Friday, April 25, 2014


Max Lucado shares a story of a decisive battle fought in 1066. 
William, Duke of Normandy, dared to invade England. The English were a formidable opponent anywhere, but next to invincible in their own land.

But William had something the English did not. He had invented a device which gave his army a heavy advantage in battle. He had an edge: the stirrup.

Conventional wisdom of the day was that a horse was too unstable a platform from which to fight. As a result, soldiers would ride their horses to the battlefield and then dismount before engaging in combat. But the Norman army, standing secure in their stirrups, were able to ride down the English. They were faster and they were stronger.

The stirrup led to the conquest of England. Without it, William might never have challenged such an enemy.

Because they had a way to stand in the battle, they were victorious after the battle. 1
Courage to stand in battle is essential to bring victory. The increasing pressures of our day suggest it is time for us to level up in terms of courage.

What challenges do ministries face today? Let me suggest a few. The recession officially ended in 2009, but most folks across the U.S. apparently haven’t received the word. While overall giving is up to ECFA members, the solid increases in giving to larger ministries masks the overall decreases in giving to smaller ministries—you may be serving an organization that sees giving decline each year.

The rapidly changing social climate is also impacting many ministries. Continued threats to reduce charitable giving incentives are troubling to many. You may be experiencing unexpected staff transitions. There are often challenges to find quality board members.  Perhaps there is a lawsuit here or there. The list goes on and on.

Yes, courage is definitely required to lead a Christ-centered organization today!

It is easy to use courageous words. But courage takes more than words—it requires action of leaders in the context of their beliefs. There is an increasing appreciation for words backed up by courageous action—because we are seeing far too many words that are not backed up by any action, let alone courageous action.

Three things happen when courageous leaders stand in battle:
  1. Victory is assured. “Those people who keep their faith until the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13);
  2. Accomplishment is assured. “The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation.”  (Matt. 24:14); and 
  3. Completion is assured. “Then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14).
A courageous leader is eager for the fray. Staff do not want to go to sea with a captain who would rather stay in port.

A courageous leader abhors the status quo, paves the way for change, and brings continuous renewal to the organization.

Courageous leaders make bold moves. “You will never take big hills without making bold moves. The alternative is incrementalism. ... Make a few bold moves, or you’ll breathe your last leadership breath far too soon.”2

A courageous leader sets the tone for integrity at the top of the organization, realizing that integrity rarely starts at lower levels of an organization and works its way up.

A courageous leader bravely pours oil on troubled waters, directly communicating with those who may have been offended.

A courageous leader discerns consequences—is not blindly courageous—looks through the lens of experience and failure … the lens of the future.

A courageous leader is vulnerable, obedient, and humble. “Jesus was so vulnerable that He was perceived to be weak, He was so obedient that He opened himself to the charge of insanity, and He was so humble that He became the object of contempt.”3

A courageous leader does what Jesus did—becomes dispensable, approachable, and touchable.

A courageous leader delegates authority. When Jesus delegated authority to His disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons, He never took it back.

A courageous leader knows when his or her work is done. Jesus knew when His work was done and when it was time to leave. He let go at the peak of His power and counted on the Holy Spirit to fulfill His promises to us.4

Courageous leaders go the distance. The Brazilians have a great phrase for this. In Portuguese, a person who has the ability to hang in and not give up has garra. Garra means “claws.” What imagery! A person with garra has claws which burrow in the side of the cliff and keep him from falling.5

It’s not the gifts we have cultivated, the lessons we have learned, or the goals we have achieved as leaders. It’s about the courage to rely on God (Zech. 4:6).

