the shape of leadership

A Garrison Against Comparison

Stop measuring yourself against others

Vicki Farina on October 10, 2018

Leaders who fall into the comparison trap often feel like they are missing out, that God is withholding something from them, or that they don’t measure up to the expectations of other people. This can cause panic that inevitably misshapes their expectations of themselves and others.

Normally, the human ego (personal identity) tries to calm its fear, fill its emptiness and level insecurities by continuously comparing itself against other people or things. These competitive comparisons are at the heart of pride. Appeasing our fragile egos through comparison to anything other than God’s ideal for our lives results in frustration, exhaustion and preoccupation — and ultimately causes us to chase a mere semblance of our true mission.

Every leader has a mission — and a possible shadow mission. If we don’t build a garrison around unhealthy comparisons, we will live out a shadow mission by pleasing other people rather than fulfilling God’s mission. How can ministry leaders avert the obsession with comparison?

Focus on your gifts and strengths. If David had worn Saul’s armor into battle, he would have succumbed to a shadow mission. Focusing on the strengths of other people while emphasizing your own weaknesses inhibits your ability to fulfill the story God designed for you (Psalm 139:13-18). When it’s your time to lead, step out in confidence, and don’t allow comparisons to sabotage your mission.

What comparisons haunt you that would lead to a shadow mission in your life? Who wants to settle for defeating the giant in a borrowed coat of armor when a slingshot and five stones will bring greater glory to God?

When it’s your time to lead, step out in confidence, and don’t allow comparisons to sabotage your mission.

Take “me” off the stage. Even when others might appreciate the gifts and strengths you could bring to the table, you must wait for God’s timing. David, a man who honored the person in authority over him, knew when to step aside.

As a leader, practice the art of honoring others rather than being the star of the one-upmanship show. Rest in the love and acceptance of Jesus, recognizing that building your own résumé isn’t the mission to which God is calling you.

This change in perspective is liberating. You will no longer feel the need to do things to make yourself look good. Instead, you can work for God’s glory — and for the sheer joy of walking in His will. When you see others shine, this Kingdom paradigm will fill the emptiness that always looks to compare.

Stop “shoulding” yourself. Unhealthy and unrealistic comparisons often lead to statements such as, “I should have ___” or “I shouldn’t have ___.” These types of declarations keep us staring in the rearview mirror of life, causing us to miss out on the blessings that are right in front of us.

Sometimes failures and mistakes serve as our greatest teachers, so stop living in the rearview mirror, and move on with greater wisdom and a renewed sense of gratitude for today.

What “shoulding” do you need to stop?

Quiet your soul. Ask God to give you a glimpse into your own heart. Keep a journal regarding the things that trigger you to compare yourself to other people. Be brutally honest, and repent.

Write a letter of surrender to God. Acknowledge the triggers and the feelings you experience. Ask God to give you His perspective.

Pray. Use David’s outline: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious [comparing] thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Enjoy blessed rest and peace — and a life lived on mission — as you build a garrison against comparison in your life.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2018 edition of Influence magazine.


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