Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Competition



From the moment our first sibling is born, competition comes into play.  Whether we are the youngest child, the oldest or somewhere in the middle, we begin to vie for top-spot in our parent's eyes.  We remember it from our own childhoods, battle with it in our offspring and see it in  the lives of many characters from the old testament - look at Cain and Abel for example, even on a bad day my children's sibling rivalry doesn't come close to that pair!

Throughout our school days, if we're not competing for class captain or the lead role in the end of term play, we are looking to be the most popular child in the playground.  As we move into adulthood, we are encouraged to compete for that promotion at work or to out-bid others in the quest for our perfect home.  We are bombarded and almost conditioned into believing that life is one long competition.

Competition quickly becomes second nature to us and in certain circumstances, a little bit of competition can be fun and even healthy.  But what happens when competition takes over? Jealousy, envy, bitterness and pride.  That's what happens.  All of these traits are ugly and ones that I recognise in myself at times.  If I think about it, at the very root of this ugliness, is the competition that I've inadvertently created with the other person.

Earlier in the year, I took part in a weekly bible study on James, written by Beth Moore.  On many occasions throughout this course, I was reminded that as Christians we are called to stand out; that God requires us to be different from the person the world would have us become.  It can be so easy to slip into being of the world, if we're not looking for the signs - the little hint of jealousy we've allowed to creep in, the snippets of gossip that we let whisper from our mouths.

So how do we put a stop to the unhealthy side of competition? 

Beth Moore encouraged us to consider the term 'yielding', dictionary definition as follows:

yield·ing  
/╦łyielding/
Adjective
  1. (of a substance or object) Giving way under pressure; not hard or rigid.
  2. (of a person) Complying with the requests or desires of others: "a gentle, yielding person".
Synonyms
pliable - compliant - pliant - supple - flexible

If truth be told, I look at this list of adjectives and synonyms and immediately think 'weak' - gentle, compliant, giving way under pressure?  My natural instincts are the opposite - strong, purposeful and full of determination.  Although yielding seems like the 'nice' thing to do, is this really what God wants of me?

This is a question I have mulled over a lot this summer and it's a notion that I have not been able to drop. I have started to see glimmers of what 'yielding' might look like in my life. 
  • accepting that someone else might have a point, even if I'm pretty sure I'm right
  • choosing not to pick an argument with my husband
  • 'letting go' of something that perhaps doesn't need to be tackled with my daughter right now
  • allowing someone else to take the reins at work even if I think I could do it better
  • being pleased for my friend when she receives that promotion/new sofa/new car/new home.... perhaps  even the one I was hoping for
  • putting my husband first
  • agreeing to carry out a task or take a back-seat role, even if it means no one may ever know the part I played
  • putting myself out for someone else, possibly to the detriment of my 'to do' list.
And I'm sure this is just the beginning....

If you're still unsure of what 'yielding' looks like, have a read of Matthew 27 v 50: 'And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit' ESV. 

Jesus - the ultimate example of yielding.  In the New Living Translation, it says that Jesus 'released' his spirit and I think that this is a great way to express what He did on the cross. He didn't give up, not in the sense that we see it anyway, He chose to give over His life to God and carry out His destiny. That's what 'yielding' is about and that's what we should be doing too.  

What might yielding look like in your life?