If we aspire to teach anything, we most likely will get tested in that same area. Recently, I had a situation where envy tried to creep into my heart and my response surprised me. Have you ever met a person living out your dream life?
Keep in mind, your point of envy will be different from mine and vice-versa.
THE LIFE I SHOULD’VE LED?
All I knew about my Christian neighbor up to that point was that she loved God and believed in the power of prayer just like me. But, one of these last times we talked, she told me more of her story.
She travels the world taking on assignments from God. Incredibly gifted, she speaks the counsel and plan of God into various situations. Christians all over the world invite her to their city and nation, because they so believe in her revelatory gifts. She lives by faith and sees God continually come through for her. Consequently, fellow believers help pay for all of her travel and living expenses, so she doesn’t even have to actively raise financial support.
Because she walks by faith, she carries all kinds of testimonies of how God has broken through for her in sovereign ways.
As she continued telling me her testimony, all I could do was look at her wide-eyed, listen with envy kept at bay and mutter, “Wow, wow.”
NOT ONLY GIFTED, BUT LOVINGLY MENTORED
If this weren’t enough, she went on. Satan tried to turn the screws on me. She told me about how her pastors and mentors pulled her aside to lovingly help, instruct and shepherd this gift in her life. She didn’t have to go to them, hoping they’d take an interest. No, they saw this gift in her, took the initiative and showed genuine interest in working with her. Instead of being threatened and intimidated by her incredible gifts, they sought to nurture not only her gift, but also her person and character.
At this point, I couldn’t believe it, because that has not been my experience. Most people overlook and dismiss me, because they either don’t see my gifts or my significance. Or, if they do see something, they don’t always welcome my gifts, since most of my gifts support my role as a truth-speaker. And, as most people know, people don’t always appreciate the truth, since they perceive it to be inconvenient, unwanted and even a “nuisance” at times.
Lastly, her leaders have helped shepherd her through her mistakes, understanding that growing in character and gifts takes time. One person in particular talked her through a tough learning situation, after she had made the mistake of calling out a leader. He didn’t turn her away, but helped her to do things in a better, more proper way. Furthermore, he also helped her navigate healing for her own heart from some past issues.
Unbeknownst to her, she spoke all the right things to trigger envy within me. I’ve made mistakes, but the people who might’ve helped often responded with silence, well-meaning prayers for God to help me or unspoken rebuke. The baby often got thrown out with the bath water, and both me and my gifts continued to grow and develop without much needed outside input.
Yes, she received what I wished I had received. Yes, she had the gifts I wished I had to the extent she had them. Yes, she lived the life I wished I had lived.
ENVY CAME KNOCKING, BUT I DIDN’T ANSWER THE DOOR
Her testimony challenged me with raw envy. In the midst of the test, I detached and examined my heart. I should be feeling envy right now. Okay, what are you feeling? What’s going on with you? Why aren’t you feeling anything?
I could honestly say, despite a few twinges of envy and a smidgen of wistful longing, I didn’t really envy her. I enjoyed listening to her story, but could also see that her blessings were a “mixed bag.” I found myself happy, though, that others had discipled her so well and that it had borne fruit in her life.
Moreover, for being so gifted, she was humble and real. To be really clear, she doesn’t go around telling everyone about this part of her testimony. She just happened to tell me, and, reflecting on our encounter, I believe I know why. God wanted to show me He had already been at work on my heart. He had protected me from envy, by deeply rooting my identity. His grace and the deep study of His Word had built a fortress of truth around my heart and spirit. As a result, the enemy couldn’t find a way in to harm me, at least in this area of my life.
GOD IS THE BEST MENTOR OF THEM ALL
If you want God’s perspective for your life and a strong identity in Christ, the best place to find it is in your own relationship with God and devotional life! This principle holds true, whether you have mentors or not. Yes, my friend had wonderful leaders who mentored her in her character, faith and gifts. But, unfortunately, not everybody has that experience. Aside from the few people who took the time to invest in my life, I’ve been mostly on my own. Yes, I’ve had pastors and teachers, but most of them weren’t deeply involved in my life. They may have taught me well, as I sat in their congregation week after week, but they didn’t act as my mentors, walking with me through some of the deeper issues of my life.
