One of the most difficult and consuming challenges of ministry is determining not to compare oneself with others who are kingdom workers for the cause of Christ.
"She sings better than I sing ... why didn't God give me a better voice?"
"His church is larger than my church ... what does he have that I don't have?"
"They have more young families in their church. Our church looks like a veritable graveyard of souls just waiting to be buried."
"Their kids program is phenomenal! Lights ... actors ... a full-blown worship team ... their budget must be enormous. I'd like to see what they could do with our measly budget. I can barely afford new crayons."
Comparison is a thief; did you know that?
Comparison robs today of its joy and productivity.
Comparison reaches its dirty little hands into vulnerable pockets and then removes that which is of enormous value. These valuable commodities were never intended to be owned by the pick-pocket known as "Mr. Comparison" but were always intended to be life-changing gifts given to a world in pain through your daily faithfulness.
When a person spends even one moment of life in comparing his or her significance with that of someone else, a rare and precious gift is lost.
Comparison eats away at one's self esteem like a wicked virus with no known cure.
So what is the antidote to that vicious varmint known as "Mr. Comparison" and his gang of hooligan cousins, "Rival," "Opposition" and "Scrutiny"?
The antidotes to unhealthy comparison have always been and will always continue to be "trust" and "contentment."
"But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Tim. 6:6).
Now, don't misunderstand. It is indeed a healthy spiritual heart that desires a church or ministry that is dynamic and growing. It is a God-given impulse to focus on becoming a man or woman of great excellence as we minister to others.
What is surely disease-ridden is to embrace the false belief that God loves someone more than He loves you. What is absolutely rotten to the very core is to believe that if you owned someone else's giftings, or church, or leadership or budget, that you could do what they are doing.
What is wickedly contagious is to compare oneself with someone who is investing himself or herself in the kingdom of God and to envy them for their apparent success.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6).
At the end of your life, God will not hold you accountable for someone else's ministry or church. He will only hold you accountable for how well you used what He gave to you for use in fulfilling the Great Commission.
And so, as men and women who have been called by the greater God to invest our lives in His unshakeable and eternal kingdom, let's get to the task at hand and refuse to breathe in the germs of account-keeping.
I dare you to roll up your sleeves and keep your eyes on your own field! I challenge you to declare to God and to that rotten bully "Mr. Comparison" that you will serve God with every breath that you take regardless of budget, seeming success or of discouraging numbers.
"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands" (Ps. 138:8).
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released on Aug. 1. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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