- Who’s a better cook than you?
- Who’s better at math than you?
- Who’s a better athlete than you?
- Who’s a better ____________ than you?
We have an innate tendency to compare ourselves to others. Choose a category, play this game, and you can always find someone who can do better than you. (I choose those three categories—cooking, math, and athletics—because anyone can out-perform me in those areas, including most rocks and pebbles.)
It’s not a healthy exercise, though.
Psychologists refer to the Social Comparison Theory, an idea that there is a drive within us to evaluate ourselves, and we do that by comparing ourselves to others. For the record, self-evaluation is good. It can keep us on track with goals. Scripture often calls us to examine ourselves to ensure we are walking with Christ as we should.
“Let’s examine and probe our ways, and turn back to the Lord” (Lam. 3:40).
But doing a self-evaluation by comparing ourselves to others is faulty. It gives us the wrong picture of ourselves. We cannot determine our worth by stacking our merits up against someone else.
You could compare yourself to those who are worse than you, but what good does that do? It gives a faulty, inflated sense of self-esteem. That explains the popularity of so many reality shows like Keeping Up with … The Real Housewives of … the Bachelor. We see the antics and behavior of these characters and think, “Hey, I’m really good compared to them.” When this attitude is adopted, no attempt is made to do better with our own lives. We remain unchanged on our couches basking in our arrogance and superior attitude.
It’s more typical for us to compare ourselves with those who appear better than us. We come out on the short end of the comparison, which can lead to depression and a deep dissatisfaction with ourselves. Nothing is gained from such comparisons.
Yes, there are people who can do certain things better than you. So what? That doesn’t make you a worse person. At the same time, there are some skills you can do better than other people. That doesn’t make you a better person.
God created you just the way you are. Thrive in that. Just be the best version of yourself, the person God created you to be. In The Inquisitive Christ, Cara L.T. Murphy wrote, “”Our God-stories are all written by the same Hand but with different settings and plots and character development.”
Consider the twelve disciples that walked closely with Jesus. They were so vastly different from one another in skills, temperaments, backgrounds, and personalities—and Jesus choose them that way. Jesus didn’t call twelve Peters nor did He try to mold the other eleven to be more like Peter. Jesus only needed one disciple like Peter.
Of course, that didn’t keep the disciples from playing their own comparison game! “An argument started among them about who was the greatest of them” (Luke 9:46). The disciples themselves still had to learn to follow Jesus, become like Jesus, and let Him transform them into the unique individuals God created them to be for His glory.
Christian growth is becoming more and more like Jesus—but that means what it says, becoming like Jesus, not some version of another Christian. If you’re so busy comparing yourself to someone else, you don’t have time to be the person God made you to be. And if you’re not being you, there’s no one else to step in and fill that unique role God has blessed you with.
God doesn’t need or want two believers exactly alike, but when you crave the role or abilities of others, you miss out on the blessing of being the person God wants you to be. Be the best version of yourself for God’s glory.
“Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else” (Gal. 6:4).
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