There’s something I need to tell you before you get too far into this. I have been That Person you love to beat. The trash-talker. The Competitor who refuses to play a game she can’t win.
Which is why I avoid Yahtzee, and any other numbers game. (Because quick addition is not my thing, and I will lose.)
In other words, there was a time in which I faithfully subscribed to Ricky Bobby’s rule of thumb: If you’re not first, you’re last.
And I know. Jesus pretty much said the opposite. Which is exactly why I’m determined to redefine competition in our household.
Since you’re reading this, I assume you have a boy (or two or three) hanging around your house…some of whom you refer to as your children. I have a 9 year old named Luke, who’s aim in life is to play pro baseball or work as a checker at Walgreens. (Because neither require college, and apparently 3rd grade wasted him of any desire for further schooling.)
Luke has a band of baseball brothers who act like brothers in every sense of the word. Which means they have their fair share of “I’m better than you” battles; and nothing is off-limits when it comes to competition.
This kind of conversation is typical:
Luke: Did you see my triple? Was it awesome?
Teammate: Yeah. But I’ve hit a home run before.
(So much for high fives and all.)
I’m willing to bet that scene wasn’t much different than the dialogue of the very first backyard competition ever recorded. We barely get four chapters into Genesis before two brothers named Cain and Abel have duked it out for the championship.
Cain viewed his brother Abel as a rival. Instead of celebrating his own God-given gifts and skills, Cain resented the skills God had given to Abel. He was driven to win, despite the cost…which was ultimately his brother Abel’s life.
All because Cain’s significance rested on his ability to be the best at something.
This story set the stage for a twisted competitive drive that still plays out today. Yet we just go along with it as if that’s the way the world turns, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It goes sort of like this, “Oh boys will be boys. They were built to compete.”
Well, yes indeed. They certainly were. But I’m pretty sure that thing with Cain and Abel had a bad ending. So I refuse to gloss over the lie and just sit back while my son and his friends live out the natural trajectory and end up as adults who continue to rank, compare, and envy.
As mothers who are raising the next generation of men, you and I have the power to redefine competition. But unless we boldly tackle the lie with a heavy dose of lifestyle truth, we will raise sons who carry out the same-old-same-old legacy of measuring their worth on someone else’s yardstick.
So let’s break down 2 lies about competition, and hold them up against the Truth.
Lie #1: The success of another is a threat to your own value. Don’t ever let someone else win…(but when they do, resent them for it).
Oh, y’all. This mindset clearly didn’t go well for Cain, so why should we allow that perspective to prevail in our homes?
Nope. Not having it.
Truth: God wired our sons with a competitive spirit…a drive to better themselves so that they would pursue growth and become who they were meant to be. He uniquely shaped them on purpose, and their confidence is based on God’s one-of-a-kind design. Which means they are free to encourage the awesome in others, while seeking to grow into their very best.
[The word competition literally means “to strive with” (not to strive against). Essentially, true competition is a partnership where competitors challenge one another to improve their individual skills. Well, that sure puts new spin on things.]
Lie #2: Climb the ladder to the top, and tear down anyone who gets in your way.
Truth: God designed us to live in community (on a team!), and healthy teammates encourage one another. We are called to “…honor others above ourselves.” (Romans 12:10), and “…speak words that build up, not tear down.” (Ephesians 4:29).
How To Raise Boys Who Redefine Competition
Practice Honoring Others: There are new rules for post-game conversation in our house. Before Luke’s plays get air time, Luke names one good thing that each of teammates did during the game. These don’t have to be game-winning plays, rather, we want him to look for the small things. Our aim is to raise a son who celebrates others regardless of how the world views their performance.
Resist The One-up and The Brag: it’s a boy’s nature to beat his chest and exalt his own awesomeness. But we aren’t called to be a One-Up kind of people. So let’s raise our sons to know that every gift and talent they have comes straight from God (James 1:17). Instead of caving to the brag, let’s teach our boys to let someone else speak well of them, because boasting has no place on our lips. (Proverbs 27:2)
Can you imagine what life would be like if we all just quit striving against one another…and instead, sharpened one another? We would be, like, unstoppable or something.
And now I’m so pumped up, I might even consider a game of Yahtzee. (Maybe.)
Cheering you on…
If you want to read more posts on this topic, check out:
Written by Amy Dalke.
Amy is a baseball mom, a Bible study teacher, and a wife who can’t cook. She has a tendency to be high strung (but is always working on that), and you see her every time you go to the coffee shop. (She’s the girl in line ahead of you with the obnoxious order.)
She’s slightly nerd-ish about the Bible, but it’s only because she’s a mess without it. And p.s. her favorite food is peanut butter and jelly. And oh yeah, Amy’s blog is The Bleachers & The Pew, where she makes you feel normal, sometimes makes you laugh, and mostly has a lot to say about serious stuff. (Or not really that last part so much.)
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