5 years ago, I was a mess.
My first company had hit a dry spell…
…but the dry spell that plunges you thousands of dollars into credit card debt, as we hadn’t paid ourselves in months.
At the 11th hour, a company acquired us for a last-ditch tech product my business partners and I created.
In the startup world, that word — ACQUISITION — looks SO GOOD.
It makes people think you’re rolling in cash and successful.
I felt like anything but successful (and lemme tell you, there was no cash 😵).
In the acquisition, they offered me a salary that met 50% of my family’s basic needs.
Oh. And my wife had just been dangerously sick in the hospital after giving birth to our first daughter, who nearly passed away.
I felt like a failure. It humiliated me to walk into that office every day. Frankly, I felt worthless.
Have you ever been here?
This was one of the hardest seasons of my life.
To make ends meet, I started a side hustle, working from 5:30 am – 8 am … Then went to my day job… And then home to work until about 8 pm.
Then go to sleep. Rinse and repeat.
However, I learned two major lessons during this time that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
LESSON ONE: Don’t waste your pain. Learn and grow.
Pain is part of growth.
It’s uncomfortable to change… To fail… To grind just to put food on the table…
Without this time, however, I wouldn’t have forged a work ethic that’s enabled us to start two profitable businesses this year, lead an online ministry, and make an impact in students’ lives as a Bible teacher (and a few other things).
So, what places hurt right now? Where is your pain? And how can this pain become your teacher?
As I reflect on 2019, one of my favorite questions is: “What mistakes or failures repeated themselves this year?”
This helps me pinpoint areas where I haven’t learned or applied the lessons failure can teach me.
As Christians, there is also pain in following Jesus. As James wrote: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Tests transform us into steadfast, full-capacity disciples.
Steadfastness has its “full effect” when we meet trials with joy. Knowing that we are being formed and molded here.
More, God has a plan for your pain.
Joseph getting sold into slavery by his own brothers resulted in saving millions of lives.
Press into pain, draw out every lesson, and make it your teacher.
This is crazy Christianity. Keep your chin up and press on. It’s what Jesus’ people do.
LESSON TWO: Don’t compare yourself to others. (Trite, I know.)
Second, I compared the heck out of my situation with other people I deemed successful.
My feelings of inadequacy directly correlated with comparison.
What a silly thing to do! I still fight this urge.
Author and pastor Craig Groeschel wrote, “The fastest way to kill something is to compare it with something else.”
I think he’s dead on.
When we compare, we rob ourselves of joy in our journey. We steal our own capacity for contentment.
And contentment doesn’t mean settling—it means gratitude. We can be grateful and growing at the same time.
Unhealthy comparison won’t coexist with gratitude. They’re pretty crappy roomates.
The truth is, we’re often comparing our WORST with someone else’s BEST.
Newsflash: Instagram doesn’t reflect reality!
Other people’s lives — no matter how successful — aren’t a constant vacation filled with smiles and unlimited lobster.
Behind every perfect smile lives an imperfect person.
Comparison is a trickster, and it reeled me in after failing in business (and what felt like life).
I looked at all of my “successful” friends and peers, then judged myself against their accomplishments.
This was demoralizing, demotivating, and induced destructive behaviors like self-medicating with food, entertainment, and a host of other unhealthy behaviors.
Unhealthy comparison actually invites unecessary pain into our lives. Not the kind that grows us, but the kind that stunts us. That wounds without a path to healing.
The only person we should compare ourselves against is Jesus.
And that puts us all on even footing
How to move forward…
In my new book I discuss this season at length, breaking it down further, drawing out a few more lessons.
Most helpful, we get to work together to craft an actionable, step-by-step plan to bust out of seasons like this… Or, catalyze already positive seasons of growth.
> > > You can grab your copy of the book here for just $3.99. < < <