Competition is part of the pursuit of excellence
We are hosting an exchange student from Madrid, Spain this school year. So I am brushing up on my Spanish cultural history. It seems that the soccer teams, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, are two of the most bitter rivals. So what happens when a player for one of the teams is injured? Do fans of the other team cheer because the player was injured? No, they are mostly silent. Why? Albert Brooks has watched more soccer than I have. He writes, “Because Madrid fans want to beat Barcelona through excellence not through injury – and vice versa. They don’t want there to be any question as to which team is better.” True competition requires cooperation and communion by people who embrace rules and fair play. To break those rules is to shut down competition and lose the opportunity to pursue excellence. Competition is part of the pursuit of excellence. We live in a time when not engaging those we disagree with is common. Complaining online and characterizing others as beneath contempt has taken the place of competing in the arena of ideas and building one’s own character. But anyone interested in excellence must honor the opportunity to compete where the playing field is level and fair. There will always be those who take every opportunity to stack the odds in their favor. But as Christians our response must not be shaped by the world. Our response must be shaped by an awareness that Christ is present. Col. 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord …”Working at it with all your heart has to include the pursuit of excellence and as such we must be involved in preserving a context for honorable competition. Competing honorably can also form a bond with others, even those on the other side. Has your desire for competition been eradicated due to your distaste for conflict? Are you more of the “go along to get along” type? Have you become what you never wanted to be, someone who takes advantage of others rather than meet them fairly and squarely? If so, I invite you to reconsider how you are pursuing excellence in your life. Raise the bar on your discipleship through making sure excellence is a goal.