Winning is not everything. Although I often act like it is.
You might not know this about me, but my hyper-drive to win may cause me to take Little League baseball a bit too seriously at times.
(Parents of the boys on Luke’s baseball team are nodding their heads in silent agreement.)
On a least one occasion, I have cheered when an 8-year old struck out. I might have also tried to psych him out a little bit. (This is not a terribly proud confession for me, I can assure you.) (But I really don’t do that anymore. Now that I realize it’s kind of sick to yell “hey-batter-batter” to a kid who still doesn’t have all his permanent teeth.)
I might have looked a little like this:
There also may have been a time that I authoritatively yelled out my son’s full name when he missed a play, as if bobbling the grounder was completely unacceptable behavior for a second grader.
Thankfully this psychotic drive to win doesn’t spill over into every area of life. (And clearly it doesn’t, since I am pathetically ineligible for any kind of Top Chef competition.)
Nevertheless, if it’s a sport, a game, or my business, I want to own first place.
If my assessments hold true, I’m not the only one. As human beings, you and I have been competitors since birth.
In our early years, sibling rivalry pit us against our brothers and/or sisters in various wars for our parents’ attention or the front seat of the car.
From our very first school days, we have competed socially, academically, and athletically.
When we became adults, the competition shifted to status, titles, promotions, better offices, bigger houses, finer clothing, and cooler cars.
We all have a competitive gene that compels us to better ourselves, and urges us to strive for excellence.
While competition can be a great thing, we have a tendency to twist it into something unhealthy.
Instead of competition being something that “brings out the best in us”, we turn it into an unhealthy version of “making sure I’m better than you”.
Competition gets twisted when the motive is all about exalting ourselves and our own awesomeness. We get so wrapped up in ourselves…and we lose sight of what matters.
No one likes to lose.
But losing can make us better people if we do it well.
Luke’s team has lost more than they’ve won so far this Spring. That is not the most fun for him (or his mother). However, these losses have knocked his little attitude down a couple of rungs.
He has learned he can’t win them all.
He’s also found that it’s still fun to play, even when the other team crossed home plate more times than his team.
I know this, not because we have philosophical discussions about such subjects, but because he doesn’t hang onto the loss once we’ve gotten into the truck to drive home.
And when he suits up for the next game, he’s convinced they’ll win this time.
As the mom of a Little Leaguer, I hope my own life models a healthy approach to competition…though I know I fall short of that more times than I like to admit.
I want my son to know that his value is not measured by home-runs or strike-outs. Our children need to know their self-worth is not found in the win/loss column. (That might be a difficult conclusion for them to reach if we spend the entire game yelling at them.)
They need parents, and grandparents, and friends who celebrate them for who they are…not just for the double plays.
Our role as parents (of the Little League sort or otherwise) is to encourage our kids towards their very best – to model healthy competition to them – and to celebrate life outside of the scoreboard.
Then, they will remember the lessons of loss…and hold on to the joys of the winning.
I hope that Luke will use each game, each test, each tough life experience to become a better Luke.
Not just a better shortstop.
Because life should be lived beyond the stats.
My prayer for you and me…is that we will regularly question the motive behind our competitive efforts.
- Are we doing _______ for our own glory? Or is our motive to make God famous?
- Are we pushing our kids to strive for excellence…or are we teaching them that winning is everything?
- Are we working so (excessively) hard at ________ because our self-worth depends on it?
- Am I sending the message [to my children or others] that being the best _______ is more important than character?
Isaiah 26:3: “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your truth, we wait for You. Your name and Your renown are the desire of our souls.”
Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
If you see me at the ball field, and I look ten degrees of high strung…perhaps you should remind me of this post? (Thanks.)
p.s. I still want to win, by the way. I just want a different (healthy) motive.