Feeling sorry for yourself?

Thanks for joining me to reflect on an personal issue that can trouble our emotional and spiritual journey! Questions to consider:

  • What is self-pity? How do you define self-pity? What does it feel like to pity yourself?
  • Why does self-pity emerge in our lives? How is self-care different from self-pity?
  • How and why is self-pity a trap?

Why does he get the bigger bowl than me?

There's always a bigger bowl and bigger fish!

Let’s identify self-pity in 3 ways: Self-pity

a. is a symptom of what’s going in our minds and hearts, (indicates issues)

b. comes about when we focus on self and circumstances instead of looking to God, and lastly (inward vrs upward focus)

c. indicates comparison and envy (self to other comparisons).

Why do we have a tendency to feel pity for ourselves? I believe the answer is how we respond to circumstances in our lives. Do we recognize that God has a purpose in what we are dealing with? What about the victories and struggles? Can you see God at work?

Past hurts, disappointments, and often unmet desires play a role in this situation as well. Self-pity often emerges in our journey of faith. Self-pity is a natural response when troubles come upon us. Self-pity is a distorted form of self-protection that keeps us stuck in our minds.

Self-care vrs Self-pity

Taking care of ourselves is perhaps the most loving thing we can do! Opening our lives and hearts to receive God’s grace, mercy, compassion, and love so that such gifts can flow through us to others. Self-care involves setting time aside to heal, recover, and refocu on Christ. Self-pity keeps us from truly receiving God’s love. For example, a person in self-pity will often have thoughts or reasons why God can’t love him/herself. For every proof or instance of God’s grace there is a self-hating, debasing thought that comes to mind. Did Jesus ever debase anyone? Did He ever says to someone “you’re not worthy of God’s love?” I’ve yet to find such a statement in the Gospels. Can you name an account in the Gospels wherein Jesus tells people to be worthy of God’s love?

Currently, I am working through a period of self-pity in my life. Numerous failures and lack of progress in ministry and career have deeply discouraged me. Time, effort, and resources have been invested with no return. Mostly, my writings and videos are ignored and passed over. My situation isn’t hopeless, but I don’t see a better future for me in my areas of calling, gifting, and employment. It’s even harder when I see that others seem to be successful. Guess that the key here is “seems.” I don’t see the struggles, doubts, and other things that people keep hidden. I desire to be honest about mine hoping that it will encourage and uplift others.

Is it wrong to notice the good and blessings in others’ lives? Not if we use the opportunity to give thanks to God and celebrate with others. Is it wrong to desire good things that we see others having? Depends on our motive(s) for desiring these things! This gets tricky doesn’t it? Does God withhold any good gift from your life? Consider James 1:17:

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.

Self pity grows when we look at others around us and notice how “good” they have it. The truth is that others seem to have it good. Do we know what sacrifices they are making? What price are they paying? This is a truth concerning Instagram and other social media profiles. We only see what others want us to see! They look so healthy and prosperous. We don’t see the credit card debt, drug use, eating disorders, and other things that would horrify us! Nor do we see the immense pressure they’re under to keep up appearances or the broken relationships in his/her life.

This is a recent photo of myself after an afternoon of riding. Can you see the soreness? What about the mud? I had a good time and enjoyed the training. All of these things are true, yet not visible in this photo.

This is me, there are others bigger and stronger!

Even ministers fail prey to the toxin of self-pity! Look how many followers or people he has in his church! Thousands follow and interact with his ministry! Often deep discouragement comes with self-pity. I’ve had to fight this serpent myself. Why? When we compare ourselves to others these two things happen:

  1. in pride we view ourselves as better forgetting what God has/is doing boasting in ourselves, and
  2. in envy we want what “they” have instead of seeking what God wants for us.


James gives us an answer! Seek God’s wisdom! As you read the verses below what traits stand out to you? How is wisdom from above different from earthly wisdom?

James 3:13-18 The Wisdom from Above

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good conduct, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast in it or deny the truth. 15Such wisdom does not come from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every evil practice.

17But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap the fruit of righteousness.

Obviously our lives reflect our source of wisdom! Wisdom leads us away from self-pity and toward accepting God’s grace.

Paul writes about his difficulties in ministry in 2 Corinthians. Take a moment to read chapter 4. What perspective can you gain?


Ask yourself how chapter 4 connects to chapter 5? Paul’s experiences give him reason to pity himself, but he doesn’t? Why? Glad you asked!

Paul was living for a purpose greater than his own life and comfort! He was all about proclaiming the Gospel Good News! No cost was too much, no burden too heavy! He kept looking upwards as the weight and tribulations increased. Paul’s gratitude for God’s immense grace sustains him. His ministry is God’s ministry to him! Paul shares what God overflows through his life and spiritual journey!

That’s the antidote to the poisons of self-pity and envy in ministry. It’s God’s ministry not mine. What He does through others is His work! What He does through me is His work for His glory not mine. God is at work even in my failures and disappointments. I can give Him praise and honor in the disappointments and hard times. These are the key truths I have to remind myself when I start the comparison game.

With this in mind take a moment to read Chapter 5


Now consider Oswald Chamber’s Devotional

Chambers encourages us to view difficulties as opportunities. God will supply our needs and work through our difficulties to glorify Himself!

Justin Taylor details Paul’s suffering and how it related to his ministry: great summary for chapter 4


Helpful video resource: some many good points in here!


Focus on God when the feelings of self pity emerge! Remember that our circumstances are opportunities to reveal God in our lives! I have started keeping a gratitude journal where I start each day with giving thanks to God. When you feel as though others have it better–focus on the Goodness of God and what He has done in your life. These simple things will redirect you upward to Christ! May His grace and mercy continue to work into your life and overflow onto others!

Published by leestanfill@yahoo.com

Just a pilgrim walking each day with Jesus and hoping to encourage others along the path.

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