Are you green with success envy?

Have you ever secretly wished you were as successful as someone else, that your business was as far along as that of a friend or competitor, that you had a greater follower base, more clients and bigger revenue?  I sure have, especially when I first started my entrepreneurial journey and felt like nothing was happening fast enough and it seemed like everyone was doing better than I was.

I also know that almost everyone will struggle with similar feelings of envy at one point or another in their life and career, although few would be willing to admit it.  The reason I felt called to write about it today is because we often don’t recognize just how destructive these feelings of envy can be to our relationship with God and to our ability to live our calling successfully.

When our minds are occupied with what others are doing, how far ahead of us they are, how rich, beautiful or eloquent they appear to be, we take our focus off the only thing that really matters: what God wants us to do, be and have.  In essence, we are saying “Lord, I am not happy with what you have given me and I’d rather have what they have…”.  The problem is – if we don’t show gratitude for what we already have, how can we expect God to give us even more?  In fact, by allowing ourselves to dwell on feelings of jealousy and envy, we risk moving away from God, losing our faith that He only wants the best for us and if we let it fester for too long, we may even question His love and plan for us (Jeremiah 29: 11- 13 ).

We must diligently guard out hearts against feelings of envy and keep our eyes fixed on the Lord (Luke 12:15).  As kingdom entrepreneurs, we have to persistently resist the temptation to compare ourselves, compete with others and measure ourselves by the world’s standard of success.  This includes admitting when feelings of envy threaten to rob us of our peace and asking God to help us overcome them.  It also means we need to stay focused on what God has entrusted us with and do our best right where we’re at, instead of grumbling about where we are not.

Here are a few more tips on how to deal with envy next time it comes knocking on your door:

Remind yourself of ALL your blessings
We often make the mistake of measuring how blessed we are only by our status and success in the world.  Make sure not to discount even the smallest blessings in your life – praise Him and praise Him again for your spouse, your home, your friends, every meal He provides and the beauty of His creation that He shares with us so generously every single day.  A heart saturated with gratitude and praise is the best defense against the enemy trying to divert your focus to what is lacking (Luke 16:10-12).

Don’t judge based on appearances
I have seen businesses rise to sudden fame just to be gone a few months later.  I have also known extremely successful people whose relationships with their spouses and kids were in shambles, who struggled with secret addictions, or were faced with life-threatening health issues.  Remember that outward appearances can be very misleading – remind yourself that God cares about the contents of our hearts, our relationship with Him, and the spiritual fruit we produce much more than He cares about our image and our net worth (Proverbs 21:2).

Don’t try to claim someone else’s blessing
God wants all of us to walk in His perfect will, enjoy his blessings, fulfill our calling, and live an abundant life (James 1:17).  However, he has a unique plan to help each of us get there.  His timing and methods are not the same for everyone and we can’t possible know what someone else had to go through to get to where they are.  Perhaps they have tried and failed many times, came close to giving up or have suffered considerable hardship. If someone’s success is not based on God’s will, it is guaranteed to come with a steep price that you won’t want to pay (Proverbs 20:17) and if their success is indeed aligned with God’s plan, we have no right to deny them their blessing, lest we lose our own (Gen. 27:35).

Don’t chase something you don’t really want
For a moment, imagine yourself in the shoes of someone you have been secretly envying.  What would your life really be like?  How would your spouse and family fit into the picture?  What sacrifices would this kind of life demand?  Now ask yourself, do you really still want it?  Sometimes we can be obsessed with the “idea” of what someone else’s life would be like, but if we were to trade places with that person, we may actually realize that it’s not at all what we want (James 4:1-3)

Tune into your true feelings
Ask God to show you what is really causing your feelings of envy.  Are you afraid to fail or be less successful than someone else?  Do you fear the criticism of others?  Are you struggling with insecurity?  Do you harbor feelings of lack, worrying that someone else is claiming all the good customers?  What is it that you are really after (money, power, being liked, etc.) and what do you think you would gain if you had it? (James 3:16)

Check your motivation
As kingdom entrepreneurs we are to follow Jesus, not our own ideas of success.  Are you trying to model your business after what made someone else successful instead of listening to God’s plan?  Are you willing to wait for God’s timing and assessment of your readiness for the next step or are you driven by selfish ambition and keeping up with what others are doing in their businesses?  The danger of trying to emulate someone else’s success lies in the risk of pursuing a path that was never intended for us (1 John 5:3)

Remember that the enemy is thrilled when we take our focus off God’s plan for our lives and instead focus on other people’s success This keeps us from putting forth our best to fulfill our calling and the longer we allow ourselves to be controlled by our feelings of jealousy, the more anxious and doubtful we become.  We may even become cynical and look for ways to sabotage the success of others to create a level playing field.

If you are struggling with celebrating the success of others and finding contentment in where God currently has you positioned, it’s time for a conversation with your heavenly Father.  Pour your heart out to Him and tell Him how you feel, your struggles, your fears, all of it.  Ask him to forgive you for not trusting His plan for you and for coveting what someone else has been given.  Ask him to help you overcome your feelings of envy and grow your faith and trust in His provision.  He will faithfully show you each next step you need to take to walk in His perfect will…but it’s on you to follow.

If you would like help in assessing the current state of your business and how you might align your business plan with God’s plan for your life, I invite you to schedule a complimentary business strategy session with me.  I would love to pray with you, review your goals and work with you to put together a plan that will give you peace about where you stand in your business and how to get to the next level of success.

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