Competition: America’s Next Top Christian Part 2

[For part 1 of this blog click here]

Romans 12:3-8 
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,  5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them… 

if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;  8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

God saves us to complement each other, not to compete. 

We’re saved to complete, not compete.    

God positions us to complement each other by making us members of His body.  As parts of His body He gives us different complementary gifts.  Our job is to discover those gifts, work to develop them, and then use them to build up the church and glorify Jesus.   

Sounds easy doesn’t it?  But it’s not.  There is a huge road block that stands in the way of our ability to complement each other. 

That road block: Competition.    

Competition blocks our ability to complement. 

Let me illustrate:  

I went to the gym last week looking for a little cardio workout.  But instead of heading for the treadmills, I decided to wander onto the basketball court.  I was in luck, or so I thought.  A couple other guys around my age and skill level we’re looking for a fourth guy to play 2-on-2.  I volunteered to take the smaller guy on my team, my goal was to get a really good workout and I’m always up for a nice competitive challenge. 

Three possessions into the game I thought I had struck gold.  Our first three opportunities with the ball consisted of me passing the ball to my teammate and him shooting and nailing a 3-pointer.  After a few turnovers and exchanges, the first game of 2-on-2 ended with “captain trey” nailing 2 more 3’s.  Playing by 1’s and 2’s, we won 11-4.  Captain trey didn’t pass once, but I didn’t care, as his 5-for-5 shooting performance accounted for 10 of our 11 points.       

Frustrated, the better player on the other team asked “You want to run it back?”  I should have headed for the treadmill while I had the chance, but the temptation of dominating these two again was too great. 

“You bet man.” 

Chalk those up as my famous last words that day at the gym.  For the next 45 minutes I endured my most frustrating day on a basketball court since losing at North Salem by 60 my freshman year in high school.  We were slaughtered 5 games in a row, average score 11-2. 

I’m not one to blame my teammate after a loss, but it was comical.  Over the span of those 6 games of 2-on-2, I can count on one invisible finger how many times “captain trey” gave up the ball.  I asked him afterward if he knew how to spell P-A-S-S.  It was unbelievable.  I went from a game of pickup with Danny Ainge on my team to a nightmare playing opposite captain chuck-it-up.  I was like the team manager rebounding for a shooter who can’t throw it in the ocean during pre-game warm-ups. 

It wasn’t so much the frustration of his 5-for-59 shooting day, but the precision with which our competitors dismantled us.  They were the perfect team.  They complemented each other in every way.  They assisted on almost every basket, always understanding the positioning of their teammate, the streakiness of their own shot, and the score of the game.  It would have been fun to watch had I not been trying to defend them both.  While they existed in a complementary euphoria of selfless outlet passes, box-outs, and fade away jumpers; I was stuck competing for the ball with the one-game-wonder.                            

What does this story show us about complementing vs. competing? 

I think the difference can be seen by examining the mindset behind each.  There is a difference between the “competitive mindset” that we adapt from our culture versus the “complementary mindset” that Romans 12 talks about. 

Here are 5 markers of a Competitive Mindset:

1) Self-Centered
To compete (at least to compete well) you have to be self-assured and self-confident.  We describe great athletes as “risk-takers,” “fearless,” or “ruthless.”  What I mean by self-centered is not “they only think about themselves,” but “they ultimately believe in themselves over others.”  This assures the competitive person that they can beat their opponent, because they’re confident of their own supremacy. 

2) Opponents
You can’t compete without an opponent.  What makes a true opponent is an adversarial relationship or “rivalry.”  To truly compete with someone you have to vie for supremacy with them, meaning you become rivals. 

3) Fight for Competitive Edge
The one who truly competes seeks competitive advantages that benefit them instead of the other person.  Those who don’t understand the value of a competitive edge may say them “compete,” but they probably don’t do it very well (i.e. they don’t win).    

4) Goal
The desired end of true competition is winning.  As someone who competes, you do what you have to in order to win.  I’m not saying you break the rules, I’m stating that winning is the true goal of competition.  Some would argue this point.  Some “just play to have fun.”  That’s not competition, that’s exercise.  I’m not saying you can’t play to have fun, I’m saying that I’m not going to call that “competition.”  If you compete, your goal is to win.

5) Outcome
When it comes to competition, if you are going to win, the other person is going to lose.

These are the 5 markers of a competitive mindset.  This trio of blogs will be completed in #3, where I’ll examine 5 markers of a complementary mindset.    

[See Complement: America’s Next Top Christian Part 3]

About Pastor Andrew

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Carissa, Daddy to four daughters, Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA.
This entry was posted in 2theSource, For Pastors, Preaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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