Tuesday, April 10, 2007
That !@#$ Dalmatian
The megachurch had their big Easter show Sunday and was reported to have 6000 people show up. I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t jealous. Competition and comparison was something that ate at me like a nest of termites in the walls of an old house. I knew they were in there, hidden out of sight to the visitor, but occasionally if I’d lean in close enough, I could hear their destructive movement and gnawing. I don’t know how prevalent competition and comparison really are, because they are two issues not easily discussed among colleagues. Who do you talk about your problem of comparing yourself to the performance of other pastors? Certainly not with the guy you compare yourself to. That’s kinda like a guy asking a girl to forgive him for his lust problem. What’s she supposed to do about it? The counsel I was given over the years all seemed to center around a core belief that results don’t matter, which is usually the source of comparison. The little guy looks at his labor and holds it up against what the big guy is doing. Then the little guy is supposed to simply say it doesn’t matter. I’m just not that spiritual. It does matter what I do. It does matter what fruit I bear. It does matter to what I have to show for my labor. So why does ChristianMan try and talk me out of it? In order to pay my way through seminary, I worked as a gardener for some rich people near our school. I had one lady give me pretty much carte blanche over her yard. I could plant whatever flowers I thought looked good for the season. She even gave me her credit card to purchase the necessary plant material. It was a good gig. Until the day the Dalmatian showed up. Her goofball husband bought an equally deficient puppy for her for Christmas. To cut to the chase, the !@# dog proceeded to tear up everything I ever did in the yard and garden. It frustrated me to no end. I told her “Sheri, you can either have a dog or a garden, not both,” but she didn’t heed my advice. Her reply was to just go buy and plant more. But part of what I loved about the job was to look back on my work and admire its beauty. I took pride in what I did in making her house look well kept, and in doing so, making her very pleased. The dog thwarted this desire, and the job was never the same. I continued to serve her, but the joy was gone. But if that was a ministry job, I would be told that I shouldn’t care whether or not the dog digs up my work. I’d be chided with a statement like, “It’s not about you.” I would be made to feel guilty for taking pride in what I accomplished. So what am I to do with the longing to have my best to offer? How do you turn that off? Even the successful guy can’t revel in his work. I would be willing to bet that at the big megachurch show this weekend, the 6000 sets of ears heard some kind of downplay of all the work that went into getting to that point. I’m not ready to act like results don’t matter. I just don’t want those results to rule over me.