Steve Brines – Ahwatukee Student Pastor
Have you have ever forced a smile through clinched teeth when a friend told you they got engaged? Have you ever nodded slowly with fake excitement when your co-worker was offered the promotion? Have you given a weak high five when your sister made the volleyball team? Your next thought may have been, “Why not me?” If this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from “Crab Mentality”.
The truth is, we all tend to suffer from Crab Mentality at times in our lives. This mentality is most evident in the crab community when crabs are placed in a pot of boiling water. If one of the crabs attempts to climb out of the pot and escape their impending doom, the other crabs will pull them back down into the pot. If the crab tries to escape again, he will be pulled down again. At some point, the mob of crabs will lose their cool and attack the crab until he dies. It’s almost as if the other crabs are thinking, “No way man, if we can’t get out of here, you’re not getting out of here!”
If we are not careful, Crab Mentality will creep into our lives and affect our relationships. Too often we are filled with envy and desire for the good things in other people’s lives, or we secretly wish for others to lose the good things they have been blessed with.
Years ago I applied for a ministry job at a church I felt could be a good fit for me personally, as well as my family. After going through a long process of paperwork and interviews, the ministry director told me they were going in a different direction and that I was not the best fit for the openings they had. It’s possible you have had a similar experience.
My initial response was hurt and disappointment. “What do you mean? I’m not good enough? You’re giving the job to THAT guy? You’re making a big mistake!” Thankfully, I was able to move on and see what God had in store for the next season of my life, and it turns out that God knew better than me. If I hadn’t been able to let go and move on, and if that sour attitude had lingered in my heart, it would have been a definite indication of Crab Mentality.
I would have likely wished the ministry would fail without me. Terrible, right?
I would have likely avoided working with them on ministry initiatives. Crazy, right?
I would have likely thought, “If I can’t have that job, I hope the next guy hates having that job!”
As bad as it sounds, it happens. We pull each other back down into the boiling water with our actions, thoughts, and words. It’s a lose-lose situation.
So how do we avoid Crab Mentality? How do we move from a lose-lose to a win-win? All it takes is a simple change in our values, from ME first to WE first. Paul gives us some advice in Philippians 2.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
A crab that values ME first has the selfish ambition to get out of the pot to save his life at all costs. If he makes it out, he never looks back. If he doesn’t make it out, he makes sure he has company at the bottom of the pot.
A crab that values WE first will most likely start by boosting the others out, with the perspective that they are all in it together. He believes that putting others first is actually the best way to help him out of trouble.
The same is true for you and me. There is great power when we live a life marked by humility. It has the power to restore our relationships and unify the Church.
I love how Pastor Andy Stanley puts it.
“We should reek with humility because we wake up every morning and realize that God put us in the place that we are in. You are where you are because in some sovereign way God placed you where you are, and he can take this away any time.”
So, whatever your pot of boiling water is right now, let go of the Crab Mentality and start hoisting others to safety. God has you where you are for a reason. Instead of fighting and clawing your way out at all costs, put others first and see how God meets you in the boiling water.