Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Competition

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Leaders are often competitive.  It's one of the things that drives us to build strong, innovative organizations.  It enables us to persevere through difficult situations without giving up.

But there is also a darker side... one that will destroy everything that God desires to build through us.  We end up eyeing everyone that is succeeding around us as "the competition."  Anytime we do this we reduce them from human beings created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) to rivals needing to be conquered.  And we forfeit the ability to work together to tackle big-picture problems.

The worst part of viewing those around us as the competition?  When we view those around us as the competition there is a lot of collateral damage!  Innocent people get hurt in the process.  Let's look at a Bible example of how this plays out...

Click to Tweet: When we view those around us as "the competition" there is a lot of collateral damage! #leadership #jealously

Then Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.  They watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they could accuse him. - Mark 3:2

They were so concerned with catching Jesus in a Sabbath Day infraction that the handicapped man became a tool rather than a person in need of help.  God commanded compassion, but they instead focused on competition.  Competition will deflate compassion every time!  The people around us will be reduced to objects that help achieve our goals.

So how does this apply to pastors?  The longer we lead the more God will bring younger leaders alongside us.  This presents both problems and opportunities.  We have been in ministry so long that we KNOW we are smarter than these young guys.  But never forget that God has invested creativity, passion and gifting into these young leaders as well.  

They want (actually expect) to sit at the decision making table with us, even though they haven't yet "earned" it.  They've grown up in a different world than we have. We knew we had to pay our dues in order to gain a voice.  But they have been raised with the expectation that they can and should make a difference.  And if you don't allow them to do so, they will find a leader who will.

In the past I've made the mistake of undervaluing the fresh eyes these younger leaders bring to the table.  I missed out on the God-given insight they would have brought.  I am now determined to empower as many younger leaders as possible, even when they bring ideas that aren't fully formulated.  It's simply an opportunity for me to coach them by asking questions.  This is the legacy I want to leave.  I encourage you to do the same.

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