"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that... Don't compare yourself with others."
- Galatians 6:4 MSG
When I was a child in elementary school, I had a reputation for being rambunctious. My older sister, on the other hand, had a more serene nature. Once, when my classmates and I were waiting in line to get our lunch, I got bored and began rallying the other kids to play “leap frog” with me. Needless to say, my teacher was not pleased, and when she reprimanded me, she declared, “Your sister would never do that!” It was a statement that I would never forget, and that would haunt me in the years to come. All the way through to 12th grade, my sister had many of my teachers before I did, and I constantly felt dogged by comparisons that made me feel inadequate and inferior. My sister was smarter and more conscientious, and no matter how many awards and honors I won, they always seemed to fall short of hers. It seemed as though there was a recording inside my head playing the same thing over and over, “What’s wrong with me?”
The negative mindsets I developed in my childhood didn't vanish when I entered my 20s. I managed to carry them with me into adulthood. When I married my husband, I began comparing myself to other spouses. And when I had my two sons, comparing myself to other parents became the norm. The whole time my children were growing up, I was a stay-at-home mom, and I always felt very comfortable with this role. That is, unless I saw other mothers who had jobs outside their homes, and were bringing home paychecks to boost their family's income. I always seemed to have my hands full just trying to be a full-time housewife and mom. How did other women do it? And what was wrong with me?
When I surrendered my life to the Lord several months before my 40th birthday, I began to experience a peace and joy that I never knew existed, but I still had some lingering feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Was I praying long enough, and hard enough each day? Was I studying the Bible enough? Was I doing enough good works in the Lord's name? As God began to use me and promote me in ministry, I began to compare myself to other people in ministry who were more successful, and who were touching more lives with the Gospel. It was bad enough that I was tormenting myself with questions about my focus, direction, and adequacy, but now others were constantly bombarding me with their own ideas of what I should be doing, or not doing, to succeed. When I had finally had enough, I went before the Lord and told Him that I was finished with competing and comparing myself with others. I asked Him to lead me to verses in the Bible that would help me to stand strong in this area. One of them was Galatians 6:4 (TLB): “Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done, and won't need to compare himself with someone else.” Talk about a freedom verse! This tells me that all I have to do is concentrate on doing my personal best--in whatever work I do, or whatever role I'm in--and I can feel secure and satisfied knowing that God is pleased with me, and I don't need to compare myself with anyone else.
One of the dangers of comparing ourselves with others is that it can lead to jealousy and envy--two attitudes that are detestable in God's sight. Scripture says: “Let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.” (Romans 12:6 MSG) If we will concentrate on becoming who GOD created us to be--instead of who we think we ought to be, or who someone else wants us to be--we will experience a sense of peace and security that will enable us to resist focusing on what those around us are doing. You are unique! And God is fitting you for a purpose like no one else's. Cooperate with Him and His plans for you, and you can rightfully declare as David did--“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me”! (Psalm 138:8 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I've compared myself with others. Make me strong and secure in You, so that I'll focus only on what You've called me to be and do. Thank You for equipping me to live a life of victory and purpose!
- J. M. Farro