Do you wrestle with comparing yourself to other people? I do. I face the battle on several fronts:
- As an author, I occasionally check my book ratings on Amazon. If they’re higher than other titles on similar themes, then I’m tempted to feel pretty good about myself. If they’re significantly lower, I’m tempted to second-guess my calling.
- As a ministry leader, I hear about other organizations receiving huge financial donations or growing in manpower at a faster pace than our ministry. Comparing our lot to theirs only makes me wonder what we’re doing wrong.
- As a woman, I work out at a gym several days a week. Seeing other women my age do similar workouts without dripping sweat as I do makes me feel physically inferior.
Comparing ourselves to others only leads to a trap. I like what John Ortberg says:
“I must ruthlessly refuse to compare my talents with anyone else. Comparison will lead to pride and a false sense of superiority if I’m ahead of someone, and misery if I’m behind. Or worse, I will discount and bury the irreplaceable treasure that the Lord of the Gift has given to me alone…I must come to identify, cultivate, invest, prize, and enjoy the gifts that have been given to me. The Lord of the Gift is very wise. He knew exactly what he was doing when he created you. He is well-pleased that you exist. He has entrusted to you everything you need to fulfill the purpose for which you were created.”
Comparing ourselves to others quickly traps us in an attitude of either inferiority or superiority. How then can we avoid falling into this trap?
- Recognize that every ability or talent or possession we own comes from the Lord, not from our own doing.
- Give thanks for the abilities, talents, and possessions He’s given us (and stop wishing He’d given us the same as someone we envy).
- Ask God to grant us contentment with what He’s given us. At the same time, ask Him to show us how to develop or expand it for His glory.
- Pray for God’s protection, provision, and blessing on those we would otherwise consider our competitors.
As Ortberg says, God has entrusted to us everything we need to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Let’s not hinder that purpose by falling into a trap that’s avoidable.