Several of my college professors sauntered into class on the first day of the semester, dropped their oversized literature textbooks onto their desks and announced, “If you expect to get an ‘A’ in this class, you can forget it. I don’t give ‘A’s.’ At best, most of you will get a ‘C’ out of me.”
I took that as a personal challenge.
In fact, my irrationally competitive spirit can sometimes be a good thing. Sometimes we accomplish more because of the adrenaline of the challenge, the race, and the competition. That usually works for me.
And yet sometimes it’s a terrible addiction. Like when you’re compelled to do the best, be the best, be the fastest, the first, the most impressive, and the most accomplished—even when it really doesn’t matter.
Or maybe one day you “fail” or come in second or make a mistake.
Or when you’re so focused on lifting yourself up, that you fail to come alongside others and give them a boost when they need it.
Or like when you’re a mom and you’re telling your child all the time, “You don’t have to be the first, the smartest or the best. You just need to try your hardest and use the gifts God gave you to be who He called you to be. And I love you always.”
But deep down you want them to totally leave other kids in the dust. Then your children start suspecting that when you tell them you love them and you’re proud of them, really there are some conditions attached. Maybe they know that the deep-down hidden message in all this is to “Achieve.”
Or like when it’s time to throw a birthday party or be the classroom mom and an ordinary cupcake isn’t good enough. You have to personally bake and decorate the kind of product that could land you on Cupcake Wars. Your personal life goal is for all the other kids to say, “I wish my mom were as cool, fun, creative, and wonderful as you are.” (Throw in “beautiful” for good measure.)
Yes, that competition trap is a doozy.
All week long, I’ve been praying about killing the competition between my kids, encouraging them to be each others greatest cheerleaders instead of ultimate rivals.
Then I started thinking maybe my own drive for competition could use some killing.
In fact, maybe we all need the reminder in the body of Christ to unite for one purpose—the glory of God and the truth of the Gospel—rather than competing for attention, success, praise, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and number of people in the seats.
Here’s a verse I’m meditating on all this week, to remind me that ultimately all this striving matters very little and while it might spur you on to earn good grades or throw the best birthday parties, Christ would rather see us cheerleading than competing.
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4 HCSB).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King