As a Grandma, I attend lots of sports competitions – rugby, hockey, beach volleyball, track and more. My grandchildren amaze me. I cheer when they do well. I worry when they, or one of their teammates, fall down. When the game is over, my first words are, “You did well. I’m proud of you.” Then I ask, “Did you have fun?” I’m not worried about the score or who won even though I know that is important to them. Of course they want to win, but my interest is in their satisfaction with their own performance.
I’m sure, like my grandchildren, all the competitors in the Pan Am/Para Pan Am games would like to win. They’ve practiced long and hard. They deserve every medal they win. Even those who trail the field in their events are athletes of excellence. They have earned the honor and privilege of participating in such high caliber competition, a notable accomplishment.
I wonder if we will ever have a Pan Am/Para Pan Am celebration of excellence in living. Just imagine the categories – kindness, integrity, honesty, compassion, sharing, peace-making and more. Think about the difference in our world, if we had teams of people competing for gold medals in compassion or kindness. What would our community be like if our children joined recreational teams to learn honesty or peace making? Consider a competition in gratitude or mentoring. What about medals for sharing?
Our sports competitions do teach some of these things to some people. Some communities do recognize individuals who demonstrate these characteristics. My vision would be to build a whole system around excellence in living, with minor leagues and amateur excellence. Think about the shift in thinking that kind of emphasis could bring to the world.
In some ways, Jesus lived that kind of vision. He gathered people around him to learn these things. He sent them out to teach others. From his vision, his followers developed church communities whose whole purpose was to practice excellence in living. For sure, we are none of us perfect. Each congregation is like a farm team, practicing and learning. Occasionally, God drafts some of us to join a team for the wider world. All of us have been given the honor and privilege of participating. I am grateful.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)