1    And the Angels Were Silent, Max Lucado, Multnomah Press, 1992, p. 123–24.
2    Axiom, Bill Hybels, Zondervan, 2008, p. 33.
3    Christ-Centered Leadership, David L. McKenna, Cascade Books, 2013, p. 46.
4    Ibid, p. 47.
5    And the Angels Were Silent, Max Lucado, Multnomah Press, 1992, p. 123.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Deficit of Trust and Truth

Trust is difficult to earn, easy to lose, and even more difficult to regain. 
It has been said  “Trust leaves on horseback and returns on foot.” If true, there is no wonder it feels like the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Preakness Stakes have all three been running 24/7 in some high circles in the United States.
As just one example, with disturbing disclosures made in May of this year, the current trust deficit of the IRS is hard to measure. Five nonprofit IRS officials have been replaced—some whom I have known, some with whom I have had private meetings in the recent past, including Lois Lerner—are all gone. Then, there were the extravagant IRS conferences, the line-dancing video, and more. Clearly, trust left the IRS on horseback.
What can we learn from this? If we as Christian leaders desire to be trusted, just saying “trust us” is not enough. We must demonstrate trustworthiness. We must lead organizations in which people can place their trust and be assured that their trust will not be betrayed. 
Trust and truth are inextricably intertwined. People may not trust us even though we tell the truth, but not telling the truth ensures lack of trust. 
The Bible provides the baseline for truth: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (2 Timothy 4:8).  
Francis Schaeffer said, “Today not only in philosophy but in politics, government, and individual morality, our generation sees solutions in terms of synthesis and not absolutes. When this happens, truth, as people have always thought of truth, has died.” And Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
How can Christ-centered organizations be beacons of trust and truth in an environment where these qualities are often lacking? Let me suggest a few principles.

  1. Exemplify truth in all we do—internally and externally. For our organizations, it means truthfully accounting for our operations and ministry outcomes. Exemplifying truth starts with a keen understanding of what is true and false.  

  2. Add clarity to truth. Start with truth and then add clarity. Nowhere is this needed more than in our communications with our constituents, especially with givers and potential givers. There is often a tendency to be expansive in explaining ministry accomplishments. After all, isn’t it all about how much ministry impact we can claim? Fuzziness—or worse, exaggeration—in our funding and other communications can easily turn into lost trust. The concepts of truthfulness in our communications with givers are embedded in ECFA’s stewardship standards. They are increasingly important as givers tend to focus more on ministry outcomes.

  3. Be exemplary in managing resources. One of the key ways we gain trust is how we steward God’s resources. Christ-centered organizations are not unlike the people described in the parable of the talents—we all have different amounts of resources with which to work. Yet, we are all called to steward what we have been given as unto the Lord.  
From the parable, we see that the servants didn’t get to keep the money for themselves. The two successful servants aren’t working for their own increase—they are working for the increase of their master. Their true reward is sharing in their master’s happiness, and their own happiness comes from serving others.
So it is with us. We are stewards of the Master’s money. We don’t get to keep it for ourselves. We are working for the increase of our Master!  
Enhancing trust is what ECFA does. For 34 years, the ECFA peer accountability concept has had a tremendous impact by creating and maintaining trust. But, in the final analysis, it is up to you—up to your organization—to create and maintain an atmosphere of trust with your constituents. May it be said of us: “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy” (Psalm 111:7).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Then and Now

“If ECFA had not been formed, another organization would have been needed to fill its role,” said Lauren Libby, ECFA board member and TWR president.

Still, questions are sometimes asked, such as “Where would we be if there were no ECFA?”; “Why ECFA?”; and “Why does ECFA get to set biblically-based standards for nonprofits in the areas of sound governance, financial oversight and accountability, and stewardship practices?”

To answer these questions, it is helpful to take a brief look at history. Thirty-four years ago, there was no evangelical organization setting standards for sound governance, financial oversight and accountability, and stewardship practices.

Billy Graham and a handful of other leaders had a vision to serve the evangelical community by forming ECFA. They envisioned an evangelical organization which set high standards, accrediting other evangelical organizations. Ministries would voluntarily apply, requesting to be held accountable for compliance with the standards.

The leaders knew that ECFA would not provide integrity to a ministry; ECFA accreditation would be an external reflection of a ministry’s internal integrity.

In 1979, significant questions were being raised about how certain religious leaders were handling funds provided by their supporters. In those days, the media was quick to criticize ministry leaders and extrapolate the misgivings of a few to the entire religious community. Sound familiar? There is generally a similar rush to judgment by today’s media.

