Comparing and competing

Sometimes we see something in others which inspires us and motivates us to be better in a particular area of our lives. They don’t necessarily know us and we don’t know them. They speak into our lives without any real depth of knowing. At other times we can be inspired by people who do know us and whom we know fairly well.

As I think about the people who have been an inspiration to me, I’m aware that I’ve sometimes made a judgement about them or felt envious of their achievements or jealous of their level of wisdom. Sometimes it’s really difficult to be content with who you are and not make that comparison with others. There’s a fine line between being inspired by somebody and feeling jealous of all that they seem to be, and of course it’s so easy to get discouraged and disillusioned when you compare yourself to others.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he encourages the believers not to strive to be like someone else. Instead, he says, he encourages them to be content with who they are. Only God fully knows our hearts and we can give everything that’s going on in our lives to Him. Here’s what he says:

1 Cor 4 v 7 – 8

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle.

Paul continues to challenge believers about their inner attitudes, condemning their competition with one another. He directly asks the believers  ‘What’s the point of all this comparing and competing?’ He knows that it’s a road that leads to nowhere.

It’s totally different when someone who you know well, and who really knows you, speaks some wisdom into your life. There’s no need to get jealous of their wisdom and insight. There can be inspiration or challenge without triggering all that hidden comparison. You know that they are genuine and that they have your best interest at heart. It’s great when there is that depth of understanding between people. It’s a non-threatening environment where we don’t have to pretend to be somebody that we’re not.

One of the most encouraging things I’ve been involved in over the last ten years is a couple of small groups for blokes. Over time we have developed friendship, trust and security and are now more open with each other sharing how life really is, rather than putting a gloss on things that we struggle with. I’d encourage you to choose a couple of ‘Wing Men’ – trusted friends – who will support and encourage you and not make rash judgement about you. Then meet regularly to get beyond the banter to a place of honesty and authenticity. Maybe, in time, you could build a larger group from that base.

So let’s not compare ourselves in an unhealthy way with others. Aim to get a balance between being inspired to make progress in our faith, yet remaining content with who we are and all that we have.

Image credit: Mathias Jensen via Unsplash