This is a guest post by Tyler Braun. Tyler is a pastor from Portland, Oregon whose first book, Why Holiness Matters, just released. Learn more about a special offer for purchasing the book. You can find Tyler on Twitter, Facebook, or his blog.
2 Keys to Moving Beyond the Danger of Comparison
“I’ll never be able to write like that.”
“If my church had the resources that church had then we’d be set.”
“I sure wish God had given me the musical talent he has.”
“What I would give to have as many church members as him.”
Admit it, you’ve had thoughts just like this. Probably more than once.
Maybe even today.
We’re all prone to compare ourselves to those around us. As a writer,
pastor, and musician I’m constantly wondering how I stack up next to others
out there doing similar things. Do people like me as much or more than
Comparison is dangerous. Give yourself enough time comparing your meager
efforts in life and you’ll begin to realize just how awful you really are.
Comparison is dangerous for what is does to you, underneath the surface. It
wages a war against your morale and puts you into a submission that forces
But comparison also tarnishes the Creator God who created you His image.
Consider Brennan Manning’s tough words:
“Any attempt to measure the value of our lives by comparison and contrast
to others belittles our gifts and dishonors God by our ungratefulness” (pg.
144, Ruthless Trust).
None of us want to dishonor the God who created us. None of us want to
remain stagnant by comparing ourselves to others. Yet we do it. Over and
Having struggled mightily with this over the past year, I’ve yet to rid my
life of comparison, but I have been able to overcome it much more often.
Rather than being stuck in the prison of comparison that damages my
self-worth and dishonors God I’ve allowed 2 principles to move me past the
danger of comparison.
1. Speak Truth to Yourself
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. In comparison to others, what is
lost is the truth about how God sees you and how He has gifted you.
Every morning I spend the first 15 to 45 minutes in prayer, meditation, and
reading. I always end the time by reciting this short and simple prayer of
*You are not defined by what you do. You are defined by who you are. You
are a son of the King.”
Comparison sums up our lives by what we’ve done in the past rather than
looking to the future, and it certainly doesn’t take stock of where our
identity should be placed.
Mere words or the recitation of a short prayer won’t have a short term
effect but they could very well by the launching point for you.
It’s often the smallest, incremental shift that leads to the most
significant change in our lives.
2. Discover and Develop Your Gifts
Comparison brings us down because we’re trying to impute someone else’s
gifts into our lives. God didn’t create us that way.
We weren’t created in order to try to become like someone else. We were
created to discover how God uniquely made us and to live out this creation.
But discovering is not the end game. We all know someone who has incredible
gifts and talents but squanders it all away by not developing what they’ve
This is where the help and influence of others come in. I’ve yet to
discover a gift of mine without the influence of another person who helped
me see what I could not.
You cannot simply know your gifts, you must understand them.
We can know our gifts through textbooks but we must develop them by living
them out to truly understand them. Through our engagement of relationship
with God and others we can continue living out the creation within us.
God asks one thing of you: Be who you are created to be.
As the old saying goes, “Be who you is, cause if you ain’t who you is, you
is who you ain’t.”
Those of you who have struggled to move beyond the danger of comparison,
please share some of your comparison story in the comments.
Join the discussion 42 Comments
Thanks again, Ron and Tyler. I'm really looking forward to reading it…hopefully I don't compare my ability to write a book to his especially since all of my books were written in crayon sentence fragments.
Update: Bob Garbett and Adam Lockhart won the books given away on this post. They've been contacted by email. Congratulations and thanks for reading.
Tyler! Whenever I get into the impulse of comparing myself with others, I remind myself of the verse from 1Corinthians 12:12 "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body" and verse 20 "As it is, there are many parts, but one body." This keeps reminding me that I am a unique creation and I need to celebrate that truth.
Wow, amazing……………..! Thanks for the timely reminder. Just what I needed. Sincere thanks and God bless!
Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain
Cape Town South Africa
this is something that I used to struggle with real bad, and unfortunately still do more than i like to admit. Thank you for this post.
A one of a kind, unique you or me-no matching fingerprints- CANNOT be compared. Easy to say, hard-NOT impossible- to do with God's help!! Tweeted this post! Thanks!
