Competition is defined as rivalry to supremacy. Competition can sometimes be a healthy thing. Economically, it keeps our prices low and people accountable. What about the church? Does competition belong in ministry?
Remember which disciples were famously competitive? James and John wanted to sit on the right and left of Jesus. Symbolically the right and left was a symbol of Jesus’ power and authority. In Mark 10, Jesus rebuked them and said that whoever wanted to be chief among them must first be a servant (Mark 10:44).
Each of us feels a call and that is why we are serving in ministry. With that calling comes a drive to complete the work of God. Unfortunately, that drive can become misconstrued. Do you feel that constant pressure to keep up with others? Do you worry about their opinions and what they think about your ministry? Do you always want to be THE BEST? Now don’t get me wrong, we should do our best for God. However, seeking the praise and admiration of men is a dangerous trap. Let’s talk about some ways we can avoid competition.
2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some…In measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.”
Stop comparing yourselves to other people. Some people look at others and feel dejected because they feel they will never measure up. Others look at people and feel a smug sense of superiority because they feel they are more successful. The bottom line is, stop comparing yourself to others. Do what God has called YOU to do. On Judgment Day, we won’t be judge based on how we did compared to others, but on how we look in the light of God’s Word.
Everyone has insecurities, but whether you let them control you is the question. Ronnie Floyd, Southern Baptist President, tells his pastors that insecure pastors make insecure churches. When you allow your insecurities to control you, you make your ministry all about you. If it’s all about you, is it ministry at all?
No doubt we are living in the “selfie” generation. Self-promotion through social media is completely the norm. We know way more about people’s lives than we ever wanted to know. Let’s take a moment and self-evaluate here. Analyze your words; maybe take a look at your social media. Who are you glorifying? Yourself or God? Think about it. You put your picture up on Instagram with a caption reads, “I’m the best ever. #blessed.” What are you saying? That you’re blessed to be the best? 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. The point of ministry is not to glorify ourselves, but to glorify Christ. Our own righteousness is as filthy rags and we are not entitled to anything. It is only by the grace of God that we are able to serve Him.
Oh buddy, this is a trap, trap, trap! Do not get caught up in gossip about other ministers and their spouse. Often, it’s under the guise of “sharing information” so you all can “pray” for that “dear brother or sister”. Too often, when sharing, everyone is mentally congratulating themselves that they weren’t the one to fall. The trap of getting involved in a gossip circle is that it will begin to build your insecurities. If they are talking about someone else like that, don’t worry they will talk about you too. If you are really about the Kingdom of God, you feel no joy when a brother or sister falls. In fact, you are grieved in your spirit and seek to see them restored. Thriving, Spirit-filled ministries do not have time to get caught up in gossip.
A very influential minister once told me that conferences and retreats often only minister to those who are in “the middle”. We feel pressure when we get together with fellow ministers and wives to smile and act like everything is fine, when it isn’t. Anyone who has been involved in ministry knows that, while it is rewarding, ministry can be TOUGH. Yet, fellow ministers need to stick together. We should create a safe environment where people can admit that things may not be going quite so smooth right now and feel that they can truly have their brothers and sisters lift them up in prayer. When a ministry is truly thriving, we should rejoice with them that the Kingdom of God is moving forward. It is sad to think that each word should be minced and controlled, that ministers should force a smile, hold back a tear, or even hold back a shout because of competitiveness among the ministry. Romans 12 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” It also says, “We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.”
All in all, competition does not belong in the ministry. We are all on the same team working for the same cause. We all have unique talents and abilities that God wants to use in different ways. That being the case, each one of us has a responsibility to be who God has called us to be. God called YOU! God has a distinct purpose and plan for your life. Trying to copy someone else’s ministry will only lead to misery. Don’t get caught up in the competition of the church world. It is merely a tool of Satan to distract the church from its real purpose – reaching a lost and dying world. And in that ministry, my friends, there’s plenty of room for everyone.