Not Competing Against Others and Pep Guardiola

I am a fair guy. Recently I wrote about God and Jose Mourinho, as this geezer has just taken over at Manchester United. In the spirit of fairness and as inspiration would have it, I have something up my sleeve to share with you about the geezer who has just taken over at Manchester City. You’re welcome. 

Guardiola is regarded by many to be the top football coach in the business and City appointing him was seen as a great coup. When Mourinho was named the boss of United, many rubbed their hands at what they hoped to be a resumption of perceived hostilities between the two. A few years ago they had a very tense adversarial relationship as Guardiola managed Barcelona and Mourinho was boss of their archenemy Real Madrid. 

In his recent press conference, Guardiola attempted to defuse that antagonism with a sound insight into how he saw top managers like Mourinho and others. As far as he was concerned, these men only spurred him on to be a better coach. So rather than competing against them, they were an aid to his development in raising his game. 

It made me ponder. Often the competitive spirit only goes as far as looking to overcome the opponent in front of us. That can be such a pull on resources that in so doing, we actually don’t progress personally as much as we could. One of the best pieces of insight I ever received on the issue of competition was that the only real person you compete against is yourself. No point competing against another person, because they are not you and are not the best barometer on what you fulfilling your potential should look like. No point in competing with the devil either because he is not after what you’re after. He doesn’t really want what you’re looking for. That’s part of the joke of falling for his traps. What’s he going to do with life, joy and peace? He’s not the author of it. He only wants to steal it from you to ensure you don’t have it, not because he wants it. He’s really in a misguided competition with God for your worship, so he’s not not really competing with you. 

That leaves the only real obstacle in your way is you. There is the you that God created from the beginning. Reference to Him gives you insight on what that is supposed to look like and you can aspire to that standard that is specifically and uniquely yours that expresses the fullness of life as God lovingly and wonderfully prepared it. Yet there’s also the ‘you’ that in pride or fear has never sought to be like that, preferring its own independent expression, which, detached from the source of life, only ever leads to delusion, despair and death. That’s where the real competition takes place. Can I be what God called me to be in Christ or will I content myself with second-rate mediocrity dressed up as a materially bounteous glamorous existence? 

I was at the gym recently (stop laughing) and whilst there the trainer pushed the group to focus on doing well on two stations of activity in particular. He put the scores from those activities on a board. There were 12 people in the group so the scores of each individual could be seen by all. There were two ways to see the scores. One was the comparative and competitive sense of where you ranked against everyone else. That lead to disappointment for some and elation for others. The second perspective was more about what that final score said about your own efforts and whether it would drive you to improve the next time around. That was a more constructive approach that didn’t lend itself to either elation or disappointment. It lent itself to an inner resolve and determination to press for the goal ahead. 

So it should be in the journey of life. I know there are people better than me in every pursuit I have in life, but they only stimulate me to improve my game and focus on pressing towards the standard God has placed before me in Jesus Christ. Looking to Him, I thank Him for the inner resolve to pursue Him even more. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

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