few weeks ago, I asked this question to a group of women sitting my living room: What is it about us as women that make us struggle so much with comparison and competition?
Why do we let this paralyze us?
This question came in light of Jen Hatmaker’s book “For The Love”, in which she shares “I was so hamstrung by what everyone else was accomplishing. Other people were my benchmarks, and comparison stole entire years. I lost much time in jealousy, judgment, and imitation. I just couldn’t find my own song. I struggled to celebrate others’ achievements because they felt like indictments on my uncertainty.”
Over and over I see this, women cutting each other down to build themselves up. Women stuffing their gifts in jealousy of another’s. Women thinking their small acts of obedience or their mundane, simple life, is less important than the Christian celebrities? It paralyzes us from seeing what God has for us and seeing the people and opportunities we have right in front of us to love others and serve Jesus.
And I keep wondering why? Why is this something that is plaguing our generation? Why are we as women so hindered by competition and comparison? What is it that causes us to be women who tear down, rather than build up?
Then I remembered, this is really nothing new. It may seem prevalent today more so because of social media and blogs and conferences, but this has been around for centuries.
In John 10:10-11, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Competition destroys joy.
Jealousy kills friendships.
What is it that causes us to be women who tear down, rather than build up?
The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Satan, the Father of Lies has a masterful plan for your life: he is doing anything he possibly can to keep you from the life abundant Jesus calls us to and I think comparison, jealousy, and competition are some of his greatest weapons against women in our generation. When we give way to competition and comparison, we give the enemy victory in our lives
If the enemy can keep us looking side to side, we never look up. Our eyes move off of Christ and His call on our lives, and move on to looking at our sister and the call on hers.
As long as there is competition among us, there can never be unity within. That is why we have to pledge to be women who build each other up, instead of tear each other down. We cannot give the enemy 10 years of our lives because we let comparison and competition destroy us.
The only way out of comparison and competition among us as sisters is the Gospel. Remembering we have been created in the image of God, in a specific time and place, with unique gifts and experiences and we are to steward those for the glory of God.
We have to be willing to fight competition and jealousy with Gospel truth. Christ did not die on the Cross and redeem us so that we would sit on the sidelines and watch others run their race. Or even worse, sit on the sidelines and trip others who are running their race, with our competing and jealous attitudes.
Part of this battle among women can be won by learning to see women who are graced with different personalities and gifts as a treasure, rather than a threat. If we can begin to see that being made different is a good thing, then we can begin to value one another and build each other up for the sake of the Kingdom.
We know we’re given gifts to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13)
We are gifted to build up, attain unity, and mature into the fullness of Christ.
There is no place for sibling rivalry in the family of God.
When we begin to see that our personality, our gifts, our neighborhoods, our seasons of life are all purposed by God, we can begin to walk in obedience toward what God has for us.
We have to be willing to fight competition and jealousy with Gospel truth.
I love the way Chuck Swindoll talks about his mother. He shares in a sermon how he remembers as a young child his mother making meals for their neighbors and taking it to them. He remembers her inviting a friend far from God over for meals and into their home regularly, eventually sharing the Gospel with this friend and leading her to Christ. He remembers her locking herself in the bathroom and putting a sign on the door that said something along the lines of, “Don’t come in. I’m spending time with Jesus”.
Chuck Swindoll’s mother looked at what was in front of her and was faithful to the call to love God and love others. She didn’t speak from a platform, start a non-profit, write books, or move across the world to a different country. She loved the lost, served her neighbors, and modeled a vibrant love for Jesus for her family. She nurtured Chuck Swindoll and witnessed to him for many years before he became a Christian, in her very own home.
Other women are called to those places of public ministry, I think of Christine Caine or Beth Moore who are discipling entire generations by obeying their call. I remember reading about Katie Davis, who as a young single woman decided to leave America and move to Uganda and adopt 13 girls in her twenties.
Could you imagine if any of these women were to shrink back from obedience out of jealousy or competition? Could you imagine if they looked at each other and out of comparison decided their gifts and calling were to be stuffed rather than stewarded? The Kingdom of God would suffer greatly!
It is a hard battle to fight, but I think it’s worth it. If we can keep our eyes on Christ and our head down, obeying our own calling, we can be for each other, instead of against. I have been so thankful to partner with women in ministry who are gifted differently than me, because where I am weak, they are strong. And together, rather than in competition, we can do great things for God in our small acts of obedience. Together, in unity, we not only build each other up, but we build up the Kingdom.
Together, in unity, we not only build each other up, but we build up the Kingdom.
We have to fight to become women who build each other up, who call out gifts in one another, and encourage those around us to steward what God has given us. Through making meals for your neighbor, showing mercy toward the lost, or teaching bible study, we all have a part to play and gifts to give. Let’s be women who spur each other on toward love and good deeds, fight the good fight, and finish the race, with our arms linked together and our eyes on Christ.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
Do you know your gifts? How are you stewarding them to those around you?
How have you let comparison, competition, or jealousy paralyze you?
How can you move forward in obedience today?
Did you like today’s post? Be sure to subscribe to our email list and for a limited time, receive our FREE eBook Overcoming the Darkness, as our thanks to you!
Image Credit: Khanh Hmoong, Creative Commons