The Comparison Trap
Sandra Stanley | March 30, 2016
I’m a foster mom and a couple of years ago I was invited to speak at a conference about orphan care. My husband, Andy, regularly talks to arenas of thousands, but a speaking gig like this was new to me. As I read the bios of the other speakers, I wondered what in the world I was even doing there!
I listened to session after session of incredible talks. I learned. I was challenged. I was inspired like crazy. But some nagging thoughts were rattling around in my head and heart. How could I possibly top her stories? Do I have anything to say compared to him? Fourteen children, really?!
When I dig into that, I must have been hoping that my insights and stories would be better—or least on par. Maybe I was simply hoping that I wouldn’t get laughed out of the auditorium.
I was stuck in the lie that the other speakers’ success would somehow lessen mine.
The comparison trap tricks us into thinking that everything—in this case, influence, impact, praise—is in limited supply. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Someone else’s success does not diminish my shot at the same.
Haven’t you ever gotten stuck there too? Feeling a little bit jealous as you watch his church expand to a second location…or hear about their amazing student retreat…or see a ministry with all the momentum while you wonder why not me?
Away from the envy caused by comparison, you can see how that other church opening a second location is good news. If our motives are pure and growing God’s kingdom is the goal, then we’re really on the same team, right? But feeling like you don’t measure up, or like you’re falling behind, can twist what should be celebration into something more selfish.
So when that temptation to compare comes creeping in, when you begin feeling like someone else’s success is diminishing yours, remember there is simply no win in cutting your eyes left and right. There is no win in comparison.
Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
- James 3:16