How to Stop Comparisons… In Ministry?

They say the first step is admitting that you have a problem. So here it goes.

I have blog envy.

I was going through some very encouraging Christian blogs this week, reading what they had to say, poking around to see what they did, and reading about some of their successes. God has gifted some of these bloggers with the most amazing gift of writing gab, and I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into their perfectly organized and inviting sites.

But as I explored, was I celebrating the fact that God was using them to touch hearts and lives with His love and His Word? Was I glad for their sakes that God was blessing their hard work with thousands of visitors and a myriad of obviously-enraptured-and-encouraged commenters?

No, I wasn’t. Why? Because my blog is tiny.

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I have been doing a lot of hard work too! We talk about the Bible here too! We want to encourage a community of people who base their lives on the Bible too! So where are our thousands of visitors?

I am ashamed to admit that as I was scrolling through the blogs, even as I was being challenged by them myself, I was turning green with envy.

We talk lots about how to keep envy and comparisons out of our personal lives and that is something that I am working on every day. But how do we keep comparisons out of our ministries?

I don’t think anyone would read this post and shrug at my behavior thinking, “Eh, that’s probably ok…” but do you know what you would have said to me in the moment to straighten me out based on God’s Word? What do you say to yourself when you find that your blog has few readers or that your witnessing ends in rejection or that your Sunday School has few members or that your service to God brings no recognition?

What do we do about ministry envy?

Well, a lot of ministry envy is really just… envy. It’s plain old, every day, run-of-the-mill jealousy showing up in yet another place. It’s the same stuff as what Proverbs 14:30 calls “rottenness to the bones.”

But somehow, ministry envy feels a little different. Sure it’s wrong to want someone else’s house or clothes or car, but wanting the reach that someone else has for Christ? That sounds so much more justifiable!

As I have been fighting this blog envy of mine, I have been realizing something ugly that my feelings say about me. As much as I pray over my posts and Life Along the Way as a whole and as much as I say I want it to be all about Christ, this green-eyed Meredith is proving that I am slowly but surely taking more and more credit for myself.

Ministry is not about success rates or a wide audience or even an audience that is deeply touched by what you say. Those are things that we work for, but in the end, ministry is about service to God.

Colossians 3:23-24 says:

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

What happens in ministry and in people’s hearts and lives happens because of God. It is all in His hands. As Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Our job is to work hard, and it is His job to make growth come from that work.

When we think about it that way, comparisons don’t really make sense. We know that our “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58) and that it’s ultimately His decision as to how the increase will be given.

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It’s like Aslan said in The Chronicles of Narnia — we don’t get to know anyone’s story but our own. It doesn’t matter what God’s doing over there because we know that what He is doing over here is good.

I have a problem. At the heart of that problem is a lack of trust that God knows what He is doing when He doesn’t give me fireworks.

I need to shift my focus, yet again, to a total love for all Kingdom work and to awe at how God loves people enough to reach them in the way He knows is best. Even if that means He is loving them best through the words of a different blogger, I should just rejoice in the fact that God is working in our world!

So to all of my fellow bloggers out there who are writing for the glory of God, isn’t He amazing? Isn’t it wonderful what He is doing through you? I pray that He keeps on doing it for His glory and the benefit of those who He brings to your site.

The same goes to all of you who are serving through your church and in your walk through life. I pray that God uses all of us however He sees fit.

And I will continue to work heartily, just because He has asked me to.

 

Linking up on Thought Provoking Thursdays!

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