Sadly, relationships tend to be more distant in our fast-paced, fragmented and detached world, including the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. When others are not available, we must press into God, regardless. He can mentor us directly and speak identity over us like no-one else can!
We must become the leaders and mentors we’ve always wanted in our own lives! In their absence, God will father and mentor us!
As I’ve cultivated a deep life of prayer and the study of His Word, God has had many opportunities to speak into my life identity and affirmation! I’ve also grown in understanding of His perspective and ways! For this reason, I don’t feel the need to compare myself with anyone else, because I know who God’s created me to be and that I have a high calling in Christ. I know my own value!
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” –Jeremiah 17:5-8
Again, whether we have people pouring into our lives or not, ultimately, we have to trust in God! If we put our trust in people, even those God has used that carry significant influence in our lives, it can bring a drought rather than a blessing. If we don’t have a mentor or a spiritual mother or father, and, yet, we put our trust in God, we can thrive and grow with the best of them!
ENVY ESPECIALLY TARGETS LEADERS
Since God calls leaders to be mentors, they must pay careful attention to their own hearts. Many Biblical passages on envy involve leadership envying the favored, the gifted, the chosen, the anointed, etc. Since leaders occupy positions of influence and power in people’s lives, they have the most to lose when gifted people come on the scene. God cautions us all through these examples. If envy is present, the leadership over your life may not always be thrilled by your gifts and your holy ambition to be all that you can be for God. If what you carry poses a threat to their existing power base, they may reject, dismiss and minimize your contributions, instead of welcoming your spiritual gifts and talents. Unfortunately, those who envy can stand against the growth and development of many in the Church.
For the Church to fulfill our ultimate calling and to grow up into the fullness of Jesus Christ, we must take a different approach and actively mentor others, even those more gifted than ourselves. We must resist envy, because envy keeps the Church from growing and becoming unified. And, more importantly, it keeps us from loving one another the way God intended.
ANOTHER BLOG POST ABOUT HOW TO COMBAT ENVY IS ON ITS WAY
I planned to make this post more general, but as I wrote it I felt inspired to focus more specifically on how leaders who don’t envy can mentor and build up the Body of Christ. Part 2 of Mentorship over Envy will be next week.
REFLECTION AND APPLICATION QUESTIONS
- What have been your experiences with envy? Who have you envied and for what reason? I mentioned how my devotional life has helped keep me from envy. Have you had a similar experience? Why or why not? If not, what can you do to deepen your life in God and the study of His word in the area of envy? What passages can you meditate on to receive God’s affirmation and perspective? Get a Bible concordance and do a Bible study on envy. Pray God will teach you through this study, revealing the things you personally need to see.
- Have you ever had a mentor? A spiritual mother or father? How did it make you feel? How did it make a difference in your life?
- If you’ve had someone take the time with you, write a letter thanking them for their involvement in your life. Let them know how much you appreciate them and the kind of difference they’ve made in your life.
- OR did you have to grow up in God lacking mentors? If so, reflect on how that deficit affected your Christian walk? Looking back, how did God try to fill in the missing gaps in your life to bring you to a place of greater maturity?
- If you’re a leader in a Church or Christian organization, are there ways you can mentor and develop people further? Do you mentor “from a distance” or up close and personal, actively involved in the lives of others? Yes, our lives are busy, but mentorship, just like parenting, takes time, effort and trouble. What are some ways you can get more involved in the lives of others?
- Reflect on how caring mentors positively influenced my friend’s life. Imagine what her life would’ve been like had there been no mentors to help build her character, work with her on her various issues and navigate her gifts.
- How can the spiritual value of mentorship combat envy in a person’s heart and life? Consider both the one who envies and the object of their envy.