Yours Vs. Mine

I just got off the stationary exercise bike at our house. I typically ride six miles when I am using this bike for cardio exercise, and it usually takes me about 22-23 minutes to complete that six miles. Sometimes I pause it to jump off and do some circuit calisthenics, and so my routine may take a little longer. But by the time I’m done, I’ve worked up a good sweat, my heart has pumped at a good pace, and my muscles feel that they have been well-used.

Now, I know that there may be someone reading who is a fitness fanatic. You read those numbers, and you are severely underwhelmed. Perhaps you even did the math while you read and quickly estimated that my biking is almost a four-minute mile. Then you may have thought, “Allen, don’t you know that there are plenty of people who run four-minute miles? You’re not doing very good exercising if you are only biking a four-minute mile.”

But here’s the thing… I’m not competing against those people. I’m not in a race. I’m not working toward a personal record. Nothing wrong with those things. It’s just not what I’m setting out to accomplish. I’m simply trying to conquer another day of cardio to keep my body in good health. The goal is different. So, it’s not comparing apples-to-apples.

This is where we often get into trouble. We look down on ourselves because we don’t feel like what we are doing compares to what someone else is accomplishing. We feel like our four-minute mile on an exercise bike isn’t as good as someone else’s four-minute mile on foot in a marathon. But we need to focus on what we are trying to accomplish.

The writer of Hebrews says we are to run the race God has set before us. Not the race He has set before other people. The race He has set before us. When we do this, we honor Him and accomplish our assignment more effectively.

You don’t have to keep up with someone else. You don’t have to give as much as they give… or serve how they serve… or worship the same way they worship. You do have to be true & faithful to what God has set in front of you to do if you want to truly succeed in life. And when you focus on the race set before you, you’ll see yourself succeeding more and more.

So, if you’re not impressed with my speed on the exercise bike, that’s okay. I’m not trying to impress or out-do anyone else. I’m just trying to stay healthy so I can honor God with my life and be here for my family and those I serve. Every time I knock out another six miles in 22 minutes, I wipe the sweat from my brow and feel the success of victory over my own laziness.

For the record, I’m not trying to make my distance or time what you need to strive for either. You’ve got your own race set out before you. So get out there, and do what you’re meant to do. You’re going to be great!

Stop! Thief!

In my early twenties, I worked for Academy Sports and outdoors.  I worked every department and even worked as a cashier.  At one point, I had to learn how to look for and catch shoplifters.  The manager taught me how thieves generally work and the proper way to stop them.  The goal was to stop the thief and keep the goods for the good of the company.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  And he was right.  When we compare ourselves to others, we lose sight of our own purpose… and talents… and value.

Were you to stand beneath the Space Needle in Seattle… or the Empire State Building in New York and look at a nearby one-story shop, you might think the shop is of no value.  But the shop meets the needs of people just as much as one of the taller buildings… only in a different way.

The same is true in our lives.  When we compare ourselves to others, we only see their value and not our own.  But we each serve a valuable purpose on this planet, and we should not discredit our own personality, style, etc. simply because we don’t look like, sound like, dress like, serve like someone else.  Doing so only lets comparison become the thief of our joy… and get away with the goods.

God was way ahead of the curve on this one when He presented the concept in the Ten Commandments that we should not want what isn’t ours.  When we compare who we are and what we have with others, we lose the joy of who we are and what we have.

So, don’t let comparison rob you blind. When you sense yourself beginning to compare and you see that thief trying to steal your joy, just quietly say, “Stop! Thief,” and take your joy back.

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