The conference talk.
The newest book.
The church down the street with the budget/staff/facilities you envy.
Pay attention to them at your own risk. You should ignore them completely.
It was the summer before my freshman year and I got called up to the varsity summer league baseball team for a weekend tournament. Mostly because it was the end of the summer and half the team was on family vacations, but I had arrived. At least that’s what I thought as my mom drove me to the field.
When I stepped on the diamond though I realized I was way out of my league. These older guys might as well been professionals because the best I could do was not make a fool of myself. I left that day pretty discouraged. I couldn’t see myself ever competing at this level, even though in a year or so I would be.
But in the moment when we compare ourselves to what we consider to be the finished product we always leave discouraged.
So stop doing it.
I’ve heard about people saddling up along pastors of churches slightly larger than yours. The heart of it makes sense but I don’t like the way it elevates church size over everything else.
What I think would be more helpful is to identify one specific element or challenge you want to conquer. Focus always helps, and whenever you are trying to improve your leadership (organizationally or personally) you can easily be overwhelmed by the bigness of something.
So maybe its a big change like moving to a missional model or navigating a preexisting conflict or a capitol campaign, whatever find someone who has done it recently and learn from them. And particularly learn from someone who has done it for the first time.
You can learn from someone who has done it several times, but someone who just lived through it for the first time is going to have a fuller and fresher memory and more importantly will be much more candid than the veteran.
Always trust the details from rookies over veterans.
And always ignore the finished product.