How to Help Kids Increase Their Joy

Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s hard to think of our turn-of-the-century president, looking stoic in his in black and white photos, and imagine that he struggled with comparison way back then. I mean, they didn’t even have Instagram! One wonders how people even compared themselves without Facebook. The truth is, comparison goes way back…way, way back.
The devil tempted Eve with comparison. “You will be like God…” In other words, you are not as good as God right now. And what was Cain’s problem? He compared God’s reaction to his offering with that of Abel’s. He was so eaten up with jealousy that he decided to kill his brother (Genesis 4:3-5). In both cases, they were robbed of the joy God intended for them. And we could list a hundred more: the turmoil created when Jacob’s wives compared their number of offspring, Joseph’s brothers comparing their father’s affection for them, even the disciples comparing who was greater in Jesus’ estimation.
So comparison is nothing new. But what is new is the constant stream of comparison reminders we have today. The information age would have been great–without quite so much information! There’s info on who is vacationing where, who got into what school, whose life is better than ours. And it comes into our view every few minutes.
How do we battle this joy-snatcher? We stop measuring ourselves and our children by what others have or do! We focus on God’s love letter to us. Dig into His word every day. Frame a verse and set it next to your computer screen. Tape up a verse on your child’s mirror. Memorize verses as a family. Ephesians 2:10 is a great one to start with:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
It’s hard not to compare, but we must train our kids not to do it! They can’t live their life feeling inferior. They can’t imagine that they are worth less than anyone else. God created their individual DNA–just like He wanted it. God has a beautiful plan for immeasurable good, and they are an integral part of it. (Just imagine Joseph’s life in the pit or in prison. Comparison could have driven him mad.) As long as our kids are following Jesus and doing what He wants for them, they are succeeding. As believers in Jesus, we should be the most joy-filled creatures on the planet. “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10) But the enemy would love just the opposite so that no one else is drawn into God’s kingdom. I am convinced that every time we compare ourselves to others, the devil counts it as a win. Let’s resist the comparison trap, hold tight to our joy, and cause the enemy to scurry away with his tail between his legs (James 4:7).
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