What Your Response To Someone Else’s Success Says About You

It was almost two years ago the night I stayed late after our small group to chat with my friend. As we stood in her living room, I noticed the good-news smile on her face. Before she spoke, I already knew what she would say. The problem: I didn’t quite want to hear it. “We’re pregnant,” she announced. “I knew it,” I tried to smile back, wanting badly to be happy for her when she had what I wanted. “I’m so happy for you,” I semi-lied. I was happy, but you know, I wasn’t happy for myself.

It was confusing. So I went home and cried. I wanted a baby too. I felt left out, failed, short-changed. My friend’s happy news became all about my lack.

But this was no isolated incident. I’ve always struggled to be happy when my friends received what what I wanted for myself. Whether it was a new relationship, a baby, a career success, or something else I coveted, I felt they were stealing from the Blessing Pool.

After all, there are only so many Good Things to go around. If someone takes one, that’s one less for me.

That’s Scarcity talking though. The fear that if someone else gets a blessing, a victory or a breakthrough, then I may have to go without.

When someone else gets what we want, it’s easy to get cranky, huh? [Click photo for credit]

Fortunately, there are two ways to view someone else’s success. Scarcity is not our only option. 

The other perspective, the view from God’s economy, is that another person’s present breakthrough or victory is a sign of my future breakthrough. We don’t learn this in school, though. We need a connection with a generous and eternal God to even comprehend this idea.

The world views Good Things from a limited time only perspective. We experience blessing as something that is only available to a few, first-come, first-served. The rest of us are out of luck.

But God, not bound by time or quantity, offers us the opportunity to trust him when we hear the success story of another. Here’s how it works: when I hear someone else’s story of success or breakthrough, and it’s something I want or need for myself, I can reach out and take the story as mine. The other person’s story becomes my prayer, my future history. I tell myself, “If God can give them (the thing they wanted or desired or needed), then he can give me what I need as well.”

What a paradigm shift, huh? I no longer have to be in competition with my friends and family, fighting for the limited resources of heaven and earth. Instead, someone else’s success means God does this kind of thing, whatever it is, for his people. If I need a companion or friend, a health breakthrough, financial supply, anything, I can listen with gratitude and joy to my friends as they share their own stories, relying on God to do for me what he has done for others.

My response to someone else’s breakthrough, especially one I’m also looking for myself, will come from a place of fear or hope. There is no in-between. I will either be delighted for them and myself, knowing this can be my story as well. Or I will let fear come and steal their joy and mine, believing they’ve just taken the one thing away that I could have had for myself.

As far as heaven is concerned, there are more than enough companions and babies, money and dreams to go around.

Finally, my response to someone else’s breakthrough enables – or disables – my ability to receive the thing I’m looking for. If I respond in fear and scarcity, believing my friend just got the last Good Thing I wanted, I am not as likely to pray and ask for it for myself.

But Jesus tells us we don’t have things because we don’t ask for them. So when I respond with hope and faith, believing that someone else’s story could be mine, I am more likely to ask for it. And therefore, more likely to receive it.

Sure, your response to someone else’s success is a sign of your character. But it’s not just that. It’s also a self-filling prophecy.

So next time someone shares with you the news they received something you want or need, pay attention to your heart. Are you responding with fear or hope? Can you be genuinely happy for them or do you feel jealous and competitive? Knowing God can do for us what he does for others may inspire you to rejoice with your friends’ happy news while claiming these breakthroughs as your own future history.

Happy Dreaming! 

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