I’ve learned that the quickest thing that kills friendships is jealousy. Sometimes it’s a slow death; jealous people can act loving for a lifetime, but they waste their lives comparing to each other instead of helping each other out.
Jealousy can cut short the empowering work of friendship and all the joy and vision it brings forth.
I have two choices: I’m either your cheerleader or the loop of condemnation in your head. And I know which one I prefer to be around.
I just hate what jealousy does to people. The worst, most cutting words come from envy. Families, churches, and businesses rot from the inside. It causes even the nicest people to horde their own talents and hold others back, and they’d rather snuff out the torch then pass it on to a new generation. It turns us into small, shrewish versions of ourselves.
I’ve lost friends this way, and you can’t really call someone out on jealousy. It feels arrogant, and no one would confirm such a dirty accusation. No one confesses it, either. In my years of ministry, I’ve never heard someone tell me, “I’m just a jealous, insecure hater.” Have you ever said that in the mirror? Me, neither. You’ll hear about murder and drugs in the confession booth before envy. It blinds us into denial.
I’ve seen a lot of good friends get blown up when envy got a foothold. One friend would get successful in their field while the other stayed unseen, and the unseen friend starts to feel like their famous friend owes them. There’s a lot of fist-shaking at God and self-directed anger. It’s nasty stuff.
Preparation is half the battle. If you can name the demon, you have a better chance of beating it. Fighting sin means expecting the monster, and then tackling it in the doorway. It means laying down the worldly weapon to pick up a weapon of grace.
When you’re good at something, be ready. You’ll fast become a threat to others. It won’t be just “haters” or “trolls.” You’ll get shot down from your closest loved ones when you get slightly better. But then—we can receive the criticism and dismiss the parts that are petty. We can keep using our talents to serve those who are mad.
After all, the best way to beat jealousy is to hold your gifts with a loose hand, because you’re showing that your ability isn’t something to horde, but to give. All of it was given to you anyway.
And if you’re a bit like me, who sort of feels behind everyone and is a very late bloomer, I hope we’re self-aware enough to celebrate our friends who are more successful and talented. Many of them worked hard to get there and there’s a lot to learn from them. It’s okay if you and I are not as “good” as someone else or have “less” ability. We can still promote the less skilled and the newly started, since we have much to offer to them, too.
Imagine if every time you felt jealousy or took it hard on yourself: you instead took joy in someone’s gifting and you were able to enjoy it for what it is.
Imagine if every time a friend did something amazing in the world, you were to ask them, “How did you do it? What did it take you to get there? How did God help you in this? How can I keep praying for you?”
Imagine if you were to find out your friend was really wrestling with their sudden success, and you could be their counsel.
The best of me, for the best of you. No holding back.
By the grace of God, I’m promoting you to all you’re meant to be.