Thursday, June 08, 2006

HA: Professional Jealousy

I have one thing to say about jealousy. Avoid it. At all costs. I’m talking personal jealousy, professional jealousy, someone else’s jealousy, or your own. It’s just about my least favorite emotion.

Oh, sure, when someone has the poor judgment to be jealous of me—be it my youthful, perky looks or my divine writing style (That’s a joke. You’re supposed to laugh)—it’s tempting to indulge for just a moment. Someone actually thinks I’m worth their jealousy? Wow.

The thrill evaporates when I realize that the unfortunate emotion is making this person miserable, and interfering in a possible friendship between us—or at least a better professional relationship.

Jealousy is often closely connected to pride, of course. But it can be incited with just an innocent comment. Say I’m a struggling mid-list writer who doesn’t know if her next book will sell, or if her latest proposal will be accepted. My best friend is also a writer who has just won a prestigious award. Should she tell me about the award? Or should she keep quiet about it in order to spare my feelings?

That depends on how mature I am. If we’re truly best friends and want the best for each other, she’d better tell me or I’ll be deeply hurt. If we weren’t such good friends, it would be easier for us to meet on the same playing field if I don’t have her sales figures and multiple awards rubbed in my face every time I turn around, especially if I’m struggling.

It helps us to avoid the jealousy of triumphs if we have also been sharing our underbellies with one another. If my friend knows how valiantly I’ve struggled to learn and grow as a writer, and how many rejections I’ve received, how many years I wrote unpublished work before I finally found publication, she will rejoice when I rejoice.

I’ve found that it’s when we open up to one another, share our failures as well as our successes, realize we’re all in this together, and that we’re doing it to glorify God and not ourselves—that’s when we begin to break the power of jealousy.

When I find myself feeling that ugly green monster peer over my shoulder toward a stranger, I go out of my way to make acquaintance with the person who is making me feel intimidated. I learn to care about them personally. And I pray for them.

The power of friendship can break the power of jealousy. Humility can do the same. As I learn to understand my own individual place of service for God, I realize there are certain people who need to read what I write. But there are others who need to read what my colleagues have written. If a colleague has a million readers and I have a hundred, I have to realize those hundred are important to God, too. My service is important to God. I am important to Him.
So why let an unwanted emotion interfere with our true calling? It isn’t all about me. It isn’t about any one person—it’s about God alone.

Whatsoever things are pure...think on these things.

Hannah Alexander is the pen name of Mel and Cheryl Hodde. You can read more about their books at


At 7:50 AM, Blogger Deborah Raney said...

Cheryl, I have found the things you wrote to be SO true. Thank you for expressing them so beautifully. And I pray the Lord will help me take them to heart! I seem to need a reminder every so often. : (

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Domino said...

Thanks for bringing this up. Too many times Christians allow things to keep us separated from each other. This should never be.

When we pray for each other from a heart filled with love, we're putting on steel-toed boots. If I'm praying for your success and you not only achieve it, but you tell me about it, I can jump for joy with you. I won't be worried about getting my toes stepped on or any other kind of hurt feelings.

Funny that Jealousy ends with "lousy"!

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

I have found it easier to express these kind of emotions with my Christian writer friends than with my secular writer friends!


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