It all started innocently enough.
A young bride starts planning her wedding. She asks her two sisters to be her bridesmaids.
Everyone is excited.
But deep down, there is jealousy and resentment in the heart of the bride. Listen to how she describes her two sisters:
My eldest sister Maggie has always been the disciplined and serious one. She’s a high school music teacher and everyone loves her. She’s always had this air of smug about her, like she’s got the world figured out. She was deadset jealous that I was getting married before her, I could tell.
My younger sister Charlie is fun and flirty. All guys fall in love with her but she complains that they don’t take her seriously. She’s an artist and children’s book illustrator who works from home. She says she never wants to get married.
And then, how she describer herself:
Both of my sisters are gorgeous. I mean, stunning. I always felt like Jan Brady in the middle – I wasn’t as hot and popular as my older sister and I wasn’t as cute and fun as my younger sister. I was just Penny in the middle. But I found a man who loved me for me and I couldn’t be happier.
So, "Penny" (who details her sneaky plan), decides that she will do all she can to be the center of attention on her wedding day.
She first picks her bridesmaid's dresses: neon yellow. She told her sisters she was going for a 'party look' but deep down she said she was thrilled that the dresses made her sisters look 'washed out and slightly ill'.
But that's not all. She started making her sisters a special breakfast 'smoothie' every morning. She told them that she wanted them to be healthy and fit for the wedding so she was using a special weight loss powder in the smoothies. (In fact, she was using a weight-GAIN powder she had found at a local fitness store.) All the while, she was making hers with coconut water and fruit.
The plot worked. Both sisters needed to have their dresses altered before the wedding. And the bride looked great.
That's a nasty story.
But this 'fattening up your sister' story happens a lot in the church.
It's called covering your butt.
Sometimes we call it 'throwing someone under the bus'.
It's really a way to put the blame on someone else... to make someone (other than yourself) look bad, while you come out looking like a pretty, slim bride.
Perhaps you've been thrown under the bus. (Most ministry people I've talked to have been run over a time or two.)
But maybe... this week... you're the driver of the bus. Outwardly nice and following all the rules. But behind the scenes, ever so manipulatively and slyly, working a situation that makes you look good when someone else fails.
Deep down, we know when we're doing this to someone else.
It's time to soul search.
Do you need to re-align your relationship with another staff member? Here are some questions to ask yourself today:
- Do I secretly wish for this person to fail?
- Am I willing to help this person so that they DON'T fail?
- Am I setting myself up to be the savior when they DO fail?
We've got to stop 'fattening up our sisters' on our church staff teams.
And it starts with you.
And it starts with me.