Friday, August 8, 2008

Your Pride's at Stake

Just recently, I read the following quote from my brother’s blog:

"Never compare yourself to someone else.You'll always find someone who is better than you, which leaves you discouraged. You'll always find someone who is not as good as you, which leaves you prideful.Either way, you're dead in the water."
-Rick Warren

It is an idea that I consider often, but one I’ve never been able to articulate as succinctly or as clear as Rick Warren. For several years I’ve embraced the notion that comparing myself to others is a waste of energy and focus, particularly when there will ALWAYS be someone who is smarter, prettier, funnier, richer and more successful than the girl peering in the mirror. (And yes, more JOYFUL....)

This thought protects me from the insecurities that are frequently a result of paralyzing comparisons, a mindset that has only developed through undesired discipline and life experiences God has placed before me. Choices made and paths followed that were typically influenced by the standards of the world always left me empty, unfulfilled and usually in a heap of trouble.

Efforts expended in achieving specific results either found me disheartened when I couldn’t measure up to others, or with an unrecognized arrogance and self-reliance that would never measure up before Christ.

This type of comparison, as so simply stated in the quote above, either leaves one discouraged or prideful. There are no other outcomes:

You get a lip injection and an eyebrow lift. Your lips are now pouty which others admire when you sip your drink with a straw, and you begin to think that Angelina might be your kin. Your lift makes your face appear refreshed, not to mention perpetually surprised, and your confidence is boosted by the approving glances of others. Your looks are often flattered, but so is your pride.

Accept that you are made in God's image, embracing the security and confidence you can have in Him.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

You work longer hours for that extra money to provide the lifestyle and status you deserve. You’re chairman of the board and others look to you as an example of success. You are closer to achieving new levels of wealth , but just as close to achieving new levels of pride.

Re-direct any achievements experienced as testimony to His faithfulness
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)

You sign up for every volunteer organization, say yes to every committee at church, and throw all the parties at your child’s school. Your time and attention for your family is stretched, but you achieve the status of volunteer of the year and the admiration of your peers. You are energized by the fuel for the “cause” while unknowingly fueling your pride as well.

Offer up your time and service as an extension of His love.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ( Galations 1:10)

You run your household like a well oiled machine. Your children look like they stepped out of an LL Bean catalog and they can recite the Periodic Table of Elements. Everyone admires your schedule, your organization skills , your adherence to the clock. You’ve got it all together, including your pride.

Re-route the success of your family and children to further His Kingdom.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)

You’re the center of attention at every party. Everyone wants to offer you an invitation because you are a fabulous, social hit. You fit in, you are well-liked, everyone is lucky to be around you. Meet your new friend, Mr. Pride.

Use your wit, and your personality, and love of crowds and people to bring all honor and glory to Him.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. “ (Colossians 3:17)

Don’t compare yourself to someone else. It’s a self-indulgent exercise that will only make you like yourself more or like yourself less. Either way, the end result can't bring about any good.

A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you.
C. S. Lewis


Anonymous said...

wow your brother has a great blog!

Anonymous said...

Great post-

Joni said...

Thanks Lauren!

Joni said...

Yeah, he does. I taught him everything he knows.... : )

Meritt said...

The first paragraph was excellent timing for me as I've been second guessing myself all night long.

You see... tonight 'back home' is my 20th High School reunion. I was on the fence on whether to go or not...

Not feeling good enough as I'm not an accomplished, well, anything. I'm not a psychologist or a doctor. I didn't get my masters degree. I'm not thin and beautiful. I don't make a million dollars...

ya know? Not that most of my classmates probably do either (some of them - yes, but most, probably not) Still - I couldn't do it.

I didn't go. I stayed home tonight and made a new tote bag instead. LOL.

Joni said...

Reunions are tough. It can be the "land of comparisons" and make you questions the priorities and choices made according to the standards of the world.

But, I bet if you asked your family - particularly your children - their thoughts on the influence you have had in your own household, they wouldn't have you any other way.

georgia mom said...

Ok. I couldn't help noticing that you wrote this awesome post after having lunch with me... Oh, Joni, I know that it is tough having a friend like me. I should have known you were feeling discouraged when you used my name at Panera. Listen, God made us all special. Not everyone can have hair color like mine. It takes a LONG time for the ends to look like they've been dipped in white paint. And to have roots like mine...well...have patience.
And it must have been an extra blow when I could pay for my meal...

Seriously, great post. I love the verse "Comparison is the thief of all joys." I don't know exactly where in the Bible it is..but I know it is in there.

Ps. yes... that is my last joke about your unfortunate debit card incident.

Joni said...

You got me. It was VERY difficult to eat with someone who is smarter, prettier, richer and funnier. Ok, maybe not funnier... : )

I'm just so thankful you're my friend (and future roommate)anyway....

JMom said...

I really loved this post. I was just having a very similar conversation with someone the other day. You had words to summarize a lot of what has been rambling through my brain. My problem is that I am now 'over it' and I feel really negative in social situations.

Joni said...


I don't find you negative at all. In fact, you are refreshingly real, with an eternal perspective that is contagious.

Nope. Nothing negative about that.