Mercy Christian Counseling
Welcome! I hope you enjoy reading my blog, and I invite you to share your responses with other readers. Comments that use abusive or vulgar language will be removed. Otherwise, you are free to agree or disagree. May God richly bless you today and always! ~ Dr. Susan
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 31, 2021 at 8:45 AM||comments (32208)|
Changing Your Mind
The way you think underpins all your perceptions and impacts your mental health and your destiny. The Bible underscores this as found in Proverbs 23:7: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Invoking the heart in this verse helps us understand that what a person really believes and what he or she says and does may not always be congruent. We often wear a mask to hide our true selves, and this may happen for any number of reasons.
Let me draw your attention to a recent TV ad for a brand of antidepressant. The depressed woman walks around with a little happy face sign that she holds in front of her when interacting with people, pretending that she is fine when she isn’t. Her doctor reassures her that adding another drug to her antidepressant regimen will be the ticket to overcoming more of her symptoms. It’s true that medication can help relieve symptoms, but rarely is it a cure. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing the use of medications; it’s just that they are not the whole answer. Sometimes we need them to help restore us to a point where we can function adequately.
Enter biblical instruction. God knows how much we humans struggle with our internal needs to be loved, to feel our lives have meaning, and to believe that we are enough. God affirms these needs and fills them beyond any measure that any human can provide, any job, any recognition, any award. But to receive the full impact of God’s care, we must align our thinking with His.
He tells us how to overcome the thinking that causes us pain and defeat. One such scripture is Romans 12:2. I believe this scripture must form our foundational value if we are to succeed in changing our mind. It says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
To be transformed in this way means to renew our mind not by aligning with worldly knowledge and philosophies, but by invoking a spiritual renewal through immersion in God’s Word. Yes, you must read and understand what the Bible is saying so that you will receive the truth in your heart. “As he thinks in his heart, so he is.”
Next, if you struggle with persistent negative thinking, God instructs us to replace those thoughts with positive ones. It doesn’t do any good to simply try to stop thinking negatively. Each negative thought must be replaced with a positive one to renew the physical memory tracks of your brain. That is neuroscience 101. You may think you can’t control what you think, but you can. God wouldn’t tell us what we should think about if it weren’t possible for us to do it. Philippians 4:4-8 is a primer in what it takes to replace those negative thoughts:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
God has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:15). But first you must seek Him. Jeremiah 29:13 reassures us with this promise: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
You CAN change your mind. You CAN change your heart. You CAN lift yourself above fear, anxiety, negativity, anger, jealousy, hatred, low self-esteem, self-defeating thoughts, and every other perception that hinders an abundant life.
Seek the Lord. Read the Bible. Implement its teaching. Renew your mind and your life will be renewed. I guarantee it; but more importantly, God guarantees it.
Dr. Susan Haberkorn
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 29, 2021 at 9:40 AM||comments (1833)|
The Rule of Church
Recently a client expressed how phony and guilty she felt regarding her church experience. The gist of the guilt feelings had to do with expectations laid down by church leadership toward church members that my client felt herself at odds with. After more than a decade of membership, my client was feeling the toll of trying to live what felt like a double life. The situation was causing her to doubt her faith and affect her marriage and family. She was frustrated because she could not motivate her spouse to “keep the rules” when she herself was not able to crack the whip due to a new work schedule. It turns out that he disagreed with the rules and avoided them when he could. She came to me seeking answers and relief.
After a short discussion, I realized that my client was struggling with church culture, not biblical instruction. The particular “rule” causing problems for her had to do with the cultural value and expectation that church members would be at church every time the doors were open. She referred to this norm as “three to thrive.” Before she started a new job, she saw to it that her family met this expectation “religiously.” With Sunday work now required of her such that she could not always attend church, she tried to keep her family in compliance with this rule, but to no avail, leaving her feeling frustrated, anxious, and guilty. She was in terrible bondage to the rules of man!
We examined what the Bible says about attendance. Nowhere in the Bible does it lay down a commandment for the frequency of church attendance. It shows that Christians typically met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), and that we are not to forsake assembling with other believers (Hebrews 10:25).
Three to thrive is just one example of cultural norms that are not biblical; there are many others that one may encounter. Most are simply embedded in a particular church’s culture.
Every church develops a specific culture that makes a congregation unique. It is a function of both church teaching and group dynamics. Traditions of the denomination also come into play. Fitting in is important to maintain unity and peace, which are biblical principles (Titus 3:9; Ephesians 4:1-6). However, being fully grounded in the scriptures is needed so that you can understand what is truly biblical and what is merely cultural. With that knowledge, one can make a reasoned choice whether to continue in a particular church.
