In conversation around our new ministry initiative, Elevation Church continues to surface. In fact, one of the publicly asked questions is, “Are we trying to be Elevation?” Answer: No. Done. Post blog.
It could be that simple, but I am big on understanding thought processes. Short, easy answers bother me. I have to know why. Therefore, I am writing a handful of articles explaining four keys reasons why I believe 801South will fail miserably if we simply try to copy Elevation (or any other organization).
Today’s topic is competition.
Despite the gorgeous weather, I headed to the gym yesterday morning to get my sweat on indoors. I often choose the treadmill over pounding the pavement because I look a little silly holding my iPad out in front of me while running around the neighborhood as I try to catch up on some reading while working out. I am not currently training for an event so I have no set routine or goals in mind. Instead, I typically run between 25 and 30 minutes followed by some pushups (pretending to incorporate strength training in my routine). As I was getting started on this particular morning, another guy hopped on a treadmill two machines down (of course you have to leave one in between to provide adequate “man space,” similar to leaving one urinal between you and the other guy in a public restroom). As we both started our workout program, I made a decision: I’m going to run as long as he runs.
After running steadily for what seemed like a long time (I intentionally cover up the display with my iPad to remove the temptation of staring at the time or distance) and while beginning to feel that tightness in my chest; which comes from not being in the best shape, I had an alarming thought: What if he is thinking the same thing?!? Here we go. At least on my part, it was a competition. Neither one of us ever looked at each other. Rather, we kept our gaze straight ahead and ground it out. All of a sudden, I was in competition with another athlete.
There is healthy competition and also unhealthy competition in life, which includes church. Unhealthy competition occurs when one local church thinks and, therefore, operates as though it is in competition against another local church. This competition results is jealousy, paranoia, substituting misconception for reality, a loss of focus, cynicism, and more. Similarly, if I were in competition against the man on the other treadmill, rather than working hard and keeping my eyes forward, I would have focused on him the whole run while wasting energy thinking of ways to derail his workout so that only I would benefit.
Alternately, to be in competition with another church can be very helpful toward our cause and often results in focus, guidance, discernment, and even inspiration. It will serve us well to be in competition with Elevation Church against this world and its prince. Although there will be differences (more on these differences in later posts) 801South and Elevation will both be on the same team and the same mission: to make much of Christ as we use new expressions of the Gospel to make and equip disciples of Jesus.
Now back to the gym. Finally, the other guy began to slow his tool of torture (I had decided that I would give my life on that treadmill before quitting first). In competing with the other runner, I ran for almost 4.5 miles. Because of being in competition with a fellow athlete, my workout was expanded by 50% and, therefore, I burned that many more calories and gained that much more capacity for endurance, along with other benefits. I could have quit after 20 minutes and glanced at him with a jealousy manifesting as bitter pessimism while making excuses as to why he is “wrong” and I am “right.” Instead, I chose to be inspired by his drive, and consequently benefitted from it.
Do you see the distinction between being in competition with vs being in competition against? How can making this slight change in the way we think help you better understand your relationship to others with whom you may be working toward a similar end?
Thank you for a great insight and analogy. It will be a privilege to run with you at MUMC
Thanks, Judi. I can’t wait to “run” (very clever) with y’all as well.
Great article… Looking forward to having you as one of our pastors!
Thank you for the encouragement, Sandi. The family and I are very excited to get started leading people in ministry there in the Matthews community.
Great perspective Brother, you got it!
I am very excited to meet you and your family! Welcome to MUMC.
More than that, I am very anxious to see what God will do through you with our new service.
Thank you, Carolyn. We too are very excited and full of anticipation for how God will move in this new ministry. I look forward to seeing you soon.