Anyone who has been around a group of kids for very long knows it starts young.
“But Mom….how come my friend can do that and I can’t!?”
“She got one – why can’t I?”
“She doesn’t have to do chores at her house. Why do I?”
“How come she got the pink one and I have to use the green one?”
The good old finger-pointing comparison game.
When I was growing up and my sister and I would get into one of “those” modes, my Mom in her wisdom would look at us and say something similar to the following. “I don’t care what they are doing. You are not going to act like that. In our family, we [insert wise words about what we needed to do but obviously didn’t feel like doing at the time…..].” Bring that scenario forward a few decades, and I find myself echoing my mom’s familiar words to my girls.
Somehow, now that I’m teaching that lesson to my kids, I thought I would have passed the test. I was a bit caught off guard this last week when I caught the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit in my heart. “That’s not how we do things in our family. You follow Me.” Ouch.
I had been reading in John 21. There is the beautiful scene of Jesus showing up and re-instating the call on Peter’s life after Peter had just denied that he even knew Jesus. Then he looks at Peter and tells him that the road ahead isn’t going to be easy – that he will die for the cause of Christ. The first thing Peter does is look for John, point and him, and ask Jesus if John has to suffer hard stuff too.
I’m somewhat comforted to know that even the apostle Peter struggled with finger pointing. But what pierced my heart so deeply was Jesus’ response. “…what is that to you? [What concern is it of yours?] You follow Me!” (John 21:22b AMPC).
You follow Me.
I’ve struggled repeatedly with finger pointing. Writing this blog is just one of the many areas. “No, I can’t do that, Lord. Other people already have much better, bigger blogs. They’re already saying these things. Why should I contribute to the noise?”
I hear the gentle whisper in my heart. “What is that to you? You follow Me.”
Whether you’re arguing with God (like me) over something He has asked you to do, or experiencing the heartache of not understanding why a friend got their prayers answered and you didn’t, or pointing fingers in another area of your life, I pray these simple take-a-ways minister to your heart like they did to mine.
1. Quit Comparing
I have a competitive edge that bites me in the rear more often than I’d like to admit. In my heart, I feel the need to earn the approval of others. I want others to think I’m the best when they are measuring my performance. If I don’t feel I can win, I just won’t compete.
My need to compare and find validation from my performance is a form of pride. It’s not the gentle confidence from knowing Whose I am and His opinion of me. It is the cutting need to put someone else down so I can be elevated.
Even if I rank well in my opinion when comparing myself to someone else in a specific area, that doesn’t mean I’ll rank well on heaven’s charts. Most of the things I want to rank are appearance and surface-based. Heaven seems to rank us by what is in our hearts.
The beautiful thing is, we were not created to be compared with someone else. We will always be a bad version of someone else. We were designed to be unique. Our lives will not be judged by what someone else has done. They will be judged based on what God has called us to do individually. That is sobering and yet wonderfully freeing.
2. Set your focus on Who you’re following
I love how a simple focus shift changes so much. When I’m involved in the comparison game, my focus is on me. It’s about my rights, my abilities, my performance. When I shift my focus from myself to Who I’m following, the journey isn’t about me being good enough. It is simply about building a deep relationship with Jesus and following His leading.
In that place, the pressure to perform perfectly is gone. I don’t have to be good enough. I don’t have to have all of the answers. I just need to follow well. In that place, I can truly love and encourage those around me because I don’t have to compete with them.
I don’t have to apologize because the laundry is still waiting to be put away and I didn’t measure up to the “super mom” picture in my mind. If I followed well and did the things I felt God prioritized for me today, it was a good day.
Rather than pointing my finger and comparing myself to “them,” I can pray for “them” that they can follow well too. Because in the family of God, that’s the way we do things.
What has God spoken to you about following well? I’d love to hear and learn from what He has told you too!