by John Tuttle


The first time my son successfully stole a soccer ball from me and started happily down-field I caught him from behind and knocked him down. Like that time in my life, not all skills being passed from father to son occur seamlessly. Personal pride and pride in a son can sometimes be in conflict. It is the same with spiritual relationships.

The first time I met with a younger pastor and he refused to simply call me John, I left angry. Later I realized that there was a generational gap that would not allow me to be a viewed as a big brother instead of a father. There are even times now when young families introduce me to their children as “papa,” as in grandpa. “Papa” generally lacks ferocity and strength in its understanding. What do you do when your ministry begins to take on the role of Dad or “papa” to spiritual sons and daughters? What should one think when younger ministers of strength begin having significant victories? What if they have more victories than “papa”?

I want to focus my thoughts on the issue of jealousy. Jealousy is ugly at any age. At the very time when we should celebrate and pour into others, it leads us to react with anger and bitterness. This principle is revealed in Saul’s anger after David’s slaying of Goliath (1 Samuel 18:6-8). At this point in the story, Saul’s confidence was flagging because he had been promised that the kingdom would be torn from his hands while David’s confidence was soaring with the promise that he would be king.  What was unknown to both of them was the timing when these promises would be fulfilled.

Twenty-five years ago a guest minister at our church used the text, Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands.” I had never preached from that verse and perked up with interest at his choice. I am still chewing on the implications of that message. These are the truths that I see out of this story of Saul’s jealous response.


1. It is God’s prerogative to choose who will conquer and who will receive exaltation. David declared, “the battle is the Lord’s.”God is the one who gives victory:He exalts one and humbles another. Our preoccupation with who receives credit reveals fractures in our own confidence in God.

2. Having our advice rejected is not always a bad thing. David rightfully refused Saul’s plan. Saul offered his kingly equipment but David saw that it didn’t fit.  New vision often requires new ways. Furthermore, at times we over extend ourselves by offering advice for battles that we haven’t fought ourselves.

3. The victories of others are a benefit to us. David’s victory extended Saul’s reign. Saul could have chosen to be happy and rejoice in the continuation of his kingdom.

4. Warriors can win battles but kings must win wars.One victory does not signify readiness to reign.Carrying a bloody head around as your trophy to all who will see is a short-term activity. It shows the excitement of winning a battle but is not the sign of kingly rule.

5. Potential recognized is a call to investment. Saul saw David’s potential as a threat to his security rather than an opportunity to invest in the next generation.

6. Our insecurities and failures can be magnified by another’s victory. Saul’s failure to step into battle left an opening for another to be God’s implement of deliverance. Saul was head and shoulders taller than all others in the kingdom. He was the natural choice to take on the fight. His fear was exposed by another’s bravery.

Saul also had glory issues that were further revealed in this incident. After one of his victories, he built a monument to himself. His preoccupation with receiving credit was a hindrance to bringing glory to God.

7. Happy exaggeration by the saints and excessive celebration by the victor is not a reason to react in fear. Saul was being honored but the focus of joy was rightfully given to David. The honoring of one person is not necessarily the dishonoring of another.The saints are not the final voice in validating what we do. God is.


There is a time for handing over the battle. The transition for most Dads in recognizing their son’s strength as exceeding their own is not a simple transition; especially if strength has been part of one’s glory. Questions come to mind. Will they continue to respect my authority? Should I just quit? There is a right time to let them be stronger than us.

In ministry, similar events occur. What happens when one of your “sons” becomes a better speaker than you or more gifted in soul-winning, healing or administration? It is important that older leaders see a young warrior’s victories as good, celebrate their gain and invest in their continued training for greater exploits. Jealousy will not achieve kingdom goals. A young man’s victories do not make another leader useless or obsolete. Rather, God has challenges and victories to be won for saints of every age. Sons” and “Daughters” are not our competition but our glory!


John Tuttle is the Sr. Pastor at Water’s Edge Church in Marquette, MI.

2 thoughts on “7 Things Spiritual Fathers Should Know About Jealousy

  1. As one who has mentored for the past 30 years, this article is deeply insightful and a strong reminder of the pitfalls and joys we face as leaders and mentors of younger men…as we find ourselves aging! Awesome – thank you.

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