Celebrating the Abundance of Success

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest;
ask him to send more workers into his fields.
~ Luke 10:2

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Four… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Our faith is so important. 

We’re challenged at almost every turn by negativity, hardships, death, or a lack of hope. When we aren’t, we struggle with thinking that the good stuff—like love, success, opportunity, joy, hope and praise—are in limited supply. Because of this kind of thinking, we often grab onto what we can, and we hold tight, not wanting to share it.

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few.”  Part of our faith is not just sitting back and letting others make a way for the harvest, but it is us going out and into the world to be one of those who brings the message to others. There is work to be done.

There is enough work to go around, but there is also enough hope, happiness, success, love and praise to share with others. When we can do that without the soil of comparison, we help to prepare for the harvest.

Sandra says, “Seeing a friend win at something doesn’t diminish your shot at success.”  She continues, “There is enough to go around; in fact, there is so much to go around that today’s verse reminds us our prayer should really be for more friends to find success putting their gifts to use for God.”

When we celebrate the successes of others, it doesn’t take away from ours. When we offer praise to others, it means we’re willing to think of them and recognize what they’ve accomplished. When we see others using their God-given talents and gifts, it should encourage us toward the purpose of our faith.

I tend to think that we’ve got a better shot at success when we’re willing to celebrate the success of those around us. I think the same about love, joy, peace and hope, too. Our faith is so important. Are you ready to be a worker in the harvest? See you in the field.


 

 

 

 

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Celebrating the Success of Another

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but to the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:2-4

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day Two… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Sandra Stanley opens today’s devotional with a blurb her husband, Andy, shared in his book Enemies of the Heart. Sandra and Andy had sons who loved baseball, and they were pitchers. Andy shares:

I always make a point of tracking down the other pitcher and telling him what a great job he did. And when I can figure out whose son he is, I congratulate the parents, too. It’s a habit that keeps my heart free and clear. Reaching out my hand to shake the hand of another father whose son out-pitched mine releases all that negative energy and puts everything back into perspective.

I’ve learned a lot from my daughter over the years. SHE used to do this when she was a competitive gymnast. I didn’t tell her to do it. She just started doing it. I was awed when I saw it for the first time.

She wasn’t always a star gymnast. There were many years where she’d stand on the floor far from the podium during the awards ceremony. Those were the hard years… it was hard to see your baby girl not “win,” and not walk away with a gold, silver or bronze medal to cherish on the drive home. That started to change, though.

As she started to head into her teen years, we got to see her on the podium. We also got to see her stand at the top many times as a lots-of-years, all-around state champion. Whether she was fifth, second or first, she’d always reach out to congratulate those around her for their job well done. It would have been so easy for her to focus on her success or her frustration (when she didn’t do as she had hoped), but she always made it a point to celebrate the success of those around her.

I learned a lot from watching my little girl
think of others and celebrate their success.
She taught me a lot.

Because of her, I started to congratulate the parents of her fellow competitors from other teams. It was weird to do so at first, but I knew how hard their daughters worked, because I knew how hard my daughter worked. I knew how proud those parents were of their daughters, because I knew how proud I was of my daughter.

“There’s something powerful and liberating about celebrating the success of other people,” says Sandra.

Yes, there is. There are people around you and around me everyday who deserve and desire to be celebrated, especially because they don’t hear it often enough in this critical world.

Out of humility, let’s offer them the hope which is found in recognizing them and considering their interests and successes!


 

When I’m Not Really Happy for You…

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


Where you have envy and selfish ambition,
there you find disorder and every evil practice.
~ James 3:16

The Comparison Trap:  Week Four, Day One… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

In today’s devotional, Sandra mentions a book called, I’m Happy for You (Sort of…Not Really), by her friend Kay Wyma. Gosh, the title sums up so much of the comparison trap, doesn’t it?

We want to be happy for Heather’s pregnancy announcement, Laura and Jim’s vacation plans to Hawaii for their wedding anniversary, Morgan’s promotion at work, Rob’s big pay raise, Mark’s surprise trip for Jennifer, the news that Karen’s daughter got the lead in the play, the fantastic new home Scott and Kim are building…the names are different in your life, but you know these people. Celebrating with them without letting ourselves dip a toe into the waters of comparison can be tough.

Sandra reminds us that CHOOSING “to celebrate your friends’ good news (and it’s a choice) is the quickest, most powerful antidote to envy.

