How to Stop Comparison In Its Tracks

by Karen Sargent

I love watching track and field events. It’s exciting to see the red surface of the track, the white lines and the green infield . I enjoy seeing the athletes warming up and preparing for that moment when the race begins.

So it wasn’t completely surprising when I had a vision of a sunny day at a race track with competitors running their race, each in their own lane. What did surprise me was when I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to stay in my own lane. Instantly, I knew what He was talking about. In certain events, the runner will be disqualified if they cross over into another lane. That meant running my own race in life and staying out of the other lanes. The picture was clear, stop looking around, and measuring my progress by what others were doing or not doing. 

Stay in your own lane

Comparing myself to others and feeling less than enough, had been a habit for quite awhile. So this message really stopped me in my tracks. I realized that this comparison was not pleasing to God, and not beneficial to me. I needed to stop making assumptions about my race and the race others are running. Unlike a track meet, the race that is set before me is not the same as the people I can see. Each of us has our own lane. The only way to succeed is to stay on our course.

The Holy Spirit reminded me of Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. 

Endurance is key

There is a race set before each of us, but no two are quite the same. Ecclesiastes 9:11 gives us perspectiveThe race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill;

Speed is not the goal. I may not have the same hurdles as the next person. One of us may be in an outside lane, so it looks like we have farther to go. There are so many variables in our lives. We don’t even know what lies ahead of us, or anyone else for that matter. Endurance is the key to staying on course. Especially if we begin to think someone else has it easier.

This comparison trap is a tactic to get us off track. It distracts us from the real focus of our race, fulfilling our God given purpose. Looking at others lends itself to criticism. When we give in to comparison it often leads to judging either ourselves or others around us. No winners emerge from that kind of competition.

Keep our eyes on the prize

1 Corinthians gives us some direction on focusing on our race. In chapter 9:24 it says “ Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.” 

This may look like competition, but another way to see it is encouragement  to run our own race. Doing our best is important. As Dr. Johnnie says “Be the best at whatever you do”, and from his coaching days, “leave it all on the court.” That means don’t hold back. The goal is to finish our own race strong. 

This true in life. While it is imperative that we give our all, we must remember it’s not by our strength that we succeed. Remembering this will discourage comparison, and keep us in our own lane.

What is the goal? 

How do we stop comparison? Remember it’s not in our own strength that we win anything. Zechariah 4:6 says it best-  ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.

I don’t know about you, but I need the reminder that even though He wants my best, it’s not about my efforts. It’s about the Holy Spirit accomplishing His will in me and through me. The most important part of that process is making myself available. Nothing is impossible for God, so it’s not what I can do that is impressive. Great things can happen as I  surrender and let Him work through me. 

 I want to be like Paul and say that I have fought the good fight and finished the race. He also says in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have kept the faith. It takes faith to not compare ourselves to others. Faith that God is working in and through us to accomplish what only He can. 

Finishing Strong

God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness. We have His power, His name, and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Nothing is impossible with God. He is for us and cheers us on. So we are definitely prepared to run this race that is set before us. 

In order to quit the comparison, we have to shift gears and focus on what He has called us to do. That’s our finish line. 

At times it’s easy to focus on what we can’t do. Part of growing and maturing in the Lord is to recognize where we have been gifted and also recognize what is not a strength. As I have seen how God has prepared me and gifted me to teach, and what he has called me to do, then I can let go of what I’m not called to do. 

For example, I’m not a singer, so instead of comparing myself to others, I focus on what I am called to do. We are all called to praise and worship. I can make a joyful noise! I can praise God with my voice or a dance or by appreciating what I do have.

Even in areas where we are gifted, it is tempting to compare ourselves to others. None of us know enough to stand in a place of judgment about the gifts God has given. I remember when Cece Winans did a duet with Whitney Houston. It was incredible and I thought there’s a woman who is confident in her gift and her anointing! I wonder how many people said no to singing with Whitney. 

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:6 says that godliness with contentment is great gain. When we are daily spending time with the Lord, in the Word and seeking to do His will, we will stop the comparisons.

Really the biggest part of releasing our weaker areas and our talents is having that intimate relationship with the Father. Faith and confidence grow as we accept God’s love and guidance. This happens when I regularly spend time in the Word of God, and stay in close contact with the Lord (praying and listening), and submit to His plans. Then I know that I am doing what He has called and equipped me to do. That’s when I know, I am staying in my own lane.

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