The disciples attempted to differentiate among themselves about who was doing the best work for the kingdom. When leaders begin comparing their work, the size of their congregation or the square footage of their building, trouble lurks.
Comparisons are work of the flesh. The Holy Spirit does not lead us to compare ourselves to men.
"He came to Capernaum. And being in the house, He asked them, 'What was it that you disputed among yourselves on the way?' But they kept silent, for on the way they had disputed among themselves who was the greatest" (Mark 9:33-34).
Comparisons come about because men are not comfortable in their own shoes. Somehow, if we can convince ourselves that we are faster, better or bigger than others, then we must be special. Our self-image takes a leap if we find favorable comparisons.
Leaders want to beat other leaders. The competitive nature of a leader can cause unhealthy focus to be placed upon "beating the competition" rather than improving service because it is the right thing to do. Metrics document how great we are.
"He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, 'If anyone desires to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all'" (Mark 9:35).
Serving from the back of the pack doesn't leave much room for comparisons or bravado. The busier we become in serving, the less time we have to study others for comparison.
As I observe future leaders, the marker that matters most to me is their level of service to others. I hope to see them backing up in line not moving forward to be first. Future leaders will display great concern for the success of their team.
If I don't see outward focus on the job, I don't believe it will suddenly develop when promoted to leadership. Young egos can develop into maniacal focus on comparisons.
"He took a child and set him in their midst. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one of these children in My name receives Me. And whoever receives Me receives not Me, but Him who sent Me" (Mark 9:36-37).
It isn't surprising that Jesus chose a small child to illustrate his point. We wouldn't compare ourselves to a child. We would be more likely to focus upon serving the child and contributing to her growth. We don't "receive" someone and then make comparisons.
The moment at which we compare ourselves to others we have chosen the wrong yardstick.
Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.
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