Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” A couple of months ago, I experienced this first hand.
I had the privilege of filming our church’s annual baptism service. It never gets old to see people publicly proclaim Christ, but almost as powerful was to see all the people who had gathered from our church to support those being baptized. In short, it was a moving service.
The next day as I was editing the video, I was excited to see that it captured the power of the moment as well as the atmosphere. This video was going to be a valuable resource to our church to help communicate the importance of baptism as well as encourage more folks to join us next year.
As I took a break from editing the video, I happened to peruse Twitter. A tweet popped up from another church with a link to their recent baptism video. I was excited to see how they edited their video together so I clicked on the link hoping to glean some creativity from them.
Their video was nothing short of fantastic… and I was depressed.
There was a part of me that truly rejoiced in them making this magnificent video but I mostly felt inadequate. Their video looked like someone in Hollywood had produced it. Mine, in comparison, looked amateur and I was discouraged. I remember thinking to myself, “I’ll never be able to produce anything as good as that video.”
It was a hopeless feeling.
A Better Way
If I continued in that line of thinking, I would have burnt out quite quickly in my job. Success would never be achievable. There had to be a better way.
Then I was reminded of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The master in the parable rewarded the servants who doubled their talents and punished the one who did not. Did the master reward the servant who made five talents more than the one who made three talents? No, he says the exact same thing to both, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
It seems to me that success in the kingdom is never defined by comparison. It’s never found in relation to something or someone else. Rather, success is being a good steward with the time, talent and treasure God has given you.
While comparison can bring some short-term happiness, it never delivers on what it promises. Comparison almost always leads to despair. On the other hand, if we define success as being faithful to the time, talent and treasure God has given, God is pleased. God always delivers on his promises and joy awaits.