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Compete or Contribute?

September 3rd, 2010

“Regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 NAS

To appreciate others genuinely will never depreciate you.”

My thoughts today ask, “compete or contribute?”

Competition is healthy, until it is unhealthy. Healthy competition is when persons or teams are competing fairly and wholeheartedly on the field or floor, but unhealthy when their rivalry spills over after the game, gets vocal and involves name calling. That’s when it’s ugly. Now everyone should want to be their best, but that is not the same as always needing to be the best! Life allows you to choose whether you will compete or prefer to contribute. Long term, you will be more satisfied by contributing to others’ well-being, happiness, and achievements.

Jesus disciples seemed unduly competitive, often overly preoccupied with comparisons. They argued about, “Who is the greatest?” Luke 12:24 NIV. Even at the most inappropriate times and places, like in Jerusalem the night Jesus would later be betrayed. They seemed always to be jockeying for position, maneuvering to be first in line, seen as best in the Kingdom, worrying about their name at the top of any list. Sound like anyone you know? Still happens today.

In his speech upon being enshrined in the NBA Hall of Fame, Michael Jordan, recognized as the greatest in his sport, could not resist his need to again elevate himself above others, even reminding coaches and fellow competitors from whom he felt slighted years before. When unrivaled achievement called for him to be grateful and gracious, he would not lay aside his competitiveness. In depreciating others, some sports writers thought he diminished himself.

That will happen when your focus shifts to yourself and away from others. The Bible has a simple answer, humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is simply thinking more of others. To appreciate others genuinely will never depreciate you. In God’s eyes, that attitude elevates you. See 1 Peter 5:5-6 NIV. Paul counsels, “Be devoted to one another . . honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:NIV. Another translation of that verse reads, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Now that’s an arena for healthy competition, trying to outdo one another in giving first place to one another. Read 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 NAS. We are all on the same team!

Does it surprise you that Jesus never corrected his disciples for seeking greatness? Jesus simply redirected their path for getting there. Jesus taught, “True greatness is not shown by how many serve you, but measured by how many you choose to serve.” See Luke 22:24-27 NIV. Serving Christ is best evidenced when you switch from competing with others to finding delight in complementing others’ efforts by contributing your interest, time, and assistance generously. Compete or contribute? Your choice!

My prayer for you today is that you have a servant’s heart, happy to see another be first.

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