For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding. We, however, will not boast beyond measure but according to the measure of the area of ministry that God has assigned to us, which reaches even to you. 2 Cor. 10:12-13
“I’m the best writer I know.”
The conversation has stuck with me for years. We had just moved to a new town and I was talking with a couple of church-leader friends about church ministry type stuff. In that context, one of them casually dropped his very revealing self-assessment. He wasn’t joking, but I don’t think he thought it through, either. And he wasn’t directing it at me, necessarily. But there it was, a brick wall thrown up where an open door should have been.
“No, you’re not.”
I didn’t say it out loud, but that’s what I was thinking. Because I am hard-wired the same as him and every other person who walks the earth. We’re sinful, so we’re prideful, and we compare.
Paul called it foolishness.
Whether comparison has you feeling too high or too low, it is a subtle, yet dangerous, missing of the point. Comparison can have you thinking, “You would be more useful if you could __________ ,” or it can have you thinking, “You could be the next (insert really important person’s name here).”
Either way, reject that mess.
When you measure yourself by yourself, or compare yourself to another person, it diminishes the greatness of God, as if His designs for a life are not big or important enough. In a low sense, what happens next is you don’t live out your purpose and calling, because you’re too busy wishing it was something else. In a high sense, you fail to help others to live out their purpose and calling, because you’re too busy being impressed by your own.
You are not the next (insert name here). The world doesn’t need one of those. You are you, with specific gifts, experiences, and a sphere of influence that only you have (1 Cor. 7:17).
You would not be more useful if you had someone else’s gifts and abilities. You are meant to be useful exactly in the way God purposed you to be (1 Cor. 15:10).
The problem with comparison is that it always misses the mark. If you want to compare something, compare God’s call on your life to the reality of how you’re living (2 Cor. 10:13). That’s the only comparison that matters.
There is freedom from both pride and insecurity when we focus on God’s call instead of our own abilities. And then a remarkable thing happens – the brick walls of comparison crumble, and others’ gifts become open doors through which God helps us live out the reality of that call together.