The whole world is about competition. From backyard races to the Olympics, 4-H projects to corporate promotions, sports to scholarships, and from music contests to family room Monopoly games, competition is everywhere. Competition drives a free economy. And even the IAHE sponsors photography, art, and essay contests at convention time.
The standards our children use to compete at Scrabble or Clue today will have direct bearing on how they conduct themselves as adults in whatever spheres God places them–whether business, home, or ministry.
We need a biblical compass
It is of paramount importance, then, that our children know how to navigate the world of competition with a biblical compass. That is why I’m currently writing a series called Beyond Trophies. Though the series was originally conceived in the context of the world of speech and debate competition, its biblical principles are transferable to any arena of competition. And so I am sharing them with you all, and I pray they will inspire you to seek the Lord’s wisdom regarding each of the competitions in your life’s context.
My vision is that our children would whole-heartedly and unreservedly TRUST GOD to lead all their preparations and practice, to empower them to please Him with their conduct and performance, and to direct ALL the results to accomplish His perfect purposes in their lives and in the lives they will touch. In short, I pray that they would connect their life purpose and their vision of success with their trust in God. Trusting God not only brings greater effectiveness, but is incredibly freeing!
I encourage you to read the series together as a family. Use it to generate discussion about the challenges and disappointments of competition, the reasons you choose to compete in certain activities, and what it means to compete in a way that pleases God. Then, dive into the Scriptures together to see what God has to say about competition, conduct that honors Him, and the purposes He is working out in the context of their competition.
Here’s Part 1 to introduce the series:
The Trouble with Trophies
First, they require dusting.
Second—a particular disappointment to girls—you can’t wear them.
Third—and this one is especially disappointing to the boys who are blessed with the greatest of appetites (as well as their mothers)—you can’t eat them.
Fourth, they are liable to break, especially the plastic ones, sometimes even before you get them off tournament grounds.
Fifth, you really can’t display very many of them without looking overly proud.
Last, and the worst trouble of all: they’re dated.
Why is the date so troublesome? The date stares you in the face as a grim reminder that you are only the temporary champion. Even if you took first place, you could be supplanted at the very next contest. Realistically, the date is also there because before very long, not even you will remember when you did whatever it was you did.
The inscription of what you did is there on the trophy for the very same reason; long before she’s old and gray, unfortunate as it may seem, not even your mother will be able to remember the exact place you took.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that earning trophies is still fun, in spite of their troubling traits, but you just can’t get around the fact that the thrill is still temporary at best. If you’ve set your sights only on trophies, medals, or ribbons, you can never be perfectly content. Surely, there’s got to be more to competing.
Thankfully, there is more.
That something more will be the subject of my next post.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.