One of the most deflating things we can do on the sidewalk is compare ourselves with other sidewalk outreach teams. We look at the number of babies saved through other teams, and feel worthless when we rarely see babies saved. We hear of others leading many of the abortion-determined moms to Christ, and wonder if we are devoid of any Holy Spirit working in us. We listen to videos of other sidewalk outreach members calling out with impossible eloquence, saying just the right thing, and wonder why we are always so tongue-tied and forgetful. In the end, we may wonder if we are even called to this ministry since we are such failures. We may even give up.
Be Inspired Rather Than Discouraged
Something Daniel Parks has told me many times really helps me deal with this issue of comparison. We need to reframe how we respond to stories from other sidewalk teams. Instead of being discouraged, we should be inspired. Instead of looking at how far short we fall, we should look at what wonderful things we might attain if we listen and learn.
This is easier said than done, like so many life issues. However, it is a great first step if you are prone to compare and self-destruct. Look to those teams who are achieving astonishing results and see what you can learn from them to improve your team!
Remember: Dynamics Differ
Different sidewalk teams often face very different dynamics. For example, some abortion facilities do massive numbers of abortions each day. Sheer numbers of abortions mean it is more likely there will be more saved babies than at facilities that do very few abortions.
The level of opposition can affect numbers of interactions or babies saved. There is little doubt that some outreach teams face more aggressive and effective opposition than others. This is a spiritual war and the enemy does not fight at the same level in every battle.
Some facilities do ONLY abortions while others do many other things. It is obviously harder to call out effectively when you are less certain of why a client is showing up.
Some facilities offer only early-term abortions. Some offer only late-term. Some offer a mix. This dynamic can affect the likelihood of people changing their minds and choosing life.
Some facilities serve mostly local clients while some serve people traveling great distances. Those who have traveled far for an abortion are sometimes harder to convince to choose life as they have invested so much time and money in travel already!
Some facilities are more barricaded and offer less access to reach the women. Obviously, that will decrease the likelihood of sidewalk outreach impact.
In summary, differing dynamics make comparisons unfair in most instances!
Don’t Compare the Beginning of Your Story with the Middle of Someone Else’s
Some sidewalk outreach members have been doing this for years. There is no doubt that experience helps build confidence and helps words to flow a little more easily. Experienced counselors have likely faced a greater number of various scenarios and have learned how to approach them more effectively.
Brand new sidewalk outreach members should not expect to be as practiced or polished or confident as those who have done this work for a long time. If they persevere and seek God in their work, they WILL improve.
We are in the Same Army — Rejoice in ALL the Victories
Every Gospel-centered sidewalk outreach team is working for the same goal. They want babies saved, families transformed, and God to be glorified. No matter where those victories occur, we are ALL a part of the Lord’s army in this war. We can train ourselves to rejoice in everyone’s victory rather than compare and be jealous.
Look for Your Victories — They are There
If you show up, Satan has already been defeated and God has been magnified in your life. If you call out to anyone, a seed has been planted, the result of which you may never know. We know God’s word does not return void so we can be confident that God is doing something with our offering.
The story of the widow’s mite is an appropriate one to remember. The widow gave all she had and Jesus commended her, even though the total amount was minuscule. We are never called to give what we DON’T have. We are to give the fullness of what we DO have. Give yourself fully to your service on the sidewalk, and let God sort out the rest.
These wonderful verses from Galatians directly address the issue of comparison:
“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:4-5, 9).
We are to test our OWN work, what we ALONE are responsible for. We are not to test our NEIGHBOR’S work. We are not to compare or condemn anyone for how they or we measure up in doing what God has called us to do. We are to do what God has called US to do as well as we can.
Furthermore, we are not to grow weary. We are not to give up. If we persevere in strength and delight, we WILL reap the reward.