Thomas, my cuddly two year old, had just come downstairs to see his brother John (who wasn’t feeling well) snuggled in my arms. Which Thomas thought was a spot that only belonged to him.
Clearly, this was a move that, to Thomas, warranted a fistfight. In the time it took me to get ahold of both of his hands, Thomas had laid 4-5 defined hits on John’s head. Kid’s got a future. MMA fighter, wrestler, Power Ranger, something.
Obviously, I have enough love (and arms) to cuddle both of them at the same time. And just because I’m cuddling one doesn’t mean I don’t have the power to give the same amount of attention to the other.
How many of our actions and attitudes in business, ministry, relationships, are just us doing the adult version of Thomas’s reaction? We believe There Can Only Be One, so we develop negative attitudes and feelings towards people we believe are threats to us.
Call it what it is: jealousy. It’s just incorrect thinking, ya’ll, and in our relationship with God and in our ministry, it’s especially destructive. Spiritual jealousy is toxic to what God wants to accomplish in our lives.
God’s heart is wide enough that both of us can receive. Just because that person seems really close to God in this season and you don’t doesn’t mean they took God’s attention away from you. Thomas didn’t realize I have enough arms for all my kids. Just because that person was healed before you, doesn’t mean they took your healing. I know this is the kind of thing most people would never admit they’ve thought, even if they have. Those deep-down jealousies we don’t even like to think about. We really TRY to be good people and gloss right over those feelings. But eventually if we let those feelings fester, we secretly hate that person. Maybe we start to mock that person (in a friendly-sounding way of course.) You can tell by the level of detail I include that I’ve NEVER been through this experience.
God’s work is wide enough that both of us can succeed. You can still root for the callings, giftings, and ministry experiences of another, even if they are strikingly similar to yours. I remember when we decided to consider ministry full-time, the first thing I did mentally was make a list of who would be better candidates than us. It was totally wrong. The Lord politely strongly reminded me that, with that kind of heart and attitude, any ministry I did was a ticking time bomb.
Dare to imagine a God who doesn’t share your tendency to compare or promote by comparison. Why? Because in the Kingdom of God, you’re not applying for the same job. You belong to a family – one that celebrates the achievements of family members, and there is room for everyone at the table. At the same time, you are an individual – with a totally unique set of experiences, style, gifts, and calling.
Tearing down others, whether in our thoughts or with our words or actions, only seeks to destroy both of our work. You’ll find in the end, you’re the one that will suffer the worst.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this in the comments below. Have you ever gone through jealousy? What’s your experience? How did it turn out?