I don’t mean to brag, but I am wicked good at Jenga.
There’s something exhilarating about identifying weak links, bumping them out of place, and dangerously deconstructing a tower of blocks in the name of a good time. And being a highly competitive person by nature, the stakes are higher when you mix in some other competitive opponents. I love reaching new and thrilling heights with my every turn, trying to set the next person up with shaky odds, and eventually seeing a wobbly tower crash to yield my own victory.
Jenga is a great time in the realm of party games. The principles of Jenga taken into the realm of relationships, however, is not. Yet it happens all too often in our world.
Identifying weak links, bumping people out of place, pushing and shoving our way to the top… It can be dangerously deconstructive. Then why do we feel the innate need to tear others down to get an edge in life? Our nature isn’t just competitive, it’s broken. The enemy of our souls is constantly luring us into traps crafted from things like comparison, envy, insecurity, gossip, power-tripping, and dissatisfaction. And in our humanity, we fall right in step with some combination of that list without keeping that nature in check with the counter-culture character and instruction that Christ gives us in His Word.
When it comes to remedying our Jenga ways, there are three major antidotes:
1 – Practice Humility
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” –Philippians 2:3-4
C.S. Lewis summed up humility in my more favorite way by saying, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” It is not wallowing in a woe-is-me mentality, selling yourself short, or crushing your confidence. Instead, it’s using the bulk of your heart, mind, speech, and actions to recognize others and put them first. There is certain confidence exhibited in partnership with a humble spirit, which I’ll hit on point three, that can only be obtained when you recognize that God has a unique purpose for your life and it has nothing to do with who you are. There is no need for rivals, a conceited heart, or selfish ambition when you are becoming who God has created you to be. He’s got you! And when you become secure in that, you can truly focus on lifting up, cheering on, and pouring into those around you.
2 – Flip The Competitive Nature on It’s Head
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” –Romans 12:10
I love this. God knows we are wired with the desire to outdo one another, so He gives us a healthy way of channeling that energy. If we are going to outdo one another, do it through love, honor, and building people up. This comes from that humble heart, lifting others up and pushing one another higher. This is really what it looks like to celebrate the achievements, positive qualities, milestones, and personal growth of the people around you. This is both exceptionally hard and incredibly important in the moments where it hits close to home: The girl who got the opportunity you had your heart set on, the guy who got the credit instead of you, the gift that someone else has that you’ve always wanted… Put that sin nature of stirring up envy, cutting down others, and bitterly foregoing celebration in it’s place by instead making an intentional and heartfelt effort to honor that person the way Jesus would. This is how we exercise our faith that we really believe that God has a purpose and place for us, all in His time and His way.
3 – Know Who You Are & Whose You Are
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:10
This is a renowned statement around here in the Becoming network, but that is because it is fundamentally true. Other versions of this verse translate what we are as God’s masterpiece. We are the unique, special, and significant work of His hand. He dreamt us up and made us come to be. And we aren’t created to just hang as a portrait on a wall called Heaven, but do something amazing with our life. These good works were prepared long before you and I even existed as we know it, and it’s God’s deep desire that we fulfill our purpose. Does that fill you with confidence or what?! I know for me, that verse is a constant reality check. God has a place in His world for you and for me. We don’t have to fret, rival, fight, or settle. We can hold our head up high, walk through life with a confidence that cannot be shaken and make the mark He intended us to make.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11
In God’s economy, we are to look less like Jenga and more like Legos. There is room for each and every one of us the in the Kingdom that God is building, and in the world that we presently live in, to link up our unique shape, make-up, talents, purpose, and qualities with others to build something great. My piece won’t look like your piece, your piece won’t look like my piece… None of our pieces will look like the people we compare ourselves to on Instagram or in our circle. And that should come as a relief to us all! The pressure is off. Our becoming journey is secure in Christ, Comparison is a trap, and your Creator has the absolute best for you in store. Let’s align with His Word, His desire for us, and build one another up in unity. Because tearing down, exposing weakness, and being consumed with competition is only fun around the table playing Jenga – and that’s where I choose to leave it.