The ultra-competitive focus of our school and work environments can sometimes have a negative impact on our spiritual health. Such competitive environments can get us used to approaching those around us with a cutthroat or cliquish mentality, but we should instead see the world as a place without competition in order to foster a vision of true brotherhood.

“That all of them may be one, Father, just

as you are in me and I am in you.”

John 17:21 NIV

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor,

the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

Luke 14:13 NIV

when you look into the faces of those around you at any given moment during any busy day, what do you see? If you’ve been brought up in the American school and work system, then chances are good that you see competition. When we were still too young to understand why, our time spent at school was recorded in numbers and letters, things that ostensibly measured our performance and worth—things that were tacked up on the walls and measured against the numbers and letters of others. High school brought us prom courts, sports tryouts, and college applications, and college then gave us constant pressure to beat out the GPA’s and internships of our fellow students. Then came the workplace, an environment that was perpetually competitive, from the interview process to the daily struggle to stay relevant.

And the position jockeying continues each day. Every day we battle others for parking spaces, promotions, and social status, and our society’s heavy focus on competition can turn the people around us into things—things that we are measured against and things that we must be better than. Our fondness for competition can actually transform other human beings into objects that stand between us and our proverbial piece of the pie, and such a worldview does not bode well for us spiritually.

Jesus urged us to see the people around us in a much more beautiful way, one that isn’t built upon a cutthroat or cliquish mentality. While well-meaning parents and teachers might have suggested that you have to be surrounded by “successful” people to be successful, it is important to remember that everyone is deserving of our time and attention. We have to remember to see the people around us as more than obstacles, and we have to remember to see them as more than networking contacts and opportunities for status enhancement, too. We must remember that everyone’s worth is inherent, a beautiful result of God’s unwavering love. With the exception of those who repeatedly seek to harm us, everyone deserves our attention and emotional goodwill.

Today, envision a life without competition—even in the workplace—and ask God to help you sustain that vision. Remember that life isn’t about being better than other people, but it is about trying to make your shared existence a little better each day.

Prayer: Dear God, please allow me to see my entire world without competition today. Please allow me to see everyone around me as worthy of kind actions, charity, and understanding. Please allow me to see the greater connection that holds all of Your humanity together.

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Michael S. Priebe, Lovely Grind author & web creator

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