A while back I was sitting in a restaurant thumbing through Facebook on my phone waiting for my lunch appointment to arrive. One of the posts in my feed was from a seminary classmate of mine who pastors a church in the midwest. He had posted a video of one of his sermons.
It’s fun to have the ability to keep up with the current work of old classmates and see what they are doing, but at the same time it has the potential to be detrimental to my soul.
The sermon my friend posted wasn’t a message he delivered at his church but a message he delivered at a conference attended by a few thousand students. I still had some time before my lunch appointed arrived so I clicked on the link and began to watch while sipping my lemon water and playing with my fork. At first I thought, “This will be fun and a good way to catch up with my friend’s ministry.” But not even two minutes into the sermon, jealousy began to surface in my heart.
In his opening remarks he made a comment about the privilege to share the stage with the guy who spoke before him. After he mentioned his name I had to stop the video and back it up a few times. “Did he say who I thought he said?!” Then after watching those few seconds a few more times, “Yup. He did.”
The pastor he mentioned has written three books read by just about every church goer around. He speaks all over the world and is doing amazing work for the Kingdom. Everybody knows him and my friend was getting to speak with him.
In those few seconds my curiosity and intrigue about my friends ministry turned to comparison and insecurity. All of a sudden, just because he shared a stage with a well-known church leader, I began to regard my friend’s work as more meaningful and significant than mine. All joy was gone.
At the end of John’s gospel Jesus invites Peter out for an after breakfast walk along the beach. While on their walk, Jesus gives Peter a specific calling with specific instructions for leading and ministering in the church. At the end of the conversation, Peter looks back and notices another disciple following them and says to Jesus, “What about that guy?”
Jesus basically replies saying, “I have plans for him as well, but what is that to you?”
It’s easy to be overly concerned about what Jesus is doing in the lives of other people. Why is he getting that opportunity? Why does she have that and I don’t? In those moments we start to dwell on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have. And then lose focus on what’s really important, Jesus. After Jesus says to Peter, “What is that to you?” He then says, “You must follow me.”
When our sights are set on Christ and not on others, when we are able to find joy in what we do have rather than focusing on what we don’t have, we are then able to celebrate with others rather than compare.
Where have you seen comparison kill your joy?