Hanging by a ThreadXSmall

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. Matthew 12:25

“Divide and conquer!” This ancient strategy is the devil’s specialty. The “roaring lion” devours by division. He loves to take advantage of two golden opportunities to divide:

1) A major setback

2) A great success

Division in Setbacks 

When we’ve had a major setback we naturally look for reasons why we failed. It’s always less painful to look for causes outside of ourselves. “If only so and so hadn’t made unrealistic promises this never would have happened.”

Unfulfilled expectations lead to frustration and disappointment.  “This would never have blown up if so and so hadn’t been rushed into leadership.” “We wouldn’t have failed if so and so hadn’t manipulated us into making this stupid decision.”

Instead of recognizing our own personal contribution to failure, we place blame on others. This worldly way of dealing with setbacks plays into the devil’s hands. It’s a perfect opportunity to divide our ranks and conquer.

Division in Success

The Devil also loves to put a wedge between us at times of great success. Let’s say we’ve had a sudden growth spurt in our congregation. We start to say to ourselves: “Well, it’s about time! We’ve always had the most amazing creative team.” “It’s about time people recognized we’ve got the most cutting edge programs going.” Instead of giving glory to God and acknowledging His grace we get puffed up. And the more we get puffed up the sooner we mess up.

Success causes certain players on the team to think it was their unique and indispensable contribution to the mix that made all the difference. That often leads to discounting the value added by less prominent or less charismatic team players.

Something else can happen as well. Others on the team see that someone else is being praised for their gifts or abilities, while they are being overlooked. Jealousy and envy insidiously creep into the camp. In a congregation, “dog eat dog” is simply changed to “sheep eat sheep.”

If we sharpen our instruments and depend upon God’s grace, there will be success. But beware–our success can lead to our undoing.

Let’s push the envelope and expand the borders of the Kingdom. But let’s make sure that the King gets the glory. Let’s recognize that none of us is a superstar. We’re team players called to “…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries.” (Philippians 1:27, 28)

Have you seen this strategy of the enemy played out in the context of a workplace, sports team or ministry? Are there things you learned in the process? Can you give some tips on how to put “Humpty Dumpty back together again? Would love to hear your comments.

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