I was asked to prepare a talk on comparison for teens and twenties. Here’s what I learned. (Sources at the bottom.)
Comparison washes away God’s plan for us and sidetracks us with someone else’s journey.
Questions to ponder:
- When you play games, are you a good loser? How do you handle winning?
- Have you ever had to work hard to meet someone else’s expectations? How did it affect your relationship with that person?
- Are you exhausted or broke from trying to keep up with friends or neighbors?
- Is there anyone you secretly enjoy seeing fail?
Comparison kills our joy and instead fuels anxiety, shame, embarrassment, loneliness, guilt…. It destroys our identity. It keeps us from meeting our full potential. It keeps others around us from meeting their full potential. It keeps our world from experiencing fullness. It saps our energy and empties our tanks.
Comparison… stirs up envy and jealousy…Think about it within your world.
How do you see comparison taking over your joy?
“I realized that we work and do wonderful things just because we are jealous of others. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind. …Very little food eaten in peace is better than twice as much earned from overwork and chasing the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 4:4,6
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Jesus said… “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come to give life to the full.” – John 10:10
When we compare ourselves to others, we are allowing the enemy to destroy – us and others around us. We are not allowing Jesus to give us full life.
If comparison is the thief of joy, and the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy… And Jesus is the Life and came to give us life, let us look at how comparison kills and then how Jesus wants to rather give us life…
First off this is what comparison does…
- Feeds our pride (pride leads to destruction).
Proverbs 18:12 (CEV) – Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor.
- Makes us forget who we are – our identity (we use others as a measuring stick, rather than Jesus.)
- Keeps us from fully experiencing joy…
- We experience depression and lower self-esteem when we compare ourselves to others,
- We resent people we love when we compare ourselves to them,
- We fail to celebrate our own wins when we compare ourselves. “When we measure our worth with someone else’s yardstick, we always come up short.”
- We fall in love with perception and hate reality when we compare ourselves with others. Comparing your reality to the *perception* of someone else’s reality is like comparing your real life to someone’s Instagram. Don’t fall for an ‘instasham’ version of other’s lives. Their life appears perfect, but no one’s life is perfect – there’s just no public record of the ‘yuck and muck’ behind the scenes.
Instead, fullness of joy is found in His presence…
Psalm 16:11 English Standard Version (ESV)
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Or another way…
Psalm 16:11 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
You have shown me
the path to life,
and you make me glad
by being near to me.
Sitting at your right side,
I will always be joyful.
Practically, what can we do instead of comparison that will bring life- both to ourselves and to others?
What can you do as an athlete, artist,… or a sibling, or friend in order to keep from letting the thief of life use you to do his dirty work?
Instead of Comparison:
- Celebrate instead! Build others up instead of tearing down – celebrate other people’s success. “There is a great amount of power that comes with not ruining your own happiness and by celebrating the win of someone else.” Compliment, don’t compare. “Whenever you find you are comparing yourself to someone else, you should go right up to that person and compliment them on the very thing you’re jealous of or comparing yourself to.” Look at the people you are envious of, ask yourself why, then celebrate that thing in them, and celebrate that desire in yourself!
- Recognize that competition is good – it drives you to be the best you, but comparison makes you feel bad about yourself from the start. Accept the competition, but reject the comparison trap.
- Shut off the negative talk in your head and instead choose positive self-talk. When you start hearing the voice of comparison in your head say, “You’ll never be as good as her”, shut it down with positive self-talk… “I am loved, I am enjoying giving it my all, I can bless others where I am…” (Take notice of your negative self-talk, notice what the trigger is, be gentle with yourself, remind yourself that you’re done with the comparison trap, flip it around with positive talk. (Retrain your brain to stop comparing and start celebrating.)
- Remember who you are and whose you are (your true identity). Your identity is found in your Creator and Saviour Jesus, not in how many friends you have, how talented you are, how many ‘wins’, etc…
- Linger in God’s presence daily. (Remember Psalm 16:11) Drink in His wisdom through the Word. Sit and listen for His voice like you’re chilling with Him on His right side. Ask Him questions…. ask Him why you’re envious. Ask Him to help you replace the envy with honour and joy.
- Focus on the path He has for you. God has given you a special set of gifts, personality traits, talents, etc… (Strengths-finder, spiritual gifts inventory…)
Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.
Use the success of others as a mirror.
“There’s gold to be found in your comparison habit, if you’re willing to look for it.”
Think of someone who you compare yourself to…
- What do they have that you wish you had?
- What do you admire about them?
- What have they done to get where they are today?
- How does this relate to your own values?
- Where do you currently embody these qualities?
- How might your expression of these qualities differ from theirs?
- What can you learn from your desire to have these qualities more fully?
Further Questions to Ponder:
– Is there anyone you secretly enjoy seeing fail? What can you do to extend that person grace?
– What is one thing you can do this week to allow the thought of peacefulness and contentment to help you pause in the midst of the comparison trap?
Maybe you’ve racked up debt trying to keep up with your friends or neighbors. Maybe your high expectations drive others crazy, or yourself crazy. Maybe you have relatives you don’t get along with because you envy what they have and rejoice in their failures.
You can’t genuinely love someone whom you secretly hope will fail. You can’t genuinely love someone whom you’re pushing to meet a standard so you can feel better about yourself. There’s no win in comparison. There’s never a finish line or sense of satisfaction.
(Retrain Your Brain):
Verses to Look up and Memorize: (summaries listed below…)
- Matthew 6:25-33 – (Do not worry. Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.Seek Him first. He will give you everything you need.)
- Phil 4:12-13 – (Learn to live in contentment.)
- Heb 13:5-6 – (God is your helper. He will never fail or abandon you.)
- Rom 8:28 – (God has a good plan and calling for those who love Him.)
- Galatians 5:16-26 – (Envy is not living by the Holy Spirit’s power.)
- 1 Peter 5:6-7 – (Humble yourselves. God will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.)
- Ecc 4:4,6 – (Most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. …Better to be happy with little than to overwork yourself for personal gain.)
Look up the full passages listed above and post them up where you can see them. Choose joy and celebration over comparison. 🙂
Andy Stanley, Comparison Trap, search on Youtube.com