Do you ever compare yourself to other people? C’mon, be honest. I’ve fallen into that trap a few times, and guess what? It’s not a comfy place to land.
Author John Ortberg addresses the problem of comparison in his book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat: “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.”
I use that quote when I teach about overcoming the fear of inadequacy, and I find its simple wisdom a good reminder to keep my focus where it needs to be – on God alone. The moment I look around and start comparing myself and my lot in life to others, my perspective blurs.
Peter’s outlook blurred in John 21:18-22. Jesus had just finished telling him by what kind of death he would glorify God and commanding him to “follow me” when he turned around and looked at John. “What about him, Lord?” he asked.
You’ve gotta love Peter. And you’ve gotta love Jesus for the answer He gave: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”
What a wise nugget, eh? God has a plan for each of us, and only He knows both the minute details and the bigger picture. Our focus needs to be on Him, listening to His voice and following that plan for our lives. The moment we start comparing our path with another’s, we step into a trap that leads only to discontentment, jealousy and envy.
Next time I find myself falling into that nasty trap of comparison, I’ll remember Jesus words and apply them to my situation: “If I want so-and-so to do (or have) such-and-such, what’s that to you? As for you, follow me.”
Any other sage words about avoiding the comparison trap?