From the Archives: Competitiveness can be Healthy

Originally written March 15, 2019

Yesterday I was able to take part in a “heroes walk” to raise money for a children’s Bible camp during the summer. The walk itself wasn’t bad (took about an hour and a half) we had great weather, and there was some good fellowship with friends.

After about a half-mile something strange happened though

I started becoming competitive

Anyone who knows me realizes I’m not a competitive person (thats just not how God made me). But something about running or walking makes me competitive. This probably comes from training in groups to run marathons and half-marathons in the States

So after the first two hills my mind started saying “I wonder how close you can get to the leaders?” and before I knew, it I was separating from the pack.

I didn’t finish first, probably ended up in group three or five, maybe the last part of group two. But still finished faster than most.

It’s funny how my running training kicked in during the walk. One of the things I try to do is find somebody who is faster than me and try to keep up with them (gives me something to chase).

Towards the end I noticed one of the ladies who showed lots of energy when most of us where tired. I knew instinctively she was saving her strength for the end.

Sure enough, she started to run when we turned off the main road towards our finish line. By the time I came turned off she was a fair distance away walking, but once I got close she pulled away again easily.

Thankfully she had mercy on me so I was able to pass her, and run my way to the finish.

In my mind yesterdays walk illustrated a “healthy competitiveness” that pushed me to walk and run harder, because I could. This is in contrast to a “toxic competitiveness of someone who absolutely has to win at all costs.

I believe competitiveness gets a bad reputation in Christian circles that it really doesn’t deserve. For some of us it brings the idea of people whose ego cannot stand not coming in first. So they trip children, push people out of the way, and break all the rules. Then they celebrate singing “we are the champions”, making sure to replace the “we” with “I”.

It is true that some competitive people are jerks…but not all of them

Competitiveness in its core isn’t about winning, but simply showing up, and competing. It also gives the idea of trying to the very best you can, even if that may not be winning a race or walk.

In other words, you compete not for a medal (there wasn’t one anyways) but personal honor.

I’m sure that I was a lot faster in my marathon training days (especially since I was wearing Columbia climbing boots) but the smile on my face as I jogged in the gate was the same as the one I had after finishing the Richmond marathon in 2014

both times I did my best

both times I finished strong

And both times it felt amazing

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