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Tag Archives: competition

The Making of a Prodigy or A Waste of Time?

Prodigy’s are especially young individuals, endowed with exceptional abilities, talents and qualities.  When coaches, parents or teachers discover this gift, young people are often pushed to see how good or great they can be.  In some cases adults use these special children as pawns, attempting to live their lives through them.  If an endeavor results in a full college scholarship after years of dedication, practice and persistent is rewarded.  Yet; if these prodigy’s get burned out, lose interest or start to hate the sport they once loved, perhaps these years were a waste of time.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established, Proverbs 16:3.

As a former coach, I have seen my share of amazing athletes.  After spending three consecutive years at cross country nationals, I began to see key ingredients in becoming an elite runner.  Through conversations with other coaches and parents, most of the national champions joined a local running club early, some starting at the age of 6.  Meanwhile, as a high school golf coach, a similar connection can be made.  Competition, dedication to practice and a swing coach has resulted in one of the strongest classes of female golfers to come out of the state of Delaware.  I won’t be surprised if a few of these young women end playing on the LPGA tour after college.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

After I moved back to Delaware two decades ago, a friend gave me the phone number of Max Lucado’s editor.  I spent nearly thirty minutes asking a series of question, wanting to know what it takes to become a professor writer.  After sharing a brief summary of his road to success, one comment stuck out during our conversation.  “If you are going to take this seriously, you need to write full time for seven years to have any chance at getting recognized.”  This year marks my 7th year as an amateur screen writer.  After I submit my two scripts for the 2019 Nicholls Contest by the May 1st deadline, I won’t hear the results until July.  Nonetheless, I have taken a chance, invested hundreds of hours and have become vulnerable to rejection to pursue another dream.  Only time will tell if my attempt at becoming a prodigy writer will result in success or failure.

by Jay Mankus

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Finding Answers in a Loss

At the end of last year, my daughter and I joined a volleyball league. Every Friday night until April, I am able to compete for an hour. While the initial reason for participating was to allow my daughter to sharpen her skills during the offseason, I find myself outclassed by much younger and athletic individuals. The ultimate purpose of any sport is to determine who is the best. Thus, when you lose more than you win, human nature begins to search for answers to explain why your team lost.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.,” Matthew 5:4.

In her 2017 song Can’t Live Without, Hollyn sings about someone who doesn’t know what they are chasing after. Using the context of a person driving in rush hour, sometimes you are so busy that lose sight of where you are actually going. Near the end of the lyrics, there is a transition which struck a nerve, ” Some people gotta lose it all to find out what they really want.” Progress, success and victory doesn’t require any need for reflection as positive momentum breeds confidence. Yet, embarrassment, failure and losing leads souls to ponder why.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me., 2 Corinthians 12:9

As a former professional athlete, I hate to lose, even if it’s playing a board game with my family at home. However, my desire to win takes joy away from competing. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states if you get rid of competition, you eliminate pride. Thus, if you take your focus off of winning and turn it toward savoring the opportunity, it doesn’t matter what the final outcome or scoreboard reads. Thanks to Hollyn’s song, I am now able to see the big picture, a father who is able to spend quality time with his daughter. While our team’s record may be mediocre, I have found an answer in a loss.

by Jay Mankus

The Sons of this Age

While sharing the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus makes an interesting observation.  Even in the first century, followers of Jesus did not treat one another as well as non-believers.  Perhaps, competition, immaturity and judgmental spirits began to cause infighting within the body of Christ.  Instead of demonstrating the love of God as salt and light, Matthew 5:13-15, religious leaders afraid to let go of Judaism stunted the spiritual growth of many new converts.

And his master commended the unjust manager [not for his misdeeds, but] because he had acted shrewdly [by preparing for his future unemployment]; for the sons of this age [the non-believers] are shrewder in relation to their own kind [that is, to the ways of the secular world] than are the sons of light [the believers], Luke 16:8.

In the passage above, Jesus refers to non-believers as the sons of this age.  To certain extent, many of these individuals would be categorized as amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  Yet, the parable of the shrewd manager illustrates that it’s never too late to change.  Despite whatever misdeeds you have committed in the past, God uses conviction to elicit repentance.  When the man in this story was fearful his position would be lost, a sense of desperation produced a series of business transactions to save his job.

And I tell you [learn from this], make friends for yourselves [for eternity] by means of the wealth of unrighteousness [that is, use material resources as a way to further the work of God], so that when it runs out, they will welcome you into the eternal dwellings, Luke 16:9.

