skills and train through work. Training reveals people’s corrupt dispositions, and there will always be setbacks and failures. That’s perfectly normal. But when I’d put myself in the position of person in charge, I thought I needed to be better than the others, not making the same mistakes as them, or revealing the same corruption as them. So, when I made a mistake, I didn’t want to admit it. I kept pretending and covering it up. I spent all my time filled with worry, living a hard and tiring life, all because I valued my own status and reputation. Also, I realized that making mistakes and losing face weren’t necessarily bad things. Just as God’s words say, “Making a fool of yourself is a good thing. It helps you to see your own deficiencies and your love of vanity. It shows you where your problems lie and it helps you to understand clearly that you are not a perfect person. There are no perfect people and making a fool of yourself is very normal. All people experience times where they make a fool of themselves or are embarrassed. All people fail, experience setbacks, and have weaknesses. Making a fool of yourself is not bad. When you make a fool of yourself but do not feel embarrassed or depressed, that does not mean you are shameless; it means that you do not care whether making a fool of yourself will affect your reputation and it means that your vanity no longer occupies your thoughts. It means that you have matured in your humanity. This is wonderful! Is this not a good thing? It is a good thing. When you make a fool of yourself, do not think that you have not performed well or that you have bad luck, and do not look for the objective causes behind it. It is normal” (The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. How to Pursue the Truth (2)). In fact, after this series of mistakes and my disgraceful efforts to hide them, I finally gained some knowledge of myself. I saw that I was no better than my brothers and sisters. I’d done my duty carelessly, showing too much concern for my own reputation and status. I didn’t even have the courage to own up to my mistake. I wanted to cover it up and deceive everyone. I was a treacherous hypocrite. In fact, it’s not scary to face problems when doing one’s duty. As long as you’re an open, honest person and you face your mistakes calmly, reflecting on them so you can avoid similar issues in the future, you can still gain something. This is the attitude and reason that people ought to have. Now that I understood God’s will, I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I’d already impacted our work. I had to get to the bottom of what had caused these mistakes, in order to avoid making them again in future.
Later, I read a passage of God’s words: “When one can be serious, take responsibility, and give all their heart and strength, the work will be done properly. Sometimes you are in the wrong state of mind, and cannot find or discover a mistake that is clear as day. If you were in the right state of mind, then, with the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you would be able to identify the issue. If the Holy Spirit guided you and gave you an awareness, allowing you to feel clarity at heart and to know where the error lies, you would then be able to correct the deviation and strive for the principles of the truth. If you were in the wrong state of mind, and were absent-minded and careless, would you be able to notice the mistake? You would not. What is seen from this? This shows that to perform their duties well, it is very important that people cooperate; their frames of mind are very important, and where they direct their thoughts and intentions is very important. God scrutinizes and can see what state of mind people are in as they perform their duty, and how much energy they exert. It is crucial that people put all their heart and strength into what they do. Cooperation is a crucial component. Only if people strive to have no regrets about the duties they have completed and the things they have done, and not to be in debt to God, will they be acting with all their heart and strength” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words state that when someone’s mentality is wrong, and they’re absent-minded and sloppy in their duty, they can’t see the mistakes that are right in front of their eyes. My situation was just as God says. These two mistakes were staring me in the face—if I’d paid a little more attention, I would’ve found them easily. But I didn’t notice them. One video had to be reworked and another was made twice, costing us manpower and resources. And, in fact, this had a lot to do with my mentality at the time. I thought that I was a veteran at this job, that I knew the workflow like the back of my hand, so I wasn’t as cautious as I was when I first started. I was arrogant and careless. Especially regarding the initial checks, I thought it was simple, that I could just go through the motions based on my previous experience. I didn’t pay attention, I didn’t check the work carefully, and in the end, I made such basic errors. And this was all because I’d been living within an arrogant disposition, and muddling through in my duty. Later, I opened up to my brothers and sisters about the mistakes I’d made in my duty. I summarized the problems in our work, and proposed some norms that would help prevent similar problems in the future. Through this, I found some peace of mind.
Before long, I was in charge of a new project. But because I’d never done this kind of video before, I didn’t have a firm grasp of all the ins and outs, so some problems appeared during the production. Even though sometimes I was worried about what other people would think, I treated the problems with the right mindset, without being controlled by my pride. With each mistake, I recorded it and summarized the aberrations, in order to find a way to keep it from happening again. After doing this, I was able to see God’s guidance, catching and correcting a lot of problems before they caused the church any losses. Through this experience, I learned that by doing your duty with all your heart, you will have God’s guidance and protection. At the same time, I learned that embarrassing yourself through mistakes or failures is not a bad thing. It helped me to see my own shortcomings and corruption, to put aside my vanity, and to treat myself correctly.