Competition in Ministry and Brothers in Christ
Competition in Ministry and Brothers in Christ
For as long as I can remember, I have been an extremely competitive person. As a young child darting and dashing around the soccer field, my desire to be “the best” was clearly displayed through frustration if I lost, or if my desired outcome was not met. Fast forward a bit and you will find a twenty-something Corey Seitz still wanting to be “the best” while skateboarding around town or at the local skate parks. To a degree, my entire identity was wrapped up in my ability to be the best skateboarder wherever I went (for the record, God is still working that out in me even at 33!). That need I had to be the best led me to a heart-posture of anger, and bitterness towards anyone who tried to storm the identity castle I had created for myself. If someone fairly decent showed up to the skate park, rather than celebrating their gifting, I made it my mission to highlight the fact that my gifting was greater than theirs.
Thankfully, in my mid-twenties, the Lord broke me to the point of realizing that He is my only sure identity. The breaking point came after a series of failed relationships. I had sought (and failed to find) my identity, love, and acceptance by way of a girlfriend. And I had never felt rejection of this magnitude in my life.
Then God spoke to me. He showed me that I had been seeking love and acceptance in all the wrong places, and that only in Jesus would I ever be fully known and loved. The self-made identity castle where I tried to find refuge crumbled under the weight of my inability to keep everything in my life exactly how I thought it should be. God opened my eyes to the reality that Romans 8:38-39 speaks of so beautifully: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
To know that nothing, absolutely NOTHING could take away my identity in Jesus was freeing for me. I have come to learn (and am still learning) how this truth frees us to love those near to us, and to celebrate their giftings instead of feeling threatened by them.
I must say though that knowing this, believing this, and living this out are different things. While I understand and believe wholeheartedly that Jesus is my identity, there are still places in my heart that the Holy Spirit continues to reveal are out of step with His purpose and plan for my life. I continue to deal with my competitive tendencies. I have even found myself passively competitive in ministry with other student pastors in my area. It’s not as if I challenged them to a “church-off” or anything, but in my heart I have compared our ministries and assured myself, “We do it better.”
This is so opposite of what the gospel calls us to. Rather than encouraging and championing my fellow student pastors, I privately judged and internally envied any type of success or momentum they experienced. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see this sinful posture of my heart, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to understand the full outworkings of how this played out in my day-to-day life as a Student Pastor.
In August of this year, I made a transition to a new church in Chambersburg, PA to become their Student Pastor. One amazing aspect of this transition is that my brother is the Worship Pastor. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to serve Jesus alongside my actual brother, and I know it’s not something everyone gets to experience.
But I didn’t expect that God would use this experience to teach me how to love my spiritual brothers as well.
Here’s an example. When someone comes up to me and tells me how thankful they are for my brother or how talented he is at this or that, not once have I felt the urge to one-up him by saying, “Well you should see how gifted I am, or wait until you hear me sing.” The reason I haven’t felt that is because he’s my brother. There’s a sense in which, when he wins, I win as well. When one person in the family wins, the whole family wins. As a family, you laugh and cry together. God has been using this example in my life to show me how to encourage and rejoice in the ministries of other Student Pastors, who are also my brothers. He has shown me that because we are united with Christ (as Romans 12:4-5 says), this makes us family.
In this time, God has continued to teach me (as He has many times before) how to learn from others, how to celebrate what God is doing in other ministries, how to rejoice when other Student Pastors succeed, and ultimately how to live with Jesus as my identity rather than my self-made identity that won’t last. As Student Pastors, we are a family on mission for the Glory of God. Often, whether we mean to or not, we live for the glory of our name, which leads us to do the very things I described above. Jesus has a great mission that He commands us to in Matthew 28. Let us be people who rally together for the sake of the gospel, using our differing gifts and abilities, and trust that God isn’t exalting any one gift over the other, but instead He uses each of them to reach various students all across our areas. I pray that the unity we possess in Christ Jesus will lead to unity in our churches, in our cities, and in our ministries, so that more students will come to know Jesus as Lord and set the world on fire for His Name.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22