I believe one of the greatest hindrances to discovering our “unique” contributions in extending the Kingdom of God is comparison. Whether you’re waiting for a promise or in the middle of living it out, a huge temptation is to compare yourself with others and, in turn, lose focus on who God has created you to be. We’re often unable to hear, see, or clearly move into who He has created us to be because we get caught in the trap of comparing who we are or who we think we should be—with others. This has been a huge obstacle that I’ve had to overcome at different seasons of my own journey. I believe one of the greatest hindrances to discovering our “unique” contributions in extending the Kingdom of God is comparison.
From a young age, I’ve had a passionate desire to be all that God has made me to be. I’m a visionary and dreamer with a hunger to see significant things happen. I long to be a part of a move of God that becomes a fire that transforms families, cities, culture, and nations.
I long to see hearts awakened, people encountering the true God, see millions saved and the name of Jesus be famous across the earth. Don’t get me going! However, my zeal, passion, and genuine desire to be a part of something significant for the Kingdom of God has, at times, caused me to seek to bypass or even skip the process of what God has been at work doing in my own life by getting caught comparing myself to others, losing sight of who I am, and taking matters into my own hands. This behavior I can often exhibit is fueled by my need for approval, various insecurities related to my identity, and a flat out lack of trust in the God who created me. I struggle, questioning whether what I am is enough. If you have any of these same battles, know you’re not alone.
God refines leaders through opportunity. He often makes them wait.
When a leader also has more opportunity than time, He makes them decide and become more focused. God refines leaders through opportunity.
Too often, I have jumped, seeking the approval of others and wanting other leaders or people around me to recognize, call out, validate, and acknowledge that I have what it takes to be a leader. The problem is simple: what I am seeking from others I should be getting first and foremost from God. On a long walk one day, battling my way through another moment like the one I just described, God led me to Psalm 57:
I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. - Psalm 57:2
The words on the page jumped out at me and struck right to my heart. I was becoming impatient because things weren’t lining up, doors weren’t opening, and I wasn’t being recognized. I was looking around at everyone else who seemed to have everything going their way. In God’s kindness, He gently reminded me that He alone was the one who fulfills the purpose for my life and that I needed to stop comparing myself to others and put my trust in Him alone.
Compare or Cultivate
Comparison is clearly a strategy of the enemy to keep followers of Jesus and leaders from being all that God has created them to be. The answer, however, is not just to stop comparing ourselves to other people. The answer is to understand the unique way we have each been shaped and called by God to contribute to others. Knowing who are we means also coming to terms with who we aren’t. In order to fully embrace your strengths and develop into the leader and follower God has called you to be, you have to identify who you aren’t and be okay with it. The point and reality is that your weakness is someone else’s strength. Knowing who are we means also coming to terms with who we aren’t.
I grew up playing team sports like soccer, basketball, and baseball. I love being on a team and have learned so much about leadership and life through sports. One of the clear lessons is that a team needs a variety of strengths to win and be great. Take soccer, for example. You need a variety of skills and strengths to make a strong team. The defender, playmaker, goal scorer, keeper—the list goes on. Together, a good team blends multiple strengths and positions to work together to accomplish a common goal.
An orchestra is another helpful example of this. You need multiple instruments to make a beautiful and moving piece of music. But for a team, orchestra, and something good to occur, each must accept and focus on better cultivating his or her part—the strength, role, and contribution each has been gifted to make. Being just like someone else makes for confusion and it creates deficiency in the group’s overall contribution.
Once we shift from comparing ourselves to others to cultivating the gifts and strengths God has created us to bring, something new begins to happen. If we focus on what we’re called to do, then the temptation to compare ourselves to others really doesn’t make sense and becomes less appealing. Our time, energy, and focus need to go towards cultivating who it is God has made us to be, not comparing ourselves with others.
This was written for the book “Awakening” by Terry B. Walling. You can check it out here.