Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Women World Leaders' Podcast

Apr 8, 2024

Comparing is an exercise in futility and can actually be very harmful…and yet we all do it. Would we be so inclined to give in to this trap if we really understood God’s perspective? Join host Julie Harwick as she explores this topic.


Welcome to Women World Leaders podcast. I’m your host, Julie Harwick. Thank you for joining me today as we celebrate God’s grace in our lives, in this ministry and around the world.

In the summer of 1981 I, along with nearly every other female on the planet, was captivated at the prospect of a royal wedding. Charles and Diana fever was spreading with every print publication in the checkout line and every television or radio news broadcast. The elusive prince had finally selected his princess from all the fairest maidens in the land.  Lady Diana Spencer was part of the nobility, but she was a kindergarten teacher for heaven’s sake; what could make her more relatable than that? As we watched her walking through the Scottish Highlands with her prince, showing the world her royal engagement ring and answering some of the hundreds of questions being shouted to her by the press, we imagined what it might be like to be her.

 Nearly every little girl dreams of being a princess: wearing beautiful gowns and tiaras, dancing the night away at elegant balls, living in incredible luxury, being adored and admired by the people and especially by a charming prince!  Diana Spencer was about to have all  those dreams come true. When she walked down that long aisle of St. Paul’s Cathedral with angelic flower girls monitoring her enormously long train, we couldn’t help but envy her. Her face didn’t show the excitement we felt, but we wrote it off to nerves and shyness.

Years later, we discovered that her lack of enthusiasm on her wedding day was due to something much deeper than nerves or shyness. What had appeared to be a dream come true to her adoring public was becoming more and more of a nightmare to the young princess. We could see the distance that was growing between her and her prince, but we couldn’t see the depression and sense of betrayal that led to bulimia and five separate suicide attempts. We had never considered what it might be like to have to put on a happy face and make unrelenting royal appearances while being hounded by paparazzi and reporters in the midst of an emotional crisis.  The life that had seemed so idyllic and desirable turned out to be anything but that.

How many times have we looked at someone else’s life with envy, thinking that, in comparison to the life we’re living, they seem to have it all. Our human tendency to compare what we have with others goes way back. In fact, 20% of the 10 commandments God gave to Moses have to do with comparison and envy.  We are cautioned not to covet a neighbor’s spouse or possessions. If we already have a spouse or possessions, what would make us want someone else’s?  The only possible answer is that we’ve compared the two and theirs looks better. The ancient Israelites struggled with it and so do we…especially with the advent of social media.

Author Srinivas Rao says, “ There’s always someone who has more…more fans, followers, traffic, likes, etc.  Social media-fueled comparison is a game in which there is no endpoint. It causes us to lose sight of the fact that we are getting a deliberately,  highly- filtered, one-dimensional view of someone’s life.”  A study published by security and research firm Kapersky Labs  surveyed  over 16,000 people and concluded that sites like Facebook, X and Instagram can often leave people feeling upset or “bitter” rather than happy and content.  Contentment is elusive - especially for those who spend a lot of time on social media. Google reports that in a study involving 1500 Facebook users, more than 60 percent felt inadequate or jealous after comparing themselves to others on Facebook.

Social media can be a great way to maintain long distance relationships, share important milestones and events with people who want to know and to bring attention to causes or organizations that we want to support. But like anything else, it can easily be misused and wind up hurting us or the people who view our posts. The U.K.’s  “Nursing Times” reported that a mental health patient in an in-patient recovery group confessed, “I’ve just been admitted to this ward, and I feel awful.  But I go online, and my friends are getting married, one’s had a baby, a couple are on holiday…They all look great, and they are all certainly having a better time than me.”

It’s pretty clear that social media is here to stay, so if it’s a problem for us, we either have to avoid it or develop a new perspective.  Developing a new perspective doesn’t come easily because comparison is so deeply rooted in created beings.  It goes all the way back to the first sin which was committed by a supernatural being.

 In Isaiah 14 we are given the back story on Satan. He was known as the Morning Star, Son of the Dawn, the most beautiful creature in all of God’s creation, designed to lead others in the worship of God.  But rather than recognizing the worthiness of God for such worship, he envied God’s higher position and desired it for himself, saying, “I will make myself like the Most High.”  When God created humans, Satan took a similar approach to lead them into sin.  He convinced Eve that the reason that God had instructed them not to eat from the tree in the center of the garden was because He knew if they did, they would be like Him, knowing good from evil. That was the reason, but it wasn’t because He wanted to hold onto His superiority over them, because He was God and nothing could change that.  But Satan appealed to Eve’s desire to have everything God had.

