When Ministers Mimic Each Other

C. Michael PattonI know the head of a particular ministry who spends all his time looking at what others are doing. If he finds someone doing something new and successful, he seeks to replicate it. There is no sense of celebration for the success of the other person, and no way he is going to point his audience to another ministry. His only thought is on what he can do to replicate the ideas of "his rival" in hopes of gaining a portion of his success.

"This person has a blog. I need a blog."

"This person no longer wears a coat and tie. I'm no longer going to wear a coat and tie."

"This person writes books. I better write a book."

"This person got a tattoo. I need a tattoo."

"This person tweets and has a podcast. I don't know what those are, but I better tweet and podcast too."

Simply put, there are people who are born, bred, and gifted to stay on the bleeding edge of things, always cutting new grain and finding an audience along the way. Most of us are not like that. Most of us are going to fumble the ball every time we try to catch the pass of others.

Chuck Swindoll—ironically, since I spent a lot of time trying to be like him—once told me just to be myself. "Don't waste your time trying to be someone who you are not," he said. "I did it for years and regret it all. It took me a long time to quit imitating others and allow the Lord to work through me, the way he made me."

So many of us waste so much time trying to be someone we are not. We try to mimic the success of others. Our eyes are continually on what others are doing, not on what God has for us to do. It is an easy habit to fall into. It is easy to justify. It is easy to be envious of others, even in ministry, perhaps especially in ministry.

Sometimes we look to other churches. Jealousy wells up within us as we see other churches experience success. At this point, we often go in one of two ways, both of them wrong. We either try to do exactly what they are doing and mimic their success or we spend our time criticizing their methods. Rarely to we celebrate with them. Rarely do we congratulate them. Rarely are we content with where God has us.

Why do we do this? Why can't we just be ourselves?

You are in no better place than when you are spending your time being yourself. Absolutely, there are many things you can do to make your ministry more effective. But when your effectiveness is determined by a comparison to others, you have dropped the ball. When your imitation of others is forced and unnatural, you are denying the unique way God made you. God wants to use you in ministry, not you as a clone of someone else.

Remember, the body of Christ is made up of many parts. The eye is not the ear. The hand is not the foot.

You are not someone else. Believe it or not, this is intentional.