Jealousy is a threat to the worshiping heart. It wastes our energy, it distracts us. It holds in contempt all the good things God has given us because it says “what I have isn’t good enough, I want what he has…”
A number of years ago I was a staff worship leader at a church in the UK. I absolutely loved it, in many ways it was my dream job. The church was incredible, the people I worked with were world class, and best of all we had become great friends.
I had a great working relationship with all of my peers and colleagues yet there was one whom I had developed a watchful eye on. I would compare myself to him. Every time his songs would succeed or opportunities opened up for him I would feel a little tainted. It was as though his success was my failure.
I didn't think too much of it, until one day there was an unforeseen conflict involving the two of us. The issue was incidental and unintentional - it wasn't a huge deal, but I was surprised at my reaction, it was disproportionate. I had felt I was overlooked and he was favoured.
I knew there was some justification in how I was feeling, but why had my reaction been so intense? I knew there was something deeper than the circumstantial conflict, and that I needed to get to the root of it before I could move forward.
This is the path I took. The following steps allowed me to break free from jealousy on that occasion and have been a framework to lean on over the years when jealous thoughts threaten.
1. Ask for help
The first thing I did (after overly arguing my case to my boss) was to contact a trusted woman in the church who offered private prayer. I didn’t know her well, but she was the first person who came to mind when I recognised I needed some help with my issue. I contacted her and I booked the first available prayer session.
She asked the Holy Spirit to come and convict me. There was nothing forced or hyped. It was a simple, straight to the point prayer.
As she led the prayers, there was a moment when she asked me to confess. At first I wasn’t sure what to say. I began to speak… “I’m sorry Lord…sorry for umm…God I’m sorry for…ummm…Lord, Holy Spirit would you…ummm...help me confess….”
As I fumbled through the prayer my confession followed….
"I am so jealous!…I am so jealous of (my colleague)…Lord I am jealous of his songs…I’m jealous of his success…I’m jealous…I’m so sorry Lord for being jealous.”
I began to weep.
I think the confession set me free. It was like someone took a thorn out of my spirit. The thorn was out of my heart and cast on the cross.
My patient prayer assistant then began to lead me in a prayer of blessing, “Ok now I want you to pray a prayer of blessing” she said.
"Great!" I thought to myself, "Now, because I've confessed my sin, I can ask the Lord to bless me!"
She continued, “I want you to bless (colleague). Ask God to bless his songwriting. Ask God to bless his career, ask God to bless his worship”
Oh my goodness! I was the one needing blessing!
But I did as she asked. It was hard, but again, it was freeing.
I learned that day that Christ has the power to set us free from jealousy, as Galatians 5:1 says: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”