The early church did not have time to be competitive.
The book of Acts reveals that the Apostles were overwhelmed with doing the work of sharing the Gospel, and with the mandate of caring for widows and orphans which was getting out of hand. Everyone was sharing their stuff and food, spaces for rest and eating. They even had tables set up so the people could sit while they were eating. All while studying the Word of God and spending time in prayer so that could bring spiritual bread to the people. They couldn’t keep up with it all and began to get complaints that they weren’t doing a good enough job. The Greeks complained that the Jews were getting all the food first and supplies were depleted before their widows could get something to eat.
This may have not been intentional as the Jews were already organized with knowledge of how to get food from the temple and synagogues, as the alms for the poor was a mandate under Jewish law. The Greeks on the other hand were more undisciplined and ate a lot, as stated in other scriptures, and were not used to having to depend upon a central place of distribution of food and clothing and by the time they would get to the distribution center the supplies would gone and their widows were going hungry.
The Apostles didn’t blame each other if there was a problem.
The Apostles didn’t point fingers, or blame the Greeks or the Jews, they instead prayed and asked God for the strategy and then appointed 7 men, full of the Holy Spirit to wait on the tables so that all the people would be fed. These were great men. One was Stephen who later was martyred after preaching the greatest sermon recorded in the New Testament, and one was Phillip who was translated by whirlwind to the desert where he ministered to and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. There was no competition amongst these men of God who were also workers among the people, because the focus was on the mission of spreading the message of the Kingdom of God with Jesus as King and each ministering to the new converts. As the church grew, others were appointed to serve, some as deacons, others as elders who would visit the sick and pray for them. All were believers and they were to minister to one another according to their spiritual gifts.
Focusing on pleasing the Father keeps us from competition.
When our focus turns away from our mission of obeying the Father to the people, it opens the door for jealousy, envy, strife, confusion, misunderstanding and competition, and if not checked, even malice. When studying the scriptures on strife and confusion it shows where those two sins abide, they open the door to every evil work. We must stay focused on Him and on the mission, He has called us to. Seeking the will of the Father in all circumstances, acknowledging Him in all our ways, opens the door for fellowship with Him and for Him to direct our path. We will have no time for competition as our hands will be full of His work.
There are enough people to go around.
When you think about it, it is very naïve for ministers to be jealous of each other as there are enough people in the World to go around. Millions of people per region are hungry for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If all of us were on mission, we would be so busy doing the work of the believer to the fullness of our gifting, that we would have no time to worry about how many people some other minister has. Having to reorganize the function of a church because of growth, like the disciples had to do in the early church is a good problem to have. Having to watch over your shoulder for those who would speak evil against you is not.
Know who your brother is.
When Jesus found out his disciples were complaining about the followers of John the Baptist praying for people and seeing miracles, He said, “those who are not against us are with us.” The scripture also says, “there are many sick among you, as you do not recognize who your brothers are.” It also says, “be more generous to those of the household of faith”. “Be ye kind one to another, forgiving one another, for such was the law of Christ concerning you.”
God was generous to you, be generous to each other.
If the God of Heaven was so generous that He gave His only begotten Son so that we may be saved, we are commanded to love one another and be generous to one another.
God will always show up when brothers dwell in unity.
It would be wonderful if ministers in the same town began to have services together, outreach together, feed their poor together, pull resources and minister to their cities together. Instead, we find the most minute differences becoming stumbling blocks to unity. Unity of the brethren is precious to God; it is like the precious anointing oil that ran down Aaron’s beard to the hem of his garment when he was anointed to be a priest unto God. We must find the truths we have in common, and stand on those, more than pointing out the differences of interpretations of the Word. Isaiah wrote, “when they worship together, then they shall see eye to eye”. There is something about worshipping God in the Spirit and in Truth that opens our eyes to see Him and get back on mission.
Where strife and confusion are, there is all manner of evil:
God is not the author of confusion and strife must cease. These must be resisted and rooted out immediately. Out of our own hearts and if you are a leader, it must be addressed as soon as is possible, so it doesn’t defile others. We must pray for wisdom and clarity and for the spirit of understanding to come into that situation. If you have disagreements with peers, intercede for one another and choose to love. If strife continues, do not engage in the argument, and look for an opportunity to show love to those who have spoken against you, to those who have fallen away or have disagreed with what you believe the scripture says about a matter, so that strife will cease. Don’t allow foolish gossip to ruin future relationships. You never know when God will bring that person your way for you to minister to, or even to minister with.
The root of competition in the church is fear.
Fear is the root of competition. The fear that you will not be successful if you allow someone else to be successful, or insecurity of your own ability to be successful which is “fear of failure” is the road to a competitive spirit. Fear of failure was what the man had who buried his talent, in Jesus’ parable of the Talents. The scripture also says, “Fear is a spirit”. We must submit to God; resist the devil and he will flee.
Love is the answer.
The scripture also says, “Perfect love casts out fear”. Love people and trust God with results. You do not have to be someone else’s Holy Spirit, and if you are being obedient you also are not responsible for the results. All you need to do is obey God to the fullness of your calling. God will oversee and care for the results. If you love more than you fear, you will act differently towards the lost, your neighbors, fellow ministries, and those of the household of faith. The signs, wonders and miracles are more likely to happen when you pray. Your ministry to the lost will be more effective, as you will truly represent King Jesus to those around you and the World will know you are His disciples as you will truly love one another.
God bless you,