>James MacDonald hits it out-of-the-park (after hitting me in the mouth and heart!) with this:
“Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Perry Noble, John Piper, Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Rick Warren, Craig Groeschel, Wayne Cordeiro, Andy Stanley, Ed Young, the list goes on and on. Well known pastors, fruitful leaders, each with their own area of exceptional competence, each with an influence and an impact that appears far greater than my own in one or many ways. And those are just a few of the names that come to mind . . . names of people I don’t know or hardly know. Then there are friends whose ministries also exceed my own, Jack Graham, Bill Hybels, Greg Laurie, Jim Cymbala, David Jeremiah, Bob Coy, etc., another long list.
Man I get sick of hearing about these people. Every day they are blogging and writing and preaching and holding conferences, and making an impact and building the kingdom. Hey!!! HEY, Look at me, I’m doing something too! When do I get my name in lights? When do I get my head above the crowd? If we are not careful we can trap ourselves in a game of comparison and even criticism. “Yeah, well he may be reaching a lot of people, but he’s not doing it right,” or “Really? You think that is an appropriate way to talk to God’s people?” Or “I would never be as arrogant, or self-promoting, or compromising, or . . . ?” Here’s how I have slain the dragon of ministry comparison:
1) We are on the same team: Rejoice! Anyone who believes in the necessity of the new birth and the authority of the Word of God is on our team. They may play the game a little different but if we are for the King and the Kingdom we should be able to delight in any wins they experience as wins for the team. It’s a great heart check to get yourself to the place where the blessing of God upon other ministries truly causes your heart joy. Cultivate the capacity to express genuine thankfulness whenever you hear of a fellow servant that is making an impact upon a needy area for Christ. I know I can’t be there, and I am so grateful that he or she is. “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15).
2) All is not as it appears: Reflect! The Bible makes it clear again and again, (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:13) that there will be surprises at the judgment seat of Christ. Big is not only not better; it might not even be blessed by God. The demands faced by high profile ministers can be crushing and we should not allow ourselves to see their roles as more satisfying than they really are. I can honestly say that the bit of fruitfulness I have seen has been as much a burden as a blessing. Beyond that, all that appears fruitful is not necessarily so, and some things that appear less effective on the surface are being greatly used of God. This should cause all of us to examine our own motives and ministries so by God’s grace we can be on the right side of that final surprise. “The last will be first and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16–that verse has always scared me).
3) Jesus Himself is the prize not “success:” Rest Yes, I love to serve but I must always remember that I serve because I love. The great commandment is about being in relationship with God and others, not about bearing fruit or building ministry. I have to continually wean myself off the addiction of ‘doing,’ things for God and on to the dependence of being in relationship with Him. I can’t speak for what others are doing but I know that in the end I want to log my best hours as Mary not as Martha. The goal of ministry is to get people deeper and deeper into a God glorifying, soul satisfying relationship with Christ. I want to be about modeling, enjoying and resting in that as my highest calling. “Be content with such things as you have for He has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
In about 10 more minutes (or so it will seem), we are gonna be standing before Jesus Christ and the words we will be longing to hear are not “Well known,” but “Well done!” Let’s believe that others are going for that too, whether we know their names or not and let’s rejoice when we see others fruitfulness, reflect upon our own motivations for serving Christ and let’s rest in the knowledge that . . . “Promotion does not come from the east or the west, God is the judge, who sets up one and puts down another” (Psalm 75:7).