I returned home one night from a bridal shower and looked at my house with dissatisfaction. Why did my furniture all of a sudden seem so old? Why can’t I have an updated bathroom? Why does everything suddenly seem out of date? Normally I loved my home, but now my home didn’t compare to the one I just visited. I had fallen prey to the “er” factor.
The “er” factor? Maybe you’ve never heard it called by that term before, but as a leader, you’ve probably had some “er” thoughts—thoughts of comparison that leave you feeling dissatisfied. Maybe it’s not your home, but maybe you’ve said these statements in the past:
- She’s bett “er”
- She’s fast “er”
- She’s smart “er”
- She’s wis “er”
- She’s pretti “er”
- She’s happi “er”
Any of them sound familiar? Consider yourself in good company. Apparently the “er” factor has been around a long time. Just look at the Ten Commandments and find these words, “Do not covet your neighbor’s house.” Ouch. That just got personal.
Comparison can rear its ugly head at any given moment—even as quickly as looking at your social media feed. But, more importantly, comparison can affect your ministry leadership. It’s easy to see what other churches are accomplishing and think less of your own achievements. It’s easy to compare budgets and be discouraged. It’s easy to see that someone else’s Bible study attracts 100 women when you struggle to get 10.
So, how can you eliminate the “er” factor from your leadership? Here are a few suggestions you can practice as you fight the temptation of comparison.
1. When you feel the “er” factor coming on, consider whether you are leading out of contentment or competition.
1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Competition isn’t always a bad thing, but when it comes from a place of comparison, it can be a misplaced desire. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When you lead out of contentment, you will lead with joy that comes from serving the Lord. When you lead out of comparison and competition, you will lead from a heart that is focused on winning praise from others.
2. When you feel the “er” factor coming on, consider whether you are leading out of your own talents and strengths rather than depending on the Lord.
It’s easy to compare ourselves with others and silently think, “I can do that better (catch the “er” factor?).” If that’s a problem for you, take 2 Corinthians 3:5 to heart, “It is not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” When you feel like you aren’t capable of accomplishing the task at hand, turn your dependence on the Lord. Ask Him to give you the ability, the strength, and the knowledge to complete your assignment and rest in knowing that God has equipped you for every good work.
3. When you feel the “er” factor coming on, consider whether you are focusing on the amount of things you can complete rather than focusing on what God has called you to accomplish.
Do you feel you aren’t doing “enough” for the Lord? If that hits a nerve, take a step back and examine your motives. Are you leading out of legalism and a desire to elevate yourself? Consider these words of Paul in Galatians 6:4, “Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else.”
Let’s be leaders who aren’t compar “ers.” And let’s remember that we serve an audience of One—the One who gave Himself for us.
Let me encourage you to check out a new Bible study called Rachel and Leah that deals with this topic. Author Nicki Koziarz has authored both the trade book and the Bible study resource. I encourage you to check it out here.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.