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Killing the "Dragon"
of Ministerial Jealousy

"The disease that most threatens the life of the evangelical church is the unbridled passion of applause."
- Dr. J.C. Massee, 1929 (this Pastor recognized a "mega" church)

I. Symptoms of Ministerial Jealousy

Jealousy in the ministry is a struggle for every servant of God. There will be no freedom from this disease until we see the glorious glow of the person Jesus Christ and recognize the poverty and meanness of the best of our achievements. On that day ministerial jealousy will be recognized for what it is: a game for children and fools that only serves to damage the kingdom of God and truncate the ministry of those who participate in it.

What are some symptoms of jealousy in the ministry?

To other leaders. . .

bullet We are increasingly pointing out errors and defects of other leaders and their ministries.

bullet We like to hear negative comments about another leader or his ministry.

bullet We do not like to hear positive comments about another leader or his ministry.

bullet We see some servants as people with whom we compete for measuring the quality of our ministry (rather than seeing them as friends and fellow servants who have the same struggles we do).

bullet We do not pray for the progress of fellow servants and their ministries.

bullet We have a secret desire that another leader not have much success in his ministry.

To ourselves. . .

bullet Observing the fruits of the ministry of others, we feel inferior or useless, "Lord, why did not you use me as you use the servant X." "What does he or she have that I do not have?"

bullet We live under the shadow of an unhealthy introspection constantly questioning our ministry and our calling capabilities.

bullet Even the smallest comment or constructive criticism discourages us deeply because we are not sure of ourselves.

II. The Sin of Ministerial Jealously

The battle against jealousy in the ministry begins with a greater understanding of why it is a sin that dishonors God.

A. Ministerial jealousy reveals that we love ourselves more than we love God.

It reveals that we are thinking only of the success of our "territory" and not the overall advancement of the kingdom of God. We understand that the failure of any minister or ministry is a defeat for the body of Christ, which saddens the heart of God.

Consider the testimony of John the Baptist in the face of the comment that "everyone is going to Jesus." John said:
(1) a servant of God can only receive what God sends,
(2) I am not the Christ,
(3) I am sent to serve Christ,
(4) the wife (the church) belongs to Christ,
(5) I am the friend of Christ, husband,
(6) therefore, I rejoice greatly in the voice of Christ, and
(7) Christ is to grow and I have to shrink (John 3:27 - 30).

Can we say what John the Baptist said?

B. Ministerial jealousy reveals that we love ourselves more than we love our brother.

We want success for ourselves but we do not want success for our fellow servant in Christ. Is this love of self the example of love that Christ expects of us that "ye love one another as I have loved you."

C. Ministerial jealousy reveals that we do not love ourselves correctly.

Ministerial jealously is undeniable proof that we do not accept ourselves as God accepts us and we do not accept the ministry God has given us in his sovereign goodness (Psalm 16:5-6).

When we let ministerial jealousy consume us, we are declaring: "Heavenly Father, you have not been good to me. You have not given me the success I need to be happy."

Ministerial jealousy often drives us to create or improve our "image" as a leader. We strive to be a recognized and admired leader. However, such efforts tend to hinder or destroy the true work that God wants to do in us and through us. Among other consequences, the effort to create, improve or protect our image:

Creates conflicts with others: We see others as competitors in the great "ministry beauty contest." Christian community is ceasing to be a source of strength and fellowship in the ministry.

Fills our souls with falsehood: We fall into the trap of believing that satanic personal glory is the ultimate goal of life. Our hearts are full of hypocrisy in having to hide the true motives of our self-centeredness.

Drowns the grace we need: The pride that permeates ministerial jealousy comes between us and the grace of God which is the only real hope "to be exalted by God" according to the clear teaching of Scripture (1 Peter 5:6, James. 4:10).

III. How to give death to the dragon of ministerial jealousy

A. Recognize that jealousy in the ministry is a struggle for every servant of God.

"Let's face it. We've all been jealous of someone else in the ministry. Jealousy is as old as dirt. We must acknowledge jealousy "as sin" just as adultery, homosexual acts, or theft, are sins. Remember the first murder was motivated by jealousy.

B. Recognize the seriousness of ministerial jealousy as an offense against God, against his kingdom, against our fellow servants and against ourselves.

C. Cultivate the habit of praying for our fellow servants and their families, and for the success of their ministries.

D. Cultivate the habit of speaking well of fellow servants and sincerely appreciate their good qualities and achievements in ministry.

E. Find practical ways to serve fellow servants with real joy.

F. Confess the sin of jealousy in the ministry as often as necessary, and allow the Holy Spirit to make changes in the depths of our being.

G. Use the discouragement that comes in ministerial jealousy to seek God's deep love and affirm our identity as a servant of Him.

H. Cultivate a mindset of "abundance" and not "scarcity".

The leader who is at the highest risk is the one who refuses or fails to recognize the temptation of jealousy in the ministry and the destructive power of it.

Questions and Reflections

1. How do I feel in my heart when I hear comments or news about the ministerial successes of another brother? If I cannot rejoice about it, why?

2. Think about the effect of ministerial jealousy on the overall advancement of the kingdom of Christ.

3. Ask yourself if you can take the place God has assigned you as the perfect token of his love for you?

4. Read Psalm 131 twice, reading it to God as your own prayer. How do you feel doing this exercise? What did you learn from it?

Ps 131 “My heart is not proud, O Lord , my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

5. Meditate on James 3:16-17.
James 3:16-17 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Dr. Jim Adams
SETECA (Central American Theological Seminary)