Competition is something we are bombarded with on a daily basis from sports to businesses to which school is better than the other. Competition is so prevalent in our society you would think it was a “law of nature”. Having been a competitor myself in clogging competitions and in the Miss America Pageant, as well as in my adult life having our kids compete year round in golf, I have been immersed in the throws of competition. I have been awakened only through the experience of competition to focus on “Initiative” instead of on competition.
I think especially for the Miss America Pageant, “initiative” was the key for me, not competition. First, I knew because of prayer and a surrendered life to Christ that He was guiding me and this was where He wanted me. Second, it gave me confidence and assurance, no matter the outcome, because I was confident that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Third, I kept my “eyes and focus” on my talents, abilities and initiative. Of course, there were taller girls and I was short. I had a talent that no one had heard of, to the point that people made the comment that the judges would not know how to score my talent. They had no knowledge of clogging and wouldn’t know if I was any good! Fourth, I realized that with God’s help I could only control what I did. I literally had NO CONTROL of what anyone else did, so I gave it NO ATTENTION. I had to pray for focus and my eyes to be on God and what I did, especially going into the final night. I had not won “any preliminaries” and there was, in fact, a double preliminary winner on one of the nights.
I was so focused on “personal initiative” that to this day I could not tell you what my competitors sang or what music they danced to and I had been around it all week. If you follow my journal, you either remember or know by now that I didn’t win, but was first runner up. The point being here, I placed in front of the “double preliminary winner”. My talent was obviously viewed well despite the comments about the judges. And I was the shortest girl in the pageant. This taught me a valuable lesson in my young adult life. Personal initiative and listening to Christ were more important than people’s opinions or focusing on my competition.
Personal initiative is the opposite of competition. When you have “Personal Initiative”, it allows an individual to have a free mind and be inner directed. On the other hand, competition puts your focus on finishing ahead of someone else. At times we are dependent on the performance of someone else. Competition encourages us to have a “pacemaker,” someone we have to beat, which takes our focus off of ourselves and onto the “pacemaker”. We train ourselves only to out run our competition. It makes us dependent on our competition. It can bind us and put us in a mental trap because someone else is setting the pace or standard.
Alternatively, initiative is something that turns our focus on ourselves and our inward drive. It keeps our eyes on our God-given abilities, talents, and uniqueness and gives us “freedom” of self and mind to accomplish “our purpose!”
Allowing our eyes to be on other people and what they are doing and achieving, takes our focus off of ourselves and can “trap” us into a life of “one-upmanship” in which we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, which is the “comparison trap”. At times it can make us feel second class, creating a lack of initiative and originality.
I am not at all recommending self-centeredness, but rather, encouraging and highly recommending PERSONAL INITIATIVE as a way to fulfill your “created purpose!”
The experts that have worked with our children in golf have WARNED our children to FOCUS ON THE PROCESS of what they were PERSONALLY working to achieve, thus taking their “eyes” off of everything and everyone, and concentrate on what they were doing.
I love to encourage our kids, telling them, “You are on a journey with a ‘purpose’ in which God created you to fulfill.” I encourage them to seek “Christ” first. Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…….” I also encourage them, if Christ is FIRST in their lives and they are seeking HIM, then they have to trust HIM, even when they are not getting the results they are looking for. I love, love, LOVEEEEEEEEE the verses found in Jeremiah 17:7-8, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does NOT FEAR when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Even in times of trials, tests, and hard, very hard, work, if you are not seeing the outcome that you are looking for, IF we are operating in the “WILL OF GOD,” we can trust HIS heart when we don’t see His hand. We have to abide in Christ trusting that if we are operating in His call and purpose for our lives, we need to live and understand the verses found in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Basically, by following Christ, putting Him first in our lives and keeping our focus on Him, we can have full confidence that He will direct our “personal initiative”. Even though our story may be written “different, very different” from our competition, we can TRUST HIS PENMANSHIP in writing the purpose and outcome of our lives. Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart.”