By Duo Ji, Italy
I worked designing patterns in a printworks. In a modest office worked only my boss, my colleague Xiaozhang, and I. In the boss’s eyes, Xiaozhang, who had been a designer there for more than a year, was a hardy, humorous, and capable person, and so the boss liked him and valued him very much.
When first starting working, I silently studied hard because I was unfamiliar with almost everything, and I tried my best to perform every task well assigned by the boss. Later, I discovered that each time Xiaozhang quickly finished the work arranged by the boss, the amounts of which were similar to mine, but I had to continue the next day. Seeing that Xiaozhang did his work rather easily and had time to chat with others on the Internet, I felt the mounting pressure and at the same time also envied him. Once, my boss asked me to try to make the pattern on the baby clothes he gave me, which, he said, was what Xiaozhang failed to make before. Then I tried to find the source material, but about two hours later I found nothing appropriate. After observing the figure on that clothes, I found it monochromatic and not very difficult, so it shouldn’t take too long even if I drew it by myself. Then I got started and about three hours later I finished it. When having lunch, Xiaozhang quietly said to me, “You could tell the boss you failed to find the material; that way you wouldn’t need to do the work. Why did you draw the pattern so painstakingly? It not only wasted time but also made the boss think you were working slowly.” After hearing this, I came to a sudden realization: Oh, that’s how you cope with the work every time. I got it. In the future I need to be smarter: I won’t draw the patterns by myself, and instead I will tell the boss I can’t find material. But when I thought this way, I felt uneasy—isn’t doing so goofing off? I’m a believer in God and God requires us to be honest people, so I should strive to do the work honestly.
After that, I would first search on the Internet for material, and if I failed I would draw the patterns by myself—I would think of every possible way to accomplish the tasks well. But I discovered that, Xiaozhang would first pick the easy ones and finished them in a hurry when he accepted the tasks, and as for the tough ones he would just perfunctorily find the material and soon after tell the boss that he couldn’t find it. Then the boss would help him and at the same time Xiaozhang would pretend to work hard and continue finding it. When the boss was present, Xiaozhang seemed really hard-working, finishing one task after another and working a few hours longer than I did in the evening. Rather when the boss was out, Xiaozhang would secretly play Internet games or chat with others online—he did not work hard at all. However, his salary was even higher than mine. Seeing all of this, I began to become jealous and feel a disequilibrium in my heart. I thought, “I work more but earn less than him. Although he works a few hours longer than I do, he usually spends much time playing. I bury my head in work but the boss doesn’t know this. I’m losing out by doing this. I’d better work as Xiaozhang does in the future.”
In the days that followed, I acted like Xiaozhang: When the boss was present, I kept working and even did not have a drink; when he was out, I would open a video to learn Italian on the internet. If I heard the approaching steps of the boss, I would hurriedly minimize the window and pretended that I was working. Once, after the boss was out with a client, I hurried to open up a movie to see, but before long he suddenly came back, so I right away turned the movie off with frantic haste and pretended to find material. I was so nervous my heart was about to burst and my face flushed bright red. At the same time, I felt reproached in my heart because I wasn’t acting in a Christian manner at all. I thought, “Living this way cannot bring glory to God. Although I don’t do more work than my colleague, my mind is exhausted and my nerves stretch to breaking point all day long, because I’m terrified of being discovered that I don’t do my best. This kind of life isn’t what I want.” In my pain, I prayed to God, “God, because I felt unbalanced inside when I did more work than my colleague, I began to work just for show and to be lazy and sly like him. Although I clearly knew my actions don’t conform to Your will, and I often felt reproached, I still did that, because I thought in this society, if I was honest, I would be at a disadvantage. How should I do in this situation? May You lead me.”
After that, I saw God’s words saying, “Do not act one way to others’ faces but another way behind their backs; I see clearly everything you do, and though you may fool others, you cannot fool Me. I see it all clearly. It is not possible for you to conceal anything; all lies within My hands.” “You should be an honest person, not someone who is always being clever and constantly deceitful. (Here I am asking you again to be an honest person.)” Compared to God’s requirements, when I thought of all I had done, I felt so ashamed. Although I believed in God, I still relied on my deceitful nature in life and did one thing in front of people and another behind their backs. I thought of how I worked honestly at first, but after discovering that I did more work and paid a greater price but received a lower salary and was less loved by my boss, I felt a disequilibrium in my heart. I believed that in this society I was losing out by being an honest person and working steadfastly, so I started to work just for show like my colleague. When my boss was around, I would do a good job and present myself as very active; after the boss left, I would be lazy and do some other things, but still get the salary. Hadn’t my behavior had shirked my work and deceived others? Although I did less work, suffered less, and needed not pay much price, because I was afraid that what I did was found out by my boss, I was always nervous and lost the feeling of peace and stability in my heart. God is holy, fair and righteous; I however did not practice the truth, did one thing in front of people and another behind their backs, and had no semblance of a Christian. What I did could only arouse God’s ire, and cause me to lose my peace and joy.
