Adventures in Life envy.
No, I am not envious of my employer and mission, Adventures in Life. I am envious of other missions. You know the ones. The bigger ones. The ones that reach more people, do more things, touch more lives, get bigger donations and seem to have arrived.
I first noticed it one day years ago when we were part of a mission week at a local college in Southern California. We had all of our brochures on a table along with a few pictures in Plexiglas frames purchased from Staples.
What we did not have was one of those fancy backdrops common at a lot of conventions. I think that year we had a foam core board backstopping us. What we did not have was one of those fancy tablecloths that said Adventures in Life Ministry, complete with our logo.
We had no fancy web site, no IT department and no free gifts to give away. We also had no stories of thousands of people coming to Jesus around the world through the work of our ministry.
What we did have was a genuine love for the people of Mexico and a hope that with Jesus we could make a difference in the small corners of the world where we believed God had called us.
But I was still envious, as I was reminded last week in Mexico.
Each year we cobble together a small team of medical people to visit the villages where I work in Oaxaca. This year, one of the members of the team was from a large, okay, really large church in So Cal. Last year she was part of a medical team that took over 70 people to treat people in another Latin American country.
I was nervous.
I was nervous because I know there is no way we will ever have a ministry like that. I was nervous because I feared that in comparison to that other ministry, we’d look small and insignificant alongside all the great things that they did.
As we headed out for our first day of ministry, those feelings of envy and inadequacy started to roil inside of me.
It is not unlike the feeling many pastors have when they look at their congregation of 125 people and wonder why they are unable to reach people like Central Christian Church does here in Las Vegas.
Each day we had about 30 people come through our clinics. We treated colds, pain, the flu, and even did a few small surgical procedures. Mostly, we provided people assurance that they were not in serious danger, and we prayed a lot.
Every single patient we saw received prayer, either from us, or from the pastor from our local partner church.
At the end of the week, the woman from that large church came to me and shared. She told me how much the week meant to her and how much she appreciated seeing how our ministry partners with locals and connects people to a pastor and a church.
My heart leapt with joy.
AIL Ministry will never be that huge ministry. We will never have a team of 70 people serving with us. We will never have the bucks needed to spend thousands of dollars on big conventions, and even if we had the money, we’d probably spend in Oaxaca anyways.
Ministry is hard stuff. When you are a single pastor of a small church, or a lone missionary on the field, you live in a world of what if. Envy is one of your biggest enemies. It eats at you from the inside out.
Today, do those missionaries or pastors you know who work in small sometimes under-appreciated ministries a huge favor.
Send them an e-mail, a Facebook post, call them, or send them a text.
Let them know you are in their corner, that you appreciate them, and love and support their ministries.
You will cause their hearts to leap with joy and help strike a blow in the battle against the sin of envy!