Shortly after Cole was born, I was holding him and watching Chloe play. I turned to Amy and said, “I know this is awful to say, but I wish he’d hurry up and grow up a little, so we can do more things with him like we do with Chloe.”
Right then and there I broke what I consider a cardinal sin of parenthood. I compared my children. Forget the fact that there are obvious differences between the two. For instance, one is a girl and the other is a boy. There are 19 months between them. Chloe’s eyes are dark brown, while Cole’s are bright blue. But comparing physical characteristics isn’t what I did. No, I compared their personal development; I compared their abilities.
This always bugged me when I was a kid. I hated it whenever someone compared me to my sister or my brother. Teachers did it. Coaches did it. I never liked it because I thought people ought to judge me based on who I was, not based on who I was related to. And here I had done that very thing with my own children!
Did you know that our heavenly father doesn’t compare his children? Isn’t that a relief?
He gives each of us certain gifts and abilities, and expects us to use them for his kingdom. Do you know who it is who usually ends up comparing those gifts and abilities, thereby drawing unflattering comparisons between us and others?
That’s right, we do. We often turn out to be our own worst enemies.
That was the case at the church in Corinth. They started playing the comparison game, and needed the Apostle Paul to straighten them out. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the idea of a human body to make his point: “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the body” (verse 15).
I’ve talked with countless people who think they have nothing to offer God because they’re busy playing the comparison game. “I can’t sing like her.” “I can’t pray like him.” Well, maybe they can’t. But singing and praying may not be the gift God gave them. And because they don’t have the gift of singing or praying, that doesn’t disqualify them from being a part of the body of Christ. What they have to do is discover the gift (or gifts) God has given them, and start using them.
It’s been my personal experience that if you compare yourself to others, you’ll always find yourself falling short in some way, and end up feeling discouraged.
Don’t fall into this trap. Our heavenly father doesn’t compare us to others.
Neither should we.
Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville. His column runs every other week in Sunday Life.