If you set out to discover how people feel about the issue of competition, you will find yourself walking knee-deep in philosophical, psychological, neo-political and even religious opinion. You will find it a rather polarizing issue.
On one extreme are people who feel like competition is bad because there are winners and losers and no one should ever be made to feel like a loser. Ever.
On the other extreme are the survival-of-the-fittest crowd who view life as containing two distinct groups of people…carnivores and their lunch.
We actually live somewhere in the middle.
Even the bearded Cuban communist Fidel Castro weighed in on it, “I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating…because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition.”
I would take him more serious if his country had more modern cars than 1957 Chevys burning leaded gas. But they can’t drive very far anyway in Cuba so it probably doesn’t matter.
Competition is controversial but regardless how you feel about it, competing is a significant part of life, so we probably need to address it.
And today, I am going to use Sunday School lessons for children to make a point about it.
Seriously? The issue of competition compares to Sunday School stories?
I think it does.
The need to compete is like the rough-edged part of the Bible story that we don’t tell young children. We shield them from it as long as we can. Or at least until they are ready for it.
Bible lessons for young children are always the good, inspiring and simple to understand parts of the Bible. Adults know that life is not always good, inspiring and simple, but you still don’t want to give meat to someone with no teeth. Keep the food soft and easy to handle.
David the shepherd boy killed the evil giant Goliath with a simple slingshot and a smooth stone. A great inspiring story. But we probably stop at the point that he then chopped off Goliath’s head and held it up for all to admire.
At what age is David’s relationship with Bathsheba appropriate to discuss?
Noah obeyed God and saved his family and all the animals. The baby tigers are so cute and cuddly. But at what age is it right to expose children to God’s wrath as he obliterated a sinful population with a flood?
We can shield children from the pain of defeat or rejection for only so long, but at some point, we all compete for something and either win or lose. The first time you applied for a job and got it, you were very happy and maybe thanked God for an answer to prayer. But another person was praying for that same job and lost. The answer to their prayer was not so positive. They need to struggle with thanking God amidst trials.
The first time losing happens to anyone, life just got complicated and confusing.
I dislike competition, but I know it is good for me. Competition pushes me beyond my self-imposed limits.
I have often recommended to aspiring authors they attend a book fair if they can. If you want to see an example of publishing competition in all facets, a commercial book fair is the perfect place.
Bookstores and libraries are quiet. They are more like book museums than attention-seeking venues. In a commercial book fair, the environment is noisy, confusing and borderline overwhelming. Authors who think the world of books is like the library and bookstore are stunned by the craziness of a book fair.
The publishing marketplace is a lot more like book fairs than bookstores.
As an author, you are competing for the attention of everyone, not in a vacuum, but as if you are trying to get their attention while someone is vacuuming. It is difficult and tiring.
If you still think your book still stands out from the competition after attending a book fair, then you should keep pressing forward. If you are intimidated by the competition for attention, then you might need to reevaluate your desire to be a published author.
You write, re-write and re-write again. Then someone says, “It is not good enough yet,” and you go back to work. Push, push and push some more. Relentless effort is what it takes.
You compete and you lose a number of times before you finally win once, then lose some more before you win again. Run the race so as to win. Compete. Never give up.
Competition is everywhere. We do it every day. It invades every part of our lives.
Stop right here and take a deep breath.
Count to ten slowly.
None of this has any application or implication to your acceptance by God. You are saved by grace. Accepted by grace. Forgiven by grace. You didn’t earn it. You didn’t compete for it. You didn’t win it. You can’t boast, brag or take credit for it.
And you absolutely cannot lose it. Ever.
Can you learn spiritual lessons through the process of writing and re-writing? Yes.
Can God use the process of competing to mold you into a humble person more like Christ? Absolutely.
Will he use what you wrote? Yes.
You’ve already won the greatest prize when God adopted you into his family. Since that issue is taken care of, you are free to enjoy the competitive publishing process because it is not a life and death struggle, even though sometimes it feels like it.