Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Competition Syndrome

Do you have children? If not, do you spend much time around them?

Listen to them, especially siblings; they often display something I call the "One-Up Syndrome", otherwise known as "trumping". Whenever my youngest daughter talks about doing, reading, going, or accomplishing something, her older sister has this incredible need to "one-up" her.

It is an embarassment to say that preachers are no different.

We are fiercely results-oriented, because we've been taught that a preacher who experiences little or no results in his/her ministry is scarcely worth walking across the street to listen to. Therefore, we---as preachers ourselves---have bred an entire generation (or two or three) of preachers who have virtually no self-identity when it comes to preaching style, especially in the Pentecostal genre of preaching. (There are two exceptions that immedietly come to mind, but they are the only two anomalies I can think of.)

It has troubled me for quite some time now that this "competitive" mindset is eating through our ranks like some hidden cancer, yet as obvious as it is to every one of us, few dare to tackle it head-on. We get up and preach---in our best Pentecostal voice, no less!---that "God didn't call me to be so-and-so", yet we try our best to preach like them, because they are the marquee speakers of the hour.

Someone recently made a statement that a particular preacher "...can outpreach almost anyone with his age and/or experience". In response, my mind immediately asked the question, "When did delivering a message from God become a competitive sport?"

It is not only preachers, but musicians, singers, choirs, youth pastors, outreach directors, etc. that struggle with this beast. This elusive, insidious spirit of competition is weaving its way through the ranks of Pentecost, eating us from the inside out. It causes discord, bitterness, jealousy, envy, and ultimately lying. Remarks are made, or tallies given, that are far from the truth, yet preachers (and the others as mentioned above) feel it necessary to make such statements with scarcely a thought because, from all we've been trained to believe, "results" are all that matters.

This past weekend, I was privileged to minister in a small church here in the South Texas region. What an incredible move of the Holy Spirit we had...not because of me, but (truth be told) probably in spite of me. I didn't take revival---or a move of the Spirit---with me, but rather, I was blessed because there were hungry souls in that service who worshipped God's Presence into the place.

I didn't actually "preach" (as far as taking a text, etc), but only spoke for a short time from my heart on what I felt God was leading me to say; however, in my closing comments, I made the statement: "We don't have an altar full of people seeking God, no one has received the Holy Spirit, and we haven't seen any miraculous healings today. However, this service has been what I consider a 'success' because God came into this house. If anyone leaves without whatever they came needing today, they've no one to blame but themselves, because the Giver of gifts is here today."

I'm sure there are those who will consider me haughty, pompous, arrogant, or worse; however, I have learned---through painful experience---that God is not impressed with my "works", nor with my "results".

When I step into a church, my goal for that particular service is to connect with God, to usher His Presence into the place. I cannot meet anyone's needs, answer anyone's prayer, or calm anyone's storm. But if I can somehow tap into the Majesty of the Almighty, and connect people with God through music, song, worship, or the Word, He can do whatever needs to be done.

If we can ever grasp this concept---that it really isn't about us, or our so-called "results---then God can move through us, and do what needs to be done in every service.

I am convinced that this is what is separating us from the Acts of the apostles.

They would do anything for the cause of Christ; we, on the other hand, will do practically anything for the promotion of Self.

I'm sure this particular post won't win the "Most Popular Blog" award. However, if we don't somehow attack---and crucify---this spirit of competition that rules our ministerial life, we are every one of us doomed to accomplish nothing for His Kingdom.

1 comment:

Peter Connell said...

Brother Shubert,

This is an excellent article that needs reading and heeding. I believe that God is not pleased with this "compare ourselves amongst ourselves" mentality.

Thanks for the good thoughts.