“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.” – Galatians 6:4-5.
The temptation to compare is as near as your next chat with a friend, trip to the store, or check-in on social media. We also compare our children to other children. From baby names to growth charts to report cards, all parents want to know is how does my child stack up against other children? And whether you think it is a favorable comparison or not, there is simply no win in comparison. It’s a trap and not a new one. The temptation to compare our children to others is centuries old.
Consider Abraham. He and his wife Sarah were the parents of two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Sarah favored Isaac to the point that Abraham was forced to banish Ishmael―his firstborn―from their home forever. A few years later, Isaac compared his own sons and favored Jacob. His wife, on the other hand, preferred Esau. To continue the saga of comparison, Jacob made a colorful coat for the son he preferred over all the others. In the end, his favoritism carved a pit for Joseph that resulted in separation and hardship. As Theodore Roosevelt put it, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
Why, then, are we still so tempted to match our children up to others? Part of it is that we want our children to be the smartest, biggest, brightest, and most popular. But the truth is, our children haven’t been given to us so we can enter them into a game or race, nor does it make sense to compare in the first place. God doesn’t make two people just alike. He has uniquely and precisely created each of us with specific gifts and talents to do exactly what He’s called us to do. David wrote: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:13-14).
David wasn’t praising God for the way He flung the stars in the night sky, set the spinning earth on its axis, or stocked the vast oceans with sea creatures of every kind. David was marveling at the magnificent masterpiece called David. Each one of us is God’s workmanship. His masterpiece — and that includes our children.
Our children are given to us for a short time so we can guide them, nurture them, and teach them to love the Lord. They are not our creations. They are the Lord’s. Each one is a unique being, molded by the hands of a perfect Creator. It’s time we stop comparing ourselves and our children with others. God made our children. He thinks they are amazing. And so should we.
- God doesn’t compare us to other people. How does that change you’re thinking about comparing your child to others?
- What is one thing you can do this week to allow God’s opinion of you to shape who you are and the choices you make?