29. After Losing My Status
Every time I saw someone who had been replaced as a leader and them feeling down, weak or sulky, then I looked down on them. I thought: “It was nothing more than different people doing different work within the church, that there was no distinction between high or low, that we were all God’s creations and there was nothing to feel down about.” So whether I was watering new believers or serving as a leader, I never thought I focused much on my status, that I was that sort of person. I never would have thought in a million years that I would display such shameful behavior when I myself was replaced as a leader.
Some time ago, because I had not been performing any real work and was always preaching doctrine, my leader replaced me. At that time, I thought to myself: “Even if my caliber wasn’t made out to be a mid-level leader, I was still competent to fellowship about the truth and do the work of watering and supporting the church.” I never expected for my leader to task me with taking care of the general affairs of the church. I was surprised then, and I thought, “Such a mid-level leader as myself, am I now to be made to run errands? Anyone in the church who could run or who had a little intelligence could do this job. Wasn’t getting me to do this job an obvious waste of my talents?” But I was afraid that my leader would say I was disobedient and that I cared about my status, so I forced a smile and agreed. But as soon as I got home, I fell flat on the bed and felt awful. “Since I have no status, what will my brothers and sisters think of me? Now I am only running some errands, how will I ever be able to have my day again?” These thoughts filled my head. The more I thought about it, the more awful I felt.
A few days later, I saw the sister in charge of the work of general affairs. As soon as I saw her, she gave me fellowship, saying, “Doing this job looks easy, but it must still be done with devotion,” then went on to talk about the truth of such aspects as wisdom and obedience. I voiced my agreement, but my heart was like a seething fire, thinking, “You’re giving me fellowship like I know nothing. Wasn’t it I who gave you this very fellowship before? Now you’re giving me fellowship in turn!” Not one word of what my sister was fellowshiping sank in; instead I just resented her verbosity. In the end I said impatiently, “Anything else? If not, then I’m off!” Once I got back, I kept wondering: “Why did I have such an attitude toward the sister? If her status had always been higher than mine or equal to it, would I have treated her this way? No, I wouldn’t have. Absolutely not! Wasn’t it because I had always led her, and now she in her turn was pointing things out to me that it left me unconvinced? Didn’t this show that I was dominated by my desire for status?” I suddenly felt awful about my own shameful behavior and God’s words of judgment came to me: “The more you seek this way the less you will reap. The greater a person’s desire for status, the more seriously they will have to be dealt with and the more they must undergo great refinement. That kind of person is too worthless! They must be dealt with and judged adequately in order for them to thoroughly let go of that. If you pursue this way until the end, you will reap nothing. Those who do not pursue life cannot be transformed; those who do not thirst for the truth cannot gain the truth. You don’t focus on pursuing personal transformation and entering in; you always focus on those extravagant desires, and things that constrain your love for God and restrain you from getting close to Him. Can those things transform you? Can they bring you into the kingdom? If the object of your pursuit isn’t to seek the truth, then you may as well take advantage of this opportunity and return to the world to make a go of it. Wasting your time this way is really not worth it—why torture yourself?” (“Why Aren’t You Willing to Be a Foil?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Pondering God’s words and looking at myself, I started to realize that what I was pursuing was not truth and life at all, nor was I seeking to perform my duty to satisfy God, but instead I was pursuing empty things like fame, gain and status. When I had status, I was always on the ball with an energy that was inexhaustible. But when I lost my status, I felt limp and feeble, to the point where I even bore a constant grudge and became passive and slacked off my work, as though I had become a different person. I got really carried away with my status, bustling around concerning myself all day with these insignificant and worthless things and wasting so much time; and what did it get me in the end? Is it the shameful behavior I showed today? Thinking of all that God had done for me, not only had I been unable to submit to His orchestrations and arrangements, nor pursue the truth or be devoted in my duty, but on the contrary I had resented the duty that was given to me as being beneath me and as having no development prospects, and I hadn’t wanted to do it. In behaving this way, I had shown myself to be entirely without the conscience or reason of a created being. I thanked God for His disclosure that allowed me to see the shame of my pursuit of my own fame, gain and status, and to recognize that I was arrogant and conceited and was placing far too much importance on status.
Then there came to mind a song: “Oh God! Whether I have status or not, I now understand myself. If my status is high it is because of Your elevation, and if it is low it is because of Your ordination. Everything is in Your hands. I don’t have any choices or complaints. … I should only be completely obedient under Your dominion because everything is within what You have ordained. … If You use me, I am a creature. If You perfect me, I am yet a creature. If You do not perfect me, I will still love You because I am no more than a creation” (“I’m Just a Tiny Created Being” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). I sang this song over and over, tears pouring from my eyes, and I couldn’t help but kneel before God and pray: Oh God! Through Your words I have come to understand Your intentions. Regardless of whether my status is high or low, I am Your creation and must completely obey the arrangements You make, must do my utmost to perform the duty expected of one of Your creations and not be choosy with the duty You arrange for me. Oh God! I wish to obey Your arrangements, to be before You working like an ox and be at Your disposal, never again to do things that hurt You for the sake of status. Oh God! I only wish for You to judge and chastise me all the more, to make me able to lay down my pursuit of status, to do my utmost to perform my duty in all honesty and to live out the likeness of a true person.