Reflections by Jeremy Alger

I am an aspirational guy. I want to be a part of big things. I am a part of the biggest/most important thing on earth (the Kingdom of God). But sometimes I look around at other pastors and get discouraged as I compare myself, my ministry and my success to the successes and ministries of other pastors.
Comparison is not a habit that only pastors fall into. We are all prone to let our minds wander into thoughts comparing ourselves to other people. There are really only two possible outcomes from comparison: discouragement or arrogance (I experience both). We are discouraged when we don’t think we measure up or we get arrogant as we consider ourselves to be better than others.
When I experience discouragement at the success of other people I know that my heart is not in a good place. My mind quickly moves from my own disappointment to resentment of those I am comparing myself with. Feelings of resentment are not welcome in my heart and mind! Everyone is going to feel sad or upset, but to resent someone is aggressive, it desires negative (or evil) for that person. God doesn’t want it in us; we can’t allow our hurt or sadness to develop into resentment.
What I do when I find myself feeling resentment towards someone is pray FOR them. I make the conscious decision to ask God to bless them with good things, more success, etc.
This process reminds me of what Paul wrote in Romans 12:21, “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” He wrote that after quoting Proverbs 25:22 which says, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
The people that I am resenting are not my enemies, and they do not deserve any hot coals heaped upon them. In truth the shame is meant for me. I am the one who has allowed my heart to turn to resentment.
But this passage of scripture reminds me of yet another Bible story. In Isaiah chapter 6 the prophet sees the Lord. Angels are worshipping God and Isaiah says in verse 5, “It’s all over, I am doomed! I am unclean yet I am in the presence of God!” Then one of the angels comes to Isaiah and places a burning coal on Isaiah’s lips and that hot coal purifies his lips so that Isaiah can stay in the presence of God without dying.
When I find myself falling into the trap of comparisons and I am struggling with discouragement which leads to resenting people, I find purification in the process of praying blessings upon those very people.
I am ashamed of my own sinful thoughts, and the burning coals heaped upon me make me clean. I am able to stand in the presence of God and know that I am His and He is mine!
The next time that you find yourself discouraged or even resentful, try to pray for those people that your heart is against. See what God can do as you conquer evil by doing good.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. They meet in person and online every Sunday. For more information please visit