“Better is a little that the righteous person has
than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.”
— Psalm 37:16-17 (NRSV)
We don’t beat competitive people by competing—which is to play their game on their home turf—but we overcome them in the gentler, more patient sport of assertive engagement—where the needs of all are accounted, in fairness, for.
Understanding the Drive in the Competitive Person
There is an irreconcilable anger deep beneath the psyche of the innately competitive person who has little regard for most others. Beneath the anger is sadness.
Whilst there is no recognition of their unhappiness there is no way back to a better life. They are spiritually marooned.
This compounds the struggle for the one fighting God. All who fight God lose.
All who fight those who adhere to the statutes of the Lord ultimately lose as well.
The unhappily competitive person is driven to win at all costs because they can; and what should stop them? Their motive relies upon only what they see; they live by sight, not by faith.
The drive of the ultracompetitive is a narcissistic joy they learned first-hand from a parent or crucial role model. It was sink or swim in the worst possible way; adapt and survive or capitulate and flounder. Not much of a choice.
They’ve learned anger from the best of them. And they have no visible reason to turn from what we may see as folly, but that which they see as the only way. Their worldview has developed into a dog-eat-dog reality—“If I don’t eat you, you will eat me. Unless you comply and join my side with me, you are against me, my enemy.”
Of course, that’s a dead-end dictatorship there. But some insist on that way.
Wise people will, as much as possible, not put themselves in the devil’s jaws of such situations. But then we might find ourselves in that very place. What do we do?
Contending with the Ultracompetitive Person
We cannot beat them or we would actually join them. That’s no winning answer.
Contending with the ultracompetitive person is just as much about reminding ourselves of the upside-down justice within Psalm 37. We have no need to compete with them, and indeed competition will only get us framed with them, and when God’s justice rains down—as it always does on the conceited—we would also get that justice.
But the justice of the meek person (Psalm 37:11) is an eventual crown of glory with God.
We beat the competitive person by playing a different game; by rising up in patience to not envy or fret. Envy and fretting only causes evil (Psalm 37:8).
God’s justice seems slow to us, but its timing is perfect. ‘Beating’ ultracompetitive, selfish people is more about patient assertiveness to remain gently steadfast than playing their game of one-upmanship. We’re not to fret; it only causes evil.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.