We had an interesting discussion in my small group about competition and whether or not it served a purpose in our daily lives and it got me thinking (A dangerous pastime, I know…).
What does the Bible say about competition? Comparing ourselves to others is bad, right? Shouldn’t we always be striving for self-improvement? What have I seen in my own experiences as a Special Education Teacher? What did I learn as a coach’s daughter?
The disciples themselves argued about whom would be greatest in Heaven (See Luke 22:24-34). It’s human nature to want to perform and outperform others. I do believe in healthy competition. I believe sports can be a source of healthy competition as there are a lot of life lessons you can learn being a part of a team. I don’t think learning these life lessons is limited to sports, but I believe we ALL need to experience failure and success and how to respond to them.
As an educator, I saw a lot of kids fail firsthand. I saw many different responses to those failures. Failure became my BFF, because it is the greatest teacher. If you fear failure, then I think you fear learning. If we encounter failure, realize we can endure and overcome to try again or move on – we develop resiliency. I can tell you it’s a VERY RARE quality to have. It was one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences as a teacher to see a student overcome their fear of failure and accomplish something they didn’t think they could do. On the other hand, It saddens me to hear about young people committing suicide because of a failed test or failed relationship. It makes me wonder if this is the first failure they’ve experienced. If they had experienced failure in a safe environment as they had grown up, would they have responded differently? Would they have been more resilient?
Sports competitions are just a game, but we can learn a lot from playing games. We can learn that our responses to failure and success, really shouldn’t be all that different.
“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me,” Matt. 18: 1-5 (NLT)