In my opinion, if non-biblical church expectations are leaving you feeling defeated, guilty, angry, frustrated . . . and if you find yourself feeling judged and rejected because of an inability or unwillingness to meet the cultural expectations . . . it may be time to move on. But before you do, I urge you to speak frankly with your pastor about what you are feeling. It may not be the pastor’s intention to have you feel that way at all.
You also need to ask yourself if your discomfort is grounded in truth or assumption. Many people with certain temperament types just naturally tend to see rejection but this is often only in their mind. That’s why communication is so important. Good communication can help you sort out perception versus reality.
Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection were meant to set us free from the old covenant law, sin, and death. Understanding the cultural norms of your church as compared to scriptural commands is paramount to experiencing healthy church membership. Armed with knowledge of both, you will find peace.
“Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Stand on His promises and truth! Blessings to you!
|Posted by mercycounseling on November 26, 2019 at 7:05 AM||comments (612)|
FROM ADVENT TO EASTER AND BEYOND: THE GOLDEN CORD THAT BINDS IN ONE
For many of us, the Christmas and Easter seasons are separate and distinct occasions. Each season has its own colors, flavors, and traditions. Biblically speaking, however, they represent the beginning and ending of a very brief sojourn on earth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior. Between the two seasons is a longer period of relative inactivity when some forget the Reason for each season. We forget that the two are inseparably linked in a perfect, sinless Life.
As I ponder the life of Jesus in this context, it occurs to me that there is a golden cord that runs throughout:
Jesus Christ, Emanuel—God with us—left His throne in Glory, laid aside His sovereignty for a time, and displayed faithful obedience: “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
To whom was He obedient? To God the Father. He was with God in the beginning, creating and sustaining creation, sharing that Godhead equally with the Father and Holy Spirit, yet obedient to the Father, as Jesus Himself said: “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30)
Jesus’ obedience was a crucial aspect of His sinless life. He demonstrated obedience:
When he went missing at 12 years old and then was found teaching in the synagogue: So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them. (Luke 2:48-51)
When He was baptized before beginning His public ministry: Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
When He was afraid, before His arrest: And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Luke 22:41-42; Mark 14:36)
When He stood silently before Pilate, making no defense, that the will of God might be fulfilled: And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. (Mark 15:3-5)
When dying on the cross, He cried out for our salvation: Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
From conception to death on a cross and beyond, Jesus’ only thoughts were to fulfill the mission His heavenly Father had given Him. His journey from Advent to Easter is why we can say “therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Because of the obedience of Jesus Christ, we also can call God our Abba, Father: And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6)
This year I hope you will remember that Advent and Easter are not discrete seasons. They are eternally linked by the Golden Cord of obedience.
Dr. Susan Haberkorn is a Minister of Pastoral Care and NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor.
|Posted by mercycounseling on November 17, 2019 at 7:30 AM||comments (1546)|
HAPPY (FRENETIC) HOLIDAYS!
The frenetic season is upon us—that time of year between Halloween and New Year’s Day. Some people love it, and some people dread it. Everybody feels the stress. What drives the insanity?
We place tons of expectations on ourselves and we fantasize (obsess) over what we believe are the expectations of others for our holiday “performances,” which include everything from card-sending to gift-giving to meal presentations and even trip-taking during the highest and craziest travel period of the year. There is also the visiting marathon. Oh, and lest I forget, sometimes we also burden others with our expectations of them!
Somehow we are to cram all this extra doing into an already unrealistic daily schedule. If you find yourself caught up in all this and feel your stress level rising, there are certain things you can do to help you get through the season peacefully.
1. Examine the list of expectations you labor under.
2. Prioritize those you feel are non-negotiable, leaving a list of nice-to-do but not absolutely necessary. Eliminate the latter activities for the sake of your sanity.
3. Realize that you do have a choice in the matter, and sometimes we imagine negative consequences for not doing certain things when in reality there will be none.
4. It’s OK to say no.
5. Devote your energy and creativity to the things you really want to do.
6. Own your decisions with positivity and gusto! You’ll be surprised how a positive attitude can energize and refresh.
7. Take care of yourself. Nothing keeps stress at bay like a good night’s sleep, eating nutritious food, and taking a little time for yourself. Breathe deeply and go at your own pace.
