In my early years of pastoral ministry, I often compared myself and my church with other pastors and their churches. I think of Charles W. who served a larger church than mine. I never thought of Charles as a smarter or more skilled minister than me. But when I compared my church with his, I always felt incompetent.
Thankfully, I soon came to realize that the comparison game was a dead-end.
All of us are prone to comparison, aren’t we? We compare our hair, body build, looks, friends, jobs, salaries, the car we drive and the house we live in.
We even compare social media posts. Reading about someone’s great vacation and comparing it to your “staycation” makes you feel inferior. Ask yourself, “Who have you compared yourself with during the past 24 hours?”
7 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
- Identify the triggers that provoke comparison. Does driving through an expensive neighborhood make you feel discontent? Does strolling through a mall give you the feeling that you are not as well off as others? Do the social media posts of bragging persons lead you to feel your life is inferior?
- Realize that any comparison you do actually harms you. Have you realized that we tend to compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others? How unfair this is to us!
- Understand that comparison robs you of joy. No comparison can add happiness, meaning, value, or fulfillment to your life. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
- Determine to be you and not someone else. A blog I read recently carried this quote: “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” Strive to be the best you that you can possibly be.
- Consider that comparing yourself with others makes your self-esteem dependent on the achievements of others. If they’re doing poorly compared with you, you feel good. If they’re doing better than you are, you feel badly. Knowing this fact, can’t you see that comparison is an awful thing to do?
- Think about the fact that comparison can actually make you feel resentful. You begrudge someone’s looks, money, circumstances, possessions, or achievements. I think it was Carrie Fisher who said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
- Count your blessings. You really do have much to be thankful for. When you play the comparison game you lose sight of your blessings and become a less grateful person.
3 Actions to Take to End the Comparison Game
- Do the best with the opportunities, possessions, and skills that God gives you. God isn’t grading you on how much more you have than others, or much more you do than others do. He only grades your faithfulness with what He’s given you.
As 1 Corinthians 4:1 states, “Our first duty is to be faithful to the One we work for” (CEV).
- Believe the words of the Apostle Paul who taught that ultimately it’s not what you think of your performance that matters, but what the Lord thinks.
“What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference” (2 Cor. 10.18, The Message).
- Know the source of genuine hope. Hope comes from God who loves us like crazy, and has done so much for us. Our hope isn’t dependent upon how much better looking we are than someone else, or how much more we have accomplished than another, or much nicer our homes is than other homes. Our hope is in God and what He has already done for us.
I love Isaiah 40:31 and its truth about hope. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Don’t lose your hope through comparison. Instead, walk, run, and soar as you place your hope in God.