Wednesday, July 24, 2024
Wednesday, July 24, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCH: The Comparison Trap

HEALTHY CHURCH: The Comparison Trap

There are many obstacles, challenges and traps that a church leader can easily fall into. Hal Seed teaches on several of these in his Pastor Mentor materials, including these eight:

• The “Maintenance-Only” Trap (II Tim. 4:5) — Letting the needs of the church stop you from continuing to build the church,

• The “Heart-Loss” Trap (Phil. 3:7-8) — Letting your work for God destroy the work of God in you,

• The “Vision-Hijack” Trap (III John 1:9-10) — Letting strong newcomers derail God’s vision for the church,

• The “Discouragement Pit” Trap (I Tim.4:15-16) — Letting how you feel about setbacks dictate what you do or how you treat people,

• The “Bitterness” Trap (Rom. 12:16) — Letting conflict harden you, rather than mature you,

• The “Pedestal” Trap (Rom. 12:3) — Allowing the things people say about you to make you think you are more than you are,

• The “Leadership Development” Trap (Eph. 4:12) — Letting other churches supply most of the leaders for your ministry, and

• The “Tradition” Trap (Matt. 9:16-17) — Letting the traditions you build steer you in the wrong direction.

I want to add number nine to the other eight — the “Comparison” Trap (I Cor. 1:11-13) — Looking at others more than looking to Christ and not running your race in the lane God placed you in. Here is a great word for pastors and leaders from Henry Blackaby, “Don’t compare God’s activity in your life with what He is doing in the lives of others.”

It is so easy to compare — even the apostle Peter immediately looked at his fellow disciple, John, after Jesus told him what would happen in Peter’s life and ministry (John 21:20-21). It is quite natural for us to compare our assignments with others, but it is not wise because every person, every assignment and every field is different. Blackaby said, “This is the great temptation of God’s servants: to compare our situation with that of others.”

Thom Rainer said, “Comparing your church to another can be one of the worst things you do as a church leader.” Yes, you should learn from others, but there are far too many variables to look across town and say, “Yes, Lord, thank you for your word to us but what about them?” One of the best things you could do is consider where God is working in your church and talk about what you are doing well, where you need to improve and what steps you should take next in the ministry God has given you. You are responsible for where God has placed you, and He placed you there to be faithful to His calling and direction in your life.

Comparison for the sake of comparison is bad because it takes your eyes off of Him and places them on yourself. You must remain focused by keeping your eyes on your Master, “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of your faith” (Heb. 12:2). Never forget that you are distinctly and uniquely placed in the best place God has for you. Comparison causes the crayon to think he is not sharp enough and the pencil to think he is not colorful enough. The soil is different, the gifting is different and the vision is different, even though the mission is the same.

God adds members to His church as He desires (I Cor. 12:18). God places members and leaders in the church for a particular purpose, His. You do not personally have every gift needed, but He has given you everything needed by placing believers in your midst with the specific gifts needed and they are to be used. If God led a member to your church, then the only reason they should leave is because God has led them away. Pastor, the same is also true of you, and never forget that the key is not your success but your obedience and faithfulness.

Comparison causes you to ask, “Why is their church bigger than ours? How come they do not seem to have any struggles or conflicts? How come they have a new auditorium and ours is so old and showing great signs of age?” Something is terribly wrong in your heart when you are envious and unable to rejoice when God seems to bless another church, ministry or pastor more than you. Henry Blackaby challenges us to “Trust that God’s love is perfect; His plans are always best for you!” Allow God to decide what is best for you and the best place for you to serve Him. Don’t miss the mark of God’s “best” for you by settling for your “good.”

Comparison creates jealousy in your heart and leads to not being grateful for God’s faithfulness in your life and your church. This short-term perspective creates in you a desire to look for “greener” grass but remember, it is usually just as tough to mow if not tougher. The outcome is moving on before God is finished and never being a part of God’s preferred future for the church where He has placed you and called you to lead. Your church needs leaders who are willing to serve for the long haul for God’s glory. Blackaby stated, “There is a real danger in projecting your desires onto God and using your happiness as a gauge for God’s will.”

Stop the comparison trap now because you have your own race to run. Finish well. The truth is that for God to use us at all, in any way, is indeed a great privilege we do not deserve. God knows where you are, and He is fully aware of your challenges. Turn to Him and continue to be faithful in what you know He has shown you to be doing. Paul makes an amazing declaration to King Agrippa in Acts 26:19 (HCSB) when he says, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” For Paul, it was enough to be given any task His Lord and Savior required of Him. May that be our testimony as well.