I watched the first game of the Western Conference Finals for the National Basketball Association between the Portland Trailblazers and the Golden State Warriors last night with some friends at our house. The Blazers did pretty good for the first 3 quarters and then lost by 20 points in the 4th quarter. It looked like they just ran out of gas. The 6 of us that were watching cheered and rooted for the Blazers passionately but it didn’t do any good, they still lost. We will give it another try on Thursday.
I like to compete with others in card games, bunco, fishing, running, biking, horse shoes, things that don’t really matter much. It is fun to compete with friends, and I really try to win, but if I lose, no big deal.
But I don’t want to compete with others when it comes to my behavior, my character, my success or failure as a Pastor, as a husband, father, or grandfather. Comparing myself to others is a guaranteed way to create either pride or a sense of failure depending on who I compare myself to. It takes diligent awareness and self-control of my self-talk and thinking when I am around other people, especially pastors so I don’t let myself start mentally comparing and competing.
What I have worked at doing is to compete with myself. I try to evaluate myself accurately in the area of my Pastoring skills, my character, my performance as a husband to Patty and other areas of my life that are important. I do this in writing in my journal periodically, especially at times that I think I have done either really good or bad. I then reflect on the question, “Am I better or worse compared to what I was one year ago, have I improved or am I plateaued?” Hebrews 6:1 says, “Let us press on to maturity”, Philippians 3:12 says, “I press on so that I might lay hold of that for which Christ laid hold of me for,” and Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God.” “Pressing on” is an attitude of wanting to win, to conquer, and to achieve.
When I was in High School there was an annual, end of the year “Awards Ceremony” held in the gym, and everyone was invited. It was rewarding and fun to get an award or Letter for accomplishing something significant in athletics or academics. Most of the awards were based on being better than others, on head to head competition, someone was the winner and got the award and others were the losers. Today I am “Pressing on” and working hard for the “Awards Ceremony” that will be in heaven with Jesus as the Judge, called the “Judgment Seat of Christ”.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be rewarded for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
I think about this event coming up in my life everyday, and I am consumed with winning. I won’t be beating a person, but I will be beating the devil, the world system I live in, and my own sinful flesh. I am wanting with everything in my to hear Jesus say to me on that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.