Resisting Carnal Competition in Ministry

When I was in high school, thanks to a godly mentor in my life, I began to play guitar and lead worship. For a season, I even led a worship band for our weekly chapel services. I wasn’t the only one though—there was a second worship band that was more “rock and roll.”

It’s embarrassing to admit, but looking back there was actually a rivalry between the two worship bands. The other band considered themselves more relevant and we considered ourselves more worshipful. We were both vying for the same platform, while at the same time trying to keep the other band off it!

It reminds me of one of our enemy’s consistent plans of attack—to get Christians to become competitive, comparative, or downright territorial over their gifts or ministries.

So how can we resist this trap?

1. Get Over Ourselves

Instead of the bands fighting, we should have been unified by our common purpose of bringing attention to God, not ourselves. Ironically, it wasn't even about us! We were worship bands who should have been leading others to worship God, not focusing on our own selfish needs. 

The reality is a healthy dose of humility opens the floodgates of heaven; on the other hand, pride will shut things down fast. God won't honor our pride.

James reminds us:

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble...Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
— James 4:6 & 10

When we are humble there is no need to wave our own flag or toot our own horn. When we get over ourselves, God will bless our offerings and multiply them exponentially.

So allow yourself to be brought down low, so that God can lift you up high!

You see, the truth is God had gifted both bands differently in order to minister to a wider audience. Too bad we never got passed ourselves to see the incredible opportunity God had placed before us. Imagine the possibilities if we'd worked together, instead of against one another!

2. Acknowledge One Another’s Gifts

Unlike the “battle of the bands,” Peter and Paul understood that there was clarity in recognizing each other’s gifting in ministry. In doing so, all the bases were covered and both the Jews and the Gentiles were ministered to and blessed.

Consider Paul’s words to the churches in Galatia:

The gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles).
— Galatians 2:7-8

Peter affirmed Paul’s gifting to the Gentiles and Paul affirmed Peter’s gifting to the Jews. It wasn’t a competition, it was just a matter of recognizing and encouraging each other’s strengths. The result was the greater plan that God was working in and through them was accomplished.

3. Maintain an Eternal Perspective

Let’s purpose in our hearts to affirm and encourage the gifts each of us have in Christ. Life is not meant to be a carnal competition between spiritual siblings. We all serve a unique role in the body of Christ, so let’s not undermine, discourage, or attack each other. Let’s not be jealous of one another’s gifts and ministries, as if we’re adversaries playing on opposing teams.

Our enemy wants to divide and conquer us, but may we never allow him the satisfaction. When we work together as a team we complement each other and God will use us to accomplish greater works for His glory. God wants to do a mighty work in and through each one of us today, so let’s cheer each other on, not tear each other down.

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