I used to hate projects at school when I had to team up with a group. Group projects made me cringe inside, usually because I ended up carrying the project. There were a few times when I didn’t, when everyone worked hard and carried their own load, but those times were few and far between.
Have you ever worked together with someone and felt frustrated because they finished first? Or because it was like they got their work done and got to move on to something else? Or they completed their part first and got their grade or their bonus or their positive feedback before you did because the part you’re working on is more complicated?
Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 3:8
The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
It’s easy to lose focus when you’re working in pairs or in a group because you start to compare your work with someone else’s work. But you shouldn’t do that, especially in ministry.
I work in a marketing department as a copywriter, so I am involved in just about every single project that my group puts out. We do magazines. We do brochures. We do web content. We do pamphlets, press releases, news articles, trade show booths. You name it; if it’s got any sort of writing on it, I touch it. The ones I don’t look at are the technical documents, but that’s about it.
My part in these projects is usually long and drawn out because I have to get everyone to agree on the way phrase specific product descriptions. The graphic designers have to design it. The coordinator has to make sure everyone signs off. But we don’t all work on it together, kind of like planting and watering mentioned in today’s verse. If you try to water a field before the seeds are planted, you’re wasting your time. But if you plant your seeds, they need to be watered. You can’t move on to the second part until the first part is complete. Kind of like building a brochure in my marketing group; the designers can’t place photos until I write the copy; the coordinator can’t get signoffs until the photos and the copy are in place.
And when each of us finish our part of the project, we can take it easy (theoretically speaking). When each of us finish our part to the best of our ability, we receive our own individual reward.
The same is true in ministry. My church is gearing up for a huge outreach drama that we do every year called Judgement House, and there will be a lot of people working together on my church’s property. I think this verse is important to remember for ministry especially because in ministry it’s very very easy to compare roles. Judgement House is a great example because there are so many facets to it.
There are actors. There are directors. There are tour guides. There are concession workers. There are greeters. There are prayer walkers and security and cleaners and parking lot people. There are the awesome ladies who prepare food for the cast to eat. And every single person is essential. Not one person is more important than the other because we can’t do Judgement House without every person being involved.
But it’s easy for a tour guide (for example) to start thinking that they’re hot stuff. Because they’re visible. Because they’re obvious. Because people see them and notice them. … But I guarantee that Mr. Hot Stuff Tour Guide wouldn’t be able to be a tour guide if the invisible woman in the kitchen didn’t come in early from work to prepare a hot meal for the Tour Guide to eat. And Mr. Hot Stuff Tour Guide wouldn’t be nearly so hot if the invisible prayer walker wasn’t interceded for him, or if the security guard wasn’t helping to hold doors and keep the groups calm, or if the cleaners weren’t helping keep the bathrooms in shape.
See what I’m saying?
No role is more important than another. Everyone works together, or we should. We shouldn’t compare. We are all working for the same purpose, like two farmers working in a field. One is planting; one is watering. Maybe the farmer who plants gets finished first; maybe he gets paid first. But the whole harvest won’t come in until the crops get water. So maybe the farmer who does the watering gets paid later. But both of their roles are essential, and if they focus on the fact that they’re both out in the field for the same reason, maybe they won’t compare each other.
So if you’re at work or you’re in a ministry (like Judgement House) and you’re tempted to compare your job with someone elses? Don’t.
You are positioned where you are for a reason. You have gifts and skill sets that mean only you can do your job right now at this moment. Don’t be jealous of someone else. Don’t be defensive or protective. Just do your job the best you can, and let God sort out the rest.