Great leaders surround themselves with other great leaders. They’re not afraid to have significant bench strength – a team of talented individuals who shine in their own right. That’s not to say they don’t occasionally wince with envy while applauding an associate’s success. If you can relate – you’re in good company, and Jesus has a remedy.
Like us, the disciples had a penchant for one-upmanship. As brothers in Christ who ministered together daily – they were ripe for sibling rivalry. They asked Jesus which of them was greatest, James and John wondered if they could have front row seats in heaven, and Peter worried that John might get off with an easier death.
Here’s the story. Peter and Jesus are walking along the beach before the ascension, and Jesus gives Peter a heads up that he’ll die by crucifixion. Peter notices John nearby, and thinks to himself, “Hmmm… crucifixion isn’t a great way to go. I wonder how John is going to die. Will it be less painful? Less humiliating? Is Jesus going to treat John differently?” Unable to contain his sibling rivalry, Peter asks, “Lord, what about John?” And Jesus replies, “Even if John lives until My return, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
Three simple words – “You, follow Me!” – help Peter realign His thinking.
1. When a colleague gets recognition from your board or your supervisor, do you feel a twinge of envy?
2. When an associate does a bang-up job at a public presentation, are you solely glad for the ministry, or somewhat irked?
3. When a co-worker has better rapport with a fellow staffer than you do, are you jealous?
If you answered yes to any of these questions – you’re a typical leader with typical human tendencies.
But Jesus doesn’t want us to stay that way. Just like He exhorted Peter to shift his focus, He does the same with us. Here’s the expanded version of Jesus’ words to Peter:
1. “I made you uniquely you.”
2. “You’re My beloved son or daughter.”
3. “When you’re tempted to compare yourself to others, instead gaze on Me.”
4. “Another’s success or status doesn’t squelch yours. Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
5. “Don’t be distracted or diminished by how I’m working in someone else’s life.”
6. “I want your undivided attention. I have great things in store for you and for us together, for My glory.”
7. “You, follow Me!”
Sometimes we give ourselves a pass on subtle sins like this. After all, they’re easily hidden and don’t initially seem to affect our lives. But they do affect our relationship with Jesus and others. Left unchecked, they lead to even further destruction. Listen to James’ warning in chapter 3 verses 14-16:
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
Just like God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, He doesn’t give us jealousy and selfish ambition. And while they’re “common to man,” we want to resist them and settle into God’s truth and love. When envy comes knocking… lock the door, remind yourself who Jesus is, and follow Him.
“When envy comes knocking… lock the door, remind yourself who Jesus is, and follow Him.”-Lisa Hosler
How has God graced you to conquer sibling rivalry within your own heart? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.