Have you ever been in a dog fight? I don’t mean a deacon’s meetings gone wrong or a bad church business session. I mean a real fight between two canines. Well I have now unfortunately. So check that off my bucket list.
The day before Thanksgiving I had to break up a fight between my daughter’s pit bull and my very spasmodic beagle mix. They always have to warm up to each other a little bit when they have not seen one another for a while but they were doing just fine. Fine until I showed too much attention to the pit bull. My psycho mutt got jealous and attacked. I found myself bent over the arm of my recliner. I had the pit bull pinned down by the throat with one hand and my dog stiff armed with the other! My wife did not know whether to laugh or cry when she came into the room to my screams for help. Let me tell you, eating turkey and dressing with a busted rib diminishes the festive atmosphere!
Later that day those two knuckleheads were playing with one another and running around the yard like nothing had happened. I literally groaned.
But the wars between the Fido’s reminded me of something. I have known leaders in our denomination and others who were exactly like them sometimes. When they saw God paying attention to and blessing another leader or another ministry they reacted poorly. Instead of being thankful for what God has already given to them and how much God has been blessing them, they were jealous and competitive. Suddenly God’s rich blessing on their lives and ministries was not enough and they wanted to force His hand off of someone else so they could somehow receive more. Some even resorted to tearing down the other leaders and speaking negatively about them in order to feel better about themselves.
All jealousy and negative competition leads to is conflict. Conflict with one another, with ourselves and with God. Coveting the grace of God bestowed upon another is a sin and a shame. God chooses to bless and to favor according to His perfect plan and mission. We cannot see all that is involved and must rest in His grace no matter how He chooses to manifest it in our lives. That is what is right and perfect for us at this time, in this place, with the lessons we must learn and the way He is still molding us. Anything less robs us of what God is doing in and through us.
Everything we have is by his grace. As leaders, we must stay focused upon these right priorities. We cannot be jealous or competitive and we must not pass this attitude on to those we train. Instead we must focus upon His grace given to us. If we do this we can focus better upon bringing him glory rather than worrying about our success. If we do not, I fear first we might find ourselves pinned down by the neck, but far worse, I fear He might remove His hand from us completely.