John 3:26-29 (NLT)
'So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”
John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.'
In this scripture, John wasn’t rivaling with Jesus, and Jesus wasn’t rivaling with John. Neither of them were worried about what the other was doing, because they were on the same team. They knew exactly what they were called to do. But the people on their team decided to surface the comparisons. I think that’s funny, because even if you’re not comparing yourself to others, somebody at some point will come along to highlight what someone else is doing. What will you do in that moment?
The easy reaction is to begin looking at what other people are doing. What you are doing may be significant and have great influence, but you may fall prey to devaluing that based on what you see other people doing. I find that when the case for your rival is presented, you have two options: you can either respond, or you can react.
I know what it is to react. I am not unacquainted with a little drama at times. When I’m reacting, I start to ask questions like “Is what I’m doing as good as she’s doing?” or “Does what I’m doing have the same amount of influence as that person?” We all do this. We start to go on this journey to try and measure influence, sometimes even going so far as to question our calling.
However, instead of reacting, John had a brilliant response. In that moment, he squashed that spirit of rivalry. I love the way that he did this, as he says, “I know what I’m not.” And then he says, “But I know what I am.”
It’s good to know what you’re not. I know that I’m not a singer as much as I’d like to be; my husband has enlightened me on many occasions that I am not.. My children have also enlightened me... “Please mum, you are murdering this song. Please stop singing.” So I know what I’m not, but I have learned over the years that knowing what I am not just helps me articulate even better what I AM HERE TO DO!
John essentially says, “I’m not the Messiah. I’m the one that’s here to prepare the way for Him.” When you have that call from God, you can live out your calling with such depth of conviction. I see so many people living out what they think is the purpose on their life, but they’ve just taken the purpose of somebody else and tried to appropriate it to their life. That’s not what God’s asked of us. He’s asked us to get our purpose straight from Him, get the word from Him, and then run with that thing with all diligence.
Jesus, the human Savior, literally steps into this scene in the flesh. If I were John I would have been tempted in that moment to just give up everything I was doing, forget my calling, and follow Jesus. Yet because John had received that calling from God, he was not giving it up unless God told him otherwise. He didn’t become one of Jesus’s followers forsaking his calling, he continued to prepare the way for Jesus. He owned His God assignment.
When the case for your rival is presented it’s also an opportunity for you to be unrivaled. I think that we all have the ability within us to actually rise to be women who are unrivaled. It’s easy to be rivals. But I think we all have the ability to step up, to appeal to the higher calling in our lives, and to be those that are unrivaled.
John says something really beautiful in verse 29: “Therefore, I am filled with joy at His success.” We can be really happy and wholeheartedly thankful for somebody else’s calling and purpose on their life. We can be happy for their successes. As women we are each other’s advocates, tasked with complementing and enhancing each other.
The real fruit of leadership in my opinion is measured by the brilliant lives that we lead. When people are flourishing around me, that’s what makes me happy. That’s the success for me. It’s not my level of achievement. It’s actually asking myself: How many people did I raise up with me? How many people did I bring along with me? How many people were able to launch from the platform I set to go even further than I could go? That’s the kind of fruit I want.
About Keira Smallcomb
Keira Smallcombe is known as the Velvet Hammer because of her gift of delivering the truth in love in such a compelling way. As co-lead Pastor of VIVE Church, she is pioneering what a woman in ministry and in leadership can look like. Her preaching and pastoring style can be characterized by her extreme love and care for people, and the culture of honor that she exudes to all people. Her life has been a catalyst to the founding and incredible momentum of VIVE Girl.