I admit it. I am sometimes insecure or uncertain. I wonder how much Kingdom impact our organization is making in the area of special needs ministry. While my nose is to the grindstone, working hard at the journey we are on, I see what other organizations are doing, and this internal struggle as a leader ensues. I observe God using others in powerful ways, and I want to be used, to be recognized by those we seek to serve, at that same level.
If you have never been there as a leader, then don’t waste your time reading the remainder of this post. But if you have, at times, fallen into that trap of comparing your ministry to another’s, then you need to step back and remind your brain why it is so perilous to fall into “The Comparison Trap.” While collaborating or growing together is fruitful in ministry, comparison, often, is not. Here are some reasons you may want to redirect your thoughts when you see yourself falling into that trap of comparison:
- “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NLT) How many times as leaders have we used this verse in the context of including “the weaker parts,” ie those with special needs, in worship and service? We prove ourselves to be fools when we fail to live fully with the realization that even within the area of “disability ministry” or “special needs ministry” there are many types of service. If God has you serving as “a hand” then be a hand. If He has you serving as “a foot,” be a foot. In other words, if running a camp is your calling, then engage in it fully. If working on specific areas of church inclusion is where you are called, be the best at it that you can be.
- When I am busy looking to the left or the right at what others are working on, I do not have my eyes fixed on the work God has specifically called me to do. There is a reason that the Father has called us each to a specific area of ministry, and that area needs attention. We know that God equips those He calls with unique experiences and education to accomplish His good purposes. For example, I can look back to see many, MANY unique pieces that were brought together to equip me for the mission to parents for which the Lord has burdened my heart. Children, not so much. Not that I am a terrible mother to my own children or dislike kids, but I do not have the specific education, training or frankly, the heart pull for serving in the area of children’s ministry. So it is with all of us. Each unique piece of special needs ministry requires certain people to serve in that area as they have been called.
- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” (Colossians 3:23, GNT) When we get off track with comparing our ministry work to others, we have a divided heart. A divided heart is a less effective heart. Our humble act of worship to the Lord entails serving in the area of our calling with ALL our hearts. Face it, answering God’s call to a certain area of ministry is an act of obedience. When I fixate too much on comparing myself to others, I foster a spirit of disobedience by growing that discontent with where The Boss has me placed. Now, that is not to say that we may need to examine our own calling at times, but rather to say that when we are distracted by comparing ourselves to others, we increase jealousy and decrease our effectiveness at what we have been commissioned to accomplish.
- Collaboration with other ministries is far less fruitful when we compare ourselves to them. Comparison leads to competition rather than cooperation. Since I am not called to areas of children’s ministry, I do not compare what I do to those who are called to that area. Therefore, I can collaborate joyfully, feeling grateful for their expertise in an area where I am not fully equipped. That old tendency to compare myself wants to creep in, however, when I see others in our same area of serving parents. In the past, I have seen others who serve in the same areas of ministry, say children’s ministry or camp ministry, compare themselves yielding an ugly, ugly result. Leaders get proud, territorial and ferociously competitive. I don’t ever want to go there! This is utter foolishness in that it ALL belongs to the Lord, not us. And we cannot possibly do all the work ourselves. Until the whole world hears of God’s redeeming grace, there will be more than enough work for each of us to do.
Let me close by saying that avoiding comparison is not the same as failing to consult with others. I think we have much to learn from one another. I really appreciate discovering tools for recruiting volunteers or growing myself personally as a leader. It is tremendously fruitful to ask, “What am I seeing them do that is working for them, and how might I implement that same tool?”.
Being secure with who we are individually in Christ is essential as well. Don’t forget that daily time alone with The Boss! He loves you and has a unique purpose for your life.