Does Your Competitive Streak Sometimes Kill the Joy of Community?

I got greedy.

I wanted to end the morning with a win. Let the band strike up, “We Are the Champions,” because we’re marching into the weekend as the victors. We’d won every game of the morning’s basketball session. One more would have meant a clean sweep.

Did I say I got greedy?

Yes, I thought I did.

The eyes of a champion.

With the score tied, my young friend Richard swooshed the game winner. Oh, crackers!


Yes, crackers (unless you prefer my grandmother’s favorite expletive, “oh, fudge”).

Richard played for the other team.

Competition or community?

Competition. I do have a strong competitive streak running through me (well, not so strong that I stay afterwards and shoot 500 free throws or run 50 wind sprints—in other words, not enough to work at winning; just enough to wish at winning).

But I have enough of a competitive spirit that I want to win every game. And when I’m in a competitive frame of mind, I grouse when I lose. Not so much, I kick the dog when I get home or rip down water coolers. It’s my attitude. Oh, crackers. We should have won.

I didn’t even think about what that last shot meant for Richard. I just thought how I hated to leave the gym on a losing streak (of one, mind you, but a losing streak nonetheless).

Community. When I arrived home, I started rethinking the morning’s exercise. I reframed my basketball playing experience in a community mindset rather than a competitive one. And here’s what I came up with.

No one got hurt (at my age, that’s big).

Richard made a winning shot (at his age, that’s a huge boost of confidence—shoot, I’ll be honest. It’s huge at my age too).

In general, we had good-natured banter before, during, and after the game.

If I stop worrying about winning, I celebrate a young man’s efforts and success, strengthen the bonds that bind, and enjoy my place within the early-morning basketball community.

I’m aware, as well, of the competitive nature within churches and among Christ followers.

I’ve been there, done that.

I am there, doing that.

But Jesus said, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

In the same evening, He repeated the message in greater detail. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:9-13 NIV).

What does loving another person look like?

This morning, Love would have walked up to Richard, looked him in the eye, and said, “Great shot.”

I’m curious. When was the last time someone else hit the proverbial game winner? How did you respond to his or her success?

Read more about my friend Richard @ Jon Stolpe Stretched

Read more about “selfish” Love @ THEKARSTENKAZ

Top 3 Posts the past week:

A Bit of Trouble Long, Long Ago, In A Middle School Far Away

It Sounded So Simple Until I Got Distracted

Can Angels Be Christian?

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About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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9 Responses to Does Your Competitive Streak Sometimes Kill the Joy of Community?

  1. Good stuff. It’s so true. Living out of Love really just results in every single person getting less pleasure out of the experience than they were meant to. Living in Love always means experiencing more joy. 🙂

  2. Jon Stolpe says:

    Thanks for the mention and the guest post!

    • tnealtarver says:

      Glad to do both. I appreciate your generous spirit, not only with me but your other guest bloggers. I enjoy the challenge and getting to know more of the family of believers.

  3. Kari Scare says:

    When someone I know “hit the game winner” yesterday, I made a point to acknowledge her success. I tried to be encouraging along the way to that success too. I now realize that while I was on the right track, the desire for my part in the process to be acknowledged marred my ability to be fully present in encouraging and praising my friend. I see an area that I need to work on within myself.

    • tnealtarver says:

      One thing about recognizing things we need to work on. God is more than happy to give us another opportunity to learn the lesson. Good start though, Kari. I applaud your response and your reflection.

  4. Pingback: Would You Still Choose to Live the Life of Believer If … | A Curious Band of Others

  5. Pingback: Why I Need to Listen to My Wife (and Other Wise People) | A Curious Band of Others

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