Welcome to the second installment of my Easter series, “Grow Your Soul: 7 Ways to Experience New Life During Easter,” which draws from my book, 7 Keys to Spiritual Wellness. This week, we look at the practice of delighting in the success of others.
We tend to see others as rivals. It’s just human nature, and it begins when we are very young and we compare ourselves with our siblings and friends. It bothers us when it seems like they have more and better “stuff” than we have! I remember when I was about 10 years old, I was green with envy that my friend Stevie got an authentic shiny blue Chicago Cubs batting helmet. In fact, I was so envious that I “accidentally” dropped a baseball bat on it and cracked it! (I did save my pennies to buy him a new one at the urging of Stevie’s parents—and mine!)
Rivalries in and of themselves are not necessarily bad. They can urge us to strive for greater heights. The healthy rivalry between John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles resulted in some of the greatest music of all time! Rivalries between athletes can serve to improve their game. Rivalries are only unhealthy when we start hoping for or taking delight in the failure of others in order to feel superior. One of the signs of true spiritual maturity is delighting in the success of others—even rivals. Delighting in the success of others—even rivals—is inspired by Jesus’ instruction to love our enemies. We may not think of rivals as enemies, but we too often act as if they are.
I’ve matured somewhat since the time I was 10 years old and broke Stevie’s batting helmet, and hopefully I have outgrown such childish envy. At the same time, I continue to be vigilant about comparing myself to others. Instead of being jealous of their shiny blue Cubs batting helmet, instead I am tempted to envy the number of books so-and-so has sold, or the number of attendees so-and-so had in a workshop compared to mine, or the number of invitations to be a keynote speaker that so-and-so received compared to me. Whenever I catch myself doing this, I recall this picture that I had a colleague take at a book signing in Los Angeles a few years ago when I was placed next to Bishop Robert Barron. As you can see, he signed a few more books than I did! I use this picture to laugh at myself and remind myself not to compare myself to others but to take delight in their success.
During this Easter season, may we draw upon the new life of the Risen Christ to delight in the successes of anyone—even our so-called “rivals.” And may we see others not as rivals but as partners in our quest for excellence in whatever we do!
P.S. Bishop Barron, if you’re reading this, I’m happy for you. But, in the future, could you spare a handful of fans for one of your former students! 😉
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