Thirty-four years ago, ECFA took a stand on behalf of religious organizations—for self-regulation and against additional government oversight. Today, through the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, ECFA is doing exactly the same thing as it facilitates responses to Senator Charles Grassley on a host of nonprofit tax policy issues.

Commission Chairman Michael Batts said, “ECFA exists to foster a policy of integrity in the form of self-regulation and accreditation without burdensome government regulation. That’s what ECFA exists to do. It is an opportunity to provide meaningful input into these areas that will really make a positive difference for the Kingdom.”

So, what are the differences between then and now? Then, there were no standards for governance, oversight of finances, and the raising and handling of charitable gifts. Then, there was no peer group to accredit evangelical organizations—no standards to achieve and no accreditation of Christ-centered organizations.

Now, ECFA’s standards are a model for the Christ-centered arena and other accrediting organizations. Even the Internal Revenue Service has come to embrace some of the governance principles of ECFA’s standards as their own.
Today, ECFA has a time-tested approach of accrediting Christ-centered organizations and assuring their supporters that they are complying with all of the standards—all of the time.

Today, more and more givers look for the ECFA seal of approval. ECFA helps accredited organizations operate within the ECFA guideposts—think of them as a guardrails or bumper guards. These guideposts allow more freedom to provide ministry within the parameters than if there were no standards to follow.

What was once a dream has become a reality. Today nearly 1,750 Christ-centered organizations, with 1,200 related entities and programs, are demonstrating integrity in that they utilize independent boards, engage independent CPAs for their annual financial statements, avoid conflicts of interest, handle charitable gifts with care, and much more.

So, “Why ECFA?” Because for more than three decades, ECFA has modeled consistent, confidential, and fair application of high standards—many of them beyond the law. The ECFA seal enhances trust of givers, providing increased resources for ECFA accredited churches and nonprofits to fulfill the Great Commission. Christ-centered organizations increasingly want to participate in ECFA’s peer accountability process, so they can show third-party accreditation as evidence of integrity, transparency, and accountability.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Religious Liberty

We are in the midst of an era of religious liberty challenges.

Religious organizations and religious communities are faced with this new reality: The federal government has decided that it can and should define two classes of religious organizations, two kinds of religion, and two degrees of religious freedom. Churches, being inwardly oriented, get an exemption—full protection for their convictions and practices. All other religious organizations, being outwardly oriented on service and not only inwardly on worship, are not exercising pure religion, according to the government, and thus only merit a lesser degree of religious freedom—an “accommodation.” This deeply mistaken conception is the biggest problem underlying the contraceptives mandate under the health care law.1

But it doesn’t stop there. “[T]he deeply troubling contemporary trends [are] for laws and regulations themselves to be less accommodating of religion, and for constitutional interpretive schemes to prioritize other values over religious freedom. If these trends continue, then fewer religion-accommodating rules will be allowed to stand, and then fewer court decisions will end up favorable to religious exercise by individuals or institutions.”2

Some positive news came last year with the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous Hosanna-Tabor decision, upholding the right of religious organizations to select their ministers without governmental interference.3 Consistent with First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom, the Supreme Court recognized that religious organizations should be autonomous in important matters of self-governance.

Since its founding in 1979, ECFA has played a vital role in preserving the freedom of Christ-centered organizations to carry out the Great Commission. ECFA is unique in that it facilitates an environment for organizations in the Christian faith community to exercise self-government and demonstrate appropriate accountability, alleviating the need for burdensome government oversight.

Critical to ECFA’s success in this area are its time-tested standards requiring accredited members to operate with biblical integrity and excellence in the areas of governance, finances, and fundraising.

Especially in recent years, concerns have been voiced by some donors and lawmakers that leaders of certain nonprofit organizations and related parties are abusing their organization’s tax-exempt status by receiving excessive compensation or other unreasonable financial benefits. In response, the ECFA board has just approved an enhancement to ECFA’s existing standards, including a policy for excellence in compensation-setting and related-party transactions. In doing so, ECFA once again takes a leadership role in promoting and upholding the highest degree of ethical standards within the Christ-centered nonprofit community.

