As Christians, we easily come down on whatever sins have made our list of “unacceptables.” Getting drunk, sleeping around as a single, cheating on one’s spouse, and addictions of one kind or another. Then there is another list that we turn the other way on, sweep under the carpet; gossip, anger, judgementalism, and the one I want to address today-coveting.
Coveting starts with comparing. It’s been a problem and a temptation for me for as long as I can remember. In high school I was often guilty of it. I got my sense of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-identity by comparing myself with others. How was I looking, how was I doing, how was I viewed by others; my grades, my clothes, my athletic prowess, my popularity with girls?
In the leadership realm comparing/coveting is a huge issue. I have been to more leadership meetings than I care to remember where this was as obvious as the nose on your face and painful and embarrassing to watch.
When pastors from the same denomination, or leaders from the same organization, have their periodic meetings, the “comparing/coveting games” begin in earnest. In most leadership meetings, it is not uncommon to have “Mr. or Ms. Successful” who became the poster child for what I should be like and be experiencing. It usually depresses me. We compare and then covet other’s buildings, budgets, attendance, worship, technology, influence, popularity, blog and web traffic, etc.
Recently I read Acts 20-Paul’s last meeting with the Ephesian Elders. Verse 33 caught my attention, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.” My journal entry for the day read as follows:
“Jesus, to be content with who I am, where I am, what I’m doing and what You’re doing. To covet nothing but a dynamic and anointed walk and work with you. To cling to you and you alone.”
As I have been thinking more on this, here are two other verses that came to mind:
Luke 12:15 (ESV), “Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness”
I Corinthians 4:7 (The Message), “Isn’t everything you are and everything you have sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing?”
Comparing almost always leads to coveting and competing. It is a slap in the face of God. I am, in essence, telling Him that He’s doing a lousy job. It is missing the sovereign hand of God in my life and in my work.
Coveting , not only silver, gold and apparel, but status, popularity, fruitfulness and influence is an acceptable sin in too many leadership cultures, but is disgusting in the eyes of God. Living in a celebrity worshipping culture doesn’t help matters any. Some successful leaders are viewed as “Rock Stars” with their cult-like following.
Whatever happened to godly contentment? Have we as leaders replaced contentment with coveting? Anything you need to confess fellow leader?