Thank you for this post, Tyler. The parable of the Prodigal son has always been the story that reminds me of comparison's bitter fruits: envy, jealousy, and insecurity. Nouwen's book on the parable (and associated Rembrandt painting) is one I read again and again, partly because it communicates these dangers so powerfully. Your reminders here about belonging to God and finding value in that are exactly what the brothers in this story needed to hear–and words that can help us all push past the dangers of comparison in our daily lives. Thanks again.
Great connection to that parable and this subject. I hadn't immediately thought of that but you're right, so much of that story is finding value in the wrong places.
"You cannot simply know your gifts, you have to understand them." Love that. What's the purpose, how do they benefit, encourage, promote God? Understanding the gifts we have and the purpose for which God has given them to us, helps us battle comparison. Believe comparison's always a battle, but we don't have to be defeated by it. Sounds like a great read!
A great friend of mine said that to me in the context of finding a mentor. I thought it related in helping us move beyond the grip of comparison.
Comparison! I struggle with comparing other Christians to myself and what God has called me to be and do. When I do this, it takes the form of judgement. I judge them for what God has called me to and progressively worked in me through His purposes at play in my life. I compare myself to them and I judge them for doing things that God has asked me not to do. I judge them by comparison of the life perspective I have gained by personally following after God’s plan for me. Some examples are some Christians drink alcohol, I don’t because God has asked me to abstain. Some Christians go to “R” rated movies, I don’t because God has asked me not too. There are TV shows God has asked me not to watch, other Christians watch them. I can’t let what God has spoken to me personally, or is teaching me personally, be a comparison of what other Christians are doing or not doing, otherwise I get a really judgemental attitude.
Thanks for sharing some of your personal struggle with this.
Wow, how timely is this one? Sometimes God just puts the right word out there that people need to hear. I have many friends (and myself included) who struggle with this in one way or another. Can't wait to check it out!
Great word for the church and its leaders to remember and to share with everyone! As a life and career coach I see this as a big reason so many lose hope and fall prey to the easy way of escape rather than being who God made them to be!
Sounds like a good book. I just retweeted the link. Thanks.
Exactly what I needed to see this Monday!
I'm a church planter in MI and I have a couple other guys in our denomination who have planted about an hour away. One in the denom president's son and the other was sent by a very large mother church with a huge budget and had hired full time staff from day one.
As I've wrestled with our more grass roots approach I'm often discouraged (though my wife is the only one who knows) by the fact that I feel under resourced. If we had the connections he had… If I had the name and pull he has… If we had those kind of funds…
…and that kind of thinking is destructive. Thanks again for this post. I'll be praying that prayer with you! "I am not defined by what I do. I am defined by who I am. I am a child of the King!"
Thanks for sharing some of your personal struggle Adam. I wish moving past comparison was easy but I do hope this helps you start that process.
Great post for Monday AM…thanks!
God, guide me for who I'm to be….not for who I think I need to be.
You're welcome Melissa. Glad this connected well with you.
This is so cool. This is the perfect time in my life to be reminded of these truths. I couldn't wait to share it on Facebook, because so many of my friends there need encouraging in just this area, and this post is perfect for where they are. I also hope some of my non-believing FB friends click through to read it, because it shows them a wonderfully fulfilling side to the claims of Christ. Good stuff!
Glad this is helpful for you and others Charles!
This sounds like an interesting, helpful read. I would love to win it.
Amazing how when we compare ourselves to others, that comparing usually gets in the way of our being the person that God has called us to be
Comparison is a dangerous trap – especially for those in ministry. I believe it is one of Satan's strongest lures toward discouragement.
Yes absolutely Bob.
This is an excellent piece that addresses a common problem. Even though Scripture tells us not to compare ourselves with others it's difficult not to do so. It's a way to keep score, but it forgets that God is the only scorekeeper that matters, and He is more interested in our obedience to what He has called us to be and do than how we stack up against others. Earlier in my ministry I played the comparison game, and every time it left me frustrated and ungrateful. Leaders need to focus on being the best they can be and enjoy the ministry God has given them.
Comparison is so dangerous to our true identity in Christ. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!
Thanks for that. Good stuff.
Comparison is a trap that keeps us from doing what God has purposed for our lives. It chips away at our self-worth causing us to believe that everyone does everything better than we will ever be able & thus we do nothing. This looks to be a good book. Thank you for the opportunity.
This looks like a good book. Comparison, like seeking approval, is a snare.