Competing for What?

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Competition is a vital part of human nature. It’s the thing that helps all of us improve, and it serves as a measurement of where we are in life. We see competition in sports, business, popularity, church, etc. Competition can be good or it can be bad.

I’ve struggled most of my life with being too competitive. It has been difficult for me to keep a balance so that competition can be a positive influence in my life.

Competition is alive and well in our society. If you think that the competitive spirit is dead, just watch the customers in a supermarket when a cashier opens a new checkout line – or watch employees charge the parking garage at 5 o’clock to be at the front of the line to exit – or watch the Methodists and Baptists hurrying out of church to see who can get to the popular eating places first!!

A pair of Canadian and Norwegian cities are competing to have the world’s largest moose statue. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan held the record for 31 years. Recently, Norwegian officials installed a larger 33-foot colossus “Storelgen” – or “Big Moose” – outside StorElvdal.

Moose Jaw is now mulling over methods for enlarging its moose sculpture, “Mac the Moose,” with proposals including fitting him with a hat, a hockey stick, skates, larger antlers, or even stiletto heels. Mayor Fraser Tolmie said, “Canada’s national pride is on the line – We can’t lose it to Norway over a moose.”

Sometimes we have an unhealthy approach to competition with our kids. Here are three examples. A Stanford study last year revealed that many kids don’t start kindergarten at 5 because their parents hold them out. Over 20% start kindergarten at 6 years old. The reason – it can be attributed to “red shirting.” Competitive parents hold their kids back a year to give them an athletic and academic advantage over their younger peers.

A youth football league in Texas requires players as young as 4 years old to sign letters of intent to their teams and hold signing ceremonies. A youth hockey league in Hespeler, Ontario suspended three seven year olds for playing in an unsanctioned “outlaw league.”

Soccer fans in Ireland really took competition to an unhealthy level in December 2018. Sports Illustrated reported that the Irish third–division club Ballybrack FC wanted to get a match postponed. They did it by announcing the death of one of their players-Fernando Lafuente Saiz. They got a tombstone at the cemetery and put his picture on it with the words, “RIP Fernando Lafuente Saiz.” He found out about it because someone in the office where he worked in his day job received a call concerning flowers for the grave site!

Going to the gym can be a healthy habit. Paul acknowledges the importance of physical exercise, but reminds us of how we must exercise for the most important competition. He said, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) “Everyone who competes in the games, exercises self control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable prize, but we an imperishable prize.” (I Cor. 9:25)

Compete cautiously in the things that will soon perish. Compete with 100% effort in things that last for eternity!


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