Nolan Harkness on Competition in the Church

Oh the thrill of competition! It is bred into most of us. We love to compete, and we love to watch competition! Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf and the list is endless. One person or team goes against another person or team to see who can outsmart and out play the other. But what happens when that competitive spirit spills over into the church? What happens when it is between two Christian leaders, in a town, city or village? Where does that lead? I believe it leads to anything but revival, because it leads to anything but unity.

I grew up the older of two brothers. To this day I have no idea why my brother felt he had to out do me on everything.  If I caught a fish, he had to catch a bigger fish. If I was successful in one sport, he felt he had to be more successful in another. It just seemed to be deeply embedded in him to try to outdo me! Women tell us it’s more of a man thing. I am not so sure because I have seen the competitive spirit in women as well as in men. It seems to me the more beautiful a woman is, the more problems she has with jealousy of other women’s beauty! I’m just saying! This problem of being competitive goes all the way back to the world’s first brothers, Cain and Abel, and resulted in Cain murdering Abel.

Rev. Nolan J. Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. | Courtesy of Nolan Harkness

What damage can a competitive spirit cause in the church? In the Bible, we see that this spirit of competition had crept into the Corinthian Church. The Apostle Paul faced it head on in 1st Corinthians 3:3-8, which states:

For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos”, are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed as the Lord gave to each one? So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God gives the increase.(NKJV)

People were choosing sides in the Corinthian church and picking their favorite superstar. Then they were forming cliques and promoting one group as more important than the other based on who they were following. Paul was saying, and I paraphrase, “Hold the mustard people!” We are all only what we are due to God’s creative grace operating within us. I am nothing, Apollos is nothing. God is the one making things happen!”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Nolan Harkness