I have the unfortunate habit of wanting to be the best at things for which I think I have a natural talent (perceived or real). I recently got a road bike and an app that times my ride and on certain stretches of pavement. I can’t wait to get home to see if I set a new record or beat someone else’s time. Now every time I go for a bike ride, I feel like I’m in a bike race. I am constantly comparing myself to others. So much so that I can’t even enjoy the ride–I just need to win! This happens so much in all aspects of our lives. We live in a culture of people constantly trying to keep up with one another. And living in this age of social media doesn’t help. We are always looking at what everyone else is doing, wearing, working, going.
Comparing is nothing new. The Bible is full of stories as far back as Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers. And that’s just between family! It seems to be in our human nature to look around and see where we’re lacking. And the truth is, there’s always someone faster, fitter, prettier, richer, smarter–the list goes on. If we constantly compare ourselves to other people, we will never be content. We will always feel like we’re not enough. According to psychologytoday.com there are three reasons why we shouldn’t compare:
- Others’ so-called perfection is an illusion–we’re never really getting the full story.
- Life isn’t fair–some are born with more advantages than others.
- Comparisons turn friends into rivals. It’s hard to be genuinely happy for someone else when you are jealous.
When we use others’ successes as a measure of our own, we will almost always feel lacking. So what to do?
First, we need to recognize our weakness and the slippery slope of being prideful. When we’re always looking around at what everyone else is doing, we fall into the trap of seeking glory for ourselves. This again, seems to be a common problem as it says in John 12:43, “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (MEV) The good news is that if we ask for forgiveness God is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).
It also helps me to remember the advice from a Bible study I once did to “stay in my own lane.” In other words, stop looking around at what everyone is doing and recognize that God has uniquely equipped me, and indeed, all of us. Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Instead of measuring yourself by others, measure yourself or your potential in Christ. God looks at our hearts rather than our outward appearance. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
In the song The Cause of Christ, by Kari Jobe, is a prayer that I utter often:
It is not fame that I desire
Nor stature in my brother’s eye.
I pray it’s said about my life
That I lived more to build Your name than mine.