I am a competitive guy. Come down on Thursdays when I play squash and you can see that for yourself. As I often say with a smile on my face, I am not here to make friends I am here to win. Of course I play for a number of reasons including fitness, fun and friendship. But we keep score.
When Pastors gather together for social and networking reasons this competitive spirit is under the surface. Like farmers enquiring about how much land another farmer owns, Pastors want to know how many people the next guy has in their church. Its natural. At some level it goes to their significance and place in the room. And like a farmer, its not something we normally ask, but we find out somehow.
Its also ridiculous.
This has been happening ever since Paul the Apostle wrote this in 1 Corinthians 3
“4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?
5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.”
There is a number of things here. Paul points out that when we ascribe loyalty to one particular leader, pitting them against each other in some sort of church contest, we are following worldly values, not Jesus values. Both those leaders are serving the same Jesus, the same Lord. They are both preaching the same gospel.
Furthermore those leaders are doing work which the Lord gave them. Like talents, some are given 2, some 5, some 10. The mission, target and focus did not originate with them but rather with the call of Jesus and perhaps their skills, gifting and placement.
When another pastor, leader or church sees significant growth, people coming to Jesus, Churches growing…it is a cause for celebration. We are all actually on the same side. And when we are at our best we are winning, and so is everyone else on our team, the Church of Jesus Christ.