Well, Margaret, you have pushed some buttons in me — big time — with your competitive Prophet fierceness issue. This has been a horrific battle for me and I am not sure I am in any place to coach you.
Historically my fierce competitiveness was expressed in childhood games. My brothers and I played lots of board and card games and the only way we knew how to play was to go for the kill. We just thought it was normal.
When we boys got married and the young couples got together for Thanksgiving, we would get out the games and go at it. Our wives were horrified at how their good, godly husbands turned into savage creatures over the game boards.
After about the second year, the girls learned to flee the house after the meal so as not to watch us become evil.
Eventually I learned we were all carriers of some impressive predator spirits and we needed to go through deliverance and clean up our lives.
And that began a rough season for me. Everything I was taught was that good Christians were gentle, mellow, kind, gracious and non-competitive. And I experienced a consistent reaction to my vision and competitive spirit.
When I was a pastor, I tried so hard. I would see something that could be done, divide the idea by ten, take the square root, present a corner of a scrap of the idea to my board and they would end up in the fetal position behind the sofa in a catatonic trance over the audacious extremism I was wanting to embrace.
So I received nonstop condemnation for my intensity and especially my competition. It was ALL ungodly and harmful to community.
In that season, I sailed at times and it was a solace for me. I was competitive. Fiercely competitive. Sail boats are not supposed to be able to sail closer to the wind than 45 degrees.
I would drop the jib, raise a jenny, cleat down the boom, go close hauled, get the lee rail wet and get close to 37 degrees before getting knocked back a bit. And it was such a release for me because there were endless combinations of details I could tweak in my pursuit of more and the wind and the waves never got their feelings hurt because I wanted to pinch up a little tighter.
But that was the only place where my competitiveness was welcome. Well, that and playing Pente with Desiree once a year or so.
Since then, I have come to the conclusion that God made me competitive and God likes competitive people and the community doesn’t.
Elijah was pretty intense and focused and harsh and God called him the greatest Old Testament prophet. Enoch was more intense and savage than Elijah and God liked him so much He took him out of here.
John the Baptist was no lovey dovey kind of guy, but Jesus had some mighty fine things to say about him, even though he offended the culture and got his head removed.
I have tried at various times to pull together like minded, intensely competitive people to do something for the King and it has always been a bust.
So I have ended up walking a double life. In public, I am somewhat of a moderately well behaved person — although I still leave a trail of wounded people behind me.
In my personal pursuit of disciplines, in private, I am a bit crazy.
In my willingness to minister to the wounded people of this work utterly sacrificially, I am more than a bit crazy.
And my greatest competitiveness is invested in pursuing the answers that no one else has about certain things in Scripture. But that is done in private.
I look at the current Crossfit craze. On the one hand, it is more about unresolved legitimacy issues than it is about physical fitness, but there are those people who find great fulfillment taking their socially unacceptable competitiveness and intensity and working it out in physical conditioning.
I wish there were a group of people that — intense, committed and competitive — willing to do something for their spirit and the Kingdom that requires that kind of buy in. So far, I have not found them.
So for you, I don’t have a good track to run on.
Begin by coming to terms with the fact that no matter how many people are freaked out by your potential competitiveness and intensity, God isn’t. He made you that way and likes it.
Then look for the areas in your life where you can compete against yourself. Set a record and then try to break it.
And ask God to eventually give you a playing field where all of the passion that is in you for extreme commitment and intense buy-in will one day be released.
That is the best I have for you at present.
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