As pastors and leaders it’s so easy to get caught up in the game of trying to “improve” ourselves so that we can become more like _________. I am all for self-improvement, studying, formal education, and even looking to see what other people and organizations are doing and how I can apply it to my life. However, at a certain point this becomes unhealthy. We then lose sight of the actual reasons we’re trying to better ourselves and shift our focus to only trying to be better than or as good as _________.
This is called comparison. Now, I understand that comparison is nothing new, particularly in the context of leadership and business. We see comparison take place even with the closest disciples of Jesus in John 21. This shows us that this isn’t an issue that any of us are exempt to, no matter the length of our tenure or our closeness with Christ. So if this can be a problem for so many, how do we overcome it?
The first step is to be content with who you are and where you are. In Philippians 4:11 Paul writes that he has learned to be content whatever the circumstance, in need or plenty. We know this level of contentment ultimately can only come from solely relying on Christ to fulfill you and sustain you. To be content, you may have to take practical steps such as unfollowing some people, praying before you attend another church’s worship service, or limiting the negative self-talk in which you make yourself feel lesser.
The second step is to truly celebrate other people. There’s something about celebrating what God is doing in and through other people that helps you to see better in their situation. Often when you celebrate their win, you are invited into their world. You can see behind the curtain. You get a glimpse of the hard work they put in, the prayer, the study, the finances, and ultimately all of the things they sacrificed. Seeing these things allow you to appreciate them. It diminishes the thoughts like, “Well if I had what they had I would be able to do that too” or, “If I came from their family I would have that too.”
The third step to fight against comparison is to collaborate with others. When you collaborate with someone, you now have part-ownership of what they are doing. It becomes harder to think they are better than you, or worse than you when you’re in this together. You are sharing the load of the risks and the rewards. Not only that, you are now working together towards a unified mission or goal. This takes away the competition. You lose the mindset of getting to the goal before other people and instead begin to think about how you can take other people with you on the journey.
It is vital that we don’t fall into the same comparison trap that so many do. We are not like any other industry or business. We must remind ourselves that as Christian leaders, we are all working towards the same goal. We are not working against each other or trying to “one-up” each other. God has called us to be content in who He has called us to be and where He has placed us to be. He has called us to celebrate others as they move forward in their calling, and to collaborate with one another so that others will know God.