When the Case for Your Rivalry is Presented...
26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.” 27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.
In this scripture, John wasn’t rivaling with Jesus, and Jesus wasn’t rivaling with John. Neither of them were worried about what the other was doing, because they were on the same team. They knew exactly what they were called to do. But the people on their team decided to surface the comparisons. And I think that’s funny because, even if you’re not comparing yourself to others, somebody at some point will come along to highlight what someone else is doing. What will you do in that moment?
The easy reaction is to begin looking at what other people are doing. What you are doing may be significant and have great influence, but you may devalue that based on what you see other people doing. I find that when the case for your rivalry is presented, you have two options: you can either respond, or you can react.
I know what it is to react. I am not unacquainted with a little drama at times. There is about 10% drama in every woman. When I’m reacting, I start to ask questions like “Is what I’m doing as good as she’s doing?” or “Does what I’m doing have the same amount of influence as that person?” We all do this. We start to go on this journey to try and measure influence, sometimes even questioning our calling. We don’t ever want to get to that place. That’s when it spirals out of control.
However, John had a brilliant response. In that moment, he squashed that spirit of rivalry. I love the way that he did this, as he says, “ I know what I’m not.” And then he says, “But I know what I am.”
It’s good to know what you’re not. I know that I’m not a singer. My husband has enlightened me. My children have also enlightened me on many occasions. “Please mom, you are murdering this song. Please stop singing.”
So I know what I’m not, but I know what I am here to do. John essentially says, “I’m not the Messiah. I’m the one that’s here to prepare the way for Him.” When you have that call from God, you can live out your calling with such depth of conviction. I see so many people living out what they think is the purpose on their life, but they’ve just taken the purpose of somebody else and tried to appropriate it to their life. That’s not what God’s asked of us. He’s asked us to get our purpose straight from Him, get the word from Him, and then run with that thing with all diligence. When Jesus, the human Savior Himself, steps into the scene, as John I would have been tempted in that moment to just give up everything I was doing, forget my calling, and follow Him. Yet because John had gotten that calling from God, he was not giving it up unless God told him otherwise. He didn’t become one of Jesus’s disciples, he continued to prepare the way for Jesus.
When the case for your rivalry is presented it’s also an opportunity for you to be unrivaled. I think that we all have the ability within us to actually rise to be women who are unrivaled. It’s easy to be rivals. But I think we all have the ability to step up, to appeal to the higher calling in our lives, and to be those that are unrivaled.
John says something really beautiful in verse 29: “Therefore, I am filled with joy at His success.” We can be really happy and wholeheartedly thankful for somebody else’s calling and purpose on their life. We can be happy for their successes. We are each other’s advocates, tasked with complementing and enhancing each other. You need to learn when to close your mouth or stop a thought, and when to deter yourself from going down that track of comparison that you know leads to destruction.
The real fruit of leadership is measured by the brilliant lives that you lead. When people are flourishing around me, that’s what makes me happy. That’s the success for me. It’s not my level of achievement. It’s actually asking myself, how many people did I suction up with me? How many people did I bring along with me? How many people were able to launch from the platform I set to go even further than I could go? That’s the kind of fruit I want.
Additional Scriptures: Proverbs 3:26, Proverbs 14:1
Additional Resource(s): To learn more about your personality and giftings, we recommend the DISC Personality Test and the Spiritual Gifts Test.
- What things do you know you are not?
What are your spiritual gifts that can be used to further the kingdom of God?
How can you build others up rather than seeking to self-promote?
What does it look like to be filled with joy at others’ success?
You are the one who created me to be unrivaled in my calling, and I praise You for that. My desire is to keep my eyes fixed on the unrivaled promise that you have for me. Help me to walk confidently in the things You have for me and to embrace my tomorrow.
In Jesus’s Name,