I am a competitive person. For those that know me, this is an understatement. I thoroughly enjoy the excitement of competition on the basketball court, tennis court, video game or anything else! I think it is a fun and enjoyable thing to be competitive. But, competition can become an idol in life that controls feelings and emotions. The sudden ending to a sporting event reveals a winner and a loser (besides soccer). The temporary excitement of watching your favorite football team win is fun. As leaders, we need to stop competing against other churches. Scripture never says one church in the kingdom is the only "crown jewel" of the overall kingdom. We need to start teaming up instead of competing against other student ministries, churches and relationships. Satan was the first to compete with God before the garden of Eden! This then led to Satan tempting Adam and Eve to compete against God's commands. On and on we see the dangers of competition that is based on pride and not the grace of God.
Is it true that the same attitude from playing sports has seeped into the hearts of ministry leaders? I remember playing flag football in Bible college. Future church leaders would treat an intramural flag football game as if it was the Superbowl!? Competition was an understatement. I really enjoyed the fun and exciting competition between my classmates (besides a few instances)!
But what happens when we apply this same intensity and excitement to comparing other churches or ministries to our own? I think it creates walls of separation and creates "little kingdoms" instead of serving the actual kingdom of God. It creates an "elitist" attitude that comes out of competition with other ideas, strategies and churches. As leaders, we should always pursue excellence in everything we do but not at the motive of demeaning other leaders that are serving God. What would happen if leaders quit competing and started encouraging each other to improve in ministry?
Paul exhorted and rebuked the early church on the dangers of competition:
"Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building." 1 Corinthians 3:1-8
I'm thankful for the friends in my life that continue to walk with me through ministry. It is about the relationship of running the race of ministry with other leaders that encourages me the most. Helping each other personally is to help each other with their lives and personal relationship with God. Why does everyone want to only talk about their attendance numbers, music style, or size of church?
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism." Colossians 3:23-25
Check out what Craig Groeschel says, I agree completely:
As leaders, we are in this together. Let's be competitive about helping each other succeed in our calling to serve the church. Success to God is faithfulness to the calling on our lives more than the numbers, sizes of buildings and bank accounts. Encourage each other and focus on the relationship more than performance. We all need encouragement right? We are on the winning team if we know and serve Jesus Christ! Let's be a team for the kingdom of God!