In those days, the evenings were spent playing baseball on the field right behind our house. What I remember was the competition each evening. No matter how the teams were chosen, each side really wanted to win. Those are good memories and the competition was healthy.
Some church leaders, however, seem to thrive on an unhealthy competition.
Consider the following:
1. A minister boasts about how many hours he works, insinuating that other church leaders who do not work as many hours are inferior in some way.
2. An elder regularly talks about how many people in the congregation email or call him with prayer requests or needs. He almost leaves the impression that elders not experiencing the same kind of response are not really be doing the work of shepherds.
3. A preacher brags about attendance, giving, and the latest cutting-edge ministry taking place at the congregation. This person has no interest in hearing about the good things taking place in other congregations.
4. A church leader appears to be exhausted as he over-functions, being involved in far too many ministries in the congregation. His response to the other church leaders suggests that they are not really doing what they should be doing. As one fellow leader said, “He seems to think that all of us should look exhausted much of the time or we are not really serving as we should.”
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you know someone whose constant competitive streak wears other church leaders down?
This kind of competition in ministry may appeal to our flesh. However, we may be forgetting that God’s ministry requires a power far beyond our own abilities. As a result, we may be taking pride in our own performance instead of God who is at work in us.
Hear these words from 2 Corinthians 3:1-6
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
What might help Christian people stay focused on God’s power instead of our own performance in ministry?