“When it comes to ambition and success, we do not exist in a vacuum. Many leaders struggle with notions of self-worth in relation to others. It is so easy to compare oneself with the church down the road, the vicar down the road, the leader down the road.”
-Emma Ineson from Chapter 4, Comparing, in Ambition: What Jesus Said About Power, Success And Counting Stuff
This week in our Lenten book study, we read chapter 4, ‘Comparing.’ In it, Bishop Emma spoke about the potential dangers of comparison, particularly regarding churches.
It is so true. Whether within a denomination or otherwise, relationships between churches and ministers can be fraught, rooted in unhealthy comparison and competition.
It felt so timely, then, that we read this chapter in the same week that we heard the bittersweet news that our dear friend, Rev. Karen Millard, will be ending her time with Squamish United Church to become the new minister at Lynn Valley United. Bitter because we will certainly miss her ministry here – sweet because we rejoice with Karen in this exciting next part of her journey.
I am sure that there will be many opportunities over the coming weeks and months to celebrate, reflect, bless, and offer our gratitude to Karen for all that she is and has done for the Church and the wider community over her 14 years in Squamish.
However, as we read this chapter, I had the gift of reflecting on how thankful I am that our relationship as pastors (and churches) has not been one marked by comparison and competition. Unfortunately, still such a rare thing.
It has taken work and intention, but we have spent the last 3.5 years, I believe, building each other up: collaborating, encouraging, and supporting one another. We have, I believe, put egos aside, and lived, even just a little bit, like that beautiful description of the body of Christ that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 12, “if one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.”
This is a testament to Karen, her faith, leadership and ministry. This relationship of mutuality and support will be, I am sure, an example for me through the rest of my life, both in and outside the Church. And for that, and for Karen, I say…
Thanks be to God!