Do you know someone who just amazes and inspires you? Me too, in fact, I know quite a few people who fit that description. I have one friend in particular who has an amazing prophetic gift and I absolutely love when she’s operating in it. She is able to tune in to what God is saying and articulate it; she’s able to sense things in the spirit and respond accordingly. I am consistently amazed at the God-given gift that she’s taken the time and effort to hone and develop.
I’ve always longed for a big, obvious, in your face, “God is speaking” gift like my friend has, but I’m coming to realize that a gift like that just doesn’t fit my personality. My friend is loud and energetic and bubbly, she feels so deeply and God uses all of those things beautifully. My personality is nothing like hers. I’m more contemplative, relying heavily on my mind and less on feelings; I’m a lot more covert than overt and my gifts fall in line with my personality. Though my gifts look different than hers, though mine can at times be less obvious, my gifts are just as valuable.
Comparison has no place in the Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul had a pretty good grasp on this subject. He knew his “lane” and decided to stick to it. He was self-aware enough to know the things he should be doing and the things he should let others do. He wasn’t into the number of followers he had, he cared that people were meeting Christ. It’s my suspicion that he had to work through feelings of jealousy, comparison, and inadequacy before he got to that place of surety. In 1 Corinthians 3 he addresses this topic:
“When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says, “I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally infantile? Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ.”
Paul was an evangelist and a missionary. Apollos was a discipler; he was a teacher. Can you imagine what the fall out would’ve been like if these two men had seen themselves as rivals instead of co-workers? If they hadn’t been able to value the gifts of one another, if they had fallen victim to comparison, our world today would look drastically different. If they had let comparison kill their community, they wouldn’t have been able to fulfill their God-given mandates. Paul and Apollos weren’t going to let comparison detract or distract from their ultimate goal of spreading the Good News of God to the world.
Who do you compare yourself to the most? How is that comparison impacting your relationship with that person? Is there someone that you are jealous of? Is there anyone you need to see as a co-worker instead of a rival? Ask yourself these questions and thinking deeply on them. Ask God to help you work through the roots of comparison in your life.
Imagine what the world would look like if comparison ceased and community skyrocketed. Let’s be a people who make that world a reality.
To go Deeper: Read Community Component of the Unbinding Process, Escape from the Land of Should