Finding the line between loyalty and jealousy
April 30, 2008
Leaders, to a fault, are deeply loyal to their call and enterprise. What matters most to them is what they give their lives to.
So it's not surprising when I hear of another school doing well—and worse, when better than us—my inclination is to be modest in praise, if at all.
How small and stunted is the spirit that can only celebrate when it's us. Yet, that too is the human condition.
Remember the Old Testament story (see Numbers 11, especially vs. 26-30) of young Joshua who complained to Moses that two men were prophesying, men who were not part of the seventy chosen by Moses? His response was, "Moses, my lord, stop them!"
Moses saw this response for what it was: "Are you jealous for my sake?" Maybe, but could Joshua have been jealous because these two were outside of the chosen group?
This comes in various ways. We sit with a colleague from another ministry—or even within our own—and all they do is talk about their issues, successes or needs. And little or no time is given to ask us about our needs, feelings or priorities. They are consumed by their own agenda.
Or in reporting numbers—this is endemic with educators—we inflate, using headcount instead of full-time equivalents. Our loyalty produces action that says, "God is really only concerned about this ministry; we are the only ones that have vision/capacity to do what God wants done..." Some of my friends in the charismatic community use phrases such as, "We run 2000 in our Sunday morning services." It is at its simplest, self-promotion. But at its heart is not so much loyalty, but an attitude driven by jealousy which finds its root in pride.
A New Testament example is the story of the disciples asking Jesus if they should call down fire to destroy those not part of their group. Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:52-55).
Thank God He blesses others.
If I could only see who I am from space. Perspective matters. As big and important as I consider my enterprise, in the wider scheme of things it really is small: That is, seen from the wider landscape, and especially from eternity.
Crowded by those I will to please, driven by my responsibility to make sure this enterprise works, overcome by the fear that others may pass me by, I am railroaded from what is good and important—loyalty—into jealousy. I may try and hide it. But others see it for what it is.
Loyalty is a quality I admire, and one I look for in others. What a jewel it is as it stands out among the flawed and discoloured stones of jealousy. To shift metaphors, it is more an issue than just drawing a line in the sand between loyalty and jealousy. What I need is to dig a crevasse of such frightening proportions between the two so that I cross it only in desperate foolishness.
Today, celebrate with those He is blessing. Even if what they are doing seems to crowd on what you think is legitimately yours.
My big, expansive God, hold me in Your place of seeing, so with open eyes and heart I see life from the vantage point of Your self-interest. For as Your interest dictates my calling, I then can shuck off those nagging spirits of jealousy and truly rejoice in the successes of others, including those close to my same calling, and with joy refuse the temptation of even thinking of crossing the line. Amen.
"Where is the line between loyalty and jealousy?"