By Stephanie McGraw | May 17, 2017
At some point, my peers—many of them young Christian women—went from being my ministry to my competition.
Back in high school, God called me into women’s ministry early on. I was 15 and didn’t know what in the world I was doing, but I was excited and eager to learn. My youthful naïveté and easily distracted mind got off track quite a few times, but God steered me back in the right direction.
By 17, I decided to go to Bible school. It was there that the switch happened. I was immersed in a hyper-Christian atmosphere where every student aspired some sort of Christian vocation.
Then, in my women’s ministry classes, I realized how many other young girls shared the same dream as I. Many of them wanted to be speakers, or writers, or bloggers.
How small was the world in my mind that I thought I was the only one?
It was kind of intimidating. I felt unoriginal and vein for thinking I was special. I saw girls that were more talented in public speaking, more eloquent in writing, more spirited and charismatic.
It scared me into a shell. I started to shy away from telling people what I really felt called to do, which is to speak and write. But why?
Over time, God has revealed to me how unfortunate this reservation was. At the root, some of my motives were impure. The Lord showed me that there were certain aspects of ministry I was plotting to use for self-glory, not His glory. I thought so highly of myself, and I was looking at fellow women in ministry all wrong. They are NOT competition. They are teammates.
If our motive behind something such as ministry, which is meant to serve people and love people, becomes about outdoing one another and being the “best,” or getting praise, we are setting ourselves up for disaster.
We become easily irritable, envious, and judgmental. We leave no room for grace, love, and compassion. It becomes hard to serve people and to talk about ministry because we have misplaced why we pursued it to start with. We manipulate the goodness that is Christian service, and we make it into something ugly and self-glorifying. Ew.
It was a humbling realization, and I wish I could say that it happened a long, long time ago. But this kind of humility is one that God continually is teaching me. When my eyes were opened and I saw the impurity of my motives and the darkness that loomed over my heart, I was so saddened; but not nearly as heartbroken as God was watching it unfold.
How do you fix this kind of mistaken motive?
It began with acknowledging that it existed, and fervently praying for restoration. One of my constant prayers is to see people the way the Lord does. As soon as I regularly practiced this prayer, I was amazed. I found that my irritability was silenced and that I delighted in watching peers succeed.
When I saw someone doing something great for the Lord, I exchanged what used to be an opportunity to be envious, and instead was inspired. Also, complimenting people, I’m talking real encouragement, does wonders for your own heart. It’s like cough drops for prideful ills.
I encourage you to examine your own motives and see if there’s any “ugly” parts getting comfortable. They are not good company. Evict them immediately.
As always, you’re not the only one.
Visit Stephanie’s website and read more at www.wordsunfolding.com