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Ally or Adversary?

Relationships between female leaders are often marked by competition and contempt. It doesn't have to be this way.

That circle of third-grade girls was truly a “community of being” where we each brought who we were—our passion, our vision, our talents—without fear that we were too much or not enough. We put our minds together to create something bigger than ourselves and then grasped hands as we ran to the playground to share our collaboration with the world. Sometimes, at the end of a long day of ministry, when I am exhausted from trying to prove my worth, when I am desperate from insecurity, or when I am isolated because of my defensiveness, I wonder how I might do my part in bringing that third-grade reality to my current ministry teams. In the past few months, my desire for a circle of female friends in ministry has grown, and I have been more intentional about combating rivalry. Competition has not disappeared, but it has lost some of its power.

7 Ways to Combat Competition in Your Own Heart

1. Admit there’s a problem. Don’t deny or diminish rivalry among women in ministry. If competition remains a “dirty little secret,” repentance, restoration, and redemption won’t happen.

2. Name your hurts. Instead of seething in secret, be honest about how you feel diminished or excluded. Talk through your anger, hopelessness, or sorrow.

3. Own your desires and dreams. Instead of disregarding your hopes or demanding opportunities, pursue your passions with gracious honesty.

4. Wrestle with God. We all have fears and doubts concerning provision, justice, identity, value, and belonging. Don’t take matters into your own hands through competition; bring your questions to God.

5. Create community. It’s not a coincidence that my third-grade group bonded over lunch and at recess. Take time to eat and play with the women you work with.

6. Collaborate. You can uniquely contribute and invite the unique contributions of others. Don’t give into the misconception that mutual reciprocity dilutes your impact; collaboration empowers.

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