There’s a competitive spirit in most of the leaders I know…even church leaders. I saw mine kick in while running recently…
It was 6 AM and already 76 degrees with near 90% humidity. I was casually running, listening to our former worship pastor and my friend Daniel Doss’s song Masterpiece, when out of the corner of my eye I sensed someone trying to pass me. I looked around and it was a girl! She’s the wife and sister of two good friends from college, and a dedicated athlete, so I may have normally been okay with her passing me, but something snapped in me. I exchanged a few cordial remarks and then I gradually picked up speed. I killed myself…and I suffered for it the next day…but I won! YEA!!!Not that it was a race, and I’m sure she could have taken me had she wanted to, but there was the thrill of victory when I pulled ahead on the road.
I have written about this concept before (read a previous posts HERE and HERE) and I know it creates controversy to talk about, but what if we used that competitive spirit in a way that helped grow the Kingdom? Is there a way to satisfy a natural tendency of many leaders and still glorify God? (Seriously, I’d love your input!)
As I reflect on Scripture, Jesus picked disciples who seemed to have a competitive spirit about them. (Consider Matthew 18:1-3 and Mark 10:35-45) Jesus didn’t condemn the disciples for entering a competition. He even acknowledged, “Whoever wants to be great”. Then He simply pointed them back to the correct way for a disciple of Jesus to compete: in service to others. Consider also Paul’s encouragement in 1 Corinthians 9:24.
Personally, I think we should not be as afraid or freaked out when the natural competitive nature rises. Instead of asking people to check that competitive spirit at the door (along with enthusiasm and excitement), I think we should learn to channel it towards energy, which honors God, serves others, and advances the mission He has given the church. The strange thing to me is that many will leave our churches on Sunday and experience the “thrill of victory” by watching a competitive sport, yet we tell them this is a wrong attitude to have in the church.
What if, in our desire to win, we strived to be great in service to others, excellent in the way we love the unloveable, or awesome in how we forgive the people who hurt us most? What if we competed with our natural tendencies towards sin…with a competitive desire to win? I know some will suggest I’m advocating pride, or even false humility, but every good thing has the potential to be corrupted if misused. What I’m really suggesting is that maybe our goal is not to do away with a natural tendency towards competition, but to figure out how to balance that with a command to be holy as He is holy.
(Plus, sometimes I just like to stir discussion!)