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Two years ago I ran in the Baltimore Marathon and towards the last few miles I suffered major cramps in my calves. The cramping forced me to stop and stretch with only a few miles left in the race. The pain was immense and I considered giving up; but then I saw it, the one thing that kept me going and not just moving but running. It was a man wearing a poncho and giant sombrero running past me. That’s when I decided there was no way I would be beat by that guy. There was now competition which pushed me to finish the race and beat the dude in the funny hat.
Competition is good and even amongst coworkers; however, if left unmonitored it can lead to jealousy, envy, entitlement and pride. When this happens a tension or worst a void can form in the relationships. It can eat you inside and lead to burnout. No one is immune to this, it can hit you in different ways. If you ever find yourself unjustly comparing yourself to others start:
- Praising The Other Party – Find something positive that they are doing and publicly praise it. Share with other people why and how you see them fulfilling the mission and how that’s impacting you. By lifting others up we’re forcing a change of heart. You might feel like you are faking it, but after a while you’ll feel the joy for them that God wants you to have.
- Walking A Day In Their Shoes – Sometimes the best way to beat jealousy is through solidarity. We tend to believe that we have the hardest jobs and that we carry the heaviest burdens; unfortunately, all the mindset leads to is frustration and pride. Take a day or maybe a week to do that other person’s job, you’ll learn not only to appreciate what they do; but, give yourself the opportunity to grow.
- Confessing Your Shortcomings – If you keep the anger inside it will eat you up. When you can acknowledge the fact that you are jealous you can allow yourself to move forward. Too many times we obsess over the question, “What about me?” As Christians we need to be moving and that can’t happen if we’re focused on ourselves.
- Investing In The Relationship – One of the best ways to overcome competitive hatred is by building a relationship with the competition. Learn to respect what it is they do, learn a little bit more about who they are and why they feel called to ministry. If it’s a coworker you feel the tension with find some time to grab a bite to eat and learn a little more about their life. Familiarity kills the fear that can cause jealousy and envy.
Being competitive in ministry is a healthy part of any work culture. It challenges us to raise the bar and it encourages us to think outside the box. However, to keep competition in ministry positive, you need to acknowledge it’s presence, praise the participants and be willing to learn. With every challenge we embrace we will definitely find growth.
What are your feelings about competition in ministry? In your opinion does healthy competition exist?