I used to be too competitive with my athletic skills. I often tried to outrun other joggers, do more pull-ups and push-ups than others, out-perform other martial arts practitioners, kick higher and jab faster, all because I needed to be the best. For what reason, I wasn’t sure. That was in high school and college. Today I know better.
Today, I don’t care how others perform. I just focus on my progress and I want it to be as my body likes it. I see other runners in the neighborhood. They run fast. One guy is a regular competitor in some national marathon contest and we often bump into each other. I used to run a marathon. But one day, after so much thought, all kinds of competition begin to suck, especially competitions in church ministry.
I realized competitions killed you.
Yeah, you strived for perfection with competition (making you better at what you do), but you can do that even without competition. Just do it for yourself. And anyway, you don’t need to be perfect with sports skills if you’re just a regular guy like me. And even if you were in a contest and you won first place, that wouldn’t really prove anything. Winning means nothing but, well, you won. That’s all. It doesn’t mean you are the best.
There was this martial arts champ who got beaten by a faceless street thug during a street rumble. Turned out the champ was used to sports fighting and the street thug was used to real, no-holds-barred all-out fighting. And there was this most-valuable basketball varsity player who did lousily in a rough community basketball game. Nothing means anything in this world. Achievements prove nothing.
When I saw all this, I decided I’d just do things because I like doing them, not to prove that I’m this or that. You cannot prove anything in this world. Everything is a lie. I mean, nothing is permanent. So why bother to prove your worth? You’re top of your graduating class? So what? Some folks were lousy at school but became big-time proprietors hiring their topnotch graduate batchmates in their companies.
You own the biggest business in town? So what? You probably do not enjoy the luxury of a peaceful sleep [Ecclesiastes 5.12].
It only kills you. I watch world boxing champs try to kill each other in the ring for what? For money and a belt or title? You maim and harm somebody who’s not really your enemy, just to prove you’re better? Just to prove your worth? If you hurt someone who’s not your enemy, it’s not worth anything. Doesn’t make sense. And anyway, we’re told to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us.
And in church, so many pastors get seriously sick because of competition, proving they have better ministries and better methods. Proving they’re better, or desperate to produce a good ministry report at the end of the year to impress their church bosses. It kills them. And why do you have to prove yourself? The bible says all man’s efforts are due to envy for his neighbor [Ecclesiastes 4.4].
It does say, “Show yourself as an approved workman of God,” but it doesn’t, in any way, mean being in competition. It doesn’t mean you have to show yourself better than others. In fact, somewhere it says you have to consider others better than yourself.
So, I decided to just jog at my own pace and make it a life principle. It’s something like what the Teacher said in the Old Testament:
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.
A lot of folks wonder why I don’t make any effort to go abroad and live there. They think working and living abroad proves you’re better than those who stay in the Philippines. Well, I just keep mum and smile because it’s hard to explain some things to those who see only the visible world. How can you tell them that inner peace is among the few really important things in life and that you get this by being simply yourself, the way God wants you to be (and in the place God wants you to stay)?
They really cannot understand why I jog at my own pace and not race with others. They may think I’m too slow and will never make it to any running competition. Probably. But then, so what? Who cares?
By the way, below is one of my jogging sessions. I’m just enjoying my runs.