There was quite a lot of competitiveness about it, with everybody wanting to beat not only cancer itself, but also the other people in the room… When they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and… you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these [guys]. —Hazel, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Some people might describe me as competitive. Why does that have to be a negative thing? I subscribe to the idea that winning is more fun than losing. Whether it’s a game of horseshoes, Ping-Pong, or pick-up basketball, I enjoy winning.
What invokes your spirit of competition? Did you compete to be at the top of your class or maybe a partner in your firm? Perhaps you secretly compare the square footage of your home or the success of your children to that of a friend?
We’ve got this competitive gene in us. What do we want to be when we grow up? The best!
The desire to win in life is founded upon a mindset that’s taught to us at a very young age. It’s a deplorable strategy, and it’s the way our society trains us. I’m going to call it “Elevation by Association.”
How does one move up in the world? By associating with the people who can get us there. We divide the world’s population into two categories: positive-status people and negative-status people. If we surround ourselves with positive-status people, then we believe that we, too, will become positive-status people.
It’s an ancient strategy. We even see it play out in the Gospels: “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons [James and John] came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him… ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom’” (Matthew 20:20-21).
What was at the core of this mother’s request? She wanted her sons to have the highest places in Jesus’ kingdom—elevation by association.
You’ll be glad to know this isn’t the way of Jesus.
Jesus, what have I gained by being associated with You? What do I hope to gain? I invite Your Spirit to examine my motives and mindset. Recalibrate the way I see the world so I see people as You see them. Amen.
Learn more from Pete’s teaching on Luke, What Will Jesus Do?