The competition game

The 44th Safari Rally events were held in April 1996. The winner was Tommi Mäkinen whose co-driver was Seppo Harjanne. Tommi Mäkinen was the untouchable rally driver between 1996 and 1999 and this is the reason that his name has stuck like cobbler’s glue. The Finnish driver finished first in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, a rally car that would dominate the events up to last year, 2016. For your information, the Safari Rally was removed from the World Rally Championship in 2002 due to funding issues and that marked the end of enthusiasm, adrenaline and jollity that accompanied the events. It was renamed KCB Safari Rally due to sponsorship.

Safari Rally was one of the biggest adventures in the World Rally Championship due to Kenya’s vast plains, and rough, rocky tracks that put car reliability and tyre strength under their greatest pressure. The weathers made it even hellish for drivers as they struggled to master the unforgiving terrain.

Tommi Mäkinen was not the only big name during that time. There were other big guns such as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen, Colin McRae and Richard Burns. The relish of Kenyan fans and petrolheads could not end without the mention of Ian Duncan and Dereva Shujaa wa Kenya Patrick Njiru.

The nostalgic Safari Rally brought together the who-is-who in motorsport industry and received praise across the world. These motorsport megastars came only for one thing; to win! Winning did not happen hey presto. It was as a result of a stiff competition that was marked with dedication, determination and devotion.

There are several reasons why I have a soft spot for sports. Teamwork and endurance are some of the best lessons one can draw from sports. They teach us the importance of working as a team, enduring to the end and working towards the set goals. In this way, sports have a way of melting down socio-cultural barriers and other lines that divide a people into unhealthy groupings. They bring people from different backgrounds together.

On the other hand, sports instil in us the competition spirit, and this is what I dislike.  Competition starts early. We compete in schools, business and workplaces. However, this does not bode well in Christian ministry. It is born out of jealousy, malice and discord. It is comparing ourselves with others and doing whatever we can to match or beat them. The struggle we put in place is always carnal in nature. We assume we can do better than the other person. We believe we can be holier than another person. We think we can preach or sing better than that other person. These are hard stuff that many of us do not want to address. We prefer sweeping them under the carpet.

The Spirit of Competition

Just like in motorsport industry, we occasionally get caught up in these murky waters of competition. It is a spirit that is destructive and can be pointed out by what it strives to accomplish. The goal end of the competition is to seek self-aggrandizement rather than the glory of God. It inspires trust in human ability and invention. It panders to the dictates of human desires that are constantly geared towards being superior to others. It is not about getting better than yesterday but beating the one who we think is ahead of us.

Competition has been wrecking havoc since time immemorial. For example,

  1. Evolution has its foundation in the belief that the fittest of the living things survive. It is called survival of the fittest. It is the spirit that makes some think they are fitter than others. It is the spirit that filled Hitler’s heart and made him go hammer at tongs against Jews.
  2. Aristocracy fools us into believing that power is for the few ‘best.’ It is the same spirit that gives birth to apartheid and pogroms.
  3. Korah of the Bible exalted himself against the appointed leaders of God.
  4. The sons of Zebedee wanted to be set above their fellow disciples and this would have split the group into splinters.
  5. The Pharisees loved taking the best seats as they thought they were better than others.
  6. The Sadducees loved wielding power over the common people. This alienated them from the populace.
  7. The Gnostics used esoteric knowledge to form an elitist club of pseudo-Christians.

It would be better if we strived to make ourselves better than yesterday. But it would be regrettable if we strive to beat the one who is ahead of us. There will always be a person doing better than you. There will always be a person who sings like an angel as I croak like a frog. There will always be a person who runs faster than me. Tooting my own horn does not help the Kingdom business. Competition in the Kingdom is satanic. It is the spirit of Diotrephes (3 John 9-11).

The following are scriptures for further studies.

As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

James 4:16

 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

Galatians 6:3

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 27:2

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus

Philippians 2:5

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:33-35

All Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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