“How rare, men with the character to praise a friend’s success without a trace of envy.”
Last week when I was reading my daily Publishers Marketplace update, I saw that a friend of mine, an agent, had just completed a really great deal. I simultaneously felt a few different things… amazement, happy for my friend, happy for the author… and yes, a touch of envy. Why couldn’t that have been me?
Do you know what I mean?
The writing/pubishing business is difficult in many ways, and one of them is that we are challenged when we see others around us experiencing exactly the same success we want for ourselves. In our hearts we truly celebrate with them. But how often can we say there is not a trace of envy in that? I think it comes with a level of spiritual maturity that takes a long time to develop. I know I’ve improved by leaps and bounds over the years, but I’m not “there” yet.
In publishing, thousands of writers struggle daily… and everyday, there are more stories of writers reaching milestones. They got an agent. They got their first publishing contract. Their book hit the bestseller list.
If you’re one of the struggling writers, the success of others can be difficult to deal with, can’t it?
I have friends who’ve published numerous books and are considered quite successful in the business. Yet, there is always someone who is more successful. Someone selling more copies. Someone getting better reviews. Even those who’ve achieved remarkable success can be tempted to look at others and wish for more.
How do we avoid being bitten by the jealousy bug? For me, it seems to hinge on a few things. First, being grateful for where I am, for the unique path God has given me. I have to focus on gratitude for my own gifts and for the opportunities God gives me to cultivate them. Second, trusting I’m where I’m supposed to be, regardless of where anyone else is. Third, in every area of life, I have to remember that if I begin to compare, I’ll always find a way to come out a loser. It’s easy to find someone smarter, prettier, kinder, skinnier, more generous, more godly and more successful than me. Oh yeah, taller too. So it doesn’t make sense to compare. My path is my path, my life is my life, and it doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else’s.
Gratitude is key. But of course, all that is easy to discuss intellectually, harder to make a reality in life. I think it’s one of those things God works out in us over time, as we spend time with Him, focusing on Him and letting Him refine us.
Do you have a story about envy? What things tend to bring up the envy in you? How have you dealt with it?
“Our envy of others devours us most of all.”
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Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.