The competitive spirit

what is it that makes us worship at the throne of competition?

is it genetic?   is it learned behavior?   is there something breathed into us from the spirit of the creator?

is it evidence of evolution…the whole survival of the fittest thing?   oh my.  perish the thought…

is it what is needed for us to rise to some kind of peak performance and be all that we can be?   is it a necessary ingredient for success and achievement and making the most of ourselves?

do we really need to have another team to beat…or another player to challenge us…or a threat of losing…to inspire us to do more and better things than we ever dreamed possible?   or is it possible to reach our potential (or close to it) from a purely intrinsic motivation?

just thinking today.

there are some who will extol the virtues of competition…the pure greatness of a cutthroat contest.   an argument could be made that the innate competitive spirit is what drives countries to battle…and that without that special competitive “something” deep inside of us, we could never keep others from taking advantage of us.

look…stepping on others on your way to the top is just part of life…and not for the faint of heart.   right?

isn’t competition…whether in sport or music or academics or wherever…the refining fire that kids need to be funnelled through, in order to find where they belong in life’s great pecking order…or where they learn the cruel lessons required for the toughening of skin and the necessary passion needed to overcome their personal obstacles?

and yet, there are others among us that abhor competition.  they see it as the destroyer of self image and the weapon of beat down for the weaker among us.   they see the competitive spirit as the antithesis of christlikeness  and the ultimate opponent of love and mercy.

they bleed for the little guy.   they hurt for the abused and the forgotten.   they root for the underdog.   while some are taking pictures of their kids perfecting their home run trot or adjusting the limelight for the best angle,  there are others that long for the kid on the bench to just have a moment.   they are weary of being on the losing end of the competition… because they never win.

so i’ll ask this question:  do the life and words of jesus shed any light on the debate?

(thanks to for the pic)


10 thoughts on “The competitive spirit

  1. Ok fine,

    God like competition causes on Friday Nights during Football season is the only time he can get a whole community to pray together. “Please let our team be safe while be beat the crap out of the other”.

  2. It is uncomfortable to consider are competitiveness and the path Jesus showed us to walk. Can you have that killer instinct and still walk like Christ? Can you have the attitude that if you step into whatever arena we are competing in that day that you do so at your own risk? I don’t think we can say I’m only that way when I’m competing when we are called to be like Jesus ALL the time.

  3. We we spread the gospel do we not compete with what the world has to offer? Or does the love of God and his word send us to compete with what the world has to offer?

    1. I would say that although competition can sometimes breed hostility towards one another, more often than not it breeds humility….which is paramount to our survival as a christian. for most, we realize that we strive to be the best but most of the time there is someone of equal or better talent, and at some point we will fail, fall short, or not work to our full potential.. losing makes you better does it not? not just with sports but with everything losing makes you realize that sometimes your 100 percent isn’t enough, and that is a lesson every christian needs, because someone has already paid the price for your futility. in my walk it creates even more value and love for the cross…just sayin

  4. Is the desire for the benchwarmer to “have a moment” just as competitive as the desire for the perennial all star to get yet another hit? That may be splitting hairs, but competition is everywhere. And even when it seems like there isn’t, there is always competition with oneself.

    Sin battle seem like competition with self more than anything and I want to, without a doubt, step all over my sin and kick the crap out of it.

  5. Mike, when you first posted this, I agreed with Brandon… “too deep for Friday”…. especially while baby sitting 2 and 4 year old grand kids. But today, my first plush on this is that competition is a good thing if it causes you to be the best you can be, etc….kind of stewardship of talent. However the win at all cost is competition run a muck. I like your thought Mike that maybe in the final analysis it is neutral and becomes good or bad based on our reaction in it and through it….but it sure is revealing.

    When I first read your competition post, my mind actually went on a tangent…not unusual for me. You are aware that a small church in Fountain Valley gave us their 5 acre church property when they decided to merge with us. We experimented with it as a satellite site, then decided we needed to put it up for sale and put the proceeds from the sale into our current building project. It ultimately played out that we decided to least it to a mega church in the area for them to use as a satellite site.

    To get the competition point…. were we competitors or team mates? We are theologically well aligned… that makes us team mates right? It was most interesting to watch it play out….we do pray for their success at every board meeting, but you can see a little concern about what their success might mean to our ministry, not that there aren’t plenty of unchurched in our area… 187,000 at last estimate….I figure we can use all the help we can get.

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