Are you treating God's Kingdom like a co-op or a competition?

Before you were formed God knew you. He knew the plans he had for you. They are not for anyone else and the plans for others are not for you. Sometimes God's plans for us may look similar to another person's but that's only from our vantage point. When you see someone doing the work you thought was planned for you do you cheer or try to one-up her?

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I long to be a real writer. To see my name in print. I've always loved writing and reading. And talking. To be completely honest, my dream is to write books and be able to go around speaking about the words and stories God has given me. To make women laugh and feel encouraged, to know they aren't alone. It seems like exactly what God created me for. 

But there are so many out there already doing that. Even this blog, my little launching point, is just one of thousands upon thousands of faith based lifestyle blogs. I read many of them and love what they have to say and occasionally that little voice of comparison and defeat comes creeping in. 

"Her's is so much more put together than yours! What makes you think you can hack it as a blogger or anything else for that matter? Just throw in the towel now before you waste anymore time or money. You can't do this." 

It's an easy voice to hear. It's the one that tells you not to try out a new hobby that you are interested in because so-and-so is already better than you at it. It's the one that tells you that taking a chance to talk to the woman at church is a waste because she doesn't need a friend like you. It's the one that reminds you of the dream you gave up on when things got hard. 

God created you with a specific purpose. One that he planned just for you. Yes, there are other writers, some that may sell millions of books compared to your hundreds, but no one has your exact words, your exact viewpoint, your exact experiences, to tell the story God has given you. It doesn't matter if that story is a Bible study, a devotional, a fiction novel, or a inspirational book. It is yours to tell and no one else's. 

I love Lisa-Jo Baker's words on this topic. In fact, the premise of God's Kingdom being a co-op and not a competition is from her book, Never Unfriended. I highlighted most of this chapter as I read through it and still come back to it when I start feeling those lying thoughts. She has the verses I need pulled out for me. It's like I can hear Jesus speaking directly to my heart through her words. 

No one can do that secret impossible that you’ve got your heart set on the way you can. Because you are the DNA of the dream. The Holy SPirit is in you. Even if you and your friend both started with the exact same premise, you’d end up glorious worlds apart as distinct as your fingerprints. Because you are.
— Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended (p. 135)

When I see that the course I'm thinking of creating has already been done by SO many other bloggers, I need to remember that what they do might not be the same thing I do, even if it's a similar topic. When I sit down at my computer and open up the devotional I'm writing and wonder if anyone will even bother buying it, I need to remember that I'm writing this to be obedient to what God has asked me to do, not for a profit. 

Instead of comparing what she's doing to what I'm doing I need to be encouraging her. Instead of trying to do better than her I need to be cheering for her. I'm so thankful God is blessing me with these types of people in my life so I can learn from them. 

I have this awesome friend. She's the ultimate encourager. She's also a writer. And man does she have a way with words. There have been times when I've caught myself in that comparison and competition trap. Times of wondering why I'm trying when this chick has such an incredible gift. But then God taps me on the shoulder and reminds me that we are in this together, not against each other. And that's usually when I get a text from her asking how my own book is coming. Or a note in the mail. She reminds me I need to do the same to others. 

Comparison is exhausting and self-destructive. But a sure antidote to comparison is encouragement. Choosing to encourage instead of compare is a powerful defensive play
— Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended (p.126)

God's gifts and plans for us are not limited by the plans and gifts he has for others. His plans work by multiplying, not by division. He fed thousands with a handful of loaves and fishes and he can use your dream to achieve great things, even if it's the same dream as someone else. "There's enough work in the Kingdom for everyone." (Never Unfriended, p.134).

Let's back away from seeing what others have as a slight to our own plans. Let's stop viewing other's success as our failures. Instead, let's cheer each other on as we each push forward in the race set before us. The race that was designed specifically for us. Not the race our neighbor or the woman on the other side of the country that we follow on Instagram is running, but the race we are running. 

@@Let's cheer each other on as we each push forward in the race set before us.@@

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11-15, NIV

 

How do you focus on encouraging those that have a dream or goal similar to yours? How do you avoid comparison or competition?