Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy

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Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

This quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt is one that can resonate well with us all. As humans, we’re always comparing ourselves to each other. We choose someone else’s standard of living or success, and we attempt to hold ourselves accountable to it rather than focus on our uniqueness or distinct individual characteristics given to us by our Creator. We are made in our God’s image, and He gave us a standard in and through Christ, so ultimately His likeness should be our goal. We should strive to be Christlike, not copycat versions of each other.

If you stop and think about the lack of joy you may be experiencing in your life, likely you’ll be able to attribute it to comparison. You might be unhappy about your physical appearance because you’re comparing it to someone else’s standard of size, shape, weight, athleticism, etc. You might be unhappy about your career because you’re comparing yours to the standard of professional success you witness all around you. Or maybe you can’t find joy in your relationships because you’re comparing them to everyone else’s. Many people are quick to blame the media–TV, magazines, Hollywood, Facebook, Instagram, the Internet, and the list could go on. But, in the end, we get to decide our standards. We get to choose joy or misery. It’s easy to point the blame elsewhere, but we can only blame ourselves for not choosing to live the unique calling that our Creator God so beautifully and wonderfully made us to live (see Pslam 139:13).

So, are you unhappy? Do you struggle with finding joy and rejoicing with others? Are you always comparing your life’s successes or failures with someone else’s?

If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to do a spiritual inventory within your own heart. Here are some suggestions to reflect upon:

1. Talk to God about His unique purpose or calling for you. God wants to guide you. He wants you to seek His direction. Ask God where and how He wants to use you, and then open your eyes to where He’s leading you.

2. Spend some time reading, meditating, and memorizing God’s Word. We seem to forget, but God gives us the answers to life’s greatest questions within Scripture. Sure, the Bible may not always be clear or make sense to the complex human mind, but there’s a great consistency throughout the entire message of the Bible. Don’t just chew on a few tidbits–really dive deep into Scripture and wrestle with it. Just be ready for God to wow you.

3. Redirect your worship to God Himself and away from others or the things of this world. There are distractions at every turn, but stay focused on the Lord. Don’t let the Enemy cleverly and cunningly win your full attention and keep you from being able to live a life of worship to God. Offer God the glory for what He’s doing in your life. Embrace an attitude of gratitude daily.

4. Find ways to serve and encourage others. The greatest joy is often found in investing our energies into serving and encouraging those around us. Use your words to uplift, not criticize. Celebrate others’ victories and successes rather than allowing yourself to be jealous or envious. As you lift up others, you’ll also find encouragement for yourself.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others. Just be the very best version of you. At best, you will only be a poor imitation of someone else, but you can be the greatest you that has ever lived.

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Just Say No to Status Quo!

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One thing I seem to notice more and more these days is our culture’s strange attraction to mediocrity. I see it in the entertainment world as masses seem to be drawn to the sight or sound of a lackluster performance. I see it when parents celebrate average achievement in schoolwork. I observe it in the workplace as employees allow burnout to consume the passion that once fueled their desire obtain career success. I even witness it in the ministry setting as church members and leaders get comfortable with “the way we’ve always done it.”

So what ever happened to striving for excellence?

And when did we fall victim to a “status quo” way of living?

Though we may not be able to find the root answer to these questions, we can surely work against such behaviors as Millennial leaders dedicated to excellence.

Here are three ways to “just say no”…to status quo.

1. Feed your passion constantly. Read good books. Study the competitor. Never stop dreaming. And when those moments of burnout start sneaking in, remind yourself why you do what you do (and who you do it for).

2. Practice accountability. Just like a good workout partner or mentor, accountability is important for keeping yourself encouraged, inspired, and excited to do more and be more. So keep others in check, and allow them to do the same for you.

3. Raise the bar. When you are setting high standards and striving for excellence as a leader, you’ll quickly notice how contagious it will become to those around you. Show up early. Go the extra mile. Embrace change…and support it. And ultimately, as a leader, never get too comfortable.

How do you see attitudes of mediocrity played out in your circle of influence?

As a leader, are you striving to maintain the status quo? Or are you leading others toward excellence?