Monday, August 19, 2013

Overcoming Envy

By Caryn Rivadeneira

I stood on the deck. Behind me, fresh wooden steps ascended to the paved stones that wound their way back to the house, all clapboard-ed, turret-ed, balconey-ed, picture-window-ed perfection. Two steps to the right, more wooden steps descended over dune grass toward the expanse of beach and Lake Michigan’s crashing waves.

This place had everything, I thought.

But then I realized: not everything. Noticeably missing was my own envy, which usually buzzed around like a faithful pest in moments like this.

I wondered …

The next day I sat in an auditorium and took notes as world-class speakers shared their leadership insights. I noticed yet another pest was absent.

Comparison should’ve been tormenting me, shining a light on all the ways the speakers were better than I was and on the greater number of books they’d sold. But it didn’t.

So once again, I wondered ...

Had God finally taken these pests from me? Finally plucked them from my mind as I’d asked him to do so many times throughout my life? Had God finally allowed my friend’s mantra—“Prefer the given”—to vanquish my envy?

Apparently. And I thanked God for it. Because I’ve spent way too much time in my life being jealous of other people’s stuff (homes, mostly. I love houses) and comparing my gifts to others, especially those in similar fields.

The problem wasn’t simply that envy and comparison “rotted my bones,” as Proverbs says, and that it left such fertile compost for bitterness to grow. The bigger problem was when I compared and became envious, I dismissed all that God had given me and all that he had called me to do.

Psalm 139 famously tells us that God “knit” us together, that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Each stitch of our being was intended and has purpose. Any time I allowed envy or comparison to well up, I told God that his handiwork and his intentions (my gifts and my calling) weren’t enough.

And I ignored the truths that I was known and loved and uniquely crafted by God to do work in this world like no one else. Truths no leader should ever forget.

There will always be others with “more” or “better” than us. But we can do no more or no better than realizing God made us right, equipped us well, and learn to give thanks — and to prefer — what he’s given us.


Caryn Rivadeneira is a sought-after speaker and author. Her most recent books include Known and Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms (Revell, 2013) and a novel, Shades of Mercy (Moody/River North, 2013). Caryn and her family live just outside of Chicago.


  1. !!!! WOW !!!!! This message couldn't of come at a better time. I was taking a walk through a neighborhood where I was dog sitting. It happened to be among homes that were worrth multi-millon $$$$$ and it just boggled my mind. Why would anybody need such a house when I lived in a place that is less than 185sq. feet? I started to become jealous because of their riches and comparded what they have and what I don't have and then I had a wonderful realization.

    My riches far outweigh what these people have because my riches are from my Heavenly Father and I have a mansion waiting for me in Heaven that my Heavenly Father has prepared for me. These things can not be taken where their muti-millon dollar homes are only temporarily and can be destroyed by fire, earth quake, flood, sink holes or tornados. What I have no one can take. I need to look to God and not worldly things that will not last.

    Thank you for the reminder.

  2. I have struggled with this, too. Thank you for this encouraging post--I am sharing it with our readers over at The High Calling: