One of the more difficult parts of growing up is the comparison game. Let’s face it. Before children are even born, the ob/gyn caring for their mothers begins comparing the unborn child to other children at the same gestation mark. Once children are born, many pediatricians will tell parents what percentile their children are in for height and weight compared to other children of the same age. And let’s not forget about the ever present standardized testing once they reach school age. It’s no wonder parents and children alike catch comparison fever – many times basing their own feelings of success (or the lack thereof) and even self worth by how they compare to those around them.
God never intended us to compare ourselves to each other. He doesn’t want your children to base their self worth on how they compare to their peers in height or test scores. In fact, the only perfect standard is God Himself – and that has nothing to do with appearances or test scores and grades. There is a fun devotional you can do with your children to begin talking about comparison and helping your children view it in a more godly light.
Before the devotional, gather several different kinds of salt, sugar, bread, fruits or any other edible thing for your children to compare during the activity. When you are ready for the devotional, begin by reading to them 1 Samuel 8 and 10:21-24. Asked your children why the Israelites wanted a king. Point out that they did not ask God to provide them with a godly leader of His choosing, but insisted God give them a king like everyone else around them. Ask them why they think being like the other nations around them was so important to the Israelites.
Then refer to the reading in chapter ten. Ask them if they find an interesting comparison statement in that passage. Notice that both Samuel and the people were focused on the outward appearance of Saul – that he was much taller than everyone else. They seemed to believe that Saul’s height would make him a good king. If your children are familiar with the rest of the stories of Saul’s life, ask them what kind of king he actually was. If they don’t know those stories, you can sum them up and ask them whether or not it sounds like Saul was actually a good king once he started reigning.
Explain to your children that comparing ourselves to other people can cause lots of problems. Ask them why they believe that to be true. (Teens may point out the benefits of an inspirational person. Help them understand why it is important to be careful how they use another person to motivate themselves towards a goal.) Explain that God wants us to compare ourselves to Him – not to decide if we have value in the world, but as our inspiration for how we should live our lives. You may even want to spend time discussing the old adage about comparison that you can always find someone better or worse than you are and how that makes comparison a weak measuring stick for anything – especially deciding whether or not they are meeting the expectations God has for them.
Bring out the items you have gathered to compare. Point out that while comparing people to one another isn’t healthy, comparing foods or other objects to one another can be fun and help them make wise purchases. Have fun comparing the items. Afterwards, reflect on the ways each of you has been comparing yourselves to others and how it has been causing problems. Pray that God helps your family remember that God is our only standard for perfection in spirit, character, etc.