May 22, 2017

Lead

Collaboration Without Comparison


David Worcester gives some excellent wisdom on how to collaborate with other collegiate leaders without falling into a comparison trap.

If you are reading this article you value learning from other people and their ministries. One of the dangers of living on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook is you are constantly bombarded with how amazing other people’s lives and ministries are.

I’m all about learning from other ministries. I’m all about listing to podcasts and seeing what God is doing through other churches. One of the best ways you can grow is by learning from the ministries that God is uniquely blessing. But there is also danger.

Growing up with a twin brother we had a constant battle with comparison. People would ask us who is better at basketball, skateboarding, surfing or football (all the things that matter in life). Fortunately the question of who is better looking didn’t come up much since we are identical, just don’t ask our wives.

Something we have both had to fight over the years was a temptation to compare and compete. Now we have “twinistries” in California. Paul is at the northern California party school (Chico State) and I’m on the southern California party school (San Diego State), we still have ample opportunities to compare.

You probably don’t have a twin, but the point is many of us naturally look for a “ministry twin” to compare ourselves to. We don’t usually compare ourselves to  people who are obviously way better at what they do or way worse, we usually find someone with comparable skills and opportunities to us.

But the problem with comparison is you always lose.

As it’s often been said, comparison leads to either jealousy or pride. When I see a ministry really “blowing up” I have to fight the temptation to be jealous of their seeming instant success. On the other hand I sometimes have this dark sense of happiness when I see a small struggling ministry, and I am quick to judge what they’re doing.

My pastor Kyle Walters just completed a sermon series on John and finished with the story of Peter & John at the end of John 21. Peter and John were the two closest disciples to Jesus. There is a hint of this competition and comparison among them in the resurrection story. John records he arrived first, but Peter entered the tomb first. After a heart to heart with Peter reinstating him to ministry Jesus tells Peter how he is going to die. John was following them and was probably trying to eavesdrop and Peter basically asked, “What about him?” Here’s Jesus’ response:

“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:22

Our job is to follow Jesus in our calling, not to worry about other people’s ministries. I can imagine Jesus saying to us today…

“If he is having huge numbers at his large group, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

“If he is getting chances to speak at conferences, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

“If their ministry is going through a hard time, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Whenever you are tempted to be jealous of another ministry’s success, I want to invite you to consider Christ’s words: What is that to you? You must follow me.

The Apostle Paul also knew about the dangers of comparison.

“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.” 1 Cor 10:12

Don’t measure yourself by someone else’s calling. Don’t compare your speaking abilities with your mega church “man crush.” Don’t be quick to criticize ministries with different philosophies than yours.

One of the great things about the ministry God gave you, is that he called YOU! He wants to use your passions, gifts, and abilities. He wants to grow you as a leader. That’s why we need to learn from other people, and be challenged by the example of others, but don’t let comparison rob you of the joy of growth.

Celebrating the victories of others is the ultimate cure for comparison.

Instead of being jealous when someone else wins, celebrate with them! After all, we are all on Team Jesus. When one player on the football team scores the whole team celebrates. Apostle Paul is a great example of this. He would often pray for and celebrate with churches he had not even met yet. Actually one of his longest letters was to a church he had never met yet. Here’s how he started his letter to the Romans.

“God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son. One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.” Romans 1:9-11

Do you have this type of love for other ministries? Do you long for their success the way Paul does? Do you long to see other ministries become more successful that yours?

If the Gospel is being spread who cares who God is using? Instead of comparing our fruit with others, let’s get busy harvesting the fields that God has placed us on.

The purposes of this site is to provide tools and ways to help each other in the harvest. Don’t let comparison steal your joy and distract you from your mission. Next time you are tempted to compare remember Christ’s word to Peter…

What is that to you? You must follow me.


about the author

David Worcester


David is the founder and director of Challenge at San Diego State and serves as an Elder at Mission Trails Church near the campus. He is passionate about mobilizing students to share their faith and make disciples. He’s helped develop GospelAppointments.com which is a resource that helps students and college ministers share with others in an intentional and personal way. David just finished his Masters in Theological Studies at Gateway Seminary and now has even more time for blogging about campus ministry, reading, surfing, hiking, traveling, and spending time with his wife Jessica and one year old son Samuel.