It is interesting that when pastors get together we often ask each other the size of our churches. Usually the question is framed like this: “How many are you guys running on Sundays?”
Why is the size of our churches so important? Why is size the most often used gauge of health and effectiveness? Why are the largest churches and the highest giving churches awarded at denominational meetings?
Why do magazines publish annual lists called “The 100 largest churches in America” and “The 100 fastest growing churches”?
What does this say about us?
Recently at a minister’s retreat I was chatting with a pastor when out popped the question. “How big is your church?” When I told him our average attendance, he responded, “Oh, I thought you guys were much bigger than that.” I left that conversation feeling like I didn’t measure up, and that we should be doing better than we are. Perhaps you have had similar experiences.
Comparison is a struggle most of us have. We do not want to admit it, but we are at least secretly interested in how the church down the street is doing. Comparison is dangerous. When we compare (and compete) with other pastors, our motive for ministry blurs. What once was done solely for God’s glory, now is done for personal reasons.
There seems to be an internal drive in most of us to do something great. We want to succeed. We want to make a difference…in a big way. I don’t believe that is all bad. After all, our mission is called the “GREAT” commission.
Comparison becomes a dangerous struggle as we get our eyes off of our unique calling and giftedness. It becomes dangerous when we feel insecure and insignificant around our peers. It becomes dangerous when we start doing ministry for the wrong reasons.
When our focus becomes more about success than obedience, we are moving in the wrong direction.
I do not know about you, but I want to be set free…free from the trap of comparison. I want to learn from my fellow pastors, but I need to remember I am not in competition with them. I want celebrate what God is doing in their ministry. Their victory is my victory because we are on the same team.
Comparison can be dangerous because it leads to:
• Negativity and criticism
• Loss of true purpose and vision
Remember this: We are not called to earthly models of success. Every community is unique. As missionaries to our neighborhoods, we will find God directing us to ministry that meets the needs of our unique setting.
I am learning to live by three truths. As John 8:32 says, “…the truth will set you free.”
• God has called you to be obedient. What is it that God is calling you to do in your unique setting?
• God has called you to be faithful. Are you consistently sharing Christ, making disciples, and meeting needs in your community?
• God has called you to be fruitful. As we are obedient and faithful, God builds his church. Jesus said in John 15:16 – “…I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”
Question: How have you struggled with comparison? Share your story in the comments below.
If you believe other pastors could be helped by this post, I would be honored to have you share it on social media.
Hi! I'm Loren Hicks. I am follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a friend, and for the past