SUCCESS and COMPARISION
The demands of ministry are great. When the expectation of performance is constantly beyond our capacity, a feeling of failure grows. We start telling ourselves “I should be doing better”. Sometimes, it’s imposed by the expectations of others. Sometimes, it’s our cultural expectations of success.
In this information age, we have great access to what and how others are doing. And in seeing others “success” we are judged and judge ourselves accordingly.
The result of this judging and comparing means someone is diminished. My antidote to comparison has been reading the book of Acts. I asked as I read, ‘What were the various assignments to the disciples?’ Even the apostles (with the same apostolic gifting as each other) had different commissions—Paul to the non-Jews and Peter mainly to the Jews. It would be completely inappropriate to compare Peter’s and Paul’s success. Philip had a different assignment—run alongside a chariot. By doing what he was asked, he enabled oil to flow and this resulted in a person of great influence meeting Jesus and being baptised. Phillip’s success was in completing the assignment that he had been given.
Was James unsuccessful because he was beheaded? No! Although he didn’t plant churches, the persecution of the church that followed his death caused the spreading of the church. He was successful in carrying out his commission.
Success needs to be measured within the context of the assignment. It is “doing well what is asked of us”. Ephesians 2:10 says “ For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Not all masterpieces are the same. Actually, the more unique, the more special they are. This verse says the masterpiece is deliberately made for a special prepared purpose.
Who is the ‘we’ referred to in this passage? In fact, the passage is written to the Ephesians, and the writer uses the inclusive pronoun. He then explains about the body of Christ we are part of. It is not all about me but all about us!
It is not my performance but our performance. Great comfort and peace in your soul come when you ask, ‘What’s my part to play?’ and then do it to the best of your ability.
‘Where do you feel flow in your life”? Like Phillip, the oil flows when I experience the presence of God in what I am doing. It flows when I am doing what he has assigned me. I find energised focus as I become immersed in his plans. I thrive feeling a great sense of enjoyment.
What is your part and what are we made for? Self-reflect on this and invite others to reflect on it also.
This high challenge requires high skills. Go, you masterpiece, and enjoy the flow.
A helpful book on creating flow is The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations Kouzes/Posner
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