I long for deeper and closer friendships in my life, and I have been grateful for the men who have come into my world. But, often the same men I would want as a closer brother, I can struggle with deep envy of. I am both drawn to them and their gifts, yet at the same time, I am jealous of them.
Their presence can almost feel like a threat.
I can quickly start to measure my life and progress against theirs. I can secretly put a scorecard of my life vs. theirs. Comparing their lifestyle, their athletic prowess, their character, their parenting style, their gifts, you name it.
In the Bible, our first story of two flesh and blood brothers, Cain and Abel, does not go well. Inevitably the jealous nature of our fallen hearts, due to sin, ends with Cain taking all his anger and disappointment into his own hand, and killing his brother instead of trusting God.
Continuing down the family tree, you find Jacob and Esau. There is trickery amongst a brother for that longing to be blessed and validated by the Father. And even after all that, Jacob has a son who is thrown into a pit and left for dead. It is all due to the brother’s jealousy of Jacob. Envy turns to a plan for murder.
When we are not blessed, and not given our identity in our Father, or look to Him, we tend to envy friendships and brothers. And it can get messy.
But the interesting thing in all these biblical stories of brothers, and in today, is the root need is our desire to be blessed and affirmed. Their stories and our stories are a search for that blessing from their Father.
Notice that most of us are not jealous of fathers and mentors, as much as brothers near our age and stage in life? Why is that?
I think, in part, it is because we turn against one another and try to compete.
But God’s affirming and blessing of one man is never in the diminishment of another. He doesn’t give one gift and withhold from another. He might be doing different things, at different seasons, but he can bless all. And he does. It’s not a zero-sum game.
We need to see the gifts of our brothers, and what he has given us as not something we earned. We can’t do something to achieve it. And that is one of the hardest parts to understand. That one man’s gifts could be a gift to us. Because we need each other.
When envy rises, and I can catch it, it is often an opportunity for me to confess, and get in touch with that need in me. Often, when I admit the jealousy, I find that I am letting go, and giving my own need to God. As opposed to hating someone else, I become dependent on my Father to lead me.
Confess your jealousy vs. letting it build up. I can remember telling a friend recently about my jealousy of their writing skills. It was good to release that to them rather than create a divide between us. It turned out that through sharing, it was an encouraging word they needed. And it brought us closer.
As men, we need to be affirmed, spoken to, called into our identity, and loved. And for most men, it is rare to understand that deep need for the Blessing.
We layer it with earning it, achievement, and results to be seen. Hence, why we compete and have envy. We think if we could do or be that, we might find it.
James 4:3 says “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Next time you see a man you envy or possibly want to grow closer to as a brother, be reminded that he is in search of the same thing you are after. And he might not even know the strength he has. He is probably looking for that same affirming word from above.
What if we were to affirm our brothers instead of competing with them?
We can come together as brothers, seeking the Father’s blessing.
Article written by Xan Hood. Founder of the Buffalo Jackson Trading Co. He’s primarily focused on entrepreneurial ideas in concepts with mission and business. Xan has written several books, started a non-profit leadership program in Colorado, and is in development of a lifestyle clothing brand, Buffalo Jackson, bootstrapping the company from the start.