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Competitor or Companion?

“When we only share our successes, we’re in danger of becoming competitors; when we share our struggles, we’re on the path to becoming true brothers and friends.”

I heard these words in a sermon preached by my mentor, Alan Ahlgrim, this past Sunday.  How true they are.  Do you find yourself surrounded by competitors or companions?  Do your conversations tend to center around how smart your kids are, how your daughter is excelling in gymnastics, how your son is so gifted in math, how your spouse is taking you on a vacation to Europe? 

 When you dig deep into your soul, are you sharing these successes, because you feel something lacking, and you believe you have something to prove? 

 Been there, done that.  Sometimes I still do.

 More times than not, when I’m at a pastors’ conference, the conversations quickly turn to “nickels and noses.”  How many people attend your church and how big is the budget?  As though these metrics define our self-worth.  And then we pastors wonder why our churches compete with one another rather than compliment one another. 

 We have much to learn.

 Henri Nouwen expressed his own feelings of self-doubt when he compared himself to others.  He wrote, “What do you do when you can’t get away from measuring yourself against others, always feeling that they are the real people while you are a nobody or even less than that?” (The Genesee Diary, 91).

 Feelings of insecurity and inferiority lead to self-loathing, which is just as harmful to the soul as self-lauding.  Whether these feelings stem from parental rejection in childhood, growing up as the “ugly duckling,” being wounded by a close friend or spouse, or having a teacher or coach tell you that you’re never going to amount to anything, we tend to absorb this toxicity.  It begins to define us emotionally, even though intellectually we may know better. 

 Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was living in denial. 

 To overcome our insecurities, we “man up” with bravado, whether it’s a mom making sure everyone knows how great her kids are, a business leader who wants his successes to shine, or a pastor who wants people to affirm his amazing leadership and communication ability. 

 And we still feel empty inside.  We find ourselves surrounded by “friends” who are competitors more than companions, and our soul is left wanting. 

 What’s the answer?  Like most deep challenges in life, there are no easy answers, but there are answers, starting with seeing ourselves the way God does, as His sons and daughters (Romans 8:14).

 And we don’t go it alone.  We share our struggles as companions and not our successes as competitors.  This doesn’t mean we don’t share our joys and accomplishments, but we do so because we are companions, and not because we’re trying to prove our self-worth as competitors.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with