Challenging the Culture of Competitiveness

I have been watching some of the trick sports and challenges that have appeared on our screens lately. Often it is portrayed as harmless fun, as a bit of a laugh.

I wonder whether our society and culture has brought us up intentionally to constantly compete. This happened at school, in sport, in the workplace and regrettably sometimes even in the home. Particularly for men, lots of what we do is about competition. We ask ourselves how we measure up against the next guy. Am I bigger, smarter, and faster? When I am older, am I wealthier? Where can I win? Unfortunately this means that there are always winners and losers in a competitive culture.

I find it interesting that our children, grandchildren and current school philosophy is starting to push back against this competitive mantra. Saying there is too much pressure and not enough fun in the process. Junior sports teams are finding that children want to play sports purely for their own enjoyment and to experience being part of a team. Maybe they are onto something?

The concept that we are constantly comparing ourselves with others is detrimental to who we are supposed to be. The enemy of our souls loves to see us competing and comparing because it takes our eyes off what God would have us do. Often it makes us feel bad about ourselves or sadly feel good about ourselves at someone else’s expense. My observation of life is that you can be winning but your next loss is on the horizon. Devastatingly some families have found that out over the recent Covid outbreak; businesses and jobs lost virtually overnight causing huge marital, family and societal stresses.

Amongst men competition generally breeds isolation and this is the domain of the enemy. The basis of Christianity however is a supportive community. That’s why the Fruits of the Spirit include love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness… (Galatians 5:22). These are not the hallmarks of a competitive culture but a collaborative culture. Maybe this recent season has shown us there is a better way to go, because our experience has highlighted what matters; family, friendship and looking out for one another. It is easy to lose in a competitive culture but much easier to win in a collaborative culture. A collaborative culture is where each person is appreciated for what they can contribute not what they can’t. Competition makes us self-centred, collaboration makes us others-centred. Which would you prefer?

You may say well that sounds great but how do I change things, I am only one person. From my personal experience the answer is wrapped up in this simple statement, “let it begin with me”.  I was reading a Jordan Peterson book and he made this profound statement, “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday not to someone else today”. How are you doing now, compared to the last time you checked? How can you be a better you? Are you making progress? If you are, great keep going!  If you are not, reach out to somebody you trust and talk with them about it. You are actually not alone; it may just feel like it.

I am a great admirer of Winston S. Churchill and he said this, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to carry on that counts”.

Let us be men of courage and wisdom by becoming the best version of ourselves, it will bless us and everyone around us.

Let’s keep connecting with each other. The Promise Keepers Group on Facebook [here] is available for you to share your views and connect with other men across the country. This is the place where you can reach out for help; tell us how you are doing; or chat with the guys. If you want or need to chat, email me [here].

Paul Monahan

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