If we really think about it, we’d recognize that the root of all sin, pride, is at the heart of our need to compare ourselves to others and ideally come out on top. Just like Eve, we bristle at the thought of someone having something we don’t have.  A NerdWallet survey revealed that 3 in 5 Americans, 57%, have felt envious of someone else’s financial situation. We can’t help but notice people who are able to dress better, drive nicer vehicles and live in better homes. When I lived in a neighborhood and took the dog for a walk, I found myself noticing my neighbors’ beautiful landscaping and perfectly maintained homes.  It started me thinking of my own yard that was in desperate need of edging and trimming, the shrubs that were overgrown and the pollen and mildew stains on the windowsills. Their homes looked much better than mine and what had previously brought me great joy and gratitude became a problem and a source of discontent. When we first moved into the house, I recall having the thought, “I can’t believe that this is our home!  As a child, I never would have imagined that I could own something like this.”  But when I started comparing what I had with what others had, the awe and thankfulness I had experienced then was replaced by a desire for something better.

Our tendencies to compare aren’t limited to material possessions either. As women, we notice the appearance of other women. Subconsciously we note if they have better figures, fewer wrinkles, nicer hairstyles.  When we look in a mirror we think of those women and see only our flaws staring back at us. Sometimes it’s the gifts and talents of others that make us feel less than. We can’t sing or speak or make friends as well as the people around us, so there must be something lacking in us.  We even compare our families, possibly having thoughts like, “ Look how her husband puts his arm around her and opens the car door for her! Sometimes I wonder if mine even realizes I’m here. And her children are so well behaved, and they excel at everything they do. My kids are constantly embarrassing me with their behavior and if there’s something they’re exceptional in, we haven’t found it yet.”  If we’re honest, we’d all have to admit to having at least some thoughts like these.

Comparing ourselves to others nearly always leads to dissatisfaction and if, by chance, we come out ahead in our comparison, it leads to equally harmful pride.  It’s a losing proposition either way, but we keep falling into it…at least I do.

Jesus was quick to shut down any comparisons between His disciples. After He asked Peter three times if he loved Him and instructed him to “feed my sheep,” he gave Peter a vision of his future which included being bound and taken places he didn’t want to go.  That future didn’t sound very appealing to him and perhaps because misery loves company he wanted to know what would happen to John.  In John 21:22 Jesus basically told Peter, “you do you,” saying “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”  It was an important reminder that in order to follow Jesus, Peter needed to keep his eyes fixed on Jesus, not the people around him.

The Apostle Paul also had quite a bit to say about comparing. In Galatians 6:4 he writes, “ Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done and won’t need to compare himself with someone else. Each of us must bear some faults and burdens of his own. For none of us is perfect!” Apparently the church at Corinth had been doing a lot of comparing in the area of spiritual gifts which prompted Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 to devote an entire chapter to explaining how no one gift was more important than another.  He compared spiritual gifts to the parts of a human body, noting that all perform different, but very necessary functions. He points out, “ if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”

“Just as He wanted them to be…” that’s a phrase that should stick in our minds when we are tempted to compare ourselves with others.  Even as God gave us the spiritual gifts He desired us to have, has He not also given us our bodies, our minds, our families and everything we have, just as He desired? There is no doubt that God created us as unique and carefully planned individuals…just as He wanted us to be.  In Psalm 139 He reminds us that He knew us even before we were born and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. “How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God,” the psalmist says, adding, “How vast is the sum of them!”  His thoughts about us are precious and beyond imagination. He created each of us to be exactly who we are, like no one else. So comparing ourselves to others is not only pointless, but it reveals our lack of understanding that God, in His infinite wisdom, created us to be exactly who we are. And what He thinks of us, and remember, those thoughts are precious, matters far more than what we or anyone else thinks. If we truly intend to follow Jesus as He has commanded us to, we need to take our eyes off of the people around us that may seem to have something we lack, and fix them on the One Who has everything we need.

 Thanks for listening to Women World Leaders podcast!  Join us each week as we explore together God’s extravagant love and your courageous purpose.  Visit our website at to submit a prayer request, register for an upcoming event, and support the ministry.  From His heart to yours, we are Women World Leaders .  All content is copyrighted by Women World Leaders and cannot be used without written consent.