Competition and a mustard seed

Clergy from left, Deacon Cynthia Biddlecomb, retired; Pastor Nicolé Ferry, Associate Rector Lynn Finnegan and Pastor Deb Church. Courtesy picture

By Pastor Nicolé Raddu Ferry
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Los Alamos

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ sea’, and he would obey you. Luke 17:5-6

“It’s good to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better. – Gianni Versace

“Competition has been helpful up to a point and no further, but cooperation, which is what we need to strive for today, starts where competition stops.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt

“There are two types of people, those who do the work and those who take credit for it. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there. –Indira Ghandi

The Bible verses you see at the top of this article are from what we call “the text” that we read every Sunday when we come together for worship. In the tradition I serve, we read in different areas of the Bible and often focus on the Gospels (or the first 4 books of the New Testament where the teachings of Jesus Christ are reflected). In this text we can learn that even the smallest amount of faith can be used by God to make a difference in the world. Mustard seeds are tiny…look at a picture in your next Google search.

As I spoke to many people about competition last week, it seems we can agree that competition can help us perform at our best. Competition can help us try to reach a level beyond what we think is possible and motivate us to keep going even when the going gets tough. All of this is good. As someone who has participated in sports and continues to watch the clock on my hikes and runs, I recognize that competition can be helpful.

My struggle begins when competition becomes the tool that degrades, judges, rejects, and crafts categorization that only the best of the best will do. That only its gold stars make the difference, and that only “cool kids” can be invited. As our Tuesday Bible study noted, “Competition can be onerous.” As someone who is fortunate enough to be around our middle and high school students, I see their stage of life as having so much competition and it can make for a very difficult time.

I invite you to consider the promise that even the “amount” of faith we have (whatever that means from 1% to 100%) can be enough to be kind, to be encouraging. Have patience when things don’t go our way. To see those on the margins and learn their names and needs. And even learn from someone we disagree with? I believe it would uproot a mulberry bush in the sea or move a mountain as we read in Matthew 17:20. So be it.

Editor’s Note: ‘All Shall Be Well’ is a bimonthly column written by local women clergy (pastors and deacons), including ELCA Deacon Cynthia Biddlecomb, M.Div., retired ([email protected]); Nicolé Ferry, pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethlehem ([email protected]); Lynn Finnegan, Associate Rector, Holy Faith Episcopal Church, Santa Fe ([email protected]) and Deb Church, Pastor, White Rock Presbyterian Church ([email protected]).

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