On a scale of one to ten, how do you measure up? Are you tall enough? Pretty enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? And on that scale, which number represents enough? Do you have to score a ten or will a solid seven do? How about a five? It’s better than average, right? Most of us measure how we’re doing by how everyone else is doing. Not a day goes by that we’re not tempted to glance to the left and to the right to see how we measure up to the people around us. This is especially true at school. We see everyone else’s grades, clothes, athletic ability, talent, and popularity. And it’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up. So we adjust course, try harder, spend more, and then compare again. It’s exhausting. In this 3-part series, Andy Stanley explores the difficult—but not impossible—challenge of escaping The Comparison Trap.
Session One: The Land of Er
Bottom Line: There’s no win in comparison.
Have you ever heard of a win-win outcome? Comparison is the opposite of that. When we look to our left and our right to compare ourselves to others, we are engaging in a lose-lose activity. And, we may not even realize how destructive it is. Being smart-er or funny-er or awesome-er may feel like a short-term win, but for ourselves, our friends, and our family, comparison is a game with no winners. King Solomon was wise-er (not to mention rich-er, cool-er, and powerful-er) than anyone around him. And what he says about all of it may come as a surprise. Through his words we find that real satisfaction may not come from winning the game of comparison, but from bowing out of the competition altogether.
Session Two: Looking Around
Bottom Line: Take your cue from the one who made you.
Who is the one person you’d love to hear say, “you’re awesome”? Is it your dad? A coach? A sibling? A teammate? We all have a tendency to look toward other people when we want to know if we’re okay. And if we’re honest, most of us have a nagging suspicion that we fall short no matter how hard we try. It’s human nature to look for approval, but what if we’ve been looking in the wrong place? God has something to say about whether we’re okay, whether we “measure up”. And it may not be what you think. As we take a closer look, His opinion of us may provide something we haven’t yet found comparing ourselves to others.
Session Three: It’s In The Bag
Bottom Line: What you’ve been entrusted with is far less important than what you do with what you have.
Have you ever looked at someone else and thought, “Does he/she have more ______ than me?” Comparison is being caught in the trap of constantly asking how we measure up to others. “Do they have more money than me?” “Do they get more attention from others?” “Are they more talented than me?” We preoccupy ourselves with these questions, but God has a better plan. Jesus was a great storyteller. He used the story of three servants, each entrusted with a certain amount of money, to illustrate the question God would have us ask—a question that will free us from the comparison trap once and for all.