They seem to have it all together: nice suit, well-manicured nails, perfect teeth. They have many stories of growth or success. At ease with God and the world, they’re always on a platform retelling stories mixed with well-rehearsed jokes. Great networker, good speaker, wordsmith, and brilliant at sharing their vision. A little bit aloof, but in a spiritual way.

Maybe in the back of your mind that is the type of leader you wanted to be. Maybe that’s the image you compare yourself to, the image of a successful, driven spiritual leader. Maybe you make comparisons subconsciously. You look at the apparent list of gifts and successes and you just don’t measure up, especially after the year you have had. 

Comparing yourself to others is often unhelpful and discouraging. You may compare yourself to someone who appears to be doing worse than you are, which might make you feel a bit better, but through a false perspective; or, more likely, you may compare yourself to people who seem to tick all the boxes you believe make a great leader and then end up feeling powerless and discouraged.

Sometimes the pressure can come from members of your congregation or network. They might wish you were more like their image of a perfect pastor, or like a leader they once had. They feel they have a duty to make you fit more into their image of what a leader should be, even though there are all types of leader and leadership model. 

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I have experienced that a lot in my life and have had some interesting letters and emails over the years. I’ve concluded that there must be a ministry of discouragement. At every stage of my ministry, people have been keen to comment on what they believe to be my failings. This would quite often happen when I was tired or felt a bit low. I now see these things for what they are: pointless nonsense, not worth worrying about. But criticism can hurt.

We need to reject comparison and any unhelpful criticism and listen instead to what God says. We need to accept that we are wonderfully made and have a unique set of gifts and experiences.

So, remember…

You are just called to be faithful.

You are loved, forgiven and restored. 

You are unique: each of us with a wonderful mix of gifts and callings. 

Your role is to be completely dependent on the Holy Spirit. 

Scripture says…

His master replied, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21)

Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Gods special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Take a few moments to reflect on these verses.

This is the first of Wounded leadership: a four-part editorial series. Check out further reflections in this series:

Wounded leadership: four-part editorial series

Wounded leadership: four-part editorial series

Take some time out to ponder and refocus with these short reflections on leading from a place of weakness Read more
Wounded leadership series: Vulnerability

Wounded leadership series: Vulnerability

Christian leader, your tears are not a sign of weakness — here's why they matter