Tag Archives: competition

Next to the Basin and the Towel

Story of the Day for Monday February 13, 2012

Next to the Basin and the Towel

                    It is not glory to seek out one’s own glory. 

                                              Proverbs 25:27

One early morning in July, 1852, two steamships pulled away from the docks in Albany and headed down the Hudson River to New York City. Because the captain was sick, Thomas Collyer took charge of the Henry Clay.  The Armenia, captained by Isaac Smith, raced past the Henry Clay at the first scheduled stop.

Collyer was furious when he saw the Armenia jump ahead, and so he rushed his ship back in the channel and beefed up the two boilers to 350 pounds per square inch.  The boat boilers made the boat shudder and passengers pleaded with the crew to stop the race, but their pleas were ignored.

At the next docking, the Henry Clay closed the gap.  Soon she nosed up next to the Armenia.  As the Henry Clay slowly inched ahead, the pilot of the Henry Clay rammed his competitor and splintered her bow. The passengers of the Henry Clay were then ordered to one side of the ship so that the boat would rise up to ram above the Armenia’s starboard guard.  The Armenia’s captain cut the engines to keep from running aground.

The Henry Clay now showered her deck with red-hot embers as she raced ahead.  Just past Yonkers, and nearing New York, a stoker, engulfed in flames, staggered up to the deck and dove overboard.  The middle section of the ship was now in flames.

The pilot swung the boat violently toward the east bank – running her 25 feet up the embankment.  The impact toppled a smokestack, and hurled some onto the safety of the shore.  Some were pitched into the waters, while others – trapped by the flames – were forced to jump overboard.  Within twenty minutes the boat had burned down to water level.

Throughout the afternoon and into the night they dredged the river for bodies.  Eighty people perished.


The purpose of the steamships was to provide safe travel for the passengers traveling from Albany to New York.  But objectives are easily forgotten when we are overcome by the desire to outdo someone else.  We blow out our boilers to maintain our status.


Jesus doesn’t object to competition – it’s just that we’re competing for the wrong thing.  The pride of seeking our own glory is an empty quest.  Our Lord humbly kneeled to serve us; to save us.

He wants us to know the “highest” place we can be is on the floor next to the basin and the towel.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

We All Win Together

Story of the Day for Saturday October 29, 2011

We All Win Together

                 Do nothing from selfish ambition or vanity.  Instead, in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Look out – not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

                                                     Philippians 2:2-4

Jesus lived in a “high status” culture.  People were quite competitive about their ranking in society.   Even where you sat at a meal indicated your rank.

Have you noticed how often Jesus’ disciples argue about rank?  The gospels portray them as quite competitive.  Jesus reveals for the first time that he is the Messiah, and that he will sacrifice his life for others.   The disciples don’t get it.  Soon Jesus catches them arguing about who is the greatest.  When the kingdom comes in glory, James and John ask if they can have the highest seats of honor next to Jesus.  Even at the Last Supper, Luke tells us the disciples were arguing about who is greatest.


In the end, however, Jesus transformed a handful of vain and self-centered followers into a body where no one was obsessed with outdoing the others. Just as all the parts of a body work for the good of the whole, so we are to be “one in spirit and purpose.”   That is why Paul urges us that “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others.”


Don’t get me wrong: competition is not always bad. High school sports are a form of competition.  So is business.  Even though these forms of competition can easily get out of hand, they are not inherently bad.

All the same, Jesus has made it clear that our purpose in the body of Christ is not to compete for the highest status, but to lower ourselves to serve. Those who kneel to wash the feet of others are the “greatest” in the kingdom.


Some Christian missionaries lived among the Agta Negritto people in the Philippines.  They introduced them to the game of croquet.  They gave everyone a mallet and a ball and showed them, not only how to hit the ball through the wickets, but how to knock someone else’s ball out of the way.

The Negrittos didn’t understand.  “Why would I want to knock his ball out of the way?”

“So you can win!” the missionaries explained.

The Negritto people survive by working together as a community, so they did not understand this kind of competition.

The Negrittos ended up ignoring the missionaries’ advice.  They shouted encouragement to each other until the last person completed the course and then they shouted, “We won!  We won!”

That is how we live in the body of Christ.  We all win together.

                                                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)