If you are like me, you enjoy competition. I get pumped when I can compete in a sport. I grew up playing sports with my three brothers and my Dad. It taught me character, discipline, conditioning, health and more. But the day I hung up my basketball shoes and baseball cleats in college, I entered the ministry field. Success isn't easy to measure anymore. I don't have a shooting percentage or batting average anymore. The pressure is there, but it is different. It is hard to figure out.
It is mental, physical, spiritual and emotional and many times, all at once.
What do we do about this inner drive to compete, especially when it comes to the calling of God?
It is less about me and more about what God does through me. God wants our best but in the context of His strength and His glory being known. Jesus had some competitive disciples in Mark 9:33-35:
"After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
The danger I see is when churches compare with one another. Questions like this are asked, "How many students do you have in your youth group?" or "How many people attend your church?"
Numbers represent people. It is just dangerous when those of us in ministry are comparing with one another.
At the same time, there is a need for a global Christian perspective on the American church.
What do you say to the missionary in Egypt who is seeing people come to Christ in a small, but persecuted church? Are they not successful because they do not have a huge turnout?
I guess my question to myself and to you as the reader is, "What do you call success?"
I believe we should passionately pray for God to change not just hundreds but thousands of lives in our local churches. Why? Because God can do more than we can ever imagine.
My only warning is we should never think of one local church as the king of all churches. We are in this journey together to make disciples of all nations.
Be faithful where God has you. Make each conversation count for the gospel. Teach God's Word as if it is the last sermon you will ever preach. Love your family. Run from lust. Be faithful to your spouse. Pray for your children. Listen when people talk. Love the outcast.
Trust God for the results. Faithfulness is all about how you finish, not just how you start. Faithfulness destroys the need to compare.
What are your thoughts on comparison in ministry? Share in the comments below.