Monday, May 05, 2008

Battling Jealousy in the Ministry

If we are honest with ourselves, all of us battle the temptation of jealousy. This is a particular temptation that pastors face regularly. We tend to look around and want what other pastors have: a large congregation, a loving congregation, a particular location, a particular budget, a particular building, a particular gift for preaching or leading, etc.

Examine yourself:
  • What do you feel when you hear of another pastor in your town who has failed?
  • What do you feel when you hear of another church in town outgrowing their large facility?
  • What if someone planted a church right down the street from your church and within two years they have 500 people coming (some of them are members of your church)?
  • What do you feel when you hear that another pastor has been given a large gift by their church as an appreciation for their faithful labor?
  • What do you feel when one of your members tells you that they are growing so much by listening to someone else's sermons online?
  • What do you feel when a friend from seminary is hired by a church you would love to serve?
I have found the example of John the Baptist to be extremely helpful for battling this temptation. In John 3:26, John's disciples come to him with a complaint full of envy and competition. They noticed that Jesus' ministry is cutting into their popularity and they want John to do something about it.

John does not respond by reinforcing their shattered egos. John doesn't stroke their pride and develop a way to reach more people so that his disciples can feel good about their life.

John responds by proclaiming the unrivaled centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ. Pay careful attention to how John responds in 3:27-30. From his response, we can gather some helpful principles for our own battle with jealousy:

1. My role in the Kingdom is determined by God (v. 27).
2. I must not pretend to be someone I'm not (v. 28).
3. I must find my joy in something outside of myself (v. 29).
4. My mission is to point people away from myself to Christ (v. 30).

Resist the spirit of competition when you see God using someone in different ways than He is using you.

Let's get practical:
-If you are in the ministry for your own popularity, get out now. If your desire is not to make much of Christ, find something else to do.
-Find ways to speak well of other churches and other pastors every chance you get.
-Never speak negatively of another church or pastor simply to make you and your church look better to someone else. Call them out for theological errors or unbiblical practices, but don't use them to elevate yourself.
-Rejoice when you hear that God is blessing someone else's ministry.
-Surround yourself with people more gifted than yourself.
-Never forget that you are just here for a short time. Soon, very soon, someone else will occupy that chair (unless the Lord returns). As William Carey lay dying, he looked over at a friend and said, "When I am gone, don't talk about William Carey; talk about William Cary's Savior."

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Great reminder Justin. Thanks for the practical application as well.