Put Down the Cup of Comparison
One thing I always dreaded when I was a high school student was the year-end superlatives...Most Popular....Most Likely to Succeed...remember those? Instead of being able to celebrate someone else's award, I'd wind up comparing myself to each of the winners. Even worse, sometimes I'd pick the best attributes of three or four different people and combine them into one imaginary person and feel extra bad about myself. Even as an adult, I can fall prey to the comparison game. Am I as successful? Am I as significant? Am I as handsome or beautiful? Seems like all the old superlatives are still haunting me, aren't they? The problem is that comparison is like drinking poison. It kills our self esteem. It sucks out joy from our lives and diminishes our contentment. It consumes us with feelings of inadequacy and robs us of productivity. Even in those rare moments when we feel like we have it better than someone else, our contentment is on shaky ground because life is unpredictable and uncontrollable. Comparison never--and I mean never--does anything good for us. Yet we drink this toxic cup anyway.
The reason we do this is because we were designed for significance. We have a sense of greatness inside us. We want to know that we matter, so we look for observable cues to tell us how we're doing. And where's the easiest place to look? That's right, other people. Almost every time we look to others who are, themselves, seeking the same validation. This fails us in two big ways...
First, we never are able to see all of another person's life, so we're stuck comparing ourselves only to the little slice of their life we do see. It's not fair to compare ourselves against such a small portion of someone's observable life. My bet is, if we could experience every aspect of someone else's life--including their fears, pressures and struggles--most of the time we'd stick with our own.
Second, measuring ourselves against others doesn't take into account the way each of us was uniquely designed. One of the very first things God says in the entire Bible is that he made us in his image. It's no wonder I don't fare well when I compare myself to others--I'm not supposed to be like them in the first place. I'm supposed to be the unique person God created me to be. God also tells me he has a plan for my life (he has one for yours, too)--a good plan, rooted in his love for us. What's more, he promises I can discover this plan when I put down the cup of comparison and start believing what he says about me is true.
That last line is super important, and I don't want you to miss it: "Start believing what God says about you is true." It makes all the difference in the world.
A Texas native, Kirk Freeman spent ten years working in the Christian publishing industry prior to transitioning into the pastoral ministry. He served as executive pastor at NorthWood Church in the DFW metroplex before moving to San Antonio to help start CrossBridge. Kirk and his wife, Debbie, have known each other since elementary school, though they didn't get married until junior high (just kidding). They have been close friends for over 30 years and married since 1993 (Kirk was slow to recognize that friends can make great mates). They have three sweet children and enjoy spending time as a family and alone as a couple…when they can arrange it.