Steve was one of the most mild mannered guys in our College Career youth group. He took time to talk with us younger guys whenever he had the opportunity. He was gentle with little children and animals. He showed a great deal of compassion and care to seniors and grandparents.
But put some skates and hockey equipment on him and give him a hockey stick and something dramatic happened. Steve became one of the most intense human beings I ever met on skates. He would hit people hard, constantly argue our team’s case with the refs and engage in pushing & shoving opponents. A competitive environment brought out this “take no survivors” side of Steve blew me away.
Now some of you might relate a little to Steve. You might be relatively mild-mannered in everyday life. But given the right circumstances, you’re competitive juices might start flowing. And then who knows what might happen. Maybe it’s something as simple as getting cut off in traffic or racing someone off a red light. Maybe it comes out in board games. What began as a pleasant family get together turns into a take no prisoner, humiliate my enemy game of Clue or Settlers – even if you’re opponent is a 5 year old child. Maybe it comes out when you’re watching sports or playing sports. All of sudden whoever you’re against is worthy of death or at least getting slam dunked or plastered to the boards.
Now competition can be good. It forces us to improve. There’s nothing like a humiliating loss or a big failure to bring motivation for great change. But being too competitive can get us into trouble. We can go overboard so that not only do we compete against the opposition we personally hate them and even wish for their injury. Or we turn everything into competition. This can happen in marriages especially early on where instead of complementing each other – husbands and wives compete. They always have to be right. They have to get their way say on paint color. They have to have things their way. In an argument, there has to be a winner and loser. Marriage can become a game of competition rather than a journey of companionship. Then there’s sibling rivalry which is somewhat natural but can go overboard and carry on for years.