Comparison. We engage in this so often in our lives … comparing ourselves to others as a measure for how we are doing and whether we are doing something right. As women, we are socialized to compare ourselves in order to figure out how to look, dress, and, yes, even feel and act. But this comparison can lead us to be intimidated by others, and to doubt who we are and our own gifts. In trying times where we are challenged to take innovative, creative approaches to ministry, it can be all the more tempting to fall into the “comparison” trap. We can feel like we don’t have what it takes. We can forget that God knows us, that God created us, called us good, and set us apart for God’s purposes.
Read: Jeremiah 1:5-8 and 1 Timothy 4:12a
We are not alone. Throughout scripture, we encounter those who are called struggling with their image and their giftedness for the call. And we encounter God reassuring them that no mistake was made.
Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I made you a prophet to the nations. “Ah, LORD God,” I said, “I don’t know how to speak because I’m only a child.” The LORD responded, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child. Where I send you, you must go; what I tell you, you must say. Don’t be afraid of them, because I’m with you to rescue you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:5-8)
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young (1 Timothy 4:12a)
Reflect: Where have you fallen into the “comparison” trap in your life? What negative voices do you need to name in order to gain power back in your life? In what ways might your perceived “weaknesses” actually be strengths?
Dear Sister, in these strange times when all is new territory and there are a lot of expectations on us, remember that you are beautiful! Remember that you are fearfully, wonderfully made. You, in all your unique giftedness, in all your eccentricities, in your experience and perspective, in your limitations and your struggles…you are called. God didn’t make a mistake. God called you. You and your story are exactly what God wants to use to tell God’s story.
Take Action: Take some time to think about who in your community might need a reminder of their value and beauty in God’s eyes. Consider writing a card, making a phone call, or sending a text message encouraging them and affirming this person and the gifts and strengths you have seen in their life and witness.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
We are grateful to the Rev. Allison Lancaster for writing this month’s issue of Encouragements. Allison is the pastor at Prospect UMC in Yanceyville, NC.
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