ECFA’s history and present activities demonstrate its strong commitment to religious liberty:
  • ECFA’s founding. ECFA was formed at a time when the behaviors of some religious institutions caused concern and distrust with the giving public. 
Leaders in Congress began to question whether they should step in to provide additional government oversight to ensure tax-exempt religious organizations were operating ethically and within the bounds of the law.

Senator Mark Hatfield met with Christian leaders and encouraged them to form a group where interested organizations could demonstrate integrity and accountability to their donors and the government and, in turn, avoid the need for new burdensome legislation.
  • Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations. The Commission was formed in 2011 at the request of Senator Charles Grassley. 
The senator’s inquiry into the financial practices of several media-based ministries raised issues concerning whether new legislation would be necessary to regulate the activities of churches and other religious nonprofit organizations.

Senator Grassley turned to ECFA to address the tax and policy issues raised by his staff’s inquiry. In doing so, he recognized ECFA’s proven track record of self-regulation to avoid unnecessary legislation and preserve religious liberty: “The challenge is to encourage good governance and best practices and so preserve confidence in the tax-exempt sector without imposing regulations that inhibit religious freedom or are functionally ineffective.”4

ECFA formed the Commission and its panels of religious sector representatives, nonprofit sector representatives, and legal experts—comprised of experienced leaders known for their integrity—to provide input on these issues.

In the Commission’s report, Commission chairman Michael Batts commented, “Religious freedom is one of the most sacred freedoms we enjoy in the United States and it must be preserved. Religious and other nonprofit organizations positively impact our society in virtually every aspect of life, and their good work is immeasurable. We cannot allow the behavior of a few outliers in the religious and nonprofit sector to threaten the freedoms of those who are not the problem—those who are doing the good work.”
ECFA continues to play a vital role in preserving religious freedom in this country by facilitating an environment of self-government and self-regulation within the Christ-centered nonprofit community. The recent enhancement of the ECFA standards and the latest work of the Commission demonstrate this ongoing commitment by ECFA consistent with its founding over 30 years ago.

The exponential growth of ECFA in recent years demonstrates that Christ-centered organizations are now more interested than ever in assuring the government and the giving public that they properly steward God’s resources with which they have been entrusted.

1 Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, eNews for Faith-Based Organizations, November 14, 2012.
2 Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, eNews for Faith-Based Organizations, September 11, 2012.
3 Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012).
4 Press Release, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Grassley Releases Review of Tax Issues Raised by Media-based Ministries (Jan. 6, 2011), available at

Monday, October 8, 2012

Doing Well

Ever get tired and want to quit? I certainly have. And, there are certain times in life when we should quit. When we discern what we are doing is not in accordance with God’s plan, we should quit. If we are headed in the wrong direction, we should quit traveling that way. When our “passion has dried up,” as Hans Finzel puts it, “it’s time to go.”

Just tired while doing well? This is not a reason to quit. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9 KJV).

In 1945, Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and be the pioneer to finally break the integration barrier for baseball. Subjected to threats, taunts and humiliation, Jackie could have turned back, but few would have remembered him. For Jackie Robinson and for us, the margin between success and failure is often measured by our perseverance.

These are truly days that try our souls. As I talk to religious leaders, they highlight the increasing opportunities to serve compared with the limited financial resources at their disposal. Believers continue to be committed to supporting local churches and other worthy ministries, yet the impact of the national economy, including high unemployment and low investment returns, is being felt by Christ-centered organizations.

Few are the religious organizations that have not cut staff, reduced benefits, and eliminated programs. These are challenging days with no short-term relief in sight.

Yes, there is a danger of becoming weary in doing well.

John Piper observes, “Almost every one of you can think of something you were enthusiastic about recently, but now the joy is faded. Your first day of vacation on the coast the sunset was breathtaking and made you so happy you could sing. But by the end of your stay you hardly noticed it anymore. Vacationers get tired of sunsets, millionaires get tired of money, kids gets tired of toys, and Christians get tired of doing good.”

But this is no time to even consider losing heart. The Apostle Paul is saying there will be a payday someday. And the charge to keep on keeping on is motivated by the prospect of future reward. As John Wesley put it: “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” In short, don’t lose heart in spending yourself in love.

