“Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed” John 20:3-8
Am I competitive? Absolutely!--and the American Academy is largely responsible for that. From the moment I sat down to take the AA entrance exam, until I received my Apolytirion seven years later, strong competition was ever-present in my life as an Academy student. From classroom dynamics, to GCE testing, extra-curricular activities, playground rivalries, and especially sports, competitiveness was well-woven into the fabric of our school’s culture.
Competition, however, did not have a negative impact on our educational progress and experience. On the contrary, it proved to be an asset. Because the competition that permeated the halls and grounds of our beloved school, was in many ways similar to the competition we see in the biblical excerpt above.
Jesus had been dead for three days. His disciples had been gripped with fear, had scattered, and were hiding behind locked doors. Suddenly, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary returned from visiting the Lord’s gravesite with startling news: The tomb’s stone had been rolled away; the sepulcher was empty; and a gardener they had met at the cemetery turned up to be Jesus himself—fully alive! We don’t know exactly how Peter and John first reacted to this news, but we do know what they did next—they took off running to see for themselves.
Were they competitive? Absolutely! It had always been so among the disciples. Most of their arguments stemmed from discussions about who would be the greatest. On one occasion, James and John even had their mother ask Jesus on their behalf for special seating favors in heaven.
Peter and John started out running side by side, but the Bible points out that John was faster. He soon outran Peter and arrived at the tomb first. Even so, John did not go into the sepulcher. When he saw the linen cloths that had been wrapped around the Messiah’s lifeless body just days earlier, John balked. Maybe it was fear. Perhaps sadness or shock; but John wasn’t going any further--not without Peter.
Upon arriving at the site, Peter, though slower on his feet, did not hesitate in the least. Ever the impulsive and daring go-getter, Peter walked right into the tomb and verified that Christ’s resurrection was true. His courage paved the way for his friend to follow; and when John entered the tomb, “he saw and believed” (vs. 8).
None of us have every single attribute necessary for success and significance at all times. What we lack will often be found in those around us—yes, even the people racing against us. Competition becomes an asset when it points to our need for each other and fosters interdependence. One’s weakness is covered by another’s strength, and everyone has the chance to maximize his/her potential.
We live in an extremely competitive world; one where the question “Who will be the greatest?” permeates every facet of our society. This Easter season, I draw from the timeless counsel of God’s Word to propose that true greatness hinges on valuing and honoring the greatness in others. On competing vigorously in the classroom, sports arena, and marketplace, not so we can be victorious solely for our own benefit, but so we can shape a world in which everyone can realize his/her destiny and purpose—together!
With much love,
Marios A. Ellinas (1988)
Old Saybrook, CT USA
Senior leader of Valley Shore AG
International author, speaker, and leadership consultant