Jealousy asks, “What??! Why did she get asked to speak, and not me??”
Insecurity taunts, “How embarrassing that my book has only sold 762 copies…”
Perfectionism demands, “The blog I wrote is average at best. I have to do better!”
What do jealousy, insecurity, and perfectionism have in common? They’re all fueled by measure-up comparison. The more I glance sideways and compare, the more I’ll be distracted from my calling, depleted of my confidence, and divided from my community.
So, the obvious answer is, “Just stop comparing!” That’s the advice we give each other constantly, right?
Green with jealousy? Stop comparing.
Stuck in insecurity? Stop comparing.
Driven by perfectionism? Stop comparing.
But I have a question: How do we stop comparing? Because for me, comparing is as natural as noticing that you got a book contract, and I didn’t. So, should I put blinders on like horses wear, so that I don’t see the differences between us? Is that really the answer?
The Secret Solution
It’s interesting to me that when Jesus responded to people who were stuck in comparison, he didn’t tell them, Just stop comparing. Instead, he told them something to start. He consistently offered one big, powerful, secret solution to the endless measure-up comparison. Here it is: Humility.
Remember when the disciples were furious with envy because James and John had claimed the two best thrones in the kingdom? Jesus responded to all of them, saying, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:20-28)
Remember when Simon was disgusted because Jesus had let “that sort of woman” kiss his feet? But Jesus, noticing the love and humility in her extravagant greeting, lifted her up as the positive example in the room, and told her, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)
Remember how the Pharisees would measure out a tenth of their spices and strain the gnats from their drinks in an effort to keep the law perfectly? (Matt. 23:23-24) All Jesus saw was their pride, and he told them, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12)
Consistently, when people glanced sideways and measured themselves against the others, Jesus called them back to humility. He does the same for us, today.
The Way to Be Great
In the world, there’s a system in place. You know it intuitively: The way to pursue greatness is by getting ahead, not putting others first. It’s by rising above, not stooping low. But have you ever considered that this measure-up system was designed by an evil ruler who wants to destroy you?
Satan doesn’t want us confidently living out our callings, with arms locked as teammates. So, he gets us glancing sideways and measuring against each other–which only distracts, discourages, and divides us. One day, however, the tables will turn, and everything will be realigned under King Jesus. That’s when we’ll see what Jesus has always known: that the great ones are those who humble themselves, not those who lift themselves up.
Do you want to be a truly great speaker or writer? Humility makes that possible!
Humility says, “Oh, she got asked to speak? How can I encourage and pray for her?
Humility says, “My book has sold 762 copies? I’m honored that God allowed me to influence so many.”
Humility says, “This post is probably just average, but perhaps God will take my meager gift and multiply it to feed many!”
These are examples of what greatness looks like in the kingdom of God. Not measuring up, but bending low to serve.
When we approach our work and each other with humility, we not only free ourselves from the grip of measure-up comparison, we find the way to be truly great.
Question: What has helped you the most when you’re tempted to compare your gifting as a speaker, writer, or leader with others?
About Shannon Popkin
Shannon’s book, titled Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (Not Me), written with co-author Kate Motaung is designed to help you think about how to gather followers of Jesus and change the world—but not in the way the world says to. From the platform and page, Shannon Popkin invites you to open your Bible, drink deeply of God’s story, and live like it’s true. Shannon is from West Michigan and is happy to share life with Ken, who makes her laugh daily. Her books include Comparison Girl, Control Girl, and Influence, and she hosts the “Live Like It’s True” podcast. Shannon has been featured on Family Life Today, Revive Our Hearts, and Proverbs 31. Connect with Shannon at www.shannonpopkin.com.