I am always intrigued by the various themes that are involved in a time like the Northwest Family Weekend. Sometimes these themes are inherent in the weekend itself, but more commonly they happen because of the communication and interaction that goes on during the course of the weekend. Generally speaking, I like to interact with a broad range of people, and when the same things happen or are discussed among a large group of people, I tend to think of that as something significant that deserves to be pondered or thought about. And so it was that this weekend a theme gradually developed over the course of the weekend, not only with me but also with other people and their own perspectives, and that theme was a friendly but persistent sort of competitiveness. As someone who is somewhat competitive personally, this does not surprise me, but it does amuse me.
How many ways can one be competitive, or at least want to win? This afternoon after lunch I went to ref some volleyball games with some of the less competitive teens who had not been coached in volleyball very well and who would likely have been put in some danger had they played with the fully competitive teens, young adults, and adults that I typically play volleyball with. One of the teens I was reffing for made the comment that even though he wasn’t competitive that he still wanted to win. That is something I can identify with. I have always viewed competitive as a matter of the spirit, and considered myself so, but competitive can also be viewed as a level of talent, as we were using it when we split our group of athletes into two levels, and in that sense it is absolutely possible to want to win at something that one was not particularly skilled in.
And it so happened that there was just such a matter in which I now have someone to compete with thanks to some humorous but not entirely unwelcome machinations. As it happens, this weekend we had a couple of visitors from the Home Office. One of them is the pastor in charge of the Portuguese work of our church, and he and his wife (who like me was born near Pittsburgh) have been pondering starting a new site in Brazil, and apparently there was some sort of call for people who could speak and help out with it. And so it was that I ended up finding myself involved in a competition that I was unaware of. Namely, I found out late last night from my pastor’s wife that she had been talking me up to go to Brazil and help out, and that someone from Tacoma had similarly been asked–both of us speak Spanish well enough that learning Portuguese is not so impossible, and I got the suggestion to study it on DuoLingo and have an accountability partner to help keep me keep up who greeted me in Portuguese this morning while I was registering people for volleyball. Well played, well played.
Nor was this feeling limited to my own experiences. I chatted with one of our deacons who happened to have given the sermonette yesterday and over the course of our conversation he mentioned that he thought he had given a perfect sermonette (it was admittedly a good one, in many ways not dissimilar to my own approach to limit the scope and let the audience know at least some of what will not be talked about because of the limits of time that one has in ten to twelve minutes or so). We commented about the general lack of focus of many of our sermonette speakers and how they want to cover a lot of scriptures without spending the time to unpackage them and I commented that we had once done an experiment at a campout where four of us gave sermonettes on the same verse, focusing on a different word. I thought it worked out well and he thought that such an assignment might be given to some of our speakers. So there’s that. Humorously enough, he managed to inspire some competitive feelings in someone who had signed up for mother’s room duty, which could have been more useful near the sports area where we had a lot of little kids who could have used some more people to be there to help them keep calm. But that’s the life, I suppose.