You CAN navigate this season with grace. Just give yourself permission to choose your path. My prayer for you is that on January 2nd, you will be able to look back on the season with great joy, rather than relief. Blessings to you!
Dr. Susan Haberkorn is an Ordained Minister of Pastoral Care and NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor.
|Posted by mercycounseling on November 15, 2019 at 8:05 AM||comments (1084)|
SETTING UP YOUR DAY FOR SUCCESS
We humans generally seem to have a low tolerance for the inevitable valleys, challenges, and changes of life. Don’t you agree? Our lives can be 98 percent good, but we zero in a laser-like focus on the 2% not-so-good. That’s because the human brain is wired to look for danger. While this wiring may seem to be hopelessly fixed, neuroscience has shown that we can retrain our brains to focus on the 98% good.
The even better news is that there is a completely free and easy personal practice that will readily accomplish the feat. Interested? It’s so simple you may scoff, but it works!
That personal practice is to begin each day by writing down the things you are grateful for both small and large. Start the list with the words, “I am grateful for.” Take about five minutes while having your morning coffee, tea, or juice—instead of watching the news—and when you are finished your list, read the whole list out loud. Repeat daily until you habitually think about your blessings first thing in the morning.
If you are a person of faith, give thanks to God from whom all these blessings flow. Then simply ask Him to help you meet the challenges of today.
You’ll soon see that this practice sets you up for a very positive outlook, no matter what comes. Your outlook (attitude) is the key to happiness! You can begin right now, even if it isn’t first thing in the morning.
Blessings to you!
Dr. Susan Haberkorn is an ordained Minister of Pastoral Care and NCCA Clinical Pastoral Counselor.
|Posted by mercycounseling on November 5, 2019 at 9:30 AM||comments (1116)|
HOW TO KNOW THE WILL OF GOD FOR YOU
Some years ago, a young Christian man came to counseling because he was trying to discern the will of God about whether he should marry a young woman with whom he was in love. His angst over the matter was truly gut-wrenching. The woman in question was also a Christian. They were both leaders in many activities of their church, very devoted to Jesus, and they were afraid to do the wrong thing. They wanted to know for sure if it was God’s will for them to marry. Their indecision had been going on for many months.
This couple was looking for an iron-clad sign from God. They were so intent on hearing His voice that they heard it in every Christian song on the radio, in every Christian message. Sometimes they heard “yes” and sometimes they heard “no.” Confusion reigned.
Maybe you have wondered about the will of God for you. Very few people today actually hear the audible voice of God. For most of us, it appears as an impression on the consciousness, and we must determine if it is our own will generating that impression or maybe even our imagination. There are even times when it may be demonic influence.
I believe discerning the will of God need not be so anxiety-producing when we fully engage both Christian faith and intellect. A prescriptive scripture for this is Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Following are some steps for you to consider.
Be willing to surrender your will. The first step in the process of discerning God’s will is to be willing to surrender your will to His. This means you must truly want to please God in the matter and be willing to surrender yourself to God’s leadership. This is what “walking in the Spirit” is all about. It is an attitude of wanting to align your desires and behaviors with God’s commands. Jesus sums this up in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done.” (Matthew 6:10)
You must know the character of God and His relationship to His creation (you). God has provided the Bible for this purpose (the renewing of your mind), and He has called preachers to proclaim His Word. Read the Bible with purpose and plan. It is full of information God wants you to know, especially about Himself. Attend a church where the Bible is clearly explained and where the members are conversant in its truth. God’s will about how human beings are to conduct life are spelled out, and you can know God’s will—in a general sense—for what He wants from you. Reading and hearing the Word of God will increase your faith (Romans 10:17) and tune your mind to discern God’s will.
Ask God to reveal His will to you. When you need more specific guidance, do several things.
1) Seek counsel from godly people you know, who have the Biblical background needed. Sometimes God speaks to us through godly people (Proverbs 11:14).
2) Pray. Ask God to show you His will in a specific matter. Pray frequently until you feel sure of His answer ( 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ).
3) Wait. Sometimes God reveals an answer immediately, sometimes not. (Psalm 27:14)
Act on what you believe is God’s will, to the best of your ability. Our God is not a God of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). If you have taken the steps previously mentioned and believe you know what you should do, validate your decision by asking this final question: Is what I want to do in alignment with the teachings of God as revealed in the Bible, and do I have a sense of peace?
Finally, remember these words from Galatians 5:19-25, for they reveal the context of the heart in all matters: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, [murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
As for that young couple—eventually they married and are now living happily and blessed with children. Thanks be to God
Walking in the Spirit, may you know God’s will today.
