Saturday, June 2, 2012


"It's NOT a competition!" I said to my five year old for the millionth time this week. Lately, EVERYthing is a competition for her. Who connects their seat belt fastest? Who can run to the door faster? Who can jump higher, yell louder, build a higher tower... you get the idea.

I truly don't remember my two older children going through this. I'm sure we had many competitions, but I don't remember it being soooooo important. I found myself seeing this as a "fault" in this five-year-old, something flawed that causes so much emphasis on competition. Surely, it can't be normal to make everything into a competition with a winner and a loser.

Then I went swimming.

As I swam my laps, I realized there was a faster swimmer in the lane next to me. That almost never happens! I ramped up my speed and effort to match the other swimmer and quickly passed him. Whew! I almost lost my status as the fastest lap swimmer....

Uh, oh.

Yep. That's ME, turning it into a competition. The guy in the other lane wasn't racing me; he was exercising. Like I was supposed to be doing. Except that it really mattered to me that I was the fastest in the pool (at least at the time I swim). IS life a competition??

It's a hard call. We want our kids to succeed, to do well, to accomplish all they can. If they run a race, which our wee one does regularly in the summers, we want them to TRY to be first. I certainly want to make my glass pieces the BEST I can imagine them being.

Pride comes in here, too, I think. Maybe it depends on why we want to be first or best. If the reason is so we can feel superior (like me with swimming), it's a sin. If the reason is because we want to do our best for God (like I try to be in my glass work), it's a virtue. I feel like most of the time, I fit in the middle somewhere.

So what do I teach my five year old? It seems hypocritical to say, "Do your best! Go! Succeed! Win!" and then expect her to forgo the pride. It also seems wrong to tell her that doing well doesn't matter at all.

As usual, the Bible has the best advice I've found. Colossians 3:23 says, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." This is in the midst of instructions for Christian households, giving advice for persons of each role in a household.

If we honestly work willingly at whatever we do, as though we are working for the Lord, I don't think we can go too far wrong. At my best, I certainly try to honor God in my glasswork. Can I swim for the Lord? I don't know. One thing I have done lately (since my realization that I am so competitive about it) is pray for the people swimming and aqua-cizing around me.

 I hope and pray that we, as parents, can find ways to help our young child understand why she shouldn't put herself (or anyone else) on a pedestal OR in the trash heap, win or lose. We are each God's miraculous creation, precious to Him, not to be belittled or idolized. Competition often does one, the other, or both. I want her to know that God expects her best for Him, not in relation to how well others perform, but her very best. And that He is worthy of it... and more.

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