A Bone to Pick–A Jealous Bone

St. John the Baptist–Donatello

Ever catch yourself comparing?

As women, we might compare how put together we look, how big our houses are, how many activities our kids are involved in.

Men compare jobs. They also might compare wives, or intelligence, or cars, or video games. I don’t know, since I’m not a guy.

Whether it’s spoken aloud, or whether it’s just a feeling simmering deep in our chests, it doesn’t take long for comparison to morph into something bigger.

Jealousy.

This applies to writers (yes, I just WENT THERE). We wonder why other authors get picked up faster, why their blogs have more followers/comments, why we don’t seem to be in on the “inner loops.” We might wonder how their books got published, when their prose isn’t up to our standards or their genre strikes us as lame.

For Christian authors, how do we deal with this? Honestly, our typical response is to rant…even if it’s just in our heads.

Let me tell you about another dude–John the Baptist. He was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. He came out of the wilderness, telling people to repent and baptizing them. And then Jesus came on the scene and became Popular Rabbi Number One.

Here’s what John the Baptist’s followers said to him: 

“Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” (John 3: 26)

In other words–“John, this guy you told us about is swinging through here, taking all your followers! How rude is that? What you gonna do about it!?”

Now, John the Baptist was a big deal. It was easy for people to recognize he was the prophet God had promised in the Old Testament. He’d baptized Jesus!

I think this comment could’ve made John feel useless. Instead, he used it as a chance to put things in perspective. 

After reiterating that he wasn’t the Christ (which he’d told them all along!), he said, “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” (v. 31)

In other words, John remembered his role–a servant of the most High God.

No matter how righteously justified we are in the roles we take on or the way we go about it, we have to remember that we are servants, just like Christ. Our job is not to point people to us, but to point them to Christ. Even Christ Himself pointed people to His Father–God:


Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2: 5-6)

I think the key to overcoming jealousy is to keep it in perspective. There will always be someone smarter than, prettier than, or more skilled than you. There will also be someone less smart, less pretty, and less skilled than you. Doesn’t matter. We’re all servants

I’ll be candid–I’m talking to myself here. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at some point in my almost five-year stint as a “serious writer,” I haven’t compared my blog or my writing ability or my author headshots with someone else’s.

But the Biblical perspective is so freeing. As Christian authors or parents or people, we’re serving the same Master. We might be ahead of or behind others in this process, but at least we’re in the process. We’re serving.

We might tick each other off.

We might not understand how others are going about their tasks.

We might not have the same abilities or opportunities or positions as others.

But it’s not about us. It’s about HIM. John the Baptist knew this, and it cost him his earthly life–yet he died knowing he’d used his voice and his abilities for God.

****How about you? Be honest here…I know you’ve compared yourself at some point in your life! How do you keep comparisons from morphing into the full-blown, green-eyed monster?****

 
 
 

 

  
  

 

15 thoughts on “A Bone to Pick–A Jealous Bone

  1. Heather, Thank you for your honesty. I find myself comparing my writing success to others, and when that jealousy rises, I pray for their ministry. I pray Jesus will bless it for Him and that He will help me to remember I'm writing for Him, not myself. Thank Jesus we get to serve Him. I don't know how non-Christian writers do it. Thanks for this post!

  2. Well, Sister, I stand beside you nodding my head, totally getting what you're saying.You've put into words EXACTLY what goes on across the board in this industry in particular – I've seen cartoons about it, I've heard jokes about it, I've listened to speakers make light of it – but the problem is that jealousy is really nothing to make light of. It really does go all the way to the bone and it hurts. It is my prayer that the Lord would "strengthen my back, rather than lightening my load" as Charles Spurgeon says. Hugs,Becky

  3. Thanks, Heather, for the great post. I've been sooooo there. Why do I work so hard and wait so long to get that one book out while others get three-book contracts right and left with apparent ease? Comparison kills. I'm on the road God has paved for me. I have to be happy with that and seek to do only what God has planned for my life. It's been a tough lesson to learn, but it took a while, and I still struggle sometimes. It's not about me; it's about God and furthering Him and His cause. If I keep that perspective, then I banish the green-eyed monster.

  4. Thanks for your honesty, my friends! I love the idea of praying for those you find yourself jealous of, Melissa–and using Scripture to do it, Jessica! And yes, Adam, we do have a bigger mission–and can't do it on our own, that's for sure! And Becky–you're so right–it's normal to feel this way, but it is something we can't let take over our lives, and jealousy will do that to you–blind you to everything good in your own life.

