A man named W.L. Sheldon once wrote, “There is nothing noble in being superior to some other man; the true nobility is being superior to your previous self.” This quote really got me. How often do we spend our lives in a battle to be better than someone else? Maybe that person doesn’t even know about the battle, but we gauge our every action and decision on how to meet and defeat their situation. So many times we look at ourselves and then immediately compare to someone else. I wish I had a nice truck like _______. This is a nice deer, but it’s small compared to the one _______ shot. ______ always has the coolest gear, I can’t wait until I have the money to have all of that. We may not even realize it when it happens, but every man is subject to the snare of comparison. How do we get there, and how do we get free?
If there is one thing that I have learned from the outdoors, it’s that this creation all around us doesn’t care who we are or what we have. Hop on YouTube and search “camping fails” and you’ll soon see that it doesn’t matter what gear you have or how skilled you are. Eventually, you will fail. Just pray that when that time comes, there isn’t someone with a cell phone recording it. I think that, at our core, our pride won’t let us believe that we can fail. So, we spend countless hours and dollars getting the right gear/stuff/house/truck/boat/etc. together. Don’t get me wrong, quality gear is important, but so is being aware of yourself and your limitations. Dealing in outdoor equipment, I am keenly aware of all of the awesome gear that’s out there. Unchecked, I could spend hours dreaming about the “perfect setup,” whether thy be a rod and reel, gun and scope, or tent or hammock and accessories. What I miss in that time is important though. As I spend time drooling over something else, I lose sight of the blessing of what I already have. I also lose time to be creative with what I have. As a man, it should be important for me to be able to work with what I have. When all I can think about is what I don’t have, I become consumed by comparison.
When I think about what I lack, I should take stock of my own character first. I can have the coolest gear in the world and still be clueless about being a man. I can garner all of the skills to keep myself provided for in the outdoors, but if I don't have things like integrity and purpose, I'll still end up destitute of any thing of lasting value. Comparing myself to others leads me into one of two bad places. I can either attain what I believe to be "it" and totally miss what has been meant for my growth and blessing or I can not achieve someone else's goals and walk in a shame that was never meant to be. We'll keep this about fishing poles, trucks, and boats for now; but know that this principle goes far beyond these simple things. This is something that you can base your life on. Becoming a better person, doesn't necessarily mean becoming someone else. Become superior to who you used to be, and you will be on a noble path. Find who you were created to be, and you will never miss out on a single thing.
What's the bottom line? Be a man! I know that may not be “PC” these days, but I’m not too inclined to be worried about that. We “men” need to be encouraged to man up. What does that mean in this situation? Own where you are at. Play the cards you are dealt. The most impressed I have ever been was in seeing men with very little or even nothing, create a life for themselves and their families. You can’t buy the nobility Sheldon spoke of. Passion, creativity and purpose will always outshine one's ability to throw money at a problem. How do we escape the chains of comparison? Man up! Find who you were created to be and learn how to become that person! As long as you are on your way to being a better man, the stuff will always be enough.