My last post posed the question:
How would you respond if a vision an idea or a mission you thought God had for you was accomplished through someone else?
I had hoped I’d get a bit of discussion going but I realize, that its not an easy question to answer. I think most of us want to respond one of two ways:
1. That is not going to happen to me.
2. God would not allow that to happen to me.
For a long time I thought the same exact thing, until these last 15 months came along. When Chris and I came to Cullman in May of 2010 we had nothing more but a vision and call from God to plant a church that would minister to the unchurched. Who would have ever thought that at the same exact time there was another group of people who were larger (in quantity) than us, who had more resources (read money) but with almost the same vision to do what we felt God was calling us to do.
They are succeeding in Cullman while our church plant failed within the next 5 months.
Now, we could go into a long analysis of why they succeeded and we failed. Believe me there are some reasons we’ve mounted in our head and others that were spoken to us. But here’s what it boils down to:
It was God’s vision. Not ours.
And because it was God’s in the first place, it was never His intention that we would compete against one another to accomplish that vision.
If you search through the scriptures there is just story after story of times in which God raised up a leader to get a mission, vision, a purpose so far and before you knew it that leader was removed (sometimes willingly, sometimes forceable, sometimes by death) but another leader was put into place and God saw out the vision with that person.
A prime example of this is Moses. Moses was a leader God ordained to take the people from Egypt to the promise land. But Moses died on the other side of the river, never able to reach the promise land only looking at it from a distance.
It was Joshua, his contemporary, that God allowed and enabled to bring the people to their promise land.
Our challenge in this is that we, as humans have a competitive spirit. All you have to do is look on Facebook really anytime an athletic team is playing and you can catch people bantering back and forth over whose team is the best team.
I’m all for some friendly competition, however, when we let it impede relationships, when it starts to handicap growth within the kingdom, and people start to see divisions in the church more often than collaboration. That’s when it becomes and issue.
Competition is not what God intended for us.
I was reading today about how Jesus prayed for unity. You can find the passage in John 17:22b-23. It says this:
“..that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought into complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
That is not what I see in most churches today. It’s not in our schools. It’s not how our non-profits operate. Its encouraged in businesses.
So what happens in most cases is we get competitive and we then spread it in what we do and how we speak. Competition grows jealousy and pride that then hinders us from being able to accomplish the mission that God has set for us to do.
I don’t know about you, but none of that sounds appealing to me. Not anymore.
I am thankful that by His grace alone my mind, my heart, and my actions are changing so that when I see something happening that I had an idea about, instead of saying – “Darn I should have done that” or “God you gave me that same idea why didn’t I get to do it?” my response is:
Yeah God! Your doing amazing things in your people.
Jesus obviously knew that we would need prayer for unity, that it would not come easy for us or these words would not translate to us as easy as they do today.
It’s my prayer that we can begin to pray for our lives, our churches, our cities in such a way that it changes us in how we respond to each other not as competition but rather in trusting that God knows what He is doing. If you were not the one to get it done, you can certainly cheer on the person who did.
How about you? What is your experience with competition and how do you think we can living out Jesus desire for unity?