Recently, I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine. Pastor Brian Burgess of Forward Church in Portsmouth Virginia (http://www.forwardchurch.me). The conversation was about the dangers of comparison. I am not talking about comparing shoes. No, I am talking about the comparisons that we make we when we compare ourselves with others.
Pastor Brian had nailed some of the comparisons we make. This started me thinking about the comparisons I make in my own life and how unhealthy they are. Before I get to far into this let me give you an important piece of information. You can read what started the conversation on his blog (http://leadershipgravity.blogspot.com/2015/02/3-things-that-suck-about-comparing.html).
My thoughts started traveling to the ways we compare and how comparison has the ability to seriously stall our potential. The truth is that we all compare ourselves to something, someone, or some ideal. It is natural as breathing. Behind our comparisons could be some troublesome reasons. Things like insecurity, doubt, fear, or even a sense that we are not good enough. All these reasons come from a dark place inside our hearts. An unhealthy place. A place that needs to be placed before Jesus and dealt with.
I know you are thinking that you have tried. You have tried placing it before Jesus, but you can never seem to get over it. So have I. I have tried and tried to put it before Jesus only to pick it back up and hold onto my pain tighter. As I went through the cycle of comparison and the inevitability of having to face my pain I learned something that I believe may help you as it did me.
I struggled, and still do at times, with comparison. I fought it. I prayed against it. I called forth divine healing. I did all the things I had thought would work for me. To my disbelief nothing seemed to “work” for me. Then a thought occurred to me. Maybe it was less a “spiritual” issue and more a thought problem. Then Romans 12:1-2 came to my mind.
Romans 12:1-2 says (NKJV), “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
I realized that I needed to change my thinking if I had any hope of changing my heart. Then a deeper thought occurred to me. I had to stop the comparison trap that I was stuck in. I was very unhealthy in my comparison. I realized that I was comparing myself to the wrong things. I was comparing myself to my peers, my critics, and all the other little voices that were bombarding me. This thinking is extremely unhealthy. I am continually reminded of my need for Jesus.
Then I thought, “What if there is a comparison that is healthy?” As I reflected through this I discovered that there is indeed a type of comparison that is very healthy. Let me give them to you.
- Compare yourself to your own potential.
The greatest pitfall we face is that we compare ourselves to everyone else. We fail to realize that we are comparing our inner struggles to other people’s show. Think about it. People put on masks that they show to people. People become great actors and actresses in the game of life. You are seeing only what people want you to see. Now take that and understand no one knows your struggle. No one knows what it is like to be you. So we compare the intimate knowledge of ourselves to the act that people are giving to us. Know what I discovered? It is exhausting.
The truth is that we should be comparing ourselves to our potential. You and I know, or at least have a vague idea, of what we are capable of. If I get to know myself on a deeper level. I mean honestly know myself. To know my strengths, my weaknesses, my boundaries, and my limitations then I can truly compare myself to myself. I will know when I am not living up to my own potential. Then I can make the course correction to reach my potential on a daily basis.
2. Compare your today to your yesterday.
Yesterday is gone. You are not getting it back. I know you may want to build a time machine and go back to the place where you made all the mistakes in an effort to fix them. Sadly we cannot time travel. However we can live life to the fullest. We can look at yesterdays (Notice I said look at our yesterdays and not live in them) and compare them to our today. I can make every effort to life my life TODAY better then it was yesterday. To do this I can create a daily habit of reflection. At the end of the day I can evaluate how the day went. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Then I can make the conscious decision to make today better then it was yesterday.
3. Compare yourself to Jesus.
Need I saw more? The number one question we need to ask is “Did I look like Jesus today.” That simple comparison will help your spiritual maturity like you wouldn’t believe. Because Jesus is perfect we can compare ourselves to him. If I ask that powerful question honestly i can see how far I missed the mark. I can also see how much I have fallen and then I can make a plan on how I can make today a Jesus filled day and allow The Holy Spirit to mold me more and more into the likeness of Christ. It is not an easy journey, but it is a worth it journey.
Unhealthy comparison leads to heartache and pain. Healthy comparison leads to maturity and the fulfillment of your potential. You are the only one who can influence yourself over which you will decide to go with.
Thank you for taking the time to read my rant. My prayer for you today is simple, “Lord I pray that you would give each and everyone of my readers the strength to break the chains of comparison. Let them have the strength to push forward in their healing. Let them come to know You and the power of Your grace. In Jesus Name: Amen!”