Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
I'm not sure how many of our American friends found themselves glued to their televisions last night as the U.S. and Canadian Jr. Hockey teams squared off in the final of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, but I can tell you that up here in Canada, there were lots of people who were fixated on the big game.
Canada was vying for a record sixth straight gold medal, but were unable to deliver as the Americans took them to overtime and scored in sudden death to end the game and win this year's tournament.
What inevitably comes out of a loss like that for any sports team is that the losing team can take comfort in having played competitively and hold their heads high for playing in a gracious and sportsmanlike manner that represents their club or country well and we all nod our heads dismissively recognizing it as both a basic truth and a classic sports cliche.
But in many cases, that accepted truism doesn't seem to want to stick in a ministry or a non-profit context.
What seems to happen instead is that although sportsmanlike competition is construed as a positive and possible thing in sport, it's not possible in a ministry or non-profit context. Somehow, as soon as competition is mentioned in those circles, the only thing that gets envisioned is the kind of competition that's dirty, low-brow and mean-spirited.
But the reality is that especially in these tighter economic times, for churches, ministries and non-profits to function, they absolutely must realize that they are not only in competition for a piece of a financial pie that has and will likely continue to get smaller over the next while (as far as personal philanthropy is concerned), but that they are in competition with a growing number of ministries and non-profits who are vying for those same dollars. Additionally, in an advertising saturated culture that moves at an unbelievable pace these days, it's critical to realize that you are even in competition for people's attention.
To ignore these truths is to neglect the condition of the current market and it sets you up for failure.
Embrace the concept that you are in fact, in competition, and then compete.
But while you're doing that, regardless of whether you find yourself winning or losing, just make sure that you compete in a way that at the end of the day, we can all say that you battled hard and you did it with grace and quality.