Why Comparing Yourself To Others Is An Absolute Waste Of Time.
I never have trouble sleeping. I mean I never have trouble sleeping. I’ve fallen asleep on metal chairs, on wooden picnic tables, while hunting (not recommended), with my kids yelling in the background, right after drinking coffee, and once or twice while talking to my wife (most definitely not recommended). But this last week was a different story. For two nights in a row, I could not get to sleep. When I did sleep it was short and not restful. Why did I have this problem?
It all started with one simple, little, and unassuming question: why did I decide not to have a Good Friday service this year?
REALLY!? This was what kept me up for hours and messed with my sleep schedule? This was the reason for my troubles? Yes. And also no.
My real problem was that I saw other churches in town, and all across the country, that were having Good Friday services and I felt that I had somehow missed the boat. You know, I somehow missed God on this one. I compared what we were doing to what they were doing and I knew right then and there that I had obviously messed up.
We had an Ash Wednesday service and we would have a pancake breakfast, an Easter egg hug, Easter services, and baptisms but no Good Friday service. Some pastor I turned out to be. We had one last year, but when I prayed about it, I didn’t think we should do one this year. So the decision was made not to have a Good Friday service this year.
Thoughts slowly began flooding into my mind that I was an awful pastor. Soon after this, I realized that I was an awful dad, husband, friend, and yes a horrible human being. I let God down and I let everyone else down too. What kind of person decides not to have a Good Friday service!?
This is the point where you think to yourself, “Really Josh? I mean really? You call that a problem? Dude, look around. There are some real problems out there. This isn’t a big deal at all!” I would have totally agreed with you! I didn’t know what my deal was.
My wife even gave me a scripture about how comparisons are unwise. Thanks, babe. I will sleep better tonight, or so I thought. It didn’t help. I remembered the scripture about the good and faithful servants who did what the master asked them to do. I was being obedient and doing what I felt was right. Still didn’t help.
These thoughts of comparisons and failure kept smacking my brain like ocean waves against the rocky shore. It wouldn’t stop. It was relentless. It was wearing me out.
This went on for two days and nights. I kept quoting scripture and praying and even stayed off social media. Still couldn’t shake it.
Finally, it happened. I woke up Thursday morning and the only thought in my head was “Do what YOU are supposed to do.” As simple as that statement is I found peace and comfort in it. Simply obey what God wants me to do and He will find me faithful. That’s it. It was a burden off my shoulders.
If every other church in the country, all 450,000 of them, were having a Good Friday service and we were the only one not having one than so be it! I was done comparing my life, walk, calling, and vocation to others. I was done comparing apples to oranges. I am just going to do what I am supposed to do. What I feel God is leading me to do I will faithfully do. I feel like I had already learned this lesson before but obviously I needed to hear it again.
Do you want to know what I learned from all of this? Comparing yourself to others is an absolute waste of time. Those 48 hours were miserable. I got stuff done and I lived my life but I was uneasy and not at peace. Why? Because I foolishly compared myself to others. I wasted so much time worrying and comparing when I could have been sleeping, being present with my kids, or being more focused on the task in front of me.
The redeeming part of this lesson happened Friday night. My wife and I are foster parents and we received a phone call at 5:00 pm that a kiddo needed placement in a home for the weekend. This was proving to be difficult since it was after office hours and it was a Holiday weekend! Since we were not having a Good Friday service we could say yes to placing a kiddo in our home. All of that comparing and worrying seemed ridiculous now.
We did what we were supposed to do. We didn't have a service this year but we took care of a kid who needed a home.
I wouldn't take either one of those decisions back.
How about you? Have you ever compared yourself to someone else? How did that go? What did you learn?
Until Monday, Josh