Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Competition is laced through everything we do in life. From sports to work to fellowship activities at church, we pour a win or lose attitude into nearly every facet of our lives. When we maintain that view of win or lose, we build ourselves and others up for exceptional expectations. It becomes something of a lifestyle that is perpetuated by the next bit of competition.

Competition as defined by the early Greeks was something that made each participant better. You competed to become a better athlete and player, not just to win. The idea was meant to reinforce ones activity in the market place while also boosting morale of all people. Anyone could compete and win, but becoming better by simply participating was the goal, along with the chance to know your competition. It is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of those whom you compete against, regardless of the arena. In time there is the opportunity to know and understand everyone that you might compete against, whether on the field or in business.

Thinking back to childhood it becomes apparent that we have been hardwired. From what I can tell, every society on this globe is affected by competition, no one is left out. We can attribute the Olympic Games as a possible bit of reasoning but even before the Olympic Games were held in Greece for the first time, there was competition between siblings.

As kids we had to compete for everything from a place to sit on the bus to a place on the soccer team at school to our favorite piece of silverware (seriously). We fought for everything and we played to win. We believed that no one played to lose, because why would you? Every day brought new opportunities to compete and if you got your favorite spoon on Monday, you wanted it on Tuesday too. There was never a time when we stopped, we were relentless.

That attitude spilled into our adult lives and we chased down everything because of that upbringing. We went after good jobs and good spouses and good places to live and good churches to attend. We wanted the best and we were willing to compete for it all. Win or lose this has always been about being on top and then bragging about it to our sibs and friends.

Today we are spirited people who see joy in competition but we have experienced too many sorrows as well. When we set ourselves up with a win or lose lifestyle we create guaranteed heartbreak for someone. In many a case throughout our lives, each of us has experienced the agony of defeat. Losing comes not only in sports remember, there is the somber fact of losing your job, or losing a loved one. Losing can be devastating and the sting can last for years. If you have had losses in your life and they have stacked up against other losses without too many wins, your heart takes a beating and recovery seems miles away.

Too much of our global society puts a do or die ultimatum on winning and the consequences of losing are too great for most humans to bear. The fragility of human life proves to us that when we take winning to this place we disregard the essence of human emotion, which is love. This is never more obvious than when witnessed through professional sports.

I know that my position is not popular but we are coming to a point where unless you win, you will not get paid. That idea is alive and well today as we watch the global economy suffer. There is only so much of this made up wealth to go around and eventually certain wells will dry up. Only the winners will walk away with a paycheck and winning will no longer be about sport, but the bottom line. Naturally this is only an opinion but I have certainly never been afraid to share that.

Let me take a step back and dissect something for you that means a lot to me; the heart of sport. Personally I love soccer and I love to play and coach and watch. I am fully aware that there are winners and losers but I also know that on any given day, the team you think is the worst will beat you and the team you think is the best will fail. I know that it takes a team to play this sport and without all the players working together, there is absolute chaos on the field. Teams that do not work together find they get humiliated and run over by clubs who value teamwork.

In the sense that sport produces the opportunity for teamwork, I am struck deeply by the idea that teamwork is something we need in the very framework of life. We need it in our homes, our work places, our churches and every aspect of society. We cannot build bridges and homes without it. Large corporations could not survive without it, neither could small business. Police, fire and emergency workers are trained in being team players. Our military would crumble without it, regardless of what the Army says in their commercials. Trust me when I tell you this, there is no such thing as an army of one and there never will be.

So back to the idea that winning is everything. That idea comes from the greed of one and is always perpetuated by one individual’s pursuit of winning at all costs. This is displayed by coaches and team owners alike, as well as CEOs and wealthy tycoons who see value in winning regardless of the toll it takes on anyone else. Typically these individuals are obsessed with wanting more of the same, and the word winning is only a displaced adjective for a much greater desire; accumulation of wealth and notoriety and the elevation of self.

That desire for more is not the same as the desire to be the best at whatever you do. In sports, being the best is a value. Wanting more is simple greed and there is no place for it in sports. If this seems relative to anything else in your life, then you might be paying attention. As children we have an opportunity to discover teamwork as well as individual value through sports. As we grow, the idea is to take those lessons and apply them to our relationships, our careers, our marriages and even our spiritual journeys.

We all make choices regarding our involvement on any given “team”; whether at work or at home or anywhere in your life. When you decide to be a team player you are effectively saying that you want the team to excel and you are willing to put forth the effort to get there.

