women in ministry: comparison

Welcome to a series that is focused on women leaders in ministry. It doesn't matter where you lead. If you are woman, leading a ministry, then this is for you. I want you to know that I am approaching this as someone who doesn't know all the answers nor have I figured it all out. All I know are the lessons I have learned in my short time in leadership. I have been a leader, in some shape or form, for the past 20 years. These roles have included leading a small group, mentoring, leading events and volunteers and leading mission trips. In the Spring of 2015, God called me to a role that would stretch my leadership capabilities to a point of constantly needing Him and that is leading the women's ministry at my church. Thanks for joining this series as we dive into areas of ministry that we might find challenging or alone in dealing with. The premise is to understand you are not alone!
---------------------------------------
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called The Comparison Trap. Feel free to bookmark it read it later but, I will be referencing it a bit here too. 

Have you heard the phrase "Comparison is a Thief"? 

It truly is. It steals so much - our vision, our excitement, our confidence, and our identity. Just to name a few. Women are ranked pretty high when it comes to comparison. Our society enables it too with magazine covers and popularity contests. Even in the church! We have rankings and compare our followers on social media with other leaders. Who gets picked most to host a service or lead a song or be the spokesperson for a particular event? We compare what we are wearing, our weight, our hair, our families and it gets messy. So very messy. 

Comparison has followed me for most of my life. It began in childhood and went with me through teens to young adulthood. I had this need to be noticed and, if I was feeling ignored, I would compare myself to others to come up with my own reason why. 

Here are some examples: 
I'm not pretty enough.
I'm not talented enough.
I'm not skinny enough. 
I'm not as good or as knowledgeable.

Geez. I know kids can tease and bully but, based off those reasons I would tell myself, I was my own worse bully. 

So, when becoming a ministry leader, what was one of the first things I did? I wish I could tell you I waltzed in with Godly confidence, following His lead and with blinders on because I wanted to be 100% devoted to the culture God wanted to create in this ministry. 

Nope.

That's not how it started. Yes, I had vision. Yes God placed some good, solid vision in my heart but, I would still steal glances at other women's ministries. What were they doing? What was their leader like? Why did so many women attend their events and not ours? Why did the leader seem to be sought out for speaking engagements and I wasn't? Why were so many women eager to participate and I had to grapple to find women willing to help? Pretty soon, I was on the verge of dangerously falling into the trap of feeling like a failure. Clearly my ministry was awful and I wasn't a good leader. Who did I think I was anyway? These other women were far more qualified and were doing something that I just couldn't seem to figure out so, I'll just give up. 

Please tell me I'm not alone in ever getting to this point? 

I am here to tell you that you are not the only one to get to this point! 

The minute comparison comes into play is the minute we get in the way of God. It is no longer His ministry; it becomes all about us and what we think we can do. The focus is no longer on making disciples. It becomes which ministry can be the most successful. And, that is not what God wants. It is not His purpose. He wants people; whether it's 5 or 500, to be pursuing Him and seeking Him. 

When comparison enters the scene, it is no longer about pleasing God but, it is entirely about pleasing people. Our purpose gets skewed and it is no longer a ministry or serving opportunity. It becomes a popularity contest and, quite frankly, becomes empty and void of any substance that is spiritually filling. 

I love this quote from Rick Warren.
When you strive to be the person God made you to be, you'll find real meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction. You can't focus on your purpose while looking at other people.
Oh friend, this is so true.

God created each of us uniquely. Our church culture is unique. The culture of women's ministry, at a big church in Chicago, is not going to be the same as a small church in small town Washington. It just can't compare and we have no business trying to compare the two.

What I have learned in my short five years of leading Women's Ministry is that comparing is just not healthy. It won't help anyone and it just needs to stop. The only place we need to go to is scripture, so that we ensure that what we provide for women is theologically sound. The rest? Well, the rest is driven by your culture and who God created to be - how He created you to lead and how He created the women you are ministering to.

My church is a church plant out of a bigger church. We are located about 15 minutes north of the town that the main campus is in. When I first began developing the women's ministry at our little church, I looked at what they were doing at the big church. I tried to duplicate it, almost exactly, for most of what we were doing. Frustration began to set in when I noticed ladies not responding the same way. My comparison began to open the trap I could soon fall into but, I have been there before and recognized the signs immediately. After some time spent with God and seeking what HE would want for our little church, He began to give me some clear vision that would be unique to our ladies. It was exciting and freeing. See, God knows us so well. He knows our inner-wiring and all the intricate components that make us who we are. This is reassuring because when we stop comparing and focus on Him, He reveals these things and guides us in ways that make sense. When they make sense, they are exciting and take us deeper in community with God and help us have confidence in His guiding.

This next year is exciting because, we are completely revamping how we approach various things like our Bible study nights. Because it is God at the helm and us just being us, women are excited. I am excited. Because God created us uniquely and our church culture is unique, we will serve, with confidence as He guides our steps. Ministries can thrive when the only comparing we do is with God's Word. Are we loving others as He loved us? Are we making disciples who make disciples? The decorations and fancy things you do aren't the focus. When all is said and done - are we loving and discipling others?

What have you done to overcome falling into the trap of comparison? Are you there right now? I'd love to hear thoughts. If you are there, share how we can pray for you and so someone who has done this for many years can share their wisdom too.

Comments

Popular Posts