The prophet Isaiah said it well: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31).

Paul recognizes the direct correlation between persistence and motivation as he urges his readers not to “grow weary” or “lose heart.” John Stott observes that “active Christian service is tiring, exacting work.” So the apostle gives us this incentive: He tells us that doing good is like sowing seed. If we persevere in sowing, then “in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” If the farmer tires of sowing and leaves half his field unsown, he will reap only half a crop. It is the same with good deeds. If we want a harvest, then we must finish the sowing and be patient, like the farmer who “waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it …” (James 5:7).

When will we reap? The harvest will occur in due time, at the appointed season, the proper season, the due season, the proper time in God’s time. The fruit is reaped in the season that follows the sowing, but it is ultimately the time of God’s appointment.

The good news? The law of sowing and reaping will never be repealed.

As Hitler was mounting his attack against England during World War II, Winston Churchill was asked to speak to a group of discouraged Londoners. He uttered an eight-word encouragement: “Never give up! Never, never, never give up!”

When it comes to someone who never gave up, the Apostle Paul is our hero. In Acts 20 he said, nothing moves me. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and get it all done and finish the work Jesus gave me. And nothing stopped him.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul says, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry as we have received mercy, we faint not.” Never get tired, he says. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. We are perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted but not forsaken. Cast down, but not destroyed.” Yes, Paul, is our hero when it comes to doing well in spite of fatigue.

There will be times when we will become discouraged in our Christian service, but we must never, never, never quit doing well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


In my youth, I aspired to be a baseball umpire. Trained by a former minor league umpire, I pursued that aspiration for many years in my free time, umpiring hundreds of games, up to the college level—although not willing to give up my day job for the joy of making decisions on balls and strikes, safe or out.
Like any sport, rules are the backbone of baseball. Without them, the game would quickly turn into chaos. The rules must be so thoroughly understood by an umpire that they are applied instinctively—often in a split second.
Each of us lives by rules. In his marvelous new book, Crafting a Rule of Life, my friend Steve Macchia says “All of us have an unwritten personal rule of life that we are following, some with great clarity, others less knowingly. We wake at certain times, get ready for our days in particular ways, use our free time for assorted purposes and practice rhythms of work, hobbies, worship, vacation, and so on.”
He continues, “Your personal rule of life is a holistic description of the Spirit-empowered rhythms and relationships that create, redeem, sustain and transform the life that God invites you to humbly fulfill for Christ’s glory. Rather than being a set of laws that forbid us to do certain things, a rule of life is a set of guidelines that support or enable us to do the things we want and need to do.”
Just as individuals need a personal rule of life, so Christ-centered nonprofits need a biblical rule of organizational life. As a trellis offers support for a plant, guiding its growth in a certain direction, organizations need to adopt a rule to articulate their intentions (via their rhythms and relationships) and identify the way they want to function best to fulfill their mission.
The word “rule” derives from a Latin word, regula. In the ancient sense of the term, regula or rule meant “guidepost” or “railing,” something to hang onto in the dark, that leads in a given direction, points out the road, or gives us support as we climb.
Christ-centered organizations need a guidepost or railing to ensure consistent practices which glorify God. When financial or other pressures come like a flood, an organization needs to stay the course following its biblical rule of life.
Throughout its history, ECFA has provided key elements of a biblical rule of organizational life. It does this through its high standards in the areas of governance, financial management, and stewardship/fundraising.
While the word “rule” often has negative connotations, following ECFA’s “rule” enables an accredited organization to focus on what it needs to do. It allows it to function with intention and purpose in the present moment. Compliance with the law is a fundamental expectation of Christ-centered organizations. Many of ECFA’s standards go far beyond the law. In turn, many ECFA members have created their biblical rule of organizational life based on these standards, but they have taken their rule to an even higher level.
Could a Christ-centered nonprofit organization follow its own rule that is similar to ECFA standards without being accredited by ECFA? Yes, this is possible. But how does a nonprofit convince anyone it is following these standards if only a few insiders are privy to whether and how the organization complies with its own rule. It calls to mind the old fable about the dangers of the fox guarding the henhouse.
The strong benefit provided by ECFA is its third-party accreditation. The accredited organization is the first party. Givers and others entering into transactions with the accredited organization might be termed the second party. And ECFA is a third party not involved in the interactions of the accredited organization.
It is the third-party oversight of compliance with high standards which sets ECFA apart. When a question is raised concerning whether an accredited organization is in compliance with the standards, an objective decision can be provided by ECFA.
ECFA’s seal, signifying the standards and third-party oversight, sends a strong message to givers, enhancing their trust.
ECFA does not give an accredited nonprofit organization integrity. Organizations have their own integrity based on following their biblical rule of organizational life. ECFA’s biblical rule of organizational life lends its significant credibility to organizations that already have established integrity. The trust of givers is enhanced, providing more resources to carry out the Great Commission. Craft a biblical rule of life, follow the ECFA standards of integrity, and rejoice as your ministry flourishes under the guiding hand of God.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Integrity Slipping

