Core scripture: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Message: My team has been struggling a bit lately. We call it Ron Clark Academy withdrawal syndrome. Two weeks ago we returned from our trip to Atlanta to visit the Ron Clark Academy. We saw magic in the classroom for two amazing whirlwind days. Their students were on point. Their teachers were passionate. It was a true mountaintop experience!
And then reality hit.
That first day back was pretty rough. Coming back from a weekend is never easy, but this one was brutal. I was trying to implement a few strategies from our trip, and suddenly the floodgates of jealousy were opened. My students can even touch the politeness of Ron Clark’s students! They never call me sir. They don’t listen. They blurt out. They will never be able to grasp these student engagement tactics.
I wanted my students to be like Ron Clark’s students. That would be like comparing yourself to a professional athlete. What does God’s Word say about jealousy? “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30). My bones were crumpling that day. I failed to realize that God has made my students unique and beautiful in their own way.
Comparison can likewise sneak in from the other side. Have you ever thought that you were better than another teacher? Maybe your test scores were higher or your lessons were more engaging. Been there, done that. It very much reminds me of the Pharisees in Luke 18:9-14 when they pray that at least they have never been like the sinful tax collectors.
Don’t allow yourself to puff your chest out too much. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). You can allow God to use your gifts, but the glory always goes to Him. Humble yourself. Know that there is always room for improvement. Put the circle around yourself and ask God how He can use you.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Be like Paul in our core scripture above. Paul was content no matter what. Jealousy will only make you want more. Pride does the exact opposite. Find that happy medium between jealousy and pride. It is there that you will flourish.
Discussion: Where are you comparing yourself? Do you lean toward the jealous side or prideful side? What qualities has God blessed you with that you need to embrace?
Just for fun: While waiting for our hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia, we met Shawn, the emcee for the Lou Brown seminar. None of us had heard of Lou Brown, yet we do now. He’s kinda a big thing. And we quickly learned how highly Shawn thought of Lou when he asked us, “Hey did you all see that poster over there? That is a pretty handsome picture of Lou, isn’t it?” I will let you be the judge below.
Prayer: Lord, remind me to embrace the beauties you put in me. Help me not compare myself to others. Amen.