The passage above urges readers to avoid legalism which stifles faith.  Instead of analyzing this or that, don’t be afraid to use earthly income to make friends for eternity.  While this context contradicts other passages above money, Jesus wants people to realize that material resources purchased by wealth furthers the work of God.  Essentially, what Jesus is saying is the sons of this age are like a harvest waiting to be picked.  However, the workers with the right mentality are few.  Thus, if you want to become fishers of men, set your heart and mind on things above.

by Jay Mankus

No Doubt About It

When I was young and stupid, I relied on bragging to prove that I could do something.  When challenged, I was often exposed as my cocky words could not be backed up by actions.  Subsequently, God used disappointment, humiliation and failure to allow me to mature.  While I never lost my passion and zeal for competition, I tried to let my play speak for itself in college.  Although I didn’t win every intramural championship, I believed in my heart that victory was attainable.  There was no doubt about it,

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men, Matthew 28:2-4.

In recent years, telling the truth is like an animal on the endangered species list.  Some people want to win so badly that exaggerating, fibbing and spreading rumors is all part of the process.  This destructive climate has poisoned politicians with misleading ads, slandering their opponents, hoping the general public will be persuaded to believe these lies.  If you have the cable news, newspapers and social media on your side, the lives of innocent people can be ruined, left like road kill along the shoulder of a highway.

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day, Matthew 28:11-15.

As I am finishing my study of the Gospel of Matthew, I uncovered a similar first century plot.  Fearful the chief priest, Pharisees and religious leaders would lose their political power, they paid off Roman soldiers to spread false reports.  Despite the presence of zombies, the bodies of holy men and women from the past roaming the streets of Jerusalem for over a month, a corrupt scheme eventually halted the truth.  As a former high school Bible teacher, I come across secular films trying to discredit the Bible like this first century bribe.  Yet, when I research, study and watch these theories, I have come to one simple solution.  There is no doubt about the life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven by Jesus Christ our Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Praying for the Press

Common sense whispers to the average person that when attacked you should retaliate.  Whether you are talking about competition, gossip or slander, its doesn’t take much for things to become personal.  Thus, when push comes to shove, how you react reflects what’s in your heart.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ Matthew 5:43.”

Since Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential Election, I have yet to hear the mainstream media say anything positive about the President Elect.  Instead of taking a “let’s wait and see attitude,” liberals and progressives have put on a full court press using hate speech, fake news and misleading opinion editorial pieces to poison the minds of Americas.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:44.

This movement of negative news may not end until Donald Trump leaves the White House.  Yet, for now, there is only one logical solution to calm these muddy waters.  According to Jesus, loving and praying for your enemies serves 2 purposes.  The first sends a message of God’s love and forgiveness.  Then, your response makes people feel bad, Proverbs 25:22.  Although it may be difficult for his supporters, its time to pray for the press.

by Jay Mankus

Turn It Up

In a contest, the best players and teams have a tendency to coast at points during the regular season.  Falling into this trap often leads to disappointing loses and major upsets.  At some point you have to respond, by raising your level of competition.  If you are dedicated, gifted and talented, when you turn it up success usually follows.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

According to one of the Old Testament prophets, vision requires patience, resolve and timing.  If you are impatient, you may quit before seeing and tasting the fruits of your labor.  Therefore, when others are on the verge of giving up on a shared dream, remain steadfast by turning up the intensity.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Perhaps the apostle Paul is referencing Habakkuk in the verse above.  The notion of delayed gratification is a foreign to this generation.  In life you can’t just put a prayer request on a credit card, then wait for it the mail to be delivered.  Although some prayers do get answered instantaneously and or quickly, this is not the norm.  Rather, in times of doubt, turn up your faith, waiting for a spiritual harvest to arrive.

by Jay Mankus

When A Name Loses Its Meaning

One of Aesop’s most famous fables in The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  The phrase “cry wolf” derives from the English idiom meaning to give a false alarm.  In this children’s story, a boy develops a habit of lying until a wolf actually arrives.  When this boy’s reputation was weakened by a series of tall tales, no one came to his aid in his time of need.  This is an example of when a names loses its meaning.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, 1 John 1:8.

Companies spend hours of deliberation and discussion before arriving upon a name.  This often signifies cores values, define the essence of each corporation as well as represents a brand.  Employees are ambassadors who either exemplify their organization or become negative, focusing on everything a company does wrong.  While history provides a list of businesses that have deceived, hidden or faked their way to the top, time has a way of exposing the genuine from the frauds.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

In this age of social media, competition, critics and enemies will attack those groups and individuals that they do not like.  Unfortunately, some of these posts are exaggerated, false or taken out of context.  Thus, you or someone you know can have had their reputation severely damaged and ruined.  When a name loses its meaning, some never recover for this smear campaign.  Nonetheless, if this day arrives, Jesus is always a prayer away.  Despite what the world may say, I serve a God of second chances, who mends hearts and restores souls.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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