Compete with yourself and you'll see steady improvement in your life

When you compete with yourself, you'll spend your energy on progress instead of envy.

The truth is that God doesn't want us to pattern ourselves after another person. He wants to conform our character to that of his son, Jesus Christ.

That's a pretty tall order. In fact, it would be impossible if we didn't have the Holy Spirit's help. The task is so challenging that we'd be in a constant state of frustration, except that through a special technique, we can make remarkable improvement.

What's the technique? Surrender.

Ouch! We don't like that idea. It sounds too much like weakness or submissiveness or caving in. We'd rather do things our way.

You'll get more than just a better you

When you compete with yourself, you start at the "old" you and work on becoming the "new" you. This New You never stays the same. He or she is always getting better, even if it's only in small advances.

God has given each of us a unique personality and unique appearance. It's worthwhile to become all you can be, but it's even more worthwhile to become like Jesus.

We do that best when we dig into the Bible because that's where we discover who Jesus is. We can't emulate his character traits unless we know what they are.

The most ambitious goal in life

Copying others, even role models, is minor league stuff. When you compete with yourself though, you go from who you used to be to more like Jesus, and that's the most ambitious goal in life.

No matter how holy and Christlike another person may be, if you pattern your life after theirs, you're copying a copy. Instead, go for the real thing and copy Jesus himself.

Most of us are tempted to quit this activity before we even begin. It would be overwhelming except for one thing: It's exactly what God wants for us. Because that's his plan, he'll give us all the help we need, and he'll keep giving it through our entire life.

With this method of improvement, usually you will be the only person who can see anything getting better. Changes may be so small that other people may not even notice. But you will, and God certainly will.

If you work on your compassion, patience, love, endurance, kindness, and peace of mind, you cannot do that without affecting people around you for the better.

They may not know what is happening with you, but you will. The exquisite reward of this kind of self-improvement is that it comes back to you in the form of love, because above all, Christ was love.

Kindness, patience are crucial

Remember to be kind to yourself. When you stumble, forgive yourself. When you seem to go in reverse, be understanding. When your progress is excruciatingly slow, be patient.

This is not a microwave meal. This is your character. This is changing years of habit. This is a big job that must be done in tiny steps.

Thank God daily for the help he gives you. Celebrate your growth. Compete with yourself to become less like you and more like Jesus. This, without question, is the most exciting challenge in life.

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