So tell me; do you compete to win or get better? Is it possible to do both or should we just compete to get better? Society tells us to compete to win only but we have a chance to help each other get better, in every avenue from sports to business to our homes and with our neighbors. The unspoken line here is that as you get better, you actually help to make others better that are around you. That fact is something that goes unwritten and unsaid by the world in which we live. We are so busy trying to get better and/or win at all costs; we forget the effect we have on future generations regarding what we can teach them about competing in this life.

Compete to get better. Compete to make others better. Compete to build opportunity for all people to enjoy victory, for it is not yours alone.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I’m bored and don’t know what to write…not sure why but for some reason seem conflicted about whether to write on a new topic or keep discussing my favorite one. There are a lot of things I could talk about but I suppose I need some passion, gotta figure out where I hid that.

I have been at odds lately with many things, among them my family up north. I love them all very much but I am nearing the point where no interaction is acceptable, seeing as they are alright with that. For a while it appeared we could keep up some sort of regular conversation by phone, then that failed. There is always the annual pilgrimage home for Thanksgiving weekend, but that almost seems trite anymore. I want so much to have some sense of relationship but I fear it is one sided. I get the impression during chats that it would be best to just stop calling.

Relating to ministry, I have officially stepped down from one thing and have hoped to find something a little closer to home. So far nothing has materialized but I am trusting in God to direct my steps. With the winter upon us now, it is that time of year when most things are indoors which seems to limit my thoughts towards ministry. Now that I am working for parks and rec I am excited about the many possibilities to talk to hundreds of people that I would never have known. I am hopeful that God has planted me here to be a light. My heart has been screaming out to serve and I can only pray that God takes these hands and feet and moves me into the lives of the broken.

Work hasn’t changed much, speaking of my full time gig that is. We show up every day and find a way to make it happen. Times are tough and things have been ugly this year but I am very thankful for a boss that is so generous. I am convinced we will survive this mess and rise above but sometimes it is harder to believe than others. Right now we are looking good for the next few months and I am thankful that God continues to provide.

Does this feel like a Christmas letter? Yea, to me too…hmmm, not what I was intending, but now what? Politics? Boo. Hiss. Phffftttt! Sports? I was inspired by Ingram’s acceptance speech at the Heisman presentation and wish every athlete would watch that. I hope the Ducks crush Ohio State and I hope Cincinnati shows up against Florida. I am sick and tired of pro sports and wish I could ignore the 24-7 Tiger channel (the guy screwed up and now he is trying to figure out how to make things better…let’s back off and give him a chance).

I am looking forward to watching my daughter try basketball for the first time, starting in January. I had this crazy daydream of having ESPN Gameday show up at one of her games…tell me that wouldn’t be cool, Dick Vitale goin off about “diaper dandies”. I will get to watch every game and I am hopeful that she has a blast.

I continue to become more reflective as I age, this is possibly normal but it is all the more obvious to me as the days pass. I spend more time reading and then truly thinking about impacts. It has occurred to me that too many people on this planet are strictly reactionary and therefore too few people are effective in being proactive. That nature is what is destroying the movement to be more environmentally conscious. Instead of looking at this planet as a place to enjoy for many generations, too many individuals are living as if they get to be the last generation. It is despicable to witness and worse to come across Christians who think it is acceptable to be so reactionary.

I will admit that up to now it has been nice to be an American but I am coming to grips more and more that I am simply a visitor here and will soon fade away like everything else on this planet. With that notion in mind I have toyed with the idea of giving up my citizenship if it means I can stand for the one thing that no one can take from me, and that is my faith. I know that I spoken about Americanism and being not of this world, but this is more of an ultimatum now. My faith has to be not only more important than my place as an American, I have to find a way to make it clear that I would happily give up my rights to prove a point, which is that being an American is becoming something of a liability.

Since starting this post I have experienced the joy of being laid off. During this economic time when so many are hurting I feel blessed and am willing to be tested if that is God’s plan for my life at this moment. Spending time in the fire may be just the thing for me and I am excited for what God can do with this sojourner.

We have made it to another year. We are stronger and wiser (hopefully) and continuing to seek better than we had last year. In this coming year, take moments to reflect on what you have and forget about what you do not have. Thank God in the little moments as well as the big, He enjoys hearing from you all day, not just at the end. When you are down remember that others are down there with you so pray for them because you might be able to help each other up.
My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.