There has existed for some time an increasing spirit of competition, both within and between ministers and ministries. Needless to say, it hasn’t exactly been the healthiest thing to come down the pike. Admittedly, I have done a few dances to it’s tantalizing tune over the years and you have probably felt its strong draw yourself. It’s all about topping what we did last year, last quarter, last month or last week (and usually has something to do with raw numbers!). Worse, we are tempted to do more than merely “keep up with the Jones’s” as we try and go bigger and do better than the church down the street. Hey, if they are having three inflatables on their front lawn for VBS this year… we’ll have four!
Perhaps I am overstating things a bit on this subject? Hardly. I have both experienced and witnessed the damage done due to unchecked spirits of competition (over ideas, people resources, finances, target audience, platform time, etc), an “us vs. them” attitude that cultivates a deep “root of bitterness.” It is so easy to get caught in this mad cycle of one-upmanship. Like a black hole it begins to suck all light and life from those caught in it’s swirling, vacuumus grip. If we are blessed with moments of Spirit-convicted clarity we find ourselves saying, “This is crazy! Why did we start this to begin with? We just can’t keep this up. Enough is enough!” Fellow leader, this isn’t Christ at it’s worst and is rather pathetic and small at it’s best. Still, is there a place for some healthy competition, even a spirit of “MORE!?”
“…not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 (HCSB)
Encouragement. Who can’t use more of it? I would suggest that rather than a spirit of competition that leaves everyone feeling perpetually “less than,” “irrelevant” or “behind the times,” why not some “encouraging competition?” That is, see who can lift up, build up and otherwise prop up fellow servants and/or ministries the most within, without and between ministers and ministries. I say, “Give me more!” Besides a culture of encouragement there might even be other worthy competitions such as… who can lead more to Christ, gather neighbors into care groups, outreach into the community, disciple believers, support more missionaries, and other silly little diversions from the quest to otherwise corner the ministry market. Rather than an increasingly debilitating attitude of competition, why not coveting some Christ-likeness? Who can do the most good in the most invisible, unheralded and unsung ways? How much praise and thanksgiving can we stir up in ourselves, our families, our ministries and communities for no other reason than more and more and more glory to the One Who alone is worthy, worthy, worthy?
Here’s a challenge for you – start a “random acts of kindness” campaign. No, it isn’t a headlining original idea. But, we aren’t concerned with being the most original, are we now? And, by all means, try and top yourselves each and every time! Then, be sure and tell the stories! Brag on God! Maximize ministry momentum by falling all over yourselves cultivating a culture of encouragement that will perpetually lift, build and prop up all who get caught in the grip of encouraging competition!
By the way, has anyone told you lately that you are a great servant-leader in Christ!?! There is a great “cloud of witnesses” cheering you on today as you practice the kind of servant leadership that saturates those under your influence with more and more and more encouragement!