The Green-Eyed Monster

From One Leader to Another

Robert H. Pierson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.


THE YOUNG MAN David had gallantly delivered Israel from the brash insults of the Philistine giant. Goliath was dead. A smooth, well-aimed stone, whirring from David's sling, put an end to the big man's threats to the armies of Israel. A new star would soon rise among Saul's army.

At first the king was pleased with this unsophisticated youth who wrought so mightily for Israel. "That same day, when Saul had finished talking with David, he kept him and would not let him return any more to his father's house." "David succeeded so well in every venture on which Saul sent him that he was given a command in the army, and his promotion pleased the ordinary people, and even pleased Saul's officers" (1 Sam. 18:2, 5, N.E.B.).*

But Saul's love and appreciation for this new star in Israel was short-lived. "David succeeded so well"—in fact, the youthful warrior succeeded too well for his sovereign's comfort. His newly gained success and popularity stirred new and evil emotions in the king's heart.

"At the home-coming of the army when David returned from the slaughter of the Philistines, the women came out from all the cities of Israel to look on, and the dancers came out to meet King Saul with tambourines, singing, and dancing. The women as they made merry sang to one another: Saul made havoc among thousands, but David among tens of thousands" (verses 6, 7).

Saul's reaction to David's success was instant. When he heard the women ascribing more praise to David than to himself, "Saul was furious, and the words rankled. He said, 'They have given David tens of thousands and me only thousands; what more can they do but make him king?'" (verse 8).

The result? "From that day forward Saul kept a jealous eye on David" (verse 9).

Unfortunately, professional jealousy did not disappear from the earth at Saul's death. It is very much alive in the world today, and upon rare occasions raises its evil head even among the ranks of God's ministers.

It is not easy to see someone else called to the large church that we hoped to pastor, or to see a fellow worker elected president of the conference when we were sure our talents had put us in line for the position. To control resentment at seeing someone else advance when we are passed over takes much of the grace of God.

Professional jealousy is an insidious thing. Worst of all, it does its nefarious work right in our own circle—among our own colleagues. You have never been jealous of the President of the United States or of your congressman. A blacksmith is not jealous of an eminent scientist, nor is a musician envious of a prizefighter. Professional jealousy usu ally stays within its own ranks. An athlete covets the talents of a more successful athlete. An artist is envious of a fellow artist, and—sad, sad to say—the preacher may be jealous of a fellow preacher.

"Envy and jealousy," Ellen White says, "are diseases." And what is more, she declares that these diseases "dis order all the faculties of the being." —Our High Calling, p. 234. A jealous person is a sick person, and that illness is likely to afflict "all the faculties of the being." If this be true, we need to get rid of its baleful effects as soon as possible.

The antidote? Love! The love of Christ for those with whom we serve will sweep away every vestige of jealousy. We will rather glory in the success of our col leagues when Jesus reigns supreme in our lives!

Honestly, now, have you ever heard the green-eyed little monster whispering to you, attempting to create within your heart envy or jealousy toward someone in your circle who had surpassed you, who had succeeded where you had hoped to achieve? Have you ever been guilty of keeping a jealous eye on a fellow worker? If so, then "let the Holy Spirit come in and expel this unholy passion." —Ibid.


From The New English Bible. © The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 1970. Reprinted by permission.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
Robert H. Pierson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

November 1977

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Rocks and Religion

The 1977 Geoscience Field Study Tour

Sermon Outline: "Wanted: Two-legged Donkeys"

Texts: Matthew 21:3; Mark 11:3; Luke 19:31

The Millennium---A Major Theme of American Protestantism

Either society must be warned to repent of its evil ways and be prepared for Christ's personal coming or evil must be eradicated in order to make way for a spiritual millennium.

Marriage and Family: Coming Back

Remember when social commentators were proclaiming the death of marriage and family a few short years ago?

"Quiet Saturdays"

Dialogue at Seventh Day Baptist General Conference

Why Do We Age?

Stooped posture, white hair, wrinkled skin, slowed movement, loss of vigor and vitality. What causes them?

Who Are the Old?

What factors determine when a person is old?

Shepherdess: Don't Ignore the "Special People"

Sponsored by Catherine Dower for the Shepherdess

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All