It's a vicious cycle.
You spend your entire life looking around trying to be better than the person next to you. Your gauge, the measuring stick for your success, is based on whether or not you can outperform the competition.
It's the Comparison Trap. It's signing up for a life where you constantly feel inadequate and undervalued. You can't ever be as good as you want to be. You can't ever do it as well as that guy can. You learn to live in a continual state of guilt and disappointment. It's tragic.
When you play the comparison game you will look at your income, your friends, your job performance, your spiritual output and your intellect and inevitably end up in one of two camps:
The first is pride. "I might not be as good as I want to be but I'm better than that guy over there." The irony is that pride is a sin that God despises and that separates us from Him. So are we really better after all?
The second is despair. You play the comparison game and continually get the short stick. There's always someone better than you. You come to the conclusion that "you just suck" and you live life defeated. That's why the comparison game never works.
We think that by continually outperforming other people or making our exterior look better it will take care of the deep-seated insecurities that lie deep within our hearts. News flash: You can't ever cover insecurity on the inside with stuff on the outside. It just doesn't work that way. You will never ever be able to "performance" your way into security in who you are.
Several months ago I watched a Today Show special with Megan Fox, an actress that has recently found her way to the top of Hollywood's discussions. Considered by many to be one of the world's most beautiful people, the average person would naturally assume insecurity would be way down on her list of personal issues.
I watched the program as the young actress opened up about her deep feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Although she has experienced "success," the pressure to please everyone and live up to the expectations placed on her sometimes overwhelms her.
It's impossible to live up to everyone's standards for you. It's impossible to live your life pleasing everyone. It's time to change the gauge by which you measure yourself and your view of success.
In Psalms 139:13-14, the Psalmist gets a revelation of God's unique design for his creation"
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
There's something about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that gives an individual a true understanding of their identity. When you see yourself the way that God sees you it changes everything. You will stop playing the comparison game because you understand that God "knit" you together with special, unique qualities.
In his book, "The Me I Want To Be," John Ortberg continually notes how "God is a handcrafter, not a mass producer." Most of us spend a lifetime trying to develop the attributes of those we see around us or those we believe to be desirable, all the time neglecting God's unique gifts inside of us.
That's why playing the comparison game is a slap in the face to God's masterpiece, YOU. In essence, we are saying that we don't want what God has so uniquely crafted; we want the things we see in others. We trade the original for the carbon copy.
If we are to truly live life to the fullest and be confident in who we were created to be we must embrace the fact that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." We are God's masterpiece. We have been skillfully crafted with unique characteristics.
I recently met a mom who would have been considered by most to be a supermom, yet inwardly struggled with accepting her role as a stay at home mother. She would look around and see the best in other moms and secretly aspire to do the same.
Unfortunately, what started as attributes to aspire to soon become the rubric or standard by which she defined her success or failure. When she inevitably fell short of attaining such high standards in every arena of her life she was flooded with thoughts of guilt and inadequacy.
Please don't misunderstand: A desire to be excellent in life is a desirable quality. The problem is that when we derive our definition of success from anything other that complete obedience to what God has called us to do, we will struggle with insecurity. We will trade the beautiful, original masterpiece that is painted in Psalm 139:13-14 for a photocopy of someone else. You were not designed to be a photocopy.
My challenge to you: Understand that God knit you together and that you have been handcrafted by the Creator of the universe. You have characteristics and attributes that nobody else on this planet can claim. Begin to define success, not by the standards of this world or by others, but by your response to God's unique call on your life, however big or small.
Live confidently in who God designed YOU to be.
-(Matt Nelson is lead pastor at City Church)
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