When Their Success Threatens Yours
You’ve wanted this.
This dream, this job, this opportunity, gig, book deal, acceptance letter, position– whatever it is, you’ve dreamed of it. You’ve prayed for it, written your name on it, and have awaited that blessed day when it would finally be yours. “Someday…”, you keep telling yourself.
And then it happens.
Just… not to you.
A dear friend walks up to you, smiling ear to ear, “You’ll never guess what just happened to me!!!”
But you already know. Because it’s THAT thing. The thing you’ve ached for, cried over, begged for and have YOUR name etched on.
Yet, you force a smile through your gritted teeth and pray the bitterness doesn’t ooze out of your sentences as you choke out the words, “Congratulations… I’m so.. happy for you!”
Have you ever found yourself in these shoes?
Why is it that someone else’s opportunity can feel like a robbery?
It’s as if there is an ‘opportunity table’ with a limited amount of chairs and someone else’s success and opportunity automatically means there isn’t going to be enough room for you.
I tend to dwell in this state of mind and find myself viewing people in the same interest as me not as fellow aspirers, but as competitors. We’re all after the same thing, and by golly if they get it first, I am straight up S.O.L. There will be no opportunity left for me. Out of fear I strive for that prize and hope, pray and plead I grab it before somebody else does.
Gah. That’s ugly isn’t it?
For awhile I thought I was the only crazy, internally competitive freak who saw others opportunity as a threat to my own. That was, until Lysa Terkeurst brought to light that this type of attitude is a lot more common than I thought. In her book, Uninvited, she writes:
“If I look at my dreams, desires, and hopes for the future as coming from a place of scarcity and the world’s limited supply, it will constantly feed the notion that someone else’s success is a threat to mine. In other words, this person getting opportunities means less opportunity for me.” (123)
I’ve learned that just because much of the world functions in a competitive, in-it-to-win-it, survival of the fittest mentality, it doesn’t mean that we have to. In God’s kingdom, there is always room for more.
More willing vessels.
More creative people trying to share the Gospel in creative ways.
The good news is that this “opportunity table” isn’t set to a standard size.
It’s e x p a n d a b l e. And it’s always expanding.
There is room for you and there is room for me. We don’t have to keep competing for a good seat.
As one of my favorite authors, Rebekah Lyons, says:
“We do not have to copy, compare or compete–There is enough room for calling.”
This habit of “scarce thinking” is ultimately rooted in the belief that God’s resources are in the same state as the world’s: limited, exhaustible and diminishing. However, in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he describes God’s resources as “glorious and unlimited” (Ephesians 3:16).
The Supply that Never Runs Dry
If our God has unlimited resources, is He ever going to run out of ways to use our lives, gifts, and stories for His glory? There’s still time and there’s still room. God is so stinkin’ creative; and His timing is perfect. Who knows what doors He’ll open at just the right time?
We can rest assured that we haven’t been overlooked, that opportunity hasn’t skipped over us, and that God isn’t done with our stories yet. He may be taking his sweet time, but sometimes the best things in life take awhile to grow and be nurtured.
When we start to see other’s opportunity through a lens of abundance rather than scarcity, we can truly be ecstatic for someone else’s success and encourage them like crazy. But more importantly, we can be set free from restrictive mentalities and bitter hearts, and be free to genuinely celebrate one another.