I’d really, really love to have my friends choose to deeply celebrate my blessings with me, and I am sure they’d really, really love to have me choose to celebrate with them. The envy and selfishness that creeps between our thoughts and our choice to celebrate out loud with others can put us on a path of disorder. 

Make the other choice…the one where we bless others with words which celebrate their lives with them.


 

Do I Trust in the Plans for My Life?

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
~ Psalm 139:16

The Comparison Trap:  Week Three, Day Five… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Sandra starts today’s devotional with her favorite verse from the 139th Psalm (above), as she encourages each of us to think, individually, in the context of:

“God isn’t just aware of me.
He created me thoughtfully
and laid out a plan for my life.”

Can you just breathe that in for a moment? A couple of times… because it’s just too important to miss!

I don’t really understand all the “why” behind the things He’s chosen for my life and “why” He’s allowed me to experience certain joys and certain heartaches.

What I am understanding as my relationship with Him grows, is that it all has a plan and a purpose. It’s His plan and purpose (which I don’t understand much of the time), but within the glimpses of His plan (where He allows me to see some of the beginning and end happenings), I’m pretty awed at how He works His supernatural wonders in my life.

I want to believe that His blessings for me are unlimited, but that the agonizing moments do have their limits. I want to believe that His plan for me is unique and one of a kind. I want to believe that when He doesn’t answer my prayers, that the reason He doesn’t is because He actually has something better in mind for me.

I want to believe.
I want to have faith.

God’s plans for me are different from His plans for you. Envy, jealousy, and an inability to celebrate another’s blessings happen because we find it difficult to trust in the individual plans He has for us. Culture doesn’t help matters, either. Culture demands we keep up with the “Jones” family, and that our fast-food, just-google-it, prime-delivery society give us what we want, now.

Sandra encourages that “today’s verse reminds you that if you’re busy glancing to the left and right, jealous of someone else’s plan, you’ll miss the perfect one He’s written just for you.”

Look up, and allow Him to lead you toward your unique plan.

And while you’re at it, breathe in the rest of this beautiful Psalm, truly knowing He does have a plan for each of us:

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
    Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
    And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!
19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

The Sprint to Compare My Prayer

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating. 


Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
~ Philippians 4:6

 The Comparison Trap:  Week One, Day Six… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

I just love this verse and its instructions on bringing our prayers and praises to the Lord. I can’t help, though, when I read it, to know that I fall short in accomplishing it.

“Do not be anxious about anything…”
Ok, then… I’m not doing that.

“…but in every situation…”
Ok… I’m not doing that, either.

“…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving…”
My journey with the Lord has helped me to feel better about that next part, as I certainly do a lot of asking, but I also do a lot of praising…now! (Please know, though… It hasn’t always been this way. I’ve had to consciously choose to offer up those praises, and it’s been a process of repetitious reminders to get to this place in doing so.)

A cherished friend of mine has always been good at adding the “thanksgiving” to her prayers. When our girls were little, we’d gather with a few other ladies for some mother-daughter time, and her continual reminders for us to offer up praises helped to shape my prayer life in a significant way.

There was an early time in our relationship with one another where I felt like I was falling comparatively short in the thanksgiving and praise part of my prayer life. I envied how it seemed to be so natural to her. I felt so far behind that I consciously tried to make up for it by practicing my prayers at home and in private just to see how much thanksgiving I could plug in to them.

I took what should have been something I celebrated in her, and I made it a competition in my heart. I practiced, and I brought Him my prayers and thanksgivings, but in doing so, it became more about matching her said-out-loud praises. I was doing it for the wrong reasons.

But somewhere along the way, after spending many years loving to listen to her prayers, I stopped comparing my ability to praise Him, and I started to celebrate her ability to do so. It opened up my heart, and it changed me from the inside-out. I finally got to a point of being able to praise Him, because I had a lot for which to praise Him! Instead of continuing in the race, I began dropping to my knees for the right reasons.

Moving away from the trap of comparison and moving more toward genuine love and conversation with God brought new life to my friendship with her and new life to my desire to connect with my Lord. Looking back, I know He was using that season to prepare me for the dark season to come, when being able to find the blessings would be oh-so important to my spiritual survival. I’m glad that along the way, I stopped comparing my prayers to hers and instead learned to celebrate her and see how He was using her to lead me.

The comparison trap can cause us to feel like we need to catch up, and when we’re willing to examine our hearts through His lens, we can see more clearly where it is He is trying to lead us.