The Reality of comparison

By Beth Holmes

“If only our church had a full-time children’s minister …”

“If only our women’s ministry could find its footing …”

“If only our people would volunteer more …”

The expression “if only” is a great temptation in ministry. If only everything and everyone would line up, then we could do what another church is doing. If only we could convince our people to do the right steps, then we could be like another church.

Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians are so convicting. “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12).

Did you catch that? Comparison is not wise. Look at it this way—comparison is foolish.

Here are three truths about the folly of comparison.

1. Comparison is coveting.

When we desire our ministry to be like, or greater than, someone else’s ministry, we break an essential command of scripture—the command not to covet (Exodus 20:17). God takes this heart issue seriously. He knows that coveting can be the doorway to other sins. Coveting the success of another church leaves us jealous, angry and often unhappy. God wants to protect us from that, and He asks us to be content with what He has given us.

2. Comparison demonstrates a lack of faith.

When we compare ourselves to others, we demonstrate our lack of faith that God can work in our lives and ministries while as He works in the lives of others. God asks us to trust that His plan for our churches is greater than anything we could plan or even imagine.

3. Comparison keeps us from moving forward in the ministry God has given us.

When we compare our ministry with someone else’s ministry, we aren’t focused on what He’s called us to do and may miss the work God has for us. Yet, when we set our eyes on what He’s placed in front of us, we persevere because we know and see God at work before us.

What are some ways we can overcome our tendencies to compare?

1. Have gratitude for what’s been given.

In the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Did you catch that—the little word “all”?

Whether we serve a church of 10 or 1,000 people, whether we lead a thriving women’s ministry or one that is struggling, whether we are the biggest church in town or the smallest, God commands us to count our blessings. I guarantee that every time we do, we will be surprised by all God has done.

It’s easy to count difficulties. Let’s stop and count blessings instead … smallest to the largest. Consider your ministry position. What are you thankful for concerning your church and your ministry?

2. Recognize the Great Commission as our ultimate goal.

What is your goal in ministry? Is your goal to gain Twitter followers or to lead a lost world to Jesus? This is what I think it comes down to. If we spend time comparing ourselves and being prideful about our accomplishments, we are only pointing others to ourselves. If we forget about ourselves and point others to Jesus, it no longer matters if our ministry is the biggest and brightest because we will be about our Lord’s final and greatest command—making disciples of all the nations.

“Go ye therefore” is a command for all believers. How are you pointing others to Jesus today? Are you being intentional each day to fulfill the Great Commission? How can taking the focus off yourself and putting it on Jesus lead you to less comparison and more contentment?

Published June 15, 2017

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Beth Holmes

Beth Holmes is a minister's wife and mom living in Owensboro, Kentucky, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014. After spending a year learning to be brave through cancer treatments, God is teaching her again how to celebrate in 2016. Join her journey at