There it was again, staring back at me as if taunting me, loudly proclaiming that I wasn't good enough. I should just give up. Quit! And for about three hours, that is exactly what I did. I moped, moaned, sulked, and cried. Then, essentially – I threw up my hands and gave up!
That little pity party came shortly after reading a book from a fellow writer friend of mine who is extremely talented and has a true way with words. Yet, instead of being ever so proud of her and applauding her, I found my envious heart longing to be like her! I yearned so badly for her social media following, her skills, and her amazing way with words that called every one of her raving fans to the edge of their seats, waiting in anticipation for her next book to drop. Ugh!
When my husband came home that evening, he found me making dinner with a serious and outwardly angry passion, so he cautiously placed down his briefcase, didn't say a word, and walked right on by. Let's just say he already knew it had been a day, so he bypassed his usual hug and went straight to the bedroom to change from his work clothes.
Grr. Comparisons are the worst! Not only do they rob us of the gifts God has so graciously given us to share with others, but they put up walls between the ones we love.
The truth is that, in some ways, comparison can be healthy if we use it to grow, refine, tweak, and improve our skills. Yet, on the other hand (and most of the time), we end up comparing our calling, essentially getting in our own way and hindering the mission God created us to do (Romans 12:6)!
Thankfully, after dinner, my husband called out my glaringly obvious blind spot. While his words stung a bit, I was able to somewhat humble myself before God with my gaping heart, asking for areas in which I needed to grow.
Not only that but a few weeks later, I was given the sweet opportunity to meet with my precious and very talented writer friend for lunch and genuinely applaud her for her great work while also seeking her forgiveness because I openly shared my secret envy. Her gentle response was all I needed to be reminded that grace really can run freely; that heavy burden of comparison became oh so light that day!
So, maybe you struggle in this area, too. Well, you are not alone. But, friend, let's address the elephant in the room. We need to understand how unhealthy comparison (as I mentioned in the beginning) can stifle your calling. And, then, let's find a means to squelch it and seek grace. In other words, get you back to embracing your calling and living with purpose, glorying God!
1. Comparison Gives the Enemy a Foothold
Unfortunately, we have all experienced the tantalizing lies of the enemy. He's a crafty one; I will give him that. He knows exactly where to pack the most punches that, in turn, breed fear, frustration, and discontentment.
Ephesians 4:27 tells us not to give the devil a foothold or even the slightest space for him to weasel his way into our lives. Paul is conveying a strong and urgent message here. He is saying to suit up with the truth to combat the deceiver's lies. Put on that full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) so you can stand firm when the cunning attacks come because if you are faithfully living out your calling, you can be assured that they will. And comparisons are often his weapon of choice. Don't fall for it!
2. Comparison Prevents You from Fulfilling God's Purpose
We all have the same purpose – to glorify God with everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:13). God created us for His glory and for a unique purpose: to bring glory to His kingdom!
God so graciously gives us a mission to carry out that purpose with a calling. That may be to serve in a ministry, obtain a certain occupation or vocation, or use certain abilities and talents to ultimately serve Him and make His name known (John 17:4)!
If you are questioning your calling or how you can fulfill God's purpose, start by seeking Him in prayer. Then, dig into His Word and allow Him to meet you on those pages, reminding you that as His beloved child, you are chosen and a special possession that can be used as a vessel for good (1 Peter 2:9).
3. Comparison Leads to Competition
The problem is when we compare our callings or allow someone with the same calling to bring out a measuring stick, we are missing the point. Are we seeking approval from others or using our calling to truly honor God (Galatians 1:10)?
As a girl who will fully admit I like others to like me (and my work), I have fallen into this trap more times than I would like to admit. However, in all honesty, this is a tricky one because we all have a deep-embedded need to feel loved and gain acceptance from others, maybe not even realizing we are competing with others for that acceptance.
So, if you find yourself in this hard place wondering if you are striving to gain approval or honor God, ask yourself this question: Am I trying to please people or win over God's heart? In other words, where does your validation come from?
4. Comparison Can Cause Idolization
It's so easy to look at someone else living out their calling and think, "Gosh, they really have it all together." Then, in turn, look at your own life and how you are living out your simple "little calling" (or so you think) and feel as if you aren't really making a difference.
Social media is notorious for this and is practically a not-so-sweet haven for us to idolize others and their "outward" lives with thousands of followers. But, the Word is clear on this issue, and countless verses that tell us time and time again to flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14, Jonah 2:8, Colossians 3:5)
Friend, your calling isn't meant to make you an idol-worthy influencer. It is meant to make you a bold and passionate follower of Jesus, sharing a message of hope (John 3:16). So if your calling is leading you to idolize or compare yourself to others, step away from social media or the places that are ransoming your heart and get still before God. Seek His face, and invite Him into this need compare through idolization, so He can capture your heart in a new way.
5. Comparison Can Breed Fear and Doubt
How often have you felt fear and doubt, or maybe even ill-equipped and incapable of your calling? Yep, same. It's a rabbit hole I go down often if I am honest with myself. Sigh.
You are not alone if you have ever felt unworthy of your calling. Truly, it is a battle we all face at some point. Sometimes, we fall into a slump where we tap into those feelings and have them on repeat, playing like a broken record. Yet, these are not feelings that are meant to be any part of the gracious gift (calling) God has given us. God doesn't call us to things we are ill-equipped or unable to do; He calls us to things He knows to hold a purpose for us and for others (2 Timothy 1:9).
The truth is that we will not fulfill our calling perfectly. Nobody will. We live in a world bound by sin, and so, of course, we will encounter the messy places where our humanness meets the holy calling deemed by God.
Maybe Romans 11:29 can give us some assurance, as it claims that the gifts and calling God gives are irrevocable. That means God will not withdraw them from our lives, or think we aren't doing a good job, or that we are sinning too much. While this verse pertains to Israel at the time and for them to return to God, it is also a sweet message for us that He is always faithful and full of grace. His plan and purpose for us will always come to pass.
Moving from Comparison to Completion
Colossians 2:10 leaves us with a sweet reminder. As believers, we have the full assurance that we are nothing without Christ, but we are full and complete with Him. Jesus is the way to living out our calling. He is the Truth that sets us free, and He gives us a rich and full life that allows us to put aside the comparisons and lean into Him.
So, what is your calling, my friend? How are you living it out? Are you bending to comparison or feeling fully cable and complete in the One that bestowed that calling to you in the first place?
Originally published Tuesday, 23 January 2024.