“Now he who plants and he who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” (I Corinthians 3:8)
This passage gives us a good guide for the way that we are to see some of the differences in our own, and others’, ministries in the church:
— “… he who plants and he who waters”: Paul “planted.” Apollos “watered.” They were two different men, with two different sets of gifts, because God had called each of them to do something different for the church. It is the same way today: different pastors, associate ministers, and even members are given somewhat differing tasks by God for the building up of His church.
— “… are one”: These different workers, with a variety of gifts, are not “competitors”; they are working together for the same Kingdom cause. They may be called to accomplish different things during their time in the field, but they have the same overarching goal: to glorify God through the building of His church.
— “… but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” Each worker is accountable to God for what he does in the church. We are all working for the same cause, but we are each accountable individually to the Lord for what we personally do.
What is your part in God’s Kingdom work through your church? Do you see predecessors, successors, or contemporaries in the church as “competitors” — or fellow-laborers? And is your focus on what God has called YOU to do, knowing that your ultimate reward is with Him?