The Curse of Comparisons and Greener Grass

Photo credit: A classic, typical question at pastor conferences is, "So, how big is your church?" It's one of the things I didn't enjoy about those conferences.

The usual speakers pastored larger congregations, or experienced exponential growth, or some cutting edge feature of ministry. These were the "big guys" of the faith, the successful pastors. They and their churches had big names.

Most of the pastors had churches that ran from 25-200. Often, there was a disconnect of experiences, expectations, and focus of ministry.

Another question of comparison

Another question I remembered as a young pastor came at community gatherings. "So, where did you go to school?"

I didn't get to finish Bible college, though I enjoyed my time while it lasted. I stopped to get a job to support my young family of three. Then, I was drafted into ministry service, so school got put off even further.

The ironic thing, our church became the popular church in town. It still is, nearly 25 years after I turned it over to another pastor to go to the mission field. We had a name in our community.

The other side of comparison

I use to feel bad for fellow pastors of smaller churches in my town. I liked them. I cared about them and saw them as partners in God's kingdom.

But I hated the questions of comparisons and legitimacy. I still do. It's so unnecessary.

I remember the day our church grew to a point where I didn't know everyone's child, occupation, and where they lived. It bothered me.

How could I shepherd the church if I didn't know all the "sheep" by name? My model Shepherd did (John 10:3-4, 14, 27). When the church was smaller, I knew everyone by name, and they knew me.

[bctt tweet="I hate questions of comparisons and legitimacy, they're so unnecessary."]

A culture of comparisons

We live in a culture of comparisons. We compare everything—houses, jobs, incomes, bodies, accomplishments, possessions, appearance, religions, ethnicities, and the list goes on.

Why do we care so much about all these comparisons? It's futile and demoralizing.

The curse of comparisons. It almost makes me physically sick at times. I hate it.

[bctt tweet="We live in a culture of comparisons. Why do we care so much about all these demoralizing comparisons?"]

Alternative to comparisons—contentment

In my early days of ministry service I was a jack-of-all-trades.

I led praise and worship for children and adults. My wife and I oversaw the nursery and pre-school child care. I was a youth ministry leader, and I drew a salary as a janitor.

It was good preparation for pastoral work.

One day, one of the pastoral staff had a frustrating day. He asked me, in his typical sarcastic humor, "What's your purpose for being here?"

My devotional that morning was in Philippians 4:11-12. I was learning to be content in what God had for me to do.

We both laughed about it. He had asked in a joking manner, and I answered with naive sincerity. It resonated for both of us. I wanted to be a pastor like him, and he wanted the contentment I had.

Greener grass or contentment?

The grass is always greener somewhere else. Lot chose the better portion of land, but it was an unwise choice (Gen 13:11-13).

It's always our choice—comparison or contentment.

Q– Where do you struggle with comparisons?

Q– What brings you contentment?

[bctt tweet="Where do you struggle with comparisons? What brings you contentment?"]