Dr. Susan Haberkorn is an ordained Minister of Pastoral Care and NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
|Posted by mercycounseling on November 4, 2019 at 8:10 AM||comments (1077)|
DEAR CHRISTIAN PARENTS:
Do you love Jesus? Do you teach your children to love Jesus?
I’ve heard it said that we are always just one generation away from Christianity disappearing from the earth. Thank God that can never be true! The Lord has promised the “the gates of hell” will never prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18.
Even so, many Christian parents are failing the Lord, the church, and their children in the matter of Christian child-rearing. They seem to have an attitude (and many say) that there is no need to bring up their children in the church; they think it’s ok to say that the child can decide later. So they don’t prioritize assembling with other believers and teaching their children Bible stories. They don’t pray with their children or spouse. How then, will their children develop a saving faith? This attitude specifically violates a powerful exhortation to “train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22:6).
Like it or not, children learn to value (or not value) what their parents demonstrate as valuable. This includes not just Christian education, but also parental authority. It’s shocking to me how many parents let the kids run the household, most specifically regarding whether the family attends church. A child indulged in this way is on the road to hell and it is the parents’ fault.
Dear Christian parents: you have a God-ordained responsibility to raise your children to love Jesus and to love His bride, the church. Please make it a priority.
Dr. Susan Haberkorn is an Ordained Minister of Pastoral Care and NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor.
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 9, 2019 at 7:15 AM||comments (2590)|
The Prickliest Topic in Christianity
Part One: Than Came Grace
It came to me in the still of early morning darkness, as I roused from sleep. A question floated into my consciousness, a gentle whisper: Why are you willing to spend $20 on lunch with a friend, but you only put $10 in the offering plate at the church you are visiting? As I mused on this, I didn’t feel shamed or guilty, but I realized it was a valid question I needed to consider. Tithes, offerings, and gifts—they’re all relevant to the question—and these became the subject of my inquiry.
To tithe or not to tithe, that is the disputed question.
The concept of tithing belongs to Old Covenant law. When God brought the 12 tribes of the children of Israel into the promised land, he divided that land among 11 tribes; but for the tribe of Levi no land was given. Levi was the priestly tribe, and because there was no inheritance in the land for them (thus no way to make a living), the Lord commanded that all the other tribes contribute one-tenth (a tithe) of their increase to the Levites for their living and so that they could make the offerings mandated by law. The Levites, in turn, were commanded to give a tithe (one-tenth) of their income to God’s treasury. (Numbers 18:26)
The tithe was mandatory under the Mosaic law, but are Christians bound by it? The answer is “No,” as supported by New Covenant scripture.
With the New Covenant entered a new High Priest—Jesus. He is not of the tribe of Levi but was born into the tribe of Judah. No such commandment was ever given under the Old Covenant to give tithes to Judah. (Hebrews 7:14)
Under the New Covenant, giving is indeed encouraged; but when to give, to whom to give, and how much to give are left to the discretion of the giver. Most notable among these scriptures is Paul’s recounting of the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). In the early church the people were described as living a communal life, selling all their possessions and laying the proceeds at the Apostles’ feet (however, this was not mandatory). Then the wealth was distributed to each according to need. Ananias and his wife Sapphira colluded to sell their land and keep back part of the proceeds but pretended they were giving it all. Peter confronted them for lying to the Holy Spirit and they both were struck dead. Here are the words of Peter that punctuate the notion of free-will offering:
“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)
In the New Testament, the word “tithes” is only used five times, and it appears only in the context of Old Covenant giving. The concept of mandatory tithing is converted to a system of voluntary giving, as the word is changed from “tithes” to “gifts and offerings.” This makes complete sense! Under the Old Covenant, there was no guarantee of eternal salvation. The people were shackled under a system of works that had to be repeated again and again. God demanded of them their tithes. But under the New Covenant, God guarantees eternal salvation by offering a gift—His Son, Jesus Christ—who died for our sins and rose from the dead to pave the way for us to live forever. It is through faith in Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. We no longer have to give, we only have to receive. This is grace!
Part Two: Substantive Realities
Being freed from the law in Christ, then, there is still much to consider about our pattern of giving. Note especially 2 Corinthians 9:7,
“Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.”
What Paul is saying is that no one should give because he feels coerced or because he “has to.” There is no “has to” anymore. Rather, we are free to give because we want to; and this is pleasing to God. As always, God is interested in your heart, not your pocketbook.
