I once had a beautiful apple tree in my backyard. Every spring it would burst into bloom with rosy pink petals and sweet perfume for me to enjoy…until the day it cracked in half and blew over.
We didn’t know there was anything wrong. On the outside, the tree looked perfect, but it was completely rotten on the inside. A hidden enemy had been destroying it from the inside out for years—ants. These tiny littler soldiers of evil methodically ate tiny bits of the tree until the tree came crashing down.
Your women’s ministry might look like my apple tree. It might be beautiful on the outside. Beware! There could be a hidden enemy that will destroy it from the inside out—envy. Tiny little competitive, comparative, and jealous thoughts that pop up in the minds of women involved in your ministry can slowly eat away at everything beautiful. Don’t let your ministry come crashing down. Envy-proof it by following these three steps:
- Expose the enemy within, and acknowledge the destruction it can do. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” Think about someone (perhaps yourself) who was jealous when another woman was chosen to lead or do something instead of her. What kind of destruction did it do to her, her relationships, and to the ministry?
- Talk about it. Jealous thoughts and selfish ambition thrive in hidden places but quickly lose their destructive power when we talk about them openly. Envy is not from God, and it is most often hatched from misunderstandings, feelings of insecurity, or perceived rejection. Envy-proof your ministry by acknowledging that we all struggle with feeling jealous or competitive at times. Make an effort to clear up misunderstandings. Spend time with other leaders to guard your hearts against envy by studying and discussing Scriptures, such as “Jealousy and selfishness are not God’s king of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind” (James 3:15-16).
- Nurture the good; exterminate the evil. It’s all about creating the right environment. Here’s what happens if women live in an insecure, competitive environment: “Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats” (James 3:16, The Message). Yikes! But if women feel loved and accepted, they are less likely to fall into the trap of competition, comparison, and jealousy. It’s important to validate, delegate, and nurture the best in every woman so she will blossom and grow! A heart at peace is what gives life to the body, and your ministry is a body. It will thrive and grow if rooted in hearts filled with love and contentment.
Yes, the green-eyed monster of envy is probably living within your women’s ministry, but you can dare to flush it out of its hiding place, because it’s not as big as you might fear. It’s only the size of an ant.
God is bigger.
Linda Crawford is the author of a number of Bible studies and women’s ministry resources. Linda loves red shoes and race cars and is passionate about helping women pursue God with no speed limits.