The focus of this second article of the series on Life as a race and how we are all competing in it is on the requirements for successfully participating in it. Life as a whole is full of all sorts of requirements for membership of committees, organizations, institutions and societies and for competing according to the rules of the game. We will explore a little bit some of the key requirements for competing in this race of life with the view of success and fulfillment. The introductory article highlighted the following points:
In a serious sense all of life is a race and the Christian life or calling is a particular kind of race. In the race of life we are all athletes or players and what we become ultimately depends in large part on how we compete in the race of life. This then means we need to learn to develop and maintain a healthy competitive spirit. In almost every sphere and endeavor of life there is that element (sometime hidden and sometime obvious) of competition. A competition can take the form of a desire to do well, to do better than others, to finish whatever given task on time, and to be the first to reach the finishing line. A competition of any kind can either be selfish, disregarding others or even deliberately undermining their efforts, and in the end destructive. Or it can be healthy and be a means of bringing out the best in self and in others, and thus a means of enhancing performance, productivity and the achievement of individual and collective goals.
This introductory article proposes to treat a series that is intended to help us realize the race we are all in and how to compete in it fairly, vigorously, and rigorously for the benefit of all.
According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary a race is a competition between people, animals, vehicles etc. to see which one is the faster or the fastest. It is also a situation in which individuals, groups, organizations and so forth vie for political power or to achieve something first. I would like to extend the meaning of race to any activity or task carried out with the view of achieving the intended goals against odds. To compete is to take part, participate in something, in the context of sports, to qualify as an athlete to take part in any games. Many of our endeavors in life can be likened to a race in which we must do our best to achieve. The Christian way of life is a form of race and any attempts to succeed in life become another form of race.
The number one requirement for success and fulfillment in any endeavor of life is faith coupled with commitment. Faith is confidence and hope that something will be done in spite of outward contrary signs. John Macquarie argues that we all exercise faith of some sort in all sorts of ways. The scientist has faith in his scientific work. The humanist has faith in himself. When you sign a contract, deposit money with a bank, marry or board a plane or ride a car you are certainly acting in faith. The Bible defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (RSV). Faith then is the confident inner assurance that what one desires or is working towards will be accomplished. This confidence can be placed in oneself (one’s intelligence, knowledge, experience, connections, and possessions), family, an ideology, an institution, or in another person.
From the Christian perspective faith is in God Almighty who is the greatest and excellent of all beings. He has perfectly manifested himself in Jesus Christ who alone brings God down to our human level, within the reach of every person. But trust in God must issue into commitment and practical actions and deeds. Faith energizes and empowers for true work or service. Christian faith is cooperation with God. This means living and working hard in dependence upon God.
Commitment takes the form of discipline to think and do what is required. In the case of the ancient Greek Olympics the main requirements were that one had to train for ten unbroken years and resolve not to resort to tricks as means of winning. Running in the race of life requires integrity (being honest and possessing strong moral principles at all times, wholeness, steadfastness in adhering to high principles or professional standards). Competing in the race of life with the view of winning requires faith, hard work, honesty, and doing whatever it takes (within moral conscience) to achieve and fulfill what God desires.