A Tale Of Three Wristwatches

A few years ago, I bought a R*lex watch.

I was at a tourist spot overlooking the confluence of the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. It was a “bargain” at just $10. The guy had both wrists covered in fake Rolexes.

My watch had gone to wristwatch heaven the day before so I was happy to fork over the ten-dollar bill. Then I began to think about the thing. It was quite nice looking. If you didn’t know much about Rolexes you would think it was the real thing. After the trip, I tossed it in a drawer and bought a nice watch at an outlet store which sells high-end products at a discount.

A Fake Is A Fake

The fake may have looked good when it was new, but time took its toll. A decade or so later I found the fake Rolex in the drawer where I left it. It was now corroded so badly that you couldn’t see the original color in most places. But, it cost only $10 and got me through the trip and back home so I couldn’t complain.

I could complain, however, about the designer watch that I had purchased. It did everything it was supposed to, but my needs were changing. I bought it because of a large face (tired eyes) and glow-in-the-dark hands. My problem wasn’t the watch. It was my eyes. I needed something easier to see.

Being myself, I put off purchasing a new watch, partly because I am tight with my money and partly because I was too busy to go watch-shopping.

Then I ran into a young software designer who wore a nice-looking LED display watch. The numbers were large and the thing lights up when you push a button. It looked expensive but I asked where he got it. The answer: Walmart for twenty bucks! By the time I got to Walmart they had put it on sale for (you got it) ten dollars.

This ten-dollar watch does everything I need. It serves me better than the more expensive watch that now lives in the drawer where the fake Rolex used to dwell. And, being a tightwad, I’m happy that I paid so little for it.

Moral Of The Story

So, what’s my point?

Well, a real Rolex would be a nice thing to have, but it is out of my league.

The fake one is just that, a fake! The more expensive watch was pretty but didn’t do the job. However, the ten-dollar Walmart gem does everything it promises and gives greater value than I could expect for such a price.

Do you see where this is going? I am alarmed when I read about the failure of so many church plants. Could it be that too many young pastors set out to plant a Rolex church only to find that they are faking it?

Both of my later purchases were satisfying because both lived up to their declared value. The more expensive watch was designer cool, but not much else, but since I knew that, going in, I was satisfied. The LED watch over-delivers on it’s promise which makes me very happy.

Some churches can be compared to real Rolex watches. Others look like the mid-range designer watch living in my bedroom drawer. And, some are like the cheapie that delivers more than promised.

It’s better to be the best version of yourself than to knock-off someone else’s ministry. You need to, “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us (Romans 12:3 NLT). I suspect that a lot more churches would survive if pastors lived the best version of their own ministry instead of trying to be like someone else. Wannabes are subject to decay and disappointment.

An Example

When my wife and I planted the first Hope Chapel we found ourselves unable to meet the needs of families. Our church was just a large group of single adults. So, we decided to become the largest and best singles group between The Church On The Way to the north and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa to the south.

We’d offer the best version of us that we could and then let the Lord look after what happened much. The church eventually grew to small megachurch status and we planted a lot of churches. But, we just focused on doing our best at being ourselves. It worked!

Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? That’s why we have the comment box below… Please sound off!




4 thoughts on “A Tale Of Three Wristwatches”

  1. I totally agree, and it doesn’t apply just to churches. Individuals need to “be the ‘you-est’ You you can possibly be. When you do that, then I believe you are living your purpose!

  2. Aloha Ralph

    Love your emails about what you are best at…but the first church on Manhattan Beach Blvd., the first 40 or so were not all singles…Lanette and I were there too. (LOL) Seriously, what a important time in our new Christian walk with the Lord. With you, the Dick Clark or Christanity…because I thought you were about 18 when I walked in that first day…but your message every week changed our lives. Your faith and the support of Ruby by your side, who is a real sweatheart….made it all work and grew my faith by leaps and bounds……in those early days. I can’t thank you and Ruby enough. Keep the emails coming.
    Love in Christ
    Alan Hauge (Hope Chapel Alumni)

  3. Herbert Alvarez

    I Totally agree with you Pastor Ralph! I want to let you know that you have been a Huge inspiration and Mentor to me. In 91’ I started attending Hope Chapel Kaneohe and got plugged into a “MiniChurch”. That lifestyle of attending a Church on the weekends for Corporate Worship and great insightful Bible Commentary and being an active part of a Small group during the week, for intimate Dialog and fellowship has become part of my “DNA”. Perhaps you remember me, I spoke at Kaimana Young’s Funeral service at the Shell before you came on to share the Word. My wife and I continue in Ministry in Hilo as Passionate Lay leaders. I never became an “Ordained” minister but have helped plant a couple Churches, lead Bible Studies, Prison Ministry, Home Groups, Foster Care, … because I’m not a “Professional Christian” and can minister in the Power of the Holy Spirit, in the gifting that He gave me, I can encourage others to do the same from their own “Sphere of influence”. We don’t need titles. Not that they’re bad, we just need to be Salt and Light where He calls us.
    Thanks for showing me what their True Church looks like. It’s not confined to an Awesome Sunday Service in a Holy Building at a Holy hour on a Holy day. It is the People of God coming together in Community, for encouragement, instruction, Prayer, Breaking of Bread and Fellowship. Glorifying God and building up one another. These are just some of the things you have instilled in Me!!! Thank you for being a Bigger part in my life than you realize! Have a gr8 day on Purpose!!!

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