Coerced giving leads to many kinds of sin. If you give begrudgingly, your heart will not be in agreement with the action. You, however, may not feel free to express your disagreement. This leads to passive-aggressive behavior in which you allow anger or fear to fester, causing you to live a lie. The one(s) who coerce you are also sinning, because they have broken one of the great commandments: love your neighbor as yourself. Arm-twisting manipulation is always a sin.
Setting aside these negatives, let’s go on to consider a fact: it takes resources to support the church. Even if a few people meet in someone’s living room as a house church, there will be expenses. To my thinking, keeping a right conscience toward your church (and God) includes contributing to keeping the church going.
In closing, I want to encourage you to take time to meditate on this prickly, though important topic. Why do you give the amount you do? What are the emotions you feel concerning it? Are you able to give freely and joyfully? If not, why not? If not, how can this be resolved?
The decision to give and how much is yours alone. Whatever you do, just own it. Is not the money in your own hand? (2 Corinthians 9:7) God has blessed you with the right to choose how to spend your resources. I pray that you will honor Him not only with your hand, but also with your heart.
|Posted by mercycounseling on July 6, 2019 at 8:55 AM||comments (6483)|
Stressing Out Doesn’t Make You a Bad Christian!
We’ve all been there. Feeling so stressed that we are practically paralyzed. Blowing our cork over things that normally wouldn’t merit much attention. Not sleeping. Rushing around. Not eating right. Crying jags. Wanting to run away or simply hide under the covers and not come out.
As Christians, this often leads to feelings of failure and guilt over the “ifs,” “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.” After all, if we have faith, we should be able to overcome anything, right? We shouldn’t let the pressures of the world steal our joy, right?
Give yourself a break and stop beating yourself up. Even towering biblical characters had melt-downs from time to time. Moses, Elijah, even Jesus.
Overcoming stress means you must evaluate your situation and correct those things that you can. Are you doing too much? Step back from some responsibilities (i.e., learn to say no). Remove ungodly influences from your life, if any. Take time to eat healthy food, not junk food or fast food. Make room in your schedule to rest and sleep. Talk to a Christian counselor to help ground you in objective truth.
Take time to pray and believe your prayers are heard. The Lord will strengthen you just as He did Elijah, Moses, and Jesus. He will not judge your weakness. Rather, He will shine a light on a path to healing. He will send others into your life to help you get through it all. Trust Him. You were never meant to have all the answers and all the solutions. He does. Pray without ceasing.
Remember that Jesus said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He is the great carrier of burdens and light-bearer of truth.
In the midst of turmoil, He will never leave you nor forsake you. Even when your faith seems to fail you, He never will. Remind yourself of that when things get tough and keep reminding yourself. Victory is at hand.
|Posted by mercycounseling on January 11, 2019 at 9:20 AM||comments (1191)|
IS YOUR MARRIAGE A COMPETITION?
Susan A. Haberkorn
NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor
Americans love a good competition. In fact, it seems to be central to our corporate identity. We compete for the best deals, for jobs, for the glamor of the spotlight. We root for our favorite individual and team athletes. We compete at home, at work, at school, and at play. Even our economy is based on competition.
The good promise of competition is high achievement, but the downside of competition is that whenever someone wins, someone else loses; and it isolates and leads to an excessive focus on self. No where is this downside more destructive than within marriage and family.
God has provided His framework for marriage and family that excludes competition and selfishness. He provides Himself as the sovereign authority, the husband/father as the head of the home, the wife/mother as partner to the husband/father, and the two of them together as authorities over the children. This is not a popular notion of family hierarchy today; but when it is executed in accordance with the instructions of mutual love, respect, and grace outlined in the Bible, it is a very elegant and orderly system that brings security and peace to all family members.
If your marriage and family are frequently mired in turmoil, could competition be the culprit? Husband, are you loving your wife as though she were part of your own body? Do you lead your family with gentleness and guide them in devotions and prayer? Wife, do you treat your husband with respect and allow him to lead? Do the two of you back one another up in all situations, or do you undermine one another’s authority and character? Do either of you side with a child or other person against the other parent? Do you make each other compete with someone or something else for your time, love and attention? If any of this rings true for you, your marriage is being destroyed by competition. If so, you can turn it around by returning to God’s original plan. You may need the help of a Christian counselor to guide you. Some pertinent scriptures are listed below.
1 Peter 3:1-7
Here is what marriage competition looks like:
And here is what God's plan looks like: