“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Have you ever heard that quote by Theodore Roosevelt? I find it to be true in my own life, and if you think about it for a moment, I think you’ll find it’s true in yours as well.
Comparison is such a natural tendency for people, and as pastors, we’re not exempt.
Have you ever found yourself thinking about another pastor’s church or hearing from someone how great another pastor’s sermons are? Have you ever found yourself wishing your building was just a little bit more like theirs or that your church had as much money as the one down the road?
Sadly, it’s easy to find ourselves comparing ourselves to other pastors and our churches to others around us. It’s easy to look at other churches and want a competitive edge or to look at other pastors through the corner of your eye, feeling like they’re the competition.
Not only does this comparison and competition steal our joy, it also steals one of our greatest resources: other pastors.
Our lives as the heads of our churches are unique. The way we live, the pressures we feel, our schedules, and our skill sets are all different from any other career or ministry. We struggle with different things; we’re held to different standards; the problems we face are unique to our career path, and hard to understand for anyone outside of our field.
And yet we rarely come together as pastors, seeing each other as competition instead of our greatest resource.
But I wonder what would happen if we did this differently? What would happen if, instead of knowing about the pastors in your town, you got to know them, walking alongside them for the benefit of both of your congregations? I think we’d be much better off.
Here are three benefits to making friends with other pastors:
1. You can share resources and ideas
Just like in any other field, there is great benefit in learning from people who do the same thing as you, only differently. Different pastors have different sets of experience and different skills, and if we come together, we could learn from each other, benefitting from each other’s expertise.
2. You’re not alone
Leadership is isolating. You’re standing in front of your congregation, often alone, feeling things and having to make decisions nobody else has to make. If you were to have some close pastor friends, you would have people to talk to about things that other people often wont understand. It’ll be comforting to know you’re not alone in what you’re going through, and you’ll have some objective outside advice to help you see problems in a new way.
3. You’ll fight off comparison
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to people we don’t really know. It’s easy to compare ourselves to what we see on the outside of someone else. But when we get to know people, we find out that they’re not perfect either, which is a knife to the heart of comparison. When we know who people are and what they struggle with, instead of comparing ourselves to our own idea of their perfection, we’re able to have compassion for them and grace for ourselves as we realize we’re not the only ones who don’t have it all together.
Comparison really is the thief of joy, isolating us, and convincing us that we’re not good enough. When we can get to know our fellow pastors, we’ll be able to put our heads together for the good of our congregations, help each other out, and kick comparison to the curb, allowing joy and grace for ourselves to come flooding back.