Guest Blog by Kolleen Lucariello, LeadHer Local Coordinator in Mexico, NY
As one of my reading assignments for the LeadHer Local Coordinator mentoring program, I recently read the book, Winning with People, by John Maxwell. Although I found myself stretched by each of the 24 people-principles he deems necessary for successful relationships, one in particular challenged me to the extent I’ve chewed on it for days: The Celebration Principle.
In this chapter the author discussed the fact, that while everyone identifies with failure, many times people have a hard time with success — especially the success of others. When that happens jealousy is usually found. As one who has struggled to celebrate the success of others, I understood this very well. I know the struggle of jealousy and what it can do to relationships. Proverbs 27:4 says, “Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, But who is able to stand before jealousy” (NKJV)? When the green-eyed monster with the name of jealousy takes up residence within us, our ability to view those we have a relationship with in a positive manner becomes inhibited. Our focus will always be on the faults we see, which will be amplified before us, rather than the success they’ve earned.
As I read through the chapter, I pled guilty to allowing the green-eyed monster to cloud my judgment and hinder my willingness to applaud the success of others. Well, I may have applauded with them, but I’m sure the claps weren’t sincere because my heart wasn’t really for them. Oh my…what a shame! Isn’t it shameful how we allow jealousy to keep us from celebrating what God is doing in the lives of others? After all – He’s God. Shouldn’t He be allowed to use the people He created for the purpose of His choosing? When we witness the success of someone we love, do we celebrate? Or was James writing to me, or to you, when he wrote, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it” (4:1-3, NLT).
As I reflected on this principle, I found my thoughts turning in a different direction as I began to wonder what our jealousy towards others costs. Sincerity? The bond of committed friendship? Unconditional love? If Solomon said we should not rejoice when our enemies fall (Proverbs 24:17), what do you suppose God intended our reaction to be when those we love succeed? How I fear jealousy is stealing from our lives, as well as the lives of others, when we consider what price the one we refuse to celebrate with may pay. I had never given that any thought until the Lord began to reveal to me the price I’ve paid when jealousy has been allowed to flourish in several of the relationships I’ve had over the years. For instance…
- As a young girl I was introduced to the words, “they are jealous of you” which caused the hurtful, and many times hateful, actions by a close individual towards me. Was this where bitterness and the seed of fear were implanted and began to take root within me?
- While in high school I was on the cheer-leading squad and chosen to be the girl lifted to the top mount. This caused a bit of resentment for the girl who wanted to be in that position. Subsequently she could no longer be my friend, nor could the other girls in her circle, which led to some very lonely events. When expressing my sorrow over her ill-treatment to our advisor, I remembering hearing, “she’s just jealous of you.” Was this where shame and insecurity over body image became my mantle? Was this the beginning of my desperate need to be liked and approved of by others?
- I lost close friendships in high school when my husband, Pat, had eyes only for me and we began dating. Why? You guessed it, they were jealous he had chosen me. One of my best friends was also one of his and it was very hard for her to rejoice in our relationship. Was this where the inability to believe I was ever good enough for Pat was planted? Fear would consume me as he left for college and I was told he would surely find his “true love” there. Is this where my trust issues began? When I began doubting I was worthy of being loved?
- After struggling to understand the resentment of a relative the Lord finally opened the door to talk it over with someone very close to the situation. Her answer to my question, “Why does she dislike me so much? What did I ever do to her?” was simply, “She’s just very jealous of you. You have lived the life she dreamed of living.” Is this when the seed of embarrassment for my life began to take root and I stopped appreciating and sharing the life God has given me?
- Years ago I had a very close friend who called me (probably once a week) to apologize for the jealousy she had within her towards me. It seemed every step I took towards following Christ and discovering His plans for my life caused her to become angry. She was unable to let go of her belief we were in competition. Is this when I began to worry my moving forward meant leaving her behind? So much so I feared taking a step of faith? Is this when it became excruciatingly hard for me to hold friendships loosely?
- While serving in church, trying my best to live my life in obedience to the Lord, I’ve made friends only to lose them. I’ve received letters of disapproval, heard words of accusation and felt the sting of rejection by ladies within the body of Christ. I’ve been unable to stand before some as the green-eyed monster distorted their view of my intentions to see God glorified as lives are changed. Is this when insecurity was showered upon me and it became easier to be lonely than to risk another rejection?
I became undone as the Lord ran down the list in my mind, revealing the many times, throughout the years, the excuse for rejection was rooted in jealousy. I have even allowed worry over causing jealousy in another to hold me hostage to fear of more disapproval and rejection. Not only has it been used as a tool in my life to inflict bondage and pain, I’ve allowed my own jealousy to use to cause pain in others – especially those I love. Goodness, how clearly I can now see that the enemy uses jealousy to destroy friendships, confidence, marriages, opportunities, churches and ministries. If you’re not careful, it just may destroy you.
Can I ask you, whom can’t you stand? Or the better question might be, who can’t stand before you? It’s a good bet jealousy is at the root. It was at the root of the hearts of Joseph’s brothers who: 1) desired to kill him 2) threw him into the pit 3) sold him as a slave and 4) lied to their father that he was killed by an animal (Genesis 37).
Let’s move to stop the growth of the green-eyed monster of jealousy and begin celebrating with others when God fulfills the good plan He has for them. Rather than seek to take away their joy with your jealousy—be determined to lift them up with praise! Applaud what God is doing in their life and wait for your opportunity to come! He’s got good plans for you too.
My sweet friend, Chrissy, brought forth great wisdom when, after reading this, she said, “We can’t control when others harbor jealousy towards us, but we can learn to process differently the lies we allow to become ingrained in our thinking.” And then she asked …
Do you still have a desperate need to be liked and approved of by others?
How are you doing when it comes to trusting?
Do you still doubt that you are really loved?
Are you still embarrassed for people to know what God has done and is doing for you?
Are you taking the risk of entering in to new deeper relationships again or is it still hard to trust here too?
Are you holding back because it is more comfortable to be lonely?
Probably the toughest one of all… Where are you in your ability to extend forgiveness in all the scenarios you listed?
Now I must choose: Do I continue to hold tightly to the lies or hold them up before the Lord as an offering? Just as the choice to seek is mine, the choice to sacrifice is mine, as well.