Moving Beyond the Danger of Comparison
“I’ll never be able to write like that.”
“If my church had the resources that church had then we’d be set.”
“I sure wish God had given me the musical talent he has.”
“What I would give to have as many church members as him.”
Admit it, you've had thoughts just like this. Probably more than once. Maybe even today.
We’re all prone to compare ourselves to those around us. As a writer, pastor, and musician I’m constantly wondering how I stack up next to others out there doing similar things. Do people like me as much or more than others?
Comparison is dangerous. Give yourself enough time comparing your meager efforts in life and you’ll begin to realize just how awful you really are.
Comparison is dangerous for what is does to you, underneath the surface. It wages a war against your morale and puts you into a submission that forces stagnation.
But comparison also tarnishes the Creator God who created you in His image. Consider Brennan Manning’s tough words:
“Any attempt to measure the value of our lives by comparison and contrast to others belittles our gifts and dishonors God by our ungratefulness” (pg. 144, Ruthless Trust).
None of us want to dishonor the God who created us. None of us want to remain stagnant by comparing ourselves to others. Yet we do it. Over and over again.
Having struggled mightily with this over the past year, I’ve yet to rid my life of comparison, but I have been able to overcome it much more often.
Rather than being stuck in the prison of comparison that damages my self-worth and dishonors God, I’ve allowed 2 principles to move me past the danger of comparison.
1. Speak Truth to Yourself
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. In comparison to others, what is lost is the truth about how God sees you and how He has gifted you.
Every morning I spend the first 15 to 45 minutes in prayer, meditation, and reading. I always end the time by reciting this short and simple prayer of truth:
*You are not defined by what you do. You are defined by who you are. You are a son of the King.”
Comparison sums up our lives by what we’ve done in the past rather than looking to the future, and it certainly doesn’t take stock of where our identity should be placed.
Mere words or the recitation of a short prayer won’t have a short term effect, but they could very well by the launching point for you.
It’s often the smallest, incremental shift that leads to the most significant change in our lives.
2. Discover and Develop Your Gifts
Comparison brings us down because we’re trying to imput someone else’s gifts into our lives. God didn’t create us that way.
We weren’t created in order to try to become like someone else. We were created to discover how God uniquely made us and to live out this creation. But discovering is not the end game. We all know someone who has incredible gifts and talents but squanders it all away by not developing what they’ve discovered.
This is where the help and influence of others come in. I’ve yet to discover a gift of mine without the influence of another person who helped me see what I could not.
You cannot simply know your gifts, you must understand them.
We can know our gifts through textbooks but we must develop them, by living them out, to truly understand them. Through our engagement of relationship with God and others we can continue living out the creation within us.
God asks one thing of you: Be who you are created to be.
As the old saying goes, “Be who you is, cause if you ain’t who you is, you is who you ain’t.”
Written by Tyler Braun