“Comparison is the thief of joy”
– Teddy Roosevelt
With that quote in mind, let me start off by saying, “My kid is better than your kid!” He is well rounded, gets his looks from his mother (thank God), physically fit, wisely went to my Alma Mater for college, and has it all together. Okay, maybe I am bit bias and maybe this statement was just said to get you thinking. For today there were several things that came across my path that challenged me on the concept of ‘Comparisons.’
The biggie is the Twitter world being all aflutter about who is the GOAT in the NBA – King James or Mr. Air Jordan? I mean, think about what LeBron has done in the past few seasons – and especially in this years playoffs. And then think of Jordan’s career and his stats. The debate will never really be over. I love what Pippen said – it’s unfair to compare them for they played in different positions and when the game was different – but the greatest (for Pippen) is Wilt Chamberlain – way to go ‘Wilt the Stilt’ – or as he preferred ‘The Big Dipper” (for he had to dip his head on most doorways).
But we saw other comparisons in the news recently – comparing wedding dresses for the royals, comparing politicians, comparing whether you hear Yanny or Laurel, comparing storm and damage from storms (My storm was worse than yours! Really?), and comparing characters in movie reboots (which Lando is sexier? Who stole the show? Again, really?)
Now, I’ve too have been caught in the comparison trap. Lisa’s blog – Connections2Excellence – is only two weeks old, and already she has double the readers than me – what! Why? What’s going on here. I get her grammar is better, her style is extremely professional, she puts hours upon hours in to each blog, and her topics are a bit more serious. But hey, I’m funny (at least in my mind) and I’ve done this longer. ((Okay, now you want to check her blog out, so I guess I made her even more successful.))
And that’s not all in my wallowing in the trap of comparison – I compare careers with others. Why do other ministers have churches? What good is all this education, all my experience, and all that other stuff if I am to be working at a hotel and a fast food establishment? I compare churches and possibilities. I look and it’s tough.
And why can’t I hit the trails like others. I look at others in a similar place in life and I see they seem to enjoy life more, have more free time, hike more, have better equipment, and just more.
And why don’t I get as many ‘likes’ as the next guy. Why can’t I have a car like that, a job like that, a house like that, and so on and so on – this really is tough to think about.
Unless? Unless there is something else – something beyond what we just see, beyond what is in the comparisons. Unless God has a lesson to teach and a faith to strengthen.
Two Quotes hit home. The first was at the top of this article. Teddy Roosevelt said comparison steals joy – what a great tweet from a President long before Tweets were even thought of. It steals, robs, takes away our joy.
Another is a quote from Mere Christianity by CS Lewis – “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud.” Ouch – CS hit home here. Do I often just want something just because of pride – to say I have something, or more of something, than you do. We need to remember the grass may be greener on the other side, but it could be because it’s over the septic tank.
Thom Rainer wrote an article on comparisons – and he wisely showed that comparison, if used to learn and better ourselves, can be healthy – comparison that is not about pride or about letting our joy be stolen can be beneficial so we can expand our possibilities and viewpoint.
Here are a few of his points …
- Stay focused on what God is blessing where you are. Bloom where you’re planted and realize God is blessing there.
- Comparisons only make matters worse. It will steal joy, cause jealousy/covetousness, and develop ingratitude for what we do have.
- We should be in a state of joy and contentment – and to compare will steal that joy.
- Comparison is short term perspective. We need to be in this for the long haul. We should not be stuck in the here and now but in the vision of where God is taking us.
We can compare – but let it be for growth, not pride or self-pity. May we learn from others always and may our true joy and fulfillment be found in Him, not our circumstances.
Final Note – My kid is great – but it is not because I compare him to yours, but because I see the blessing for who he is. I thank God for him and that he is growing in grace in a mighty way (and he is still single, and being blessed in that state. But, if there are any godly women looking for a prince charming, he’s pretty close, and I am praying for you right now – don’t tell him I put this here)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Phil 4.11-13 ESV