27 June, 2016

Don't compare, it cripples

Our conference photo: about 120 adults, 70 kids, plus childcare workers.
We're the largest mission in Japan and when we all get together
it is quite a sight.
A great temptation at missionary conferences is to compare. This is the one time you get together with others in the world who are most like you, it is the one place in the world where you seem most ordinary. And it is a place where it is very tempting to compare yourself to others.

It was refreshing to share one lunch with two couples: one who's been around longer than us and the other who are newbies. The advice from the former to the latter was: "No comparison." It was good to hear again. It's something we need to regularly remind ourselves of because otherwise we slip into saying things like this (either to ourselves, or aloud):

  • My Japanese is awful.
  • I'm a second-class missionary.
  • I wish I had better evangelistic skills.
  • There's been no fruit in my ministry for ages.
  • If only I had gifts like so-and-so I'd be okay.
  • What am I going to write in my prayer letter this month? It's still the same-old-same-old, not like so-and-so who's had three baptisms in the last three months.
  • Just look at that missionary family, they seem to have it all together, their kids are bilingual and they're all so talented.
And so on. The temptation to compare is huge. Usually we put ourselves down, but pride can be an issue too.

I know that missionaries aren't immune to this. Last week I came across a excellent blog post from a writer's perspective about comparison. It's very relevant to whoever you are, I recommend you read it if you struggle in this area (and I'm betting it's most of us).
I need not feel threatened by the achievements of others. When I do feel threatened I am not able to encourage or build up others. I am in self-preservation mode and lose sight of the big picture. I am more likely to miss loving God and loving my neighbour the way God wants me to. 
Jenny Glazebrook, from linked blog post.

No comments: