I have a hard time not being the best at something. Some people call that competitive… I also have a strong aversion to being told what to do or feeling like I have to act a certain way to fit the mold. Some people call that stubborn…. Being both competitive and stubborn can be paralyzing when it comes to my walk with Christ. It is very easy for me to look at others who seem to have everything in their faith life together and feel resentment that they are “better Christians” than me. And often, rather than follow their example, I continue to resent them because I feel like I should be doing what they’re doing so the world thinks I’m a “better Christian”, which in turn makes me not want to do what they’re doing (I know…sounds like a personal problem, right?).
Like many people, I often need a reminder that life is not always a competition. Other’s journeys and successes do not diminish my own. I admit, in some situations there has to be a winner and a loser, but that is certainly not the case when it comes to the kingdom of God.
Each of us has the opportunity to have a one-on-one relationship with God. For those of us that have grown up in the Christian community, this is not a new concept. We’ve been told many times that to have a personal relationship with God you need to pray, spend time each day reading your Bible, go to church every week, and so on and so forth. But what I’ve started to see is that we’re missing a key point. That relationship we get to have? It’s personal.
Instead of following some definition of Christianity, instead of looking at those around me and comparing our faith walks, instead of focusing on what I’m doing and whether it’s good enough, I should be focused on that relationship I’m building. Instead of getting discouraged and stuck thinking someone is “better” at Christianity than me, I can watch them and admire the ways in which they choose to personalize their faith. I can use others’ experiences as inspiration for new ways to personalize my own faith. When we allow others around us to inspire personalization of our faith, the fruit of their faith is multiplied in us.
Here are a couple ways we can start to shift from competition to inspiration:
Be vulnerable enough to let others see when you really don’t have it “all together.”
We become more approachable and human to our neighbors, which diminishes the feeling of competition. We also make space for the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Don’t tell each other what we should or shouldn’t do.
I’ve started learning that “should” is a word that comes with lots of pressure and expectations, especially from myself. “Should” isn’t inspiring, it’s more like a scare tactic. If we can change “should” to “could,” we make room for flexibility and personalization in our faith.
I should read my Bible every day like a good Christian should.
I could read my Bible this morning or listen to it on my headphones while I run!
I hope you choose to move forward today saying “could” instead of “should”. We are all unique, worshiping, praying, and loving in different ways; we limit ourselves when we try to imitate others. Let’s stop limiting our relationship with God by being competitive and stubborn. I know, easier said than done, right? But once we can let go of our need to be the best (cough…cough…Alex…), we can be free to worship, and pray and love in any way that draws us uniquely closer to God each day.