When I was growing up, I loved to dance. Actually, I still do. When I was fourteen years old, there was this one move in particular that was really difficult to master. It was called the “Kid N Play”. Ok, if you don’t know what this move is, stop what you’re doing right now and look it up.
You back? So, isn’t that a pretty cool dance move?
My best friend and I practiced all the time and I finally nailed it! I thought I was something special. I did the Kid N Play when I walked to the dinner table. I did the Kid N Play to go brush my teeth. I did the Kid N Play as I walked to the bus stop. I wasn’t too shy about showing off this newfound talent.
My friend, on the other hand, could not get it down. She would come over after school and I would show her how to put one foot in front of the other, shuffle out to the side and kick to the front. She practiced again and again, and I was so happy to be the one to teach her. I tried really hard to help her get the move and she took my instruction as if she were on Dancing With The Stars, and I was Julianne Hough (one of my favorites).
It was all fun and games until the day I got the call. It was around 4:00 in the afternoon and I hadn’t been home from school for too long. I remember standing in the living room with an afternoon snack in my hands. “Hello?” I said. I could hear the excitement in her voice as she said, “Shanda!!! I did it! I just did the Kid N Play!!”
Wait. What? How dare she!
I tried to sound happy for her but there was disappointment in the pit of my stomach. It was all fine and dandy when I knew something she didn’t. It was all good when I was the instructor and she was the student. But now, she could do something I could do.
And what if she does it better? My disappointment took on another feeling … jealousy. Her words haunted me all night long.
What did I do? I just made my friend an equal, and that wasn’t o’kay with me.
I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, Shanda. You are so mean!” Listen, I was only fourteen, but that experience taught me a lot about friends and competition. I don’t know what it is about friends and competing with each other, but it’s real and it breeds jealousy, and jealousy is the root that kills relationships.
I am a word person, so I often look them up even if I think I know what they mean, and every time I am surprised at the depth of the true meaning of a word. Compete means “to strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same.”
Aren’t those strong words? And if we relate them to friendship they become an oxymoron.
How can we be someone’s friend if we are competing against them to be the best?
In the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 16, we meet King Saul who was suffering from mental anguish. The only thing that brought peace was David, who played the harp.
Saul brought David into his home and verse 21 says Saul loved David greatly. But if you keep reading to chapter 18, after David defeats Goliath, he becomes the captain of the army and very successful. Saul’s jealousy begins to grow.
In verse 8, the Bible tells us Saul became very angry and he was very displeased. Why? All because of a song.
David was a mighty warrior and the people recognized his strength. The ladies sang, “Saul has killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands.” Saul said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed only thousands.”
From that day on, Saul’s love for David diminished while his jealousy took control. Saul eventually sought to kill David because he couldn’t cope with David’s success.
What do we do when we’re jealous of a friend?
We know we’re not supposed to be jealous of one another, right? But isn’t it easier said than done? Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:4, “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a person’s envy of his neighbor (friend). This is all vanity and grasping for wind.”
Competing with one another comes from our own jealousy of our friends. Galatians 5:26 says, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
So, how can we be genuinely happy for others when they excel, are successful, or are rocking a cute outfit?
I have a few tips to share with you, but do not think for one second I have mastered this in my relationships. I am always checking my heart and my thoughts and bringing them before the Lord.
First, be interested in others. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility, count others more highly than yourselves. Let each of you look not to his own interests but also to the interests of others.”
Here’s something I always try and do … I ask the people I’m with how they are before I tell them how I am. We want to talk about ourselves first, but don’t. I used to. Trust me!! I used to talk about my favorite person in the whole wide world all the time … Me!!
But I stopped. Be genuinely interested in others.
Second, celebrate one another’s accomplishments. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.”
Why can’t we be happy when someone else succeeds? It doesn’t mean we’re not successful. And if we can’t, that’s a problem we need to take to the Lord.
When my friend called me that day to tell me she mastered the dance move, I should have been genuinely happy for her. My sour attitude showed a flaw in my character and commitment as a friend.
Last, but definitely not last at all because there are so many things we can do to better our relationships with others … show love. Do you know Jesus tells us there’s a way to show everyone we belong to Him? It’s by the love we show one another.
John 13:35 says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s that simple. The book of Proverbs has many, many verses on friendship, but there’s one in particular that I hold dear and it says, “A friend loves at all times” (Prov 17:17).
Love is one of the ways I measure true friendship.
I’d like to leave you today with a challenge. This won’t be easy because it requires we keep ourselves in check. In all of your relationships, evaluate yourself.
Do you think of others better than yourself or are you competing to be better? Is there jealousy in your heart towards others, or are you genuinely happy for them when they succeed?
If we can answer those questions and take a good look in the mirror, we will begin to have better relationships because we choose to put others before ourselves. Trust me, it will come back to you because if you are the kind of friend you wish to have, you will get the kind of friend you wish to have.
And, if your friend calls and tells you they can do something you can do, take it as a compliment. There’s no form of flattery better than someone who aspires to be like you!
I want to personally invite you to join my facebook group. Every Monday, I go LIVE with short devotionals. Each week, we pray for each other and encourage one another. Just scroll down to the bottom or go to the LINKS. I hope you’ll join us!
To order on Amazon