08 March 2010

the ill advised importance of winning

There aren't very many things people do that surprise me much. We may think that we are hobbits on an incredible journey outside of ourselves, but more often than not we are simply repeating behavior found within a repeatable human nature. Solomon's wisdom continues to be true: there is nothing new under the sun. He was right, even though we've made more than a few 'world-changing' inventions since his time. In the end we simply go around the block of humanity, only to arrive back at the same place . . . and go around again.

One area in particular which I find sadly intriguing is the human desire to win. Especially in the Western world we think of ourselves as winners and achievers, and we find great virtue in such lofty peaks of culture. This has become so true of who we are that it refuses to be contained to the athletic field, the political arena or the workplace. Winning is perhaps one of the defining characteristics of how we conduct our interpersonal relationships as a whole.

As a pastor I am constantly watching as people navigate conflict and crisis, and there is always an observable push for one side to 'win' over the other. This happens in group conflicts, friendly disputes, marriage difficulties and potluck dinners. It is never enough that we do our best, or give our best . . . we must always have the best over someone else.

Whenever I see such behavior I wonder (sometimes to those involved) if there is any concept of what consequences will come from 'winning' this battle. It appears that this culture of victory has consumed us and is corroding away at our own character. Too often someone will gain a sense of winning in a particular situation only to discover that they have lost far more in the process. We think that we can treat our character as though it were the good silverware: we put it on display when we want people to admire it, put it out of sight for a while, and then un-tarnish it just before we set the table for our next big event.

My greatest concern comes from Christians who are more than willing participants in this same culture and mindset. For we are not only wearing our name, but (more importantly) we wear the name of Jesus as our character (unless I'm the only one who gets that out of Galatians). Not only do we damage our own reputation, but we destroy the reputation of our Messiah. All in the name of winning . . . while we as followers of Jesus are supposed to find ourselves in losing everything. What I cannot always discern is whether this is a matter of ignorance to God's Word or apathy of Jesus' commands.


hipperken said...

WOW!!! Prolly my fave post of yours EVER! I think it goes along with something I have been noodling on lately - the fact that a lot of people have trouble saying,"I was wrong" (has to do with PRIDE - as does the "winning " thing). In the process they end up ruining relationships. There's more to it but that's the gist. I think we are on two sides of the same coin!We will talk about it the next time we get together!

:mic said...

You + Me = "two sides of the same coin"

Now, THAT'S dangerous.

hipperken said...

Yes. Yes it is.