"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." Romans 12:14-16
One of the first disillusioning experiences of my ministry happened in my first meeting with fellow pastors in my area. Prior to prayer we were sharing concerns. Several of them were facing some very tough situations and asked to be supported by their brothers. Each of them were met with great empathy, compassion and heartfelt prayer.
When it came my turn to share, things had been going well with my church and my people so I shared some praises giving God glory for what He had done. To my great disappointment my praises were met with a great lack of enthusiasm. In fact, the responses ranged from indifference to resentment. Nowadays we would say it was "awkward".
I left that meeting feeling sad that my brothers in ministry could not seem to find it in their heart to share in my rejoicing. I was not sharing those things to brag, I wanted to praise God for His faithfulness. It hurt when they acted as they did. As I worked through my disappointment, I resolved that while I could do nothing to change how they responded to me, I would consciously celebrate with them whenever they shared victories. And, in the 39 years since, I have - always - every time. I did not want any other pastor to feel the disappointment I suffered that day.
For some reason, especially among pastors, there seems to be a spirit of competitiveness that exists. That spirit makes it hard to celebrate the successes of others. I have seen it happen between churches, too. Human egos can get in the way at times.
In this portion of Scripture we are reminded that God expects us to empathize with one another. When your heart is breaking, I weep with you.I share your pain and get involved in providing comfort. When you get a big win, I am to celebrate as though it happened to me!
May this be a reminder that God has not called us to compete with each other but to COMPLETE each other for His glory!
Are you competing or completing?