How does it feel to stand next to the prettiest girl at the prom?
My poise deflated like a punctured Mylar balloon.
The question may sound like an old high school memory, but no, it was asked a few days ago while I was standing at our Third Calling book table. As participants of a national conference, we were given the opportunity to host an exhibit and sell books and resources. To be honest, our success was measured in networking opportunities and quality conversations rather than by book sales.
Not so with the guy at the table next to us. He had an over-the-top compelling story, well-packaged products and a line of customers filling the corridor and wrapping around multiple other exhibits. I admit I envied his success and the apparent impact he was having.
While nursing my green-tinged self-doubt, a big man came to our table, leaned over and asked me, “How does it feel to stand next to the prettiest girl at the prom?” I don’t imagine he intended to launch a quiver of arrows into my self-confidence, but the words pierced multiple layers. I felt the searing pain and power of comparison.
Of course, the reference to being the “prettiest girl” anywhere brings back memories of frequent feelings of insecurity. I never was a prom or homecoming queen––not even close. But now what disturbed me most was my immediate and responsive crouching to the destructive power of comparison. I wanted to crawl under my lonely exhibit table.
As I reflect on the experience, I am aware of the critical message we are trying to share in Third Calling. That is: God has uniquely designed us with strengths, personality, values, gifts, talents, passion—and given us exclusive life experiences—so we are one-of-a-kind with a purpose!
We are matchless, exceptional, distinctive – incomparable.
In reality, I stood at my table dressed in God’s anointing to share a message He has given us. It’s a powerful message to our peers to understand calling and purpose in this season of life—and to pass a legacy of faith to the next generations. We had opportunities to share this message with people like the police officer who had retired after 30 years of active service and had no idea what to do next. In fact, she was spending her days watching westerns on TV. We also talked with a software company executive who longed desperately to find direction for his third calling. And, we spoke with several pastors wondering how God would use them if they retired from their pulpits and ministry settings.
The author/speaker/pastor at the next table has a significant message to share too. I applaud him. And, if not daunted by the compulsion to compare his ministry to ours, together we just might help change this hurting world.
First, we may have to send a few fiery darts into the powerful destructive force of comparison.
written by Leona Bergstrom, Director, Re-Ignite
© Re-Ignite 2017
Photo by Canstock