Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Jealousy, Envy, Insecurity and the Heart of a Pastor

Jealousy, Envy, Insecurity and the Heart of a Pastor

Jealousy, Envy, Insecurity and the Heart of a Pastor

You’ve felt it.

Someone you know (or follow) is experiencing ‘success’ in their lives and leadership in a way you’re not. Maybe their church or ministry is growing faster than yours, or yours isn’t growing at all.

Or their marriage looks so much happier than yours. Or…they’re married. And you’re not.

Maybe their kids look more together than your kids, or they’ve built the killer team you always wished you had, but don’t.

And deep inside, you feel it.

Sometimes it shows up as criticism or excuse-making (Well, if I had their location/money/building/people I’d be that effective too).

Or it shows up as you questioning their integrity (I wonder what they had to do to get that. Betcha they have zero family life).

Often it just shows up as misery, a sadness that makes you feel bad about yourself, angry about your circumstances and maybe even frustrated with God (Hey…you called me into this. I mean, come on…).

What is that?

Well, it’s at least three things: jealousy, envy and insecurity.

Every pastor and church leader feels them at some level, and if you look at the issues they cause inside us, around us and in our churches, it’s troubling.

If you’ve felt that at all, what do you do with it?

I Guess It’s All of Us

Just know that if you feel these things, you’re not alone.

My last blog post was about that seemingly eternal debate about ‘church growth’ and whether church growth can actually be healthy (5 Hard Truths About Healthy Church Growth).

As I was trying to find an explanation for why this subject is so explosive in many church circles, I quickly wrote this one line.

The line? Someone else’s success should never make you feel like a failure.

Sometimes as a writer, you pen things that you have no idea will resonate like they do.

I didn’t think much about it until I saw that quote show up again and again (and again) on social media. All over the place.

I guess it struck a nerve. A big nerve.

Someone else’s success should never make you feel like a failure.

As much as that’s true, most of us do feel like failures when someone else succeeds. It’s pretty natural to feel that way.

But it’s killing us and our churches.

Here are three ways jealousy, envy and insecurity mess with our lives and leadership, and then a few things you and I can do to get our motivations moving in a healthier direction.

1. Envy Is the Dark Underbelly of Ambition

In my younger days as a leader, there were days and seasons where jealousy and envy would get the best of me.

Why do they have more X than we have?

Why is he more gifted?

And why does she seem so happy? 

And at times, envy would drive me on to do more.

There is a godly side to ambition. But ambition has a dark underbelly too—if it’s driven by envy, jealousy and insecurity.

Strangely (and maybe mercifully), scripture suggests God often even uses our poorly motivated ambition for his glory.