What to Do with Jealousy in the Online Space

One of the downsides of the digital space is that it can breed jealousy because there’s so much in-your-face evidence of what others are wearing, eating, drinking, driving, flexing, earning, spending, flying, vacationing and generally doing with their lives that we forget about how content we were in the five minutes before we saw it online. This results in us feeling so little gratitude for what we have.

Where this can really show up is in our ministries. Though few people like to admit it, there is such a things as ministry envy. Just typing it out sounds so wrong, but I’ve been in this space for long enough to know the piercing sting of the green-eyed monster’s stare. And I’ve had to mute an account or two to keep my own eyes fixed on Christ, the author and finisher of my faith.

So, if we feel called to minister in this space, how do we commit to what we’ve been commissioned to do, while avoiding the pull of envy?

The Invitation

Well, within every emotion lies an invitation. So, we must ask, what’s the invitation when we experience jealousy?

I believe when it comes to our jobs, our ministries and our calling, jealousy presents us with the invitation to reconnect with our purpose.

Why do you believe God has called you to specifically minister to the group of people to whom you’re ministering? Why has he placed you where he’s placed you? I can almost guarantee you it’s not to be in competition with someone else in a similar ministry. If God has called both of you to the same ministry, it is to reach different people, shine light in different places, represent different needs or provide alternative voices.

The Body Has Many Parts

I Corinthians 12:12-27 expresses it best, saying,

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

Dig Deeper

So, whenever you feel tempted to lean into the jealousy you’re experiencing, ask yourself, what is the invitation. When we lean into jealousy that’s been left unchecked it morphs into covetousness, which the Bible warns us against because of the way it can manipulate our hearts. However, if we lean into the emotions and vulnerabilities that jealousy is trying to reveal, we will dig deeper to understand our longings for something we once had, something we’re aspiring towards or something more like purpose.