After a major setback
When we’ve had a major setback we naturally look for reasons why we failed. It’s always less painful to look for reasons outside of ourselves. “If only so and so hadn’t made promises he couldn’t keep this never would have happened.”
Unfulfilled expectations always lead to frustration and disappointment. “This would never have blown up if so and so hadn’t been given leadership.” “We wouldn’t have failed if so and so hadn’t been so presumptuous and manipulated us into making this stupid decision.”
Instead of recognizing our own personal contribution to the failure, we place blame on others. This worldly way of dealing with setback plays into the Devil’s hands. It’s the perfect way to divide our ranks and then conquer.
After a great success
The devil also loves to put a wedge between us at moments of great success. Let’s say we’ve had a sudden growth spurt in our congregation. We start to say to ourselves; “well, it’s about time—we’ve always had the most creative ministry in town.” It’s about time that people recognized that we’ve got the best program and the most well-oiled organization going.”
Instead of giving glory to God and acknowledging His grace we get puffed up. And the more we get puffed up the sooner we blow up. Success then causes certain players on the team to start to think that it was their unique and indispensable contribution to the mix that made all the difference. That leads to discounting the value added by others.
Something else can happen as well. Others on the team observe that someone else is being acknowledged for their gifts or abilities while they are being overlooked. Then they become envious. Proverbs 14:30 says, “…envy is rottenness to the bones.” Envy is a deadly device for division. In a congregation, “dog eat dog” is simply changed to “sheep eat sheep.” Paul said to the Corinthian believers who were succeeding in the area of spiritual gifts said in 1 Corinthians 3:3 that because there was envy there were also“divisions among you.”
I write these words of warning not because I see any division in our ranks. It’s just a bit of preventative medicine. We need preventative medicine especially now as we have stepped out in faith like never before. And if we will sharpen our instruments and use God’s wisdom, there will be great success. (See Ecclesiastes 10:10) But our success could also be our very undoing if we allow the devil to divide our ranks.
So as we launch out into new territory, let’s make sure that God gets all the glory. Let’s acknowledge His grace. Let’s be humble and recognize that we have no superstars—just a team that will “…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries.” (Philippians 1:27, 28)