Playing the comparison game steals our joy and leaves us feeling ungrateful for where God has us. But how do we stop?
I’m a dad of four kids, and most days I’m crazy about them. But one of the things that drives me insane is when they start comparing themselves to each other.
If one gets a piece of gum from their mom, the others automatically want a piece of gum.
If one gets to go somewhere, even to the grocery store, the others want to go somewhere.
If one gets a snack, the others want a snack, and it has to be the same exact stinking size!
The only people I’ve met who are worse at comparison than kids? Adults.
As adults, we seem to play the comparison game all the time, don’t we?
• With our house and the things we own
• The trips we’ve taken
• Our body and the way we look
• Our talents and abilities
• How successful our kids are
• The opportunities we’ve been given
• Who has done more with their lives
Whether it’s the amount of Twitter followers we have or the amount of hair on our heads, we seem to constantly compare ourselves to each other in every way imaginable.
Why is comparison such a bad thing? It steals our joy!
Playing the comparison game takes the peace right out of our day. We can be having the absolute best day ever and just by hearing about someone else’s day, we can go from complete peace to being completely restless.
Comparison is such a big deal that it even makes God’s Top 10 List.
The 10th Commandment: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, their ox, or even their donkey.”
Basically, stop wanting what your neighbor has!
Stop desiring the life that someone else is living.
Stop comparing yourselves to each other.
That’s fairly clear, right? Just don’t want what your neighbor has. But how is that actually possible? How can we quit playing the comparison game?
Here are three ways to stop comparing yourself to other people:
1. Stop looking around.
This seems too simple, right? But seriously, just stop scrolling through Instagram to see what everyone else has that you don’t.
Stop being consumed with looking at everyone else’s life.
Stop looking at someone else’s numbers, body, or sweet minivan.
I know for myself when I’m simply focused on what’s before me it’s so much easier to find joy and peace. I’m able to freely love others. Able to truly celebrate the good that comes someone else’s way. Because the moment I start looking around and watching everyone else is the same moment I start comparing myself to them.
That’s when I need to pray:
Jesus, help me to focus on what’s before me, not somebody else.
Help me to fully live and enjoy the day that you’ve given me.
Help me to enjoy the season and place that I’m in, where I am in life, career and relationships.
When it comes to comparison, simply stop looking around.
2. Be thankful.
Being thankful has a way of reminding us of all God has done for us.
It reminds us of all that we do have, including the basic things we take for granted.
It brings perspective on how crazy fortunate we are.
And it changes the attitude of our heart from “Lord, I want” to “Lord, I have and thank you.”
Comparison is no longer an issue when our heart is filled with gratitude.
Instead of comparing, we can’t stop giving thanks to God!
Jesus, thank you for my house.
It’s not perfect, but thank you for my job.
My kids drive me crazy, but thank you for each one.
Thank you for my spouse, imperfections and all.
Thank you for this trial, because it’s teaching me to trust you.
Thank you for my shortcomings, because I’m forced to rely on you.
Jesus, thank you.
Fully focus on Jesus.
When we fully focus on Jesus, something changes.
Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we begin to look at the One who created us.
When we’re focused and our eyes are on Jesus, we more fully become the person God intended us to be. God shapes us and molds us, and at times it hurts.
But when we look to Jesus, when we find our identity in Him, the comparison game is over, and we begin to run the race that God has set before us.
Lord, would you help me to become the person that you created me to be?
Help me to see the gifts that I’ve been given.
I want to be used by you, not in the same way that someone else is, but in the way you want to use me.
I want to kick butt at this race you’ve set before me.
As followers of Jesus, when we struggle with comparison we’re not just devaluing and questioning ourselves, we’re devaluing and questioning God. How he’s made us. What he’s set before us. What he’s provided.
So let’s stop questioning God, stop comparing, and start living the life he has uniquely set before each of us.
Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace—a church that has six campuses in South Dakota and Minnesota—and the author of Talking With God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray (WaterBrook, 2017). This article was originally published on AdamWeber.com.