"I’m horrible at school,” he cried.
This was my seven-year-old’s complaint a couple of weeks into his second grade year.
His statement shocked me. A new system of tracking students’ behavior allowed me to view real-time feedback on my iPhone app. I had been periodically following his progress at school throughout the day. I knew he had received several “thumbs up” badges and no angry red icons.
Eager to find out what was really going on, I asked, “Why do you say that? What happened?”
“Because I only got four Dojo Points, and ‘Susie’ got 17!”
Even though my son’s feedback was entirely positive, he felt inferior because his teacher hadn’t awarded him as many points as another student. How my heart broke for him…
Can you relate?
Have you ever found yourself discouraged by a situation when you did what you were supposed to do, but somebody else received more credit? When everybody else seemed better than you? When comparing yourself to others led to feelings of defeat?
Like when a newer writer’s blog has more subscribers.
Or the importance of your calling is undervalued by society.
Maybe somebody asks if you work and you catch yourself replying, “No, I’m just a mom.”
Perhaps you’ve worked out for regularly for a month, but someone else gets attention for noticeably dropping sizes.
It stings, doesn’t it?
I can’t tell you why these seemingly unfair things happen, but I can reassure you that nothing goes unnoticed by God.
Hagar was Sarah’s Egyptian slave. After many years, Sarah doubted that she would ever become pregnant with the son God promised Abraham. She ordered Hagar to be with her husband so that Sarah might get credit for the heir born by her servant. Hagar was obedient to what her mistress ordered and gave birth to Ishmael. Afterwards, she was treated unfairly by Sara, and inn distress, Hagar ran into the wilderness. God met her there. And because He did, she earned the honor of giving God a new name. (Genesis 16)
She called Him El Roi - The God Who Sees.
He sees you. He notices your efforts. He understands how you have poured your heart and soul into the tasks He has assigned. He sees your accomplishments and obedience when others overlook them. Better yet, He sees beyond your failures to the intent of your heart. When we have done our best by faith for His glory, He is pleased.
It is one thing to feel defeated when we actually fail, but quite another to harbor those same emotions simply because somebody else received more praise. Honest evaluation of ourselves should lead to improvement, not discouragement. Comparison only stimulates the never-satisfied monster of self-doubt.
Instead of feeling like we don't measure up, let’s stretch the scale into eternity.
God doesn’t qualify us based on a merit system. There are no dojo points for good behavior. Atta boys, kudos, and pats on the back may not come in this lifetime, but we can rest in the assurance that anything done for the Lord is not done in vain.
God’s best is not evaluated by any earthly standard. He always sees right to the heart of the matter. To put an end to defeat and discouragement, we must stop comparing ourselves to any standard other than His.
Defeat discouragement by controlling comparison.
What if we could focus on doing just what we have been called to do to the best of our abilities and stop comparing our efforts to other’s accomplishments? How could that change our lives?
Verse of the Week: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Prayer: Dear Father,
Forgive me for the times I get discouraged when I look around and compare myself to others. Help me to always seek You for my assignments and my acknowledgment - not man. Encourage and strengthen me by Your word and Spirit to do Your will. When I fall short, lift me up and set my feet on the right path again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Author: Liz Giertz