Competition may be killing the spread of the gospel. I don't mean competition from other Religions such as Muslim, Atheism, and other groups. I mean competition within the Body. I see it in classmates on discussion boards a lot. They bicker back and forth who is doing more. No, they may never state it that way but they keep trying to up the other one. I feel it among ministry leaders. It is difficult to serve and not want the applause from fellow friends and church members. When in all reality Jesus saying, "Well Done" is all the applause we need but in our sinful state we still seek praise that belongs to Him. I feel like we are still asking a question that the apostles asked, "who among us is the greatest" (Luke 22:24).
I've prayed about this quite a bit over the last year. When a brother or sister gets a "win" and we are left with an eternal question, "maybe I should be doing more for the Church, more for God"? We have to be able to decipher if that question is being sprung by the Holy Spirit, who is calling us to do more, or if it is fueled by our selfish ambition. My love language is words of affirmation (practically tied with physical touch) so I understand the need for encouragement but I cannot stand praise for spreading the gospel. I love when my Pastor's wife, Amy, asked me how preaching at the prison went and I said I baptized one she said, "Of course you did! Praise God". She reminded me that though it was exhausting it was worth it and she gave the praise where it was due, To God Alone!
To many times we hold certain Christians higher than the other. We praise the member who tithes the most. We praise the member that brings the most new people to Sunday service. We praise the Pastor because they are spotlighted more. Christianity in America is becoming more of a "celebrity" service more than it really is about serving God. We forget that God does not pick favorites and we should not either. We praise the people who are able to speak and to present the Gospel elegantly and we forget that God looks upon that person and the person who quietly serves (and nobody knows what they have done) with equal eyes. They are equal in His eyes. Just called to different positions in the Body. But we praise one more than the other and that is killing the church. Because the one who does it quietly will get discouraged. They won't mean to. It happens naturally most of the time. Because we, the church, put an emphasis on the one who does the most with more people knowing it. Now, if God has called you to do a lot and to be an example of ministry, there is nothing wrong with asking for encouragement but there is a problem with asking for praise. Sometimes that is a very fine line that only the person asking for encouragement or prayers will be able to answer.
"Who among us is the greatest?"
Jesus answered, "The Greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials" (Luke 22:26-28).
Jesus came into the world to serve. Jesus came into the world to show love. Jesus came to save not to say, "I am the best" even though, He was/is the best. He knew He would need help in His human state. He also chose to grow the church through people, "through a team". He did not work independently. He chose to have a team. And they were supposed to encourage each other and not to compete with each other. When we look and compare ourselves to others is when our eyes go off of Jesus. My pastor has preached that he believes when Peter was walking on the water to Jesus and then he started sinking, Pastor Bob believes that Peter looked back to tell the others in the boat, "look how cool I am" and when he took his eyes off Jesus... he sank. Many times in the church we take our eyes off Jesus and look at what another Christian is doing or we say, "look how cool I am". STOP IT.
What if instead of competing with each other we worked together? What if we were a team? We encouraged each other in our area's of expertise and didn't expect ourselves to be good at all things. For example, youth ministry is not my forte. In fact, myself as a teenager, I grew up way to fast and think all teens should too because I find them annoying most of the time because they are not thinking of responsibility. I forget that unlike me, most can still be kids without jobs. I started working at 12 years old. I had to take care of my Granny who was never in the best shape health wise. But the youth team at our church is amazing with the youth. I have to pray like a maniac and rely on the Holy Spirit fully more than fully actually when I am working with youth. And they just naturally are able to connect with them. But how many times do we try to be good at something like, Youth Ministry, just because someone else is good in that area? We need to follow Jesus' calling in our lives where He wants us and not follow the praise or strengths of someone else.
We need to listen to the Holy Spirit's calling on what we should be doing instead of just running ourselves ragged try to look as good as the other people at church. When you run around doing everything that you think you should be doing instead of what He is asking you to do most of the time you get burnt out and give up. But when you are following His call and resting in Him (those two must be done together!) you don't often get burnt out (in fact ministry leaders who are called by Him to do a lot often get burnt out because they forget to rest in Him). Stop trying to compete with your brothers and sisters in Christ and start serving where God wants you. There is never a job to small or to big when it comes to His calling on your life.
Jesus said this to me when I was first started Bible School, "Bobbi, I did not call you to compete with your friends. I called you to love. I called you to serve. Not to look over your shoulder and see what "they" were doing in ministry. I called you to share the gospel and there is no reward for how many souls you win... it is just if you are willing to try. If you win one heart and "they" win ten, I celebrate and love you both. Stop making my gospel a competition and just love."