What are the greatest household risks? Some are what you would expect: 460,000 people a year are injured by kitchen knives; manual and power saws account for about 100,000 injuries a year. Some risks are surprising. Got any draperies? Every year, 20 people in America are strangled to death by drapery cords. Some 4,000 of us seriously injure ourselves on pillows.
What is one of our greatest dangers for injury? An issue that tops the charts is the potential for a spiritual 911-type injury is when our integrity slips.
Politicians spin promises, telemarketers scam the elderly, job seekers enhance resumes, repair shops pad bills, and students steal essays over the Internet.
People do these things even though they know the scriptures say: “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight” (Proverbs 11:1).
But, you say, “Those examples do not often relate to Christ-centered organizations. What are some examples that apply to us?”
Having an integrity slip can happen in many ways. Here are two examples.
Integrity can begin to wane when we focus too much on comparing our organization with another.
John Ortberg tells the story of a conversation with two other pastors. One man said to the other, “So, how is your church going?” The pastor responded, “Excellent, we have about 1,000 at our church. How’s your church going?”
The first pastor said, “Well, the Lord’s blessing us all right. We run around 1,500 or so.”
John says, “Then they looked at me. I knew what was coming next. I was working at a church that had 250 attendees at the time. And then a little voice, so quiet I was hardly even aware of it, began to whisper a management impression strategy to me: Say the church has about 300 people. 250 people is really small.”
“Right at the same time, another inner voice responded: What are you doing? You don’t even know these men. Are you willing to trade your integrity, which, when you come right down to it, is all you really have, for the sake of the status you would gain by 50 people?”
Ortberg continues, “So I said we run about 2,000. Not just transfers from other churches, either. Seriously impressive converts—Hugh Hefner, Jimmy Hoffa, the Dalai Lama.”
A related integrity loss chart topper can involve competing. Many of us are driven to compete. Professor Jonah Berger, the James G. Campbell assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business, suggests that people who are slightly behind in a competition are more likely to win than those who are slightly ahead. He found that NBA teams that were down by one point at halftime were more likely to win than teams that were ahead by one point at halftime. It’s all about competing. No sports arena sells a giant foam hand holding up two fingers.
As an author for more than 20 years, I am curious, but not obsessed, about how books written by other authors are selling. As Ortberg says, “My hunch is that Jeremiah never checked out Israel Today to see if he had passed up Isaiah on the nonfiction bestseller list. William Shakespeare didn’t look to see how many copies of his plays Christopher Marlowe sold.”
Our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7). The entire life of Jesus isn’t the story of somebody climbing up a ladder; it’s a picture of someone coming down—a series of demotions. The problem with spending our lives climbing up the ladder is that we will go right past Jesus, for He’s coming down.
People who are servants—humbly, honestly, and joyfully—keep getting revealed as the biggest winners. People who recognize and embrace their smallness keep getting bigger and bigger in God’s eyes.  It’s the oddest scoring system.
So, step up and sign your own non-compare, non-compete agreement. Paul said it best: “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct” (Galatians 6:4-5).