Christian Competition

This is one thing that I have struggle for a long time to understand and to live out. Having played competitive football for a long time, and now experiencing Seminary Flag FootballMorgan tackling Bollinger…I have had a tough time figuring out how to be competitive at intense levels while still representing a transformative faith.

And as people who have played with me or against me can attest, a new person appears when competition is involved, whether on the field or at the poker table; plus I see that new person in other friends as well. It makes me wonder how can we effectively represent Christ when we try to defeat an opponent.

  • Competition causes me to evaluate myself in comparison to my opponent. If (s)he is faster, than I have to be stronger; stronger than I have to be smarter; smarter than I have to be more determined. I must believe that the other person has one more fault than me.
  • The basic idea of team competition is to come build community among your own team–good thing–so that you can annihilate an opponent–not so good thing.
  • When I walk onto to a playing field I focus upon how my strengths can exploit their weaknesses.
  • Competition naturally sets one person/team apart from another saying that my personal goals and efforts are more important than another’s, and I will do whatever it takes to get a victory.
  • Hubris and pride is involved in competition because if I do not believe that I am better than my opponent than I will lose, which is unacceptable.
  • My ego becomes inflated because I know that I am capable of more than my opponent, the refs, and the coaches have witnessed; thus I dedicate days, weeks, years to improving, and clearly whoever disagrees with my perception is wrong.
  • Being competitive means that I will not accept failure and loss.
  • I know people will argue that competition helps one learn how to deal with lose, working as a team, push oneself beyond one’s limits, etc.
    But doing so at the expense of another person/team (community of people) seems to contradict the essential Christian message:

    Luke 10:27
    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

    While working for the Falcons (for a day and a half) I remember cleaning up a player’s locker who had Philippians 4:13 pasted on his locker. But is playing a competitive sport such as football what God intended Christ’s strength to be used for?

    Every game I suited up for I had Colossians 3:23 (“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…”) taped to my arm–Was my working with all my effort at blocking my rival’s NG, to the extent that I blew out his knee ending his college career, what God had meant?

    While running, I have found a new form of competition…with myself. And this form is not at the expense or exploit another person. I found out what it meant for my body to be pushed to the limits–puking in the gutter, having to stop and walk, collapsing in the apartment after a hard run–but I also learned that my body can achieve tremendous goals.

    One thought on “Christian Competition

    1. Wes…I appreciate the honesty, and struggle with similar things, as you well know. However, my college basketball coach talked about competition, even in a team sport, as competing with ourselves, to an extent. While our goal is to win, the real goal is to play to our ability and give everything that we have, taking care of ourselves and our team first, and letting the wins and losses take care of themselves. That was his favorite saying. Competetion is first and foremost about yourself and your team, giving everything you have, and then only secondly about wins and losses. While you do your best to win, you can only do that by being the best that you can be (pardon the cliche), and if at the end of the game the other team is just better, there is really nothing you can do about it.

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