Cue the music and light the torch. The Rio Olympics are here, and I could not be more excited.
I enjoy the thrill of competition and the unparalleled stage for many people who dedicate their lives to athletic mastery. Very few of them will ever become rich, but they compete nevertheless. They are literally going for the gold to prove that they are the best in the world. If I could live out any sports fantasy, it would absolutely be winning an Olympic gold medal and seeing my country’s flag rise slowly as the entire world looks on.
As I was thinking about this dream however, I started thinking about why I would love to have this experience. Of course, there is something intrinsically rewarding about knowing that you are the best in the world at anything at a given moment. That has to be a very special feeling. Assuming that every athlete enters the competition to win, there is certainly an emotional reward for meeting a preset goal.
I was thinking about this experience more though, and I think that there is more to it than simply winning. On a very much smaller stage, I play a sport called power soccer. I love to win, and I am a very competitive person by nature. However, as my family can certainly attest, I can go home just as unhappy from a victory as from a loss if I have not played my best.
I am playing to win, and I am playing to achieve that goal with my teammates. That goes without saying and is part of the competition.
However, in order for me to feel truly successful, I need to play up to my own personal potential as well.
I imagine many Olympians feel the same way. A sprinter would not be happy winning a gold medal by default when every other finalist false starts and is automatically disqualified. He would want to win by virtue of performing his best. That sprinter would probably feel much better about himself if he came in dead last but had the best time of his career. It was a good race for him even though the result was not what he was looking for.
Therefore, I don’t think that success is entirely tied to victory. Winning is important, and it is rightfully part of every competition. However, success seems to be something different. To quote the legendary John Wooden:
Over the next two posts, we’re going to evaluate this claim from a Christian worldview. How do we look at and define success when we put on our Biblical glasses?