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  • Writer's pictureMark Alan Williams

How To Conquer The Curse Of Comparison

How can we overcome harmful comparing?

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Years ago, I attended a leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. It was wonderful, but I almost ruined my experience via the curse of comparison. It made me miserable.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a NIV)

Pastor Bill Hybels had started Willow about the same time I founded my church. But his had grown into one of the biggest and most impacting churches in the USA. I compared Hybels’ success with mine and the more I compared, the more discontent I became.

I was rotting inside as Proverbs 14:30 describes, “A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life; jealousy rots it away.” (TLB)

Comparison and jealousy rot us as they bring discontent, bitterness, unhappiness, depression, and anger.

I knew I needed to conquer the curse of comparison. But how could I do that?

In my recent article, How the Curse of Comparison Crushes, I showed why we often struggle with comparison.

In this article, I want to share how I began to conquer the curse of comparison:

Here’s what has helped me.

1. Rest in God’s Love

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you can see yourself through this God lens: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a NIV)

When I think of my Heavenly Father’s lavish love for me, comparing favorably with others doesn’t seem so important.

Thankfully, God bases His love on grace alone, not my stumbling efforts. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:4-5 NIV)

We can conquer the curse of comparison if we look at ourselves from God’s perspective and rest in His love.

Online ministry makes me a target for both Christians and pre-Christians. In response to my article 4 Reasons Why 90% Believe God Exists, (reposted by permission on ChurchLeaders) one apparent unbeliever commented, “My heart bleeds for the shallowness of your intellect.” Wow!

In response to my article on Warning – Stay Out of The Shack, one Christian admonished me to “Grow up.” Another commented “With all due respect you must be so clueless of the spirit realm.” Wow!

It’s good to know that my Heavenly Father loves me without reservation! I rest in His love.

2.  Use but Don’t Abuse Criticism

Criticism is like dynamite—it can do great harm or great good. Some use dynamite to blast away rock for gold mining. But suicide bombers put it in backpacks to kill people.

For several years, I was in a speakers’ club called Toastmasters. To improve as much as possible, at each club meeting we evaluated all who participated: all speakers, the program director, the evaluators and the chief evaluator. We shared both areas done well and things that needed to be improved. The result was major improvement.

Yet I have found two problems with criticism:

Allowing criticism to devastate me.

At times, I have allowed someone’s criticism to send me into despair.

However, I’m learning to apply the wisdom of Proverbs, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge and superior discernment shall the righteous be delivered.”(Proverbs 11:9 AMP)

When criticized, the right attitude is to learn from it, without letting it devastate me. The Apostle Paul set this example, “My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.” (Philippians 3:13b CEV)

Using criticism to devastate others.

“Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13 AMP)

Psychologist Arch Hart tells of a father who admitted telling his twelve-year-old son at least once a day that he would never amount to anything. He hoped that his son would rise up to prove him wrong. But the opposite happened. His son believed him and turned into a dropout and a drug addict. That father neglected the warning of Ephesians 6:4 which says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children.”

On the other hand, Pastor Andy Stanley is the highly-successful son of well-known author, radio and TV pastor Charles Stanley. Andy wrote in his book Visioneering: 

In many ways I feel I am the product of the vision my father cast for me as a child. Early on he would say to me, ‘Andy, God has something very special for your life. He is going to use you in a great way.’ His words found their way into my heart. The most significant visions are not cast by great orators from a stage. They are cast at the bedsides of our children.

Harvard Business Review[1] found that in high performing work teams, there were 5.6 positive comments for every negative comment. Medium performance teams averaged 1.9 and low-performing teams averaged .36. That’s 3 negatives to 1 positive.

With my family, I’ve tried to remember this six to one ratio. This doesn’t come naturally to me, so I put a note in my daily “to-do” list to remind me to practice this 6:1 ratio.

3.  Make Pleasing Jesus the Bottom Line

To me, this is key.

The Apostle Paul emphasized this in this strong warning of Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I am trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Many other passages affirm this simple overall goal of pleasing Jesus. For example, 1 Thessalonians 2:4b says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people.” (NLT)

2 Corinthians 10:13 says, “Our goal is to measure up to God’s plan for us.” (TLB)

I’ve found that the more I focus on pleasing God, the more secure I feel. I don’t worry as much about what others think of me, or how I can impress them. I’ve become less preoccupied with trying to feel good about myself. That seems to happen automatically when I focus on pleasing my Heavenly Father.

Making people happy with me can be impossible. Being happy with myself can also be challenging. Thankfully, I only need to please one Person—the One who loves me with a perfect love, no matter how I stack up to others.

Additional resources about related subjects on this site:

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