From a very young age, we’re taught to compete. As children, we battle with our siblings for attention, and we compete with our peers to win games. As we grow older, the stakes become even higher, instead of attention and games, we now compete for jobs, recognition, and influence. This competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it fuels us, makes us perform better.
But has competition gone too far?
Is it possible that our culture of competition is making us counter-productive? There’s a delicate balance between healthy and unhealthy competition. Healthy competition leads to increased productivity, but unhealthy competition leads to self-isolation and decreased efficiency.
Looking back in history, we would’ve missed out on countless advancements if the competition was as big then as it is today. Take the pyramids; for example, it took years and tens of thousands of men working together to build them. If they had that mindset, it might have looked more like tens of thousands of men, each trying to build the best pyramid by themselves in the shortest amount of time. If this were the case, not only would we not have the pyramids today, they would have killed themselves trying to build them. There is no doubt we are robbing the future of humanity of significant technological advancements. Not to mention killing ourselves, just because we refuse to be united in the name of competition.
So, what can we do about it?
We have to start with what we can control ourselves. We can’t help that some people refuse to work together. But we can control the way we work with others, and the attitude we have when doing so. If we could change our attitude of competition to an attitude of service, we’d turn the world upside down!
No man has ever had an impact on the world the way Jesus did, and part of that is because of his willingness to serve. He said it himself in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” For Jesus, nothing was a competition. His focus was on serving others because he knew by doing that, he’d bring unity. Great unity begins with a spirit of humility and a willingness to serve.
This idea is brought to light in an even greater way in Philippians 2 when Paul shows us how unity under Christ should look. He explains that we must behave in a counter-cultural way if we want to experience unity. In Philippians 2:3-4, he says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your interests but each of you to the interests of the others”. This type of attitude is the opposite of our human nature. We want people to serve us and look out for our best interests, but when everyone has that mindset, we create a lonely world.
To obtain unity, we must act counter to our culture. Instead of embracing competition, we need to embrace service. Paul progressively outlines this truth. First, it starts with not seeking your selfish gain; then, it moves to see others as more valuable than yourself. And finally, it ends by concerning yourself with other people's gain, not your own.
Think about the unity that would arise if everyone was concerned about helping and serving other people. We’re a long way from making that a reality, but we could get one step closer each day. Start small, start little unselfish habits, and mold that into an altruistic lifestyle.
Choose to serve even when it costs you something, be an example of selfless living. When you do these things, a unity will form around you, and you will be able to accomplish so much more than you could have alone. Our spirit of competition has limited our ability to have unity, which has limited our efficiency.
It’s time to move away from the world’s view, if you want to be more productive, spend less time on yourself, and more time on others.