  5. I really love this, thank you. It's hard to remember, but it's not about us, its about Jesus. When I feel the jealously monster, I remember that I am to encourage and serve. After a few moments I realize it feels better to uplift and help people, than get stuck in jealously.

  6. Yes, the temptation to envy is always there…expecially, I think, for those of us competitive enough with ourselves to have achieved a certain level of success already (i.e. finishing a ms or getting an agent…). But John the Baptist is a perfect example of true humility–not self-loathing or false, but honestly directing praise where it is due.Mary is another great role model: in the greatest moment of her life, she only desired to "magnify the Lord."

  7. This is something I'm all too familiar with and I've spent a lot of time thinking/praying about it.First, I had to get rid of the expectation that I could somehow stop myself from comparing. I'm human, and that's what humans do. Just acknowledging that I wasn't doing something WRONG was, for me, a huge step in the right direction.From there, I have a choice. I can stay wrapped up in the jealousy, or I can face it and recognize it for what it is: an invitation to keep moving toward what I want and God wants for me.Maybe it seems like things come easier for other people, but there's no way I can know the struggles, sacrifices, heartache and rejection they have faced along the way.So yes…as you say, it's all about perspective. 🙂 Thank you!

  8. This is really, REALLY good, Heather. I remember a few months ago when author Katie Ganshert dared to broach the subject of jealousy, specifically as it relates to writers, on her blog and I was so happen someone just put it out there, you know? Yeah, I've had moments of jealousy. And that's especially hard when the person you're feeling jealous about is a wonderful writing friend! Honestly, I think the only way to fight it is with the help of the Holy Spirit. He's powerful. And He's able to just pluck that ugly stuff out of us. But it takes humility to admit the ugliness and a willingness to pray about it and take our thoughts captive.

  9. AMEN!Great message here…for everyone.I know I'm guilty of comparing myself, but it's only in Christ that I can be happy for someone else and keep going. While I feel like I'm on a turtles pace for getting published, this is my race and not someone else's. God knows when the timing is right for me. He's working on me. Molding me and maturing me. It's a slow process, but I'm a slow learner.

  10. AGH, so Katie G. beat me to discussing jealousy…I'm jealous! *TOTALLY KIDDING HERE!*Seriously, I appreciate the honesty in all these comments. TC, you have been such an encouragement to me about the fact that God does things in HIS timing–we can't look around us and expect to have the same experience as everyone else.And the interesting thing is that while we're looking around at others, there are doubtless others who are looking at US and seeing things we do "better" than them. Yes, I think comparison is like temptation, Alizabeth (even a form of temptation)…it only becomes sin when we give into it and feed it (then it morphs into jealousy–which is a sin. "Thou shalt not covet…"). What a great discussion today. Let's keep walking our own paths, focusing on our purpose and who we serve, rather than how we're going about it!

  11. Thanks for your post, Heather. It speaks to me where I live. You're absolutley right. It is about perspective. Several years ago I began to look at my life as a part of God's story. Not, God please bless what I am doing. But, God show me what You are doing and help me play my part with all the passion and gifts You have given me. It is about HIM and His story.Being in His story. How freeing. How cool. In all things God is at work. Lord, please help me to be confident and content in the part you have called me to play in Your best ever Story. Much grace and effectiveness to you, Heather.

  12. Great discussion, Heather. This is a problem for writers–comparing one's work with another–and yep, I'm with you. I think its hard not to compare your style to someone else's when writing, and I think the greatest way to lose a judgemental spirit is to pray for that author and bless them while reading their book. I have some pretty hard core conflict in my family, and the one way I know how to deal with it is pray, pray, pray, and bless, bless, bless. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  13. Super post, Heather. I'll raise my hand and admit to being guilty – wishing I had the easy marketing success of others, or Facebook likes, or blog readership. Ironically, the one thing I don't get jealous over is the actual writing. Maybe my ego is obsessive (though my wife says I have an UNDER inflated ego), but I have every confidence in my writing. It's getting the readers I compare myself to other authors about.It's very hard, but we do all need to stop comparing ourselves to others and accept our own values and strengths.

  14. Yes, Graeme–I totally get you there. Sometimes I have all kinds of confidence in my ability to write, but it only takes one comparison to some stellar author to make me feel I'm not good enough. And yes, our platforms all look different, just like our writing. Which is the coolest thing, when it comes down to it!

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