I’ve already mentioned the disappointment and difficulty that comes with the Olympics - the “heartbreak” as I heard several announcers describe. And then we are inundated with images and stories of excellence and elation in victory and accomplishment.
In both instances (victory and defeat), I find it intriguing to observe the athletes in their response. Will disappointment result in bitterness and anger, or humility and sometimes even thankfulness (for the chance of just being an Olympian - a very Canadian response!). Does victory lead to hyped-up displays of self-congratulation or (similar to above) humility and thankfulness for the opportunity to win. Over two weeks in countless competitions, the reactions vary greatly.
Essentially, day after day for the duration of the games, not only do we see the athletic achievements of these individuals, we see their character - true colors revealed in both victory and loss.
These reactions offer a level of bonus coverage beyond the details of the competition. And often, the winners and losers aren’t who we’d expect. And there aren’t any medals for character. Which makes me think, in a society so dominated by work/reward attitudes - reflected so deeply in the nature of competitive sport - what role does character play in our society?
We put great energy into achieving success in the details of life (e.g. job, relationships, money, etc...), details that are constantly changing depending on many different variables. Not unlike Olympic athletes investing in their sports, we exert ourselves to succeed. We invest time, energy, and money into “getting ahead.”
And I wonder...Do we invest in character?
No doubt situations of victory and defeat will come our way and like the Olympians our character will be revealed. And we’ll be forced measure our worth differently - success in personhood, not achievement. True victory, I believe, is only found in our character. We may not all be Olympians, but we all have character. And we can all be winners!
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col. 3:12-14 NIV)