I’m a competitor. I’m a Christian.
I used to think those things were mutually exclusive. I thought to be highly competitive wasn’t being a good, sweet, thoughtful Christian woman. I actually went through a phase where I purposefully dialed backed my competitive streak…..and I was miserable. Then I began to unpack God’s purpose for my life. I devoted myself to understanding my true Ephesians 2:10 calling.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 ESV
After studying this scripture in various languages it became clear to me that the skills and traits that were part of me were not bad. God is a perfect being and He doesn’t create junk! These God-given gifts were chosen for me before time and I should be a good steward of my them, just like I should be a good steward of my time and treasure.
By pouring myself into “Strength Finders 2.0,” I became comfortable with the fact that these traits which had made me feel different my entire life were actually gifts from Him and that I was to use them ceaselessly. In fact, not until I walked into a room with 25 other 4word women for the first time was that process completed. I saw other beautiful, unique examples of how God had combined some of the same gifts into others…..and it was GOOD.
Now over time I also saw the difference in using our competitive gifts for good and using them solely for the purpose of getting ahead. So what does it look like to compete in a Godly way?
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
At first glance, this verse appears to say ambition is a bad thing, but it specifically says selfish ambition is bad. Vain conceit is bad. Ambition is still good, and God has called some of us to be ambitious. Christianity would never have left Israel if it weren’t for the ambition Jesus gave the apostles to go and reach the world.
Like some of you, I have enjoyed competition throughout my life. Once becoming a Christ-centered believer that competitive spirit shifted slightly and continues to shift as I further my walk in faith. Diane jokingly says I used to be “The Devil Wears Prada” and now I’m “Ms. Congeniality,” which is a great visual. It used to be about using my strengths to get ahead of others, to collect trophies, wealth, titles, and stuff. Now it is a daily challenge to use my gifts to help others, be a good steward, and most importantly to do His work. Mostly for me it is about daily shredding the sin of self sufficiency, realizing I’m not all that and a box of chocolates on my own…..I’m who He created me to be and accomplishing that which He designed for me.
In my career, I strive to remember the verse that says I’m to do it all for Him, not for me or to show others.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23
My precious daughter is a shining example to me in this area. She is a hard working, completely driven, competitive dancer. She has won many competitions all over the country, including at the national level, leading to piles of awards, trophies, medals, scholarships, and even cash. AND she won’t display awards because “that would be bragging,” won’t tell people about her sport, and won’t do anything other than give God the glory, and consistently says “I do this to use what God has given me and I dance for an audience of one.” I’m constantly humbled by her Godly awareness. At her age, I was memorizing the books of the Bible.
Every day, we should ask ourselves for whom we are doing this competing. Is it to use our God-given gifts to bring glory to the Lord? Or is it for personal gain, to collect wealth, or to put ourselves above others? If our goal is to prove our abilities to others or to ourselves, then that would be considered bad ambition.
“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.” – Galatians 6:4
In fact, I have seen examples of how the enemy can prey upon our insecurities, our pasts, and our baggage to put in our heads that WE are winning and that WE need to show people how great we are. In my own life for years, I used my gifts for selfish reasons…..to demonstrate my worth, to have “stuff” to try and cover up who I really was, and to make myself feel better by beating others. Eeeeeeek! But for the grace of God, I stand before you a work in progress. A sinful creature living in a fallen world, trying every day to do my best for Him only.
So, what are some of the “rules” for Godly competition?
Follow the rules. Don’t stoop to cheating to get ahead.
“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” – 2 Timothy 2:5
Behave humbly. Don’t gloat over our promotion. Consider others’ feelings. Be nice. There is a difference between stepping on someone and stepping around someone.
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'” – James 4:6
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
Be careful to avoid the trap of comparing ourselves to others.
“Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:26
Make sure we are competing for the right reasons. Does what we’re chasing after bring God glory?
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
It’s absolutely OK to not just run the race, but also to WIN the race. God has called us not to be mice, but to be warriors in the battle. In fact, He put it in our hearts to want to win.
Do you feel called to influence others through your leadership? Is God pushing you to start a new business, and change a few lives for the better along the way? GO FOR IT!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
God gave us gifts, abilities, perseverance, strong wills, and a desire for excellence. Now let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, and WIN!
Are you, like Sandra, feeling alone in your gifts? Please join 4word and find a place where you can be in community with other women who share your drive and strengths. Whether it’s through our digital platform, a 4word: Local Group, or our 4word: Mentor Program, please be a part of 4word and be blessed.