Some of us are more competitive than others. Perhaps you’re someone who makes a competition out of everything. Or perhaps you try to insure everyone wins somehow. I remember one of the first trips I made to Alabama with my husband. We didn’t simply race to get there ahead of the others who were travelling the same route. We raced against the “best all-time travel time”! Whomever held the record still raced against their own record to make it better and more of a challenge for everyone else.
Perhaps as a kneejerk response to my husband’s competitiveness, I declared I wasn’t competitive. I didn’t want to play card games if everyone was going to tease each other for making a dumb mistake or falling behind. I love to watch football, but I wasn’t going to get so tied up in who won that my blood pressure dangerously sky-rocketed. If I was going to play, I wanted to play nicely. I didn’t want to complete – or so I tried to convince myself.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how competitive would you rate yourself?
In what areas do you most avoid competition or simply don’t care to invest?
In what areas are you most competitive?
I’ve changed my ways. I’m now convinced every person is competitive in some way. We choose to invest in specific areas and usually compete in those areas. Being competitive isn’t just about playing on a sports field or trying to demolish someone in a board game. You can be just as competitive with yourself in the activities of daily life. Someone who likes to coupon will usually compete with others and herself to get the best deal. Someone who likes to shop might compete for the best deals or the best brands. Some compete in spending the most money or driving the best car.
What about the kind of phone you use? Do you compare yourself with others or want a phone which does more? Perhaps you compete by arguing with others or trying to teach others more and more about the specific topics you clearly know more about than most everyone else. You might compete by feeling sorry for yourself, convincing yourself and everyone else that no one has a harder life than you. Perhaps you compete with your family or your past or your future, always comparing how things are with how they should have been or should now be. You might compete at work.
Are you still convinced you’re not competitive? Perhaps you’re competitive in the area of who is the least competitive!
Competition often appears to be about accomplishment, but at its root, it’s typically about comparison. Two people, teams, skills, or goals are compared, and one has to be assigned higher value or accomplishment than the other. We can change the values given during the competition at any time and declare someone else the winner. Where two things can be compared, a winner (and loser) can always be declared.
What is your standard for measurement? If it’s always changing, your comparative values will change as well. You will be unable to assess change and growth because the plumb line moves. You might compare yourself to your mom one day, your sister the next, and your best friend the next. If you’re feeling down about yourself, you’ll probably compare yourself to someone you see as better, and you’ll feel worse. If you’re feeling good about yourself, you’ll usually compare yourself to someone who you think you exceed in some way, and you’ll continue to feel good.
God doesn’t tell us to compare ourselves to anyone but him.
We do not dare to compare ourselves with those who think they are very important. They use themselves to measure themselves, and they judge themselves by what they themselves are. This shows that they know nothing. But we will not brag about things outside the work that was given us to do. We will limit our bragging to the work that God gave us, and this includes our work with you. (2 Corinthians 10:12-13)
God defines us. He is our plumb line. We can certainly compete, but let’s compete in God’s standards of how obedient we are on our personal faith journeys with God.