Thursday, July 2, 2009

Feeling Competitive

When I was a little girl, I loved to play Aggravation, a game which involved moving marble pieces around a playing board in an attempt to bring them from the start box to home base. Somewhat akin to Sorry, it involves both chance and strategy. My mom would be quick to point out that my strategy was usually dancing around the table until everyone got so distracted they couldn’t remember whether they were coming or going. My mom still has our gameboard, complete with drag marks from moving my marble across the surface with great determination.

My family’s favorite Aggravation story involves telling of the times I would play by myself when no one dared take me on. I would set up two players, decide which one was the real me and roll for both. When I didn’t like the roll I got, I would give it to the other imaginary player. Little surprise, I usually won. As my Aggravation days prove, I can be pretty competitive. Just ask my husband about the first time I played Risk.

While I’ve learned how to lose gracefully at board games, I still deal with some less than desirable feelings when challenged with the notion that I just might be wrong about something.

Like most people, I love to be right. Lately, though, I’m beginning to understand that more important than being right is being right before the Lord. In His gentle way, the Lord’s been teaching me that fear lives at the root of any need to be proven right. There’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence—we’re called to excellence in the body of Christ. But pursuing excellence doesn’t mean we always get it right. Sometimes it means learning from the places where we’ve been wrong. I’m also learning that just because we’ve done what the Lord has asked of us doesn’t mean other people will realize we’ve made the right decision.

When it comes to our relationships with others, Hebrews 10:24 gives good counsel: “[A]nd let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” In all things, the Word should be our standard, and in our relationships with others, all things should be based on love. If I feel I’m right about something, I need to surrender it to the Lord. Any good we do belongs to Him anyways. At the point at which I feel the need to be right, however, I need to ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart. While a competitive spirit can motivate us to push past our fears and seeming inadequacies, the need to be right will lead us only toward destruction.

Proverbs 29:23—A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.