I like to consider myself a fairly successful person for someone my age. I just finished undergraduate school, and I’m about to start seminary. I have a great job that I love and a good social network of family of friends that I can depend on. I’ve accomplished some things that I’m proud of, and I feel like I’ve made at least some minor impacts in other people’s lives. I have a lot to be happy about. And yet, I often look at other people and wonder why I don’t have what they have. Sometimes, I get jealous.
Generally, I try to be content with what I have. I don’t get jealous often. But I recently had an experience with jealousy that inspired me to write this blog post. I walked into the guest bedroom at my house and found a book. The name of the author also happened to be the name of a guy I graduated from high school with. I was intrigued, so I looked him up, and it turned out that it was his book. He’s the same age as I am, and in the time that I’ve been focusing all of my energy on getting a bachelor’s degree, he’s gotten married, taken a youth pastor position at a church, had twins, graduated college, and published a book.
Wow. That’s a lot for a person to accomplish in four years, and that was a lot for me to process. My reaction was to immediately get jealous. I’ve spent all this time preparing for all these things, and this guy just went and did all of them at once. Why can’t I have a published book and a family of my own and a pastoral position at a church? And to make the situation worse, I read his book, and it was good! I was really jealous, and I let it stew for a few days.
But then I read a verse that completely changed my perspective. It was a part of my daily Bible reading, and it was God’s way of showing me how silly I was being. The verse comes from John 21, and it’s Jesus’ words to Peter when Peter asks Him about another disciple, John.
“Jesus said to him, ‘If it is My will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’” —John 21:22
When I read that verse, I felt like Jesus was speaking directly to me. It penetrated my heart and showed me the truth about my jealousy. It’s none of my concern if God wants to use someone else differently than He uses me. God has different plans for each of us. Someone else’s may look a little more appealing, but that’s not what I’m supposed to be focused on. My focus should be solely set on what God is calling me to do right now.
And when I spend my time being jealous and focusing on what someone else has, I can’t put my full energy into the ministry that God has called me to do. Jealousy is in it and of itself counterproductive. It doesn’t bring you closer to getting what you want. It simply distracts you from doing what you should be doing in order to be what God has called you to be. And the only time you can be truly content is when you’re in the center of God’s will.
So I’m choosing not to waste my time on jealousy. Instead, I’m going to be thankful for what I do have on focus on being everything that God has called me to be. Only then will I live the best life possible, a life free from jealousy and anything else holding back from the only thing that matters: serving God. If you’re dealing with jealousy in your life right now, choose contentment instead. Follow Jesus’ command and simply follow Him. He knows what’s best for you, and He’ll give it to you if you’ll follow Him.