“Look, mommy and daddy!”
Ty hovers his body between the couch and coffee table in a perfect plank.
“Cool bud. You’r so strong!”
From the kitchen, Tanner hollers, “I’m strong TOO!”
“Yea, bud, you sure are.”
“Mommy, daddy. Look!”
Ty dives at the ground in a death-defying somersault he apparently learned at gymnastics.
“Awesome bud. That was great.”
“I can do that.” Tanner throws his body into a crumpled ball.
Bry and I look at each other. “This may get exhausting at some point.”
Does this happen in your home? As soon as Good job, or You are so silly, or You make the best faces, or Thanks for cleaning the toilets for mommy (wait, that one isn’t happening yet- shoot) the other wants the same praise and approval.
Or maybe it’s directed at a co-worker: Great job. You deserve a raise. Can I get your idea on this project?
Or overhearing one friend saying to another: You’re the best. I can always count on you. What are you guys doing this weekend?
I did a good job, TOO. I deserve a raise, TOO. You can count on me, TOO. I cleaned the toilets, TOO (one day).
You catch my drift?
I’m not guilty of this at all. (insert eye roll) Recently, Ty looked up from his apples-and-peanut-butter-after-school snack, and with a straight-face said, “Mom, you’re not a good MAKER.”
“What’s a MAKER, Ty?”
In an exasperated tone, “Mooooooom, it’s someone who makes stuff. You know.” Long pause. “Like dad.”
Sharp breath in. Gasp. “What?” I stammered. “I. I. I (long pause) I make STUFF.”
For the next hour I acted super mature. I made a point to show Ty everything I MADE.
“Look Ty, I MADE the counters clean. Look, I MADE the TV go on. Look, Ty, I am MAKING hot water. See? I MAKE stuff too!” Pretty sure my four-year old rolled his eyes.
When we see someone getting approval for something we can do (or maybe wish we could do), isn’t it such a normal reaction to want to draw attention to ourselves? Look over here. See me? I have something to offer too. I can do that.
So instead of telling Tanner to get over it and stop comparing, I talked with him about how this will happen his entire life. Others will be celebrated. Others will get recognition. Others will succeed.
And when that happens, bud, it’s pro them, not anti you. Celebrating someone else doesn’t mean it takes away from you. On the contrary, it means in that moment, it’s simply not about you. It’s their turn to be acknowledged. And your turn will come.
The more confident we are in our gifting and calling, the more eager we are to celebrate how others are created. When we celebrate someone else’s success, we know they are living out their uniqueness. This doesn’t take away from us; it betters everyone.
As Jen Hatmaker says, “We all have our note to play.”
If we go around stealing one another’s notes, their limelight, their moment, all the while complaining, we miss the value in learning a different tune.
Ty’s right. I’m not a great maker. Bryan is. The man makes roasted chicken and mashed potatoes and sauteed brussel sprouts with shallots and a touch of maple syrup like no one’s business. If I stand in the kitchen, waving my arms, crying, “Yea, but look at me,” my kids would starve.
Pro others doesn’t mean anti you. It simply means it’s another’s moment to shine. To teach. To sing. To be. To make.
It only feels anti you if you let it.
As we focus on celebrating the individual ways others excel, it takes the limelight off of us, and places it on them in the rightful moment. When we delight in seeing others live out their created selves, we communicate, “I’m watching you. And you shine.”
Pro others doesn’t mean anti you.
The moon doesn’t tell the sun, “Look how I cast light too” because he’s too busy sitting in the back row, mesmerized by the stars dancing on a dark stage.