By Scott Smith
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” –Galatians 6:4–
We live in the land of make-believe. Don’t believe me? Take a few minutes and peruse your favorite form of social media. Be it Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, everyone is putting the best image of themselves forward—the best display of their latest recipe, the best portrait of their family, or their favorite “selfie.”
You and I are no different. Think about it. When a group photo is taken of us, before anyone posts it, we want to see what we looked like first. Were our eyes closed? Did we look skinnier than normal? Did we have our body angled just right? Did we like the way we smiled? If we’re honest, we don’t care what everyone else looks like in the picture as long as we look good. As a matter of fact, we’re even quicker to post a group picture or “selfie” if we think we look better than normal.
It’s a land of make-believe. Everyone’s family looks gorgeous. Everyone’s marriage seems perfect. Everyone’s “selfie” appears flawless. Everyone seems to cook like The Pioneer Woman.
What we see on social media is rarely reality. At the risk of sounding cynical, no one’s family, marriage or dinner table is that perfect. There’s no such thing as perfect people, marriages, or families for that matter.
So, what’s the problem with all of this? The problem is that we end up comparing ourselves and our lives to the ones we see on social media. As Mike Yaconelli once stated, “We compare what we know about ourselves to what we don’t know about others.” And that’s not a good thing. Why? Because it becomes a trap for us—a comparison trap.
As we compare ourselves to others, we’re either:
> (greater than)
< (less than)
to the images we see. Sadly though, most often, we feel <.
Comparison is a no-win situation. It either makes us proud and arrogant (>), or it makes us envious and jealous (<). And in most cases, it’s the latter. It’s the adage that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I’ve mowed enough lawns to know that grass is often greener over septic lines or where manure has recently been spread.
Life Lesson: What is pretty above the surface is often pretty stinky when you get beneath the surface.
When we compare our lives to others, everyone else seems to be more educated, more spiritual, more successful, have better jobs, have more money, are happily married, have a better sex-life, have better kids—you get it. Stop doing that. First of all, it’s not true. Secondly, the people you’re comparing yourself to are probably comparing themselves to you. Don’t compare your life to others.
God has designed you to be uniquely you. If He wanted you to be someone else, He would have created you to be them, but He didn’t. That should tell you something. He wants you to be YOU. Find your own voice. Quit trying to sing with someone else’s voice. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be the best version of you that God created you to be.
David writes in the Psalms that you should give thanks to God for you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). You are not a mistake. God has had His eye of design on you from the very beginning. He has great plans for you.
Everyone has value. You may not believe it, but yes, even YOU have value. What is your contribution to the Kingdom of God? There is something that only you can do. There is something that God wants to do in and through only you. What is it? Spend time contemplating that.
God created you to “pay careful attention to your own work.” What is your “own work?” What has God uniquely gifted you for? What is His plan and purpose for your life?=
Once you determine “the work” that God has in store for you, fully give yourself to it. For it is there you will find a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It is there you will see God’s Kingdom come into your world. It is there you will see God use you to reach others, restore His Kingdom in their lives, and reproduce His Kingdom impact exponentially.
It is then and there you will find no need to compare because you’re fully living the life God gave you to live, and that’s a great life to live. Live it to its fullest, and don’t compare it to others.