She is sitting quietly in the back row on the end of the isle during women’s Bible study. No one knows that before the teaching begins, she is listening to the Holy Spirit and praying for the power of God’s will to be revealed to each person that sits in the room. She is praying for the speaker, the small groups leaders, and different women sitting around the room as the Spirit of God leads her. And no one knows that among them is a sister who has the gift of intercessory prayer.
Another sister sitting in the middle row has an intense presence as she sits listening to the speaker with her marked up Bible sitting on her lap. Her journal is open and her pen is moving a mile a minute with insights the Lord is flooding her mind with. And those sitting next to her, though they have known her for years, don’t acknowledge that God has gifted her with an understanding of the Word.
Three seats over is another sister who sits concerned for the woman sitting on the end next to the door who snuck in late and seems stressed and unsettled. She has an uncontrollable urge to stop and fully focus on praying for her. She begins praying in her heart and mind and the Lord reveals specific things to pray for that she had no idea about. Unbeknownst to everyone this sister has the gift of spiritual discernment.
Standing in the back, running the soundboard is the sister who has a servant's heart. She loves technology and understands it! She is dedicated and dependable. She shows up hours before Women’s group every week to make sure that the sound system is set up properly. She has a servant’s heart. Other’s might notice, some may not. She feels like she isn’t that important because no one really acknowledges her.
Then there is the teacher, the women’s director. What others see is a woman who seems like she has it all together. And she has this ability to lead! What they don't know is that as she is staying up late preparing handouts for the group, she feels completely inadequate to be leading or teaching and the enemy has pulled out all the stops to try and discourage her. She has butterflies in her stomach every time she speaks. And she needs someone to encourage her. She has friends, but because she is named a leader, others keep their distance or only come to her when they want advice.
What is the Problem, the Struggle?
What all these women struggle with is the same. A fear and an equal desire to be known by others as well as a struggle to live as a team among sisters in the family of God. We have become so distracted while being enslaved in the comparison trap that we cannot live in the freedom of who God made us to be.
We all have experienced the hurt, the confusion, the temptation to fall into the enemy’s comparison trap.
The comparison trap may begin on the surface, with appearance issues like how someone dresses, whether they wear make-up or not, how many children they have or if they work or not. But competition is not always as surfacy as what someone wears. In fact, it is more often what appears to be someone’s reality that we compare to our own.
If we are honest and take a deep look at our most critical moments, I bet most of us would find, as I have, that it is on the days when we have had a personal struggle that we become even more critical of others.
Regardless of what the issue, topic, opinion or conviction is, the enemy is winning in a bigger arena. You see we are in a spiritual battle sisters! If we can’t even get past the surface issues that entrap us in competition, then how can we actually be a team and encourage one another to live out our spiritual gifts?
If we allow outward appearance to prevent us from getting to know our sister’s heart, and being able to acknowledge our sister’s spiritual gifts and edify her in practicing them, not only does the enemy win on a relational level, but he has also disabled the church.
The moment that we cannot see our sister the way God sees her and has created her, as a Daughter of the King, an important part of the Body of Christ with unique gifts, we have allowed the enemy to disable us as a team from fulfilling our greatest calling, to make disciples of Christ!
“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:21-23
Imagine how much more effective the church would be today if we all spoke life toward one another and encouraged one another to embrace who God made us to be and then allowed one another to be who He made us to be in Christ… without competition?!
What is the Solution?
We have to take responsibility for our part in this division. The enemy is prowling around like a lion, tempting us to sin against one another and to sin against our Lord. He wants to confuse us and distract us from our greatest calling collectively. We know we are in a battle sisters, both individually, and collectively as a team as well. We need to link arms and pray for the Spirit to move among the church, for God to heal our hearts and allow us to find our value, our identity in Christ so that we can see our sister the way she is, the way God sees her!
Here are 5 Keys to Preventing Division Among Sisters & Building a New Culture in the Church:
1. Acknowledge there is a Quiet Fight Between Women and Choose to Redeem the Division in the name of Christ. We cannot allow disputable issues to cause division and we must find common ground in solid biblical truths and in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul is very clear in teaching on disputable issues scripturally. Join me in this course to discuss the fundamental issue of the comparison trap, destroying idols, strengthening our identity in Christ, and what the purpose of authentic Christ centered community is.
2. Transform Surfacy Friendships & Kill Hidden Loneliness. Maybe you struggle with feeling like though you have many friends, children who keep you busy, and a healthy marriage, no one really knows you.
3. Be proactive about teaching this challenge and temptation to sin to your children. Read 4 Steps to Help Your Children Fight the Comparison Trap. We all know this comparison trap and attack on our self-worth starts young. We need to be vulnerable with our sons and daughters and teach them that this fight is really a spiritual battle that is bigger than us.
4. Lead a small group study on this topic! We women all know this is a real issue in the church. We have all been hurt by it or contributed to it if not both. The Christian Woman's Guide to Building Authentic & Intentional Friendships would be the perfect study to go through as a group! Learn more here.
5. Take the time to pray for the church, for your friends, for your relationships. Prayer can move mountains.