As the winter doldrums are upon us, and frigid weather wreaks havoc across our nation, I think to myself, how can anyone work outside in such cold weather. When the thermometer reads below freezing and it has been nothing but gloomy for weeks, it’s hard for me to get motivated to leave the house to go to my heated office. As the stream of consciousness flows, I start to think about how incredible the athletes are who compete in the Winter Olympics. I must confess, I don’t watch the Winter games as much as the Summer ones. My personal favorite, (along with the rest of the world,) is American swimmer, Michael Phelps who holds the all-time record for Gold medals, and is the most decorated Olympian of all time! My reason though is because I was a swimmer back in the day, and marvel at his superhuman skills! But I digress…back to the Winter games…In looking for a “winner’s box” photo, I stumbled across this photo from February 12, 2014 of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia which really caught my eye.
The article that it was associated with was titled the “Best of Sochi: Day 5 at the Olympics,” (having not seen it, I will take their word,) but what got my attention was not the celebratory leap from Gold medalist Eric Frenzel of Germany, but rather the expressions and body language of silver medalist Akito Watabe of Japan (L) and bronze medalist Magnus Krog of Norway (R). It is clear that Akito and Magnus were not as thrilled with their accomplishments as Eric was! As each of these athletes stepped onto the winner’s box and received their medal, you know, a sea of emotions and thoughts were flooding their minds from “I can’t believe I placed” to…”How did I only come in second (…or third place).” It is so easy for us to go from celebration to condemnation and that’s the pitfall of comparison! One of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt is,
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
STOP! Go back and read and ponder on that incredible truth! “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we compare ourselves to others, we open ourselves to disappointment. Have you ever felt like Akito Watabe that you are “Mr. 2nd Place?” Are you tired of never making gold? Though he is an incredible athlete, and has competed in two Winter Olympics, Akito has never brought home the gold!! Are you always ending up second in line, playing second fiddle, or being runner-up? Regardless of what you label it, second place can be very frustrating for sure, especially when you have put in the work! For me, I have always finished 5th or 6th place…(out of 8), when I competed on the High School Varsity Swim Team; a very different league from “Mr. 1st Place” Michael Phelps.. Now before you start feeling bad for me, I am way over the agony of the defeat. Hahaha! I learned long ago that nothing good ever comes comparing my accomplishments with others.
and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (NLT)
See John the Baptist understood what his purpose was, that he was not the star…Jesus was! Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) says,
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
Wow! If you struggle with insecurity, this truth should set you free right now!! Receive that today!
The next part of Galatians 6:4 says that we should make a careful exploration of “the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.” See just like John the Baptist knew who he was in God, he also set himself to the task at hand to “prepare the way of the Lord” in the desert, see Mark 1:1-8 for the full story.
Oh that we could “sink ourselves into the work that God has set before us.” Francis Chan made this sobering statement what are we really succeeding at…
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
Where are you at? As you compare your lives to others, trying to “Keep Up With the Jones,” I urge you to make that careful exploration!
As Galatians 5 continues, “Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others.” You think if you were the forerunner to the Savior of the World, you would have a big head but, John the Baptist’s response that “I must become less and less” should be our modus operandi. Jon Acuff made this profound statement,
Again, nothing good comes from comparison! Finally the last portion of Galatians, “ Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” I will go back once more to “Mr. 2nd Place” for fulfillment of this directive, in Mark 1:4, 6 (ESV) the gospel writer says this,
“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.”
Now that is creative indeed! But you don’t need to go to the desert, clothed with camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey to be creative for Christ, but what I think Apostle Paul is saying in this passage is that we need o be BOLD FOR CHRIST! Amen?
Can the same be said of you today?
So if you find yourself that you are always coming in second place or runner-up is your lot in life, consider yourself blessed to be in the same company of the greatest man who ever lived who also was second. Don’t Settle For First Place!