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Comparison and competition unhealthy, says BYU professor

BYU nutrition, dietetics and food science professor Merrill Christensen spoke to students Tuesday about the dangers of comparing and competing and the importance of individual worth.

"I do not have the ability to impress upon your minds and hearts ... the glorious reality that each of you individually are of infinite worth to God, your Heavenly Father," Christensen told students. "May you cease unhealthy comparison to others and delight in your individuality and uniqueness."

Christensen offered students four principles to help them avoid the temptations of comparing and competing: preparation, integrity, comparison, and individual worth.

Preparation combined with a commitment "to ‘work very hard' and do ‘the very best' of which you are capable, refusing ‘to be satisfied with mediocre performance,'" will ensure that you are noticed despite academic and professional competition. Reminding students that they needn't call attention to themselves, Christensen said, "excellence will be obvious to those who need to be impressed."

Despite the pressures of the academic and professional world today, Christensen emphasized the importance of maintaining high standards of honesty. "Integrity," he said, "is not a hindrance to your academic and professional success. It is essential to it."

Noting how difficult it is to refrain from comparing oneself to others, Christensen suggested viewing contemporaries as "brothers and sisters to be served," rather than "competitors to be beaten."

"The ability to rejoice in the successes and talents of others increases our capacity for happiness and joy as we experience those feelings each time someone we know succeeds," he said.

This ability to rejoice in others' successes will also increase our own sense of individual worth. We each have different gifts and abilities and a different work to do.

"Our personal ministry may not bring us the recognition and the praise of men. However, it will require the exercise of all the talents and spiritual gifts the Lord has given us, as well as those He has given us capacity to develop."

Christensen encouraged students to "be faithful in your ... individual, personalized ministries ... using your unique blend of talents and spiritual gifts to ‘bless other people in a quiet unassuming way;'" always remembering to "seek the praise of God and do always those things that please Him."

Christensen's devotional will be rebroadcast Sunday, Aug. 12 on BYU Television at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., and on KBYU at 6 and 11 a.m.

Writer: Alexis Plowman


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