Competition: What Is It Good For? | Karissa Stratton

The spirit of competition is a very real thing. Whether we realize it or not, we all compete at some point in our lives. Some of us have competed in sports; some of us have competed for special privileges, recognition or a specific part or role. We compete daily in our work places, in our classes and in our homes among other settings. Some of us compete against other people while others focus on beating yesterday’s version of themselves.

Can I run that mile faster than I did yesterday? Can I hold my tongue when I see things left undone around the house instead of lashing out like I did yesterday? Can I get a higher grade than everyone else on the next test? Can I be the first one offered a promotion? Can I make it to work faster than I did yesterday?

We all can agree when we take a closer look, competition is a part of our every day life. It may be easy to see that competition exists, but do we know why?

What are we competing for? Why does it matter if we’re faster, stronger, smarter or better than the person next to us? Is it about the bragging rights? Is it about the attention? What about the recognition, the popularity, the temporary relationships that may come from it? Is it about being the best?

Everyone strives to be the best at something. No matter how many times you’ve failed, even if you’ve given up entirely in the past, there is still that burning ember inside your heart that carries on the hope of being the best.

Being the best may not even be the same idea for every person. For some, being the best simply means you keep trying. For others, being the best means you win every single time. Is it a permanent title or is it temporary? The answer to that question could be different for you than the person next to you.

I’m the best in my house. Typically, it’s not socially acceptable to just come right out and say you’re the best. In this instance though, I can say it with 100-percent certainty. I am the best wife to my husband. I am the best mother to my child.

I know I am the best because God gave me these roles to fill, and every single day I compete. I compete with the mother and wife I was yesterday. I strive to show unconditional love whether or not the dishes got done and everyone got to bed on time. I compete against the ideas of a “perfect wife” and “perfect mother.”

God has entrusted me with these roles, with a husband and son to love and care for, and that alone tells me that I have the potential to be the best fit for these roles. I may not always live up to my potential. There are some days where I may not hit my mark, but that gives me another set of standards to compete against the very next day.

Does this matter? It does make me feel good to know that I am fulfilling these roles. But at the end of the day, at the end of my life, what have I really accomplished?

I’ve kept a decently clean house. I’ve cooked healthy meals every day to send to work with my husband. I’ve poured out as much love as possible on my husband and my son. But has this gotten me anywhere? Will it mean anything when it’s all over?

I had a vision once when I was in high school. At the time of the vision, I was serving God with all of my heart. I was a student leader in my youth group and I loved to worship the Lord. It was during worship at our youth service one night that I was face down at the altar, and all of a sudden I was in a vision:

I had died and entered Heaven. There was Jesus, my Lord and Savior, who I sought after with all my heart. He was surrounded by bright light and I was filled with overwhelming joy and peace. I ran into His open arms without hesitation, and He embraced me. As I pulled back from the embrace, I asked Jesus where my dad was. I asked him where my cousin was. These were two people who I love dearly, and at the time in my life when this vision occurred, they were not serving God. Jesus looked at me as I looked at Him, and His smile faded. He shook His head.

“They’re not here,” He simply said.

I opened my eyes and there I was, knelt down at the altar in the youth room at my church while worship music played and my pastor continued to sing, unaware of the brokenness that filled my heart after that vision.

Ever since that day, my spirit of competition has taken on new meaning. I have been competing for the souls of my loved ones.

You see, it may fill you with pride to be the best at something in this life, but there is an eternity awaiting you afterwards.

So what does it even mean to be the best? What does it matter if I can cook delicious food and keep a house clean if my loved ones are not there to rejoice with me in Heaven? What then have I really accomplished?

I’m a very competitive person. My husband and I are constantly finding things around the house and turning them into little games and competitions. I crave the feeling of winning, of having the bragging rights, of knowing that I’m the best.

But when it comes to spiritual matters, I am called as a Christian to not compete the way our dog-eat-dog world advocates. I need to compete for souls instead of solely against them.

If my enemies suffer failure and ruin spiritually because I was solely competing against them, than I have lost. I have failed.

Jesus said in Luke 6:27-33, “‘But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.'”

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Karissa Stratton, husband, Stephen, and their baby son, Samuel, first attended Calvary Grace in January of 2015. They are a military family from Florida and took no time to fit in with our church. By March, Karissa and Stephen became integral parts of our new REVIVE Kids program, teaching regularly on Sundays in the 3-6 and 7-10-year-old classes. Karissa also has a huge passion for youth ministry given her relationship with God took off in her Florida youth group as a teenager. She is a young adult leader in our REVIVE Youth program, taking an active role in the Wednesday services along with other youth events.