I later read these words from God, “You ought to know that God likes those who are honest. In essence, God is faithful, and so His words can always be trusted; His actions, furthermore, are faultless and unquestionable, which is why God likes those who are absolutely honest with Him. Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man.” God’s words showed me the direction of conducting myself. God likes honest people and detests deceitful people. God’s will is for us to be honest and to speak and act sincerely in our daily life and at work, and not to play tricks or cheat others. I’m a believer in God, I thought. No matter the environment, I should accept God’s observation, be an honest person, and act and conduct myself as a person with both feet planted firmly on the ground, for only in this way can I live being perfectly open and honest in my actions and feel at ease and at peace. After understanding God’s will, I made a resolution that I would practice in accordance with God’s requirements and be an honest person who God likes. I was no longer willing to goof off or do one thing in front of people and another behind their backs to deceive them.
Once, while I was working, my boss hurried over with seven patterns and said to us as he put them on the desk, “This work is quiet urgent, so you two must finish it today. These patterns will be produced tomorrow.” And then he left. I said anxiously to Xiaozhang, “You make three of them and I make four, or else we won’t finish the work.” With that, I started working. To my surprise, he, sulking visibly, said to me coldly as he played games, “I don’t care. Do it by yourself.” Hearing this, I got extremely angry and thought, “Only we two are in the office. If you don’t do the work, how can it be finished on time?” When seeing that he was eating snacks while playing games freely and easily and even playing loud music, I thought, “No matter how hard I work, the boss cannot see it. Why don’t I play for a while? If the task cannot be completed, it won’t be my own fault; I’ll tell the boss that I cannot find the material.” When I thought this, I felt very uneasy. I immediately prayed silently to God, “O God, when I see my colleague not working, I don’t want to do the work myself but want to be lazy and sly again. God, I know this is at odds with Your will. I’m willing to forsake my flesh and accept Your observation. Please protect my heart and give me the resolve to put the truth into practice.” Just then, I remembered God’s words, “Whether you act in private or in public, you are able to gain the joy of God before God, you are able to stand firm before God….” Thank God for showing me the way forward with His words. I should do everything with an honest heart and accept God’s scrutiny. With this in my mind, I gave up the idea of playing and then started finding the material to complete the task. Although I did not accomplish it that day, my heart felt at peace and stable, and when I continued the next day, my boss did not blame me but rather encouraged and helped me. Before long seven patterns were all made and the customers were very satisfied with them. I thanked God for leading me with His words so that I acted as an honest person. I felt that after practicing according to God’s words, what I gained in my heart was peace and joy.
After that, no matter whether my boss was in the office or not, I took my work seriously, and after finishing the work in my hand, I would go help in the workshop. Once, when my boss saw me crouching beside a machine and putting pieces of printed cloth in order with my brow soaked in sweat, he admired me and said, smiling, “Just let us do this. Take a little break and have some fruit.” At that moment, I felt so grateful to God and clearly knew in my heart that it wasn’t because I was so great, but it was because of the fruit of God’s words within me that I acquired some normal humanity. Although I felt tired physically, I needed not be nervous but lived in freedom. Following that, I had more ideas about designing patterns and often had creative inspiration, and moreover, my work efficiency thereupon increased. Through this, I felt God’s leadership.
I remembered that, after a pattern of pentagram was sold, immediately the “pentagram coats” were going like hot cakes online, and so garment-factories made one order after another from our factory. Later, my boss discovered that many patterns were designed by me and were inspired. Xiaozhang, however, always said he did not have any ideas and he usually designed a pattern for several days, which didn’t sell, and as a result the boss started to observe him. Later, when the boss found out that Xiaozhang constantly played games and did not work hard, the boss talked to him about that, but Xiaozhang still kept playing games while working, so he was fired. Seeing all of this, I understood that although he temporarily took unfair advantage by being lazy and sly, after a long period, he would lose others’ trust due to his deceitful behavior, and that being an honest person really was better. At that moment, my heart was filled with gratitude to God and I came to realize that when we seek to be honest people according to God’s requirements, no matter when, our heart is calm and steady, and God likes us, so do people.
In the following days, my boss and I were getting along better and better. We always communicated with each other, talked about our work, and we finally became friends. Later, because I would move to another city, I left that factory, and my boss often sent me messages, saying, “The door of our factory is always open to you. You’re welcome to come back anytime.” At that time, my heart felt incredibly moved and I appreciated that when practicing God’s words and being an honest person, I not only didn’t lose out but also won my boss’s respect and trust.
After my experiences, I truly appreciated what it says in a sermon, “You must practice the truth and tell the truth, as well as be an honest person. It is a blessing to be taken advantage of; you shall be further blessed by God when you are being taken advantage of.” Thank God! When I wanted to be lazy and sly in work, it was the timely guidance of God’s words that allowed me not to fuss over my personal gains and losses but to practice being an honest person, so that I lived with dignity and integrity. In the future, I am willing to act according to the teachings of God’s words in my interactions with others, and strive to live out a true human likeness to satisfy God. Amen.