Last week I was asked to speak to our Girls’ Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Club. I wanted to share a story with them that I felt that they could relate to as athletes, but also understand how it relates to what God calls for us to do. Sometimes athletes can compare themselves to other athletes, asking questions such as “Why is that person getting more playing time than me?” or “Why did she get that award?” or “Why was that person named captain?”
All of those questions represent comparison.
When I spoke with the girls in FCA, I first read to them the story of the Stone Cutter:
There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.
To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"
Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"
Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"
Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"
Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!"
Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought.
He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.
At the end of the story, I asked the girls to think to themselves about a time when they’ve compared themselves to other athletes.
I had given out 5 bible verses that are about comparing ourselves to others, and I had the athletes to read those out loud and talk about how it applies to them as athletes.
Then I said,
“God doesn’t make a mistake. Maybe your gift is athletic ability. Maybe your gift is to be an encourager. Maybe your gift is to be coachable. Maybe your gift is to be a good teammate. Whatever your gift is, you don’t need to compare yourself to others but to live fully in the gift that you’ve been given. You are all powerful, and you need to live in that power.”
We can all get caught up in comparison as educators… as bloggers… as parents… as people.
I’ve had people tell me that they could never start a blog because (they make a comparison to mine or another experienced blogger). I’ve heard people say that they don’t measure up because of what they see people post on twitter (comparison). Have you ever heard parents comparing their children to someone else’s? Or maybe you’ve heard parents just talk about another person’s children and the comparison is implied?
We are all on our own personal journey. Instead of comparing, let’s celebrate each other. Let’s be joyful in our gifts, and show gratitude in everything we do. Together, we can accomplish incredible things!