You Won’t Need to Compare Yourself to Others
If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
Yesterday we talked about focusing on making the most of what’s right in front of us in our work. Paul follows up with this thought: by concentrating on our own work, we won’t need to compare ourselves to others.
How did he know this?
We humans are an ungrateful and insecure lot. There is no shortage of messages that come to us every day from media telling us we are not good enough, we are not good-looking enough, we are not making enough money. Those are the things that are most visibly celebrated by our society, and it can grate your soul down after a while.
Our American Idol reality-show culture tells us we are special and important. We believe we deserve a great deal of attention for our special talents. Add to this the competitive work environments that most of us find ourselves in, with everyone vying for recognition and status, and it’s no wonder that there is a constant undercurrent of insecurity running through our tender souls.
This is the world that we find ourselves in, and it appears first century Galatia was not that much different. Paul encourages the Galatians to forget about what everyone else is doing, and concentrate on the work God has given to them.
Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi developed a concept called “Flow,” which describes one’s mental state being fully energized and focused on a task or project. It is quite the opposite of anxiety and depression. To a great extent, it revolves around a perfect balance between skill level and challenge. You lose track of time and space when experiencing flow, totally absorbed in the task at hand.
You may not believe you have a natural “flow” in your work, but for most of us there is always an opportunity to structure greater challenge and skill development to whatever we are doing, through learning, development, striving for greater excellence or precision or beauty in our jobs.
If you are giving one hundred percent, staying focused on the task at hand, working with excellence and minding your own business, you may find that you will stop noticing everyone else–because what you are doing becomes much more interesting.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you falling into the trap of comparing yourself to others? Oftentimes it is your undeveloped potential at the root of this, skills and talent you have yet tapped into. If so, can you take initiative to volunteer for a new challenge at work, take on a new responsibility, or develop a new skill? At a minimum, can you set a new standard for excellence among your peers? Set your mind on improving your own work, and just wait to see what happens next.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, it is far easier for us to gravitate towards complaining about and comparing ourselves with the success of others rather than doing the hard work of generating our own future. We are grateful that you have made each of us uniquely awesome, with incomparable potential for expressing our own individual greatness, reflecting your glory. Please help us to give our full effort and attention to excellence in our work, and trust that you will open the pathways that will lead us to your best for us. Amen.
P.S. by Mark Roberts: At certain times throughout the year, I invite others to write a few Daily Reflections. Today's reflections is written by J. B. Wood. In addition to being a Content Editor for The High Calling, J. B. is a Senior Vice President of a large business in the Northeast. At Shrinking the Camel J. B. regularly confronts the challenges of integrating professional life and spiritual life with humor. His most recent book is At Work As It Is In Heaven: 25 Ways to Re-Imagine the Spiritual Purpose of Your Work. I know you will be encouraged by J. B.’s reflections on Galatians 6. I'll be back with you on Saturday.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.