Week 3 | Tuesday
Week 3: What Attitude Does Jesus Challenge?
"Who is the Greatest?": Comparisons
by Janet Nygren
Read: Luke 9: 46-50
49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
- What might the disciples’ argument suggest about their fears and insecurities?
- What does “being one of us” communicate to anyone not belonging in that group?
- How does Jesus’ approach upend typical attitudes toward competition?
- What does it mean for you to be in the “in-crowd” with Jesus?
- Does your heart struggle between priorities like the disciples’ vs. those of Jesus? If so, how do they show up in your life?
- It’s often easier to see where others need to change attitudes before we see it in ourselves. Ask Jesus to show you clearly where your heart could be more like his.
- Does this story reveal attitudes in you that need to change? Can you share them with the group so that we can all pray for one another?
I admit that are many times when I experience apprehension and awkwardness rather than pleasure at welcoming people with whom I am not familiar.
Competitiveness has been an issue for much of my life. I remember competing for grades when I was in school. Terrie and I were competitive. We got to the ultimate in competition when we were competing to be the least competitive😁. In my early years of ministry, I found myself competitive with other churches. I thank God that He has forgiven me. At this stage of my life, I consciously desire to see all churches flourish. As we have participated in “Pray for the peace of Cohoes” with all the churches of the city, the churches of the city have become each others cheer leaders. We have developed what Pastor Wendell Williams called a “Kingdom Mentality”. I desire to fully lay down competition and seek to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Much of my life was marked by being highly competitive in all areas, definitely rooted in insecurity. I was the eldest child of four in my household (although my dad has a daughter by a previous marriage, but that's a different story), but my sister was my mom's favorite, so much so that people noticed it and discussed it with me. We're always trying to amateur analyze our friends, I guess. I'm pretty sure this is the underlying cause of my drive and ambition, so it worked out that I've been able to achieve some important goals in my life.
But after some good Christian counseling, I can see that it was making me unable to rest, physically and mentally. I couldn't accept my identity in Christ. I'm much better now, trying to do each thing I know God has for me the best I can without being too worried about whether it's the best of anyone in my department at work, in my church, or even in my household.
But there are still moments when I'm pretty sure others are chosen for a task or position because I'm simply not good enough. It's a struggle!
When we lived in NJ, the church we were involved in had an inspiring vision to reach the community and grow into a big, important church. There were many good things that happened, but looking back I wonder if we had the wrong definition of "success." In subtle ways, it's easy to want to be "the greatest." Jesus seems to measure success in a very different way. On a personal level, I think I am overly concerned with "looking good" to others. I really appreciate how UCC welcomes everyone regardless of how "put together" they may look on the outside.
An area I struggle with is being humble. I'm working on it. I can argue a point if I think I'm "right". I want to become more like Jesus.
An area I struggle with is being a people pleaser and feeling like I am not enough and thinking that I need to earn everything.