“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has
called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NIV)
I, on the other hand, have a box of trophies and ribbons awarded for music and scholastic achievements during high school. Yep, a whole box. Somewhere in the garage. It’s not that I viewed the awards as idols to be worshipped. They were reminders that if I worked hard, I could reach goals set.
It was cool to receive them at the time, but I haven’t looked at them in probably thirty-four years. The box just keeps getting moved from house to house. I thought a day might come when my children and future grandchildren might get a kick out of looking at them. But really, what would they do with the stash? Build a shrine to Grandma?
I enjoy watching the Academy Awards, the Tony Awards, and the Grammy’s. I like seeing what the stars are wearing and who wins best actor, musical score, and motion picture. I understand the thrill of being appreciated by your peers for your work. And Dancing with the Stars? Let’s get real. That disco ball trophy is hideous. The true reward for the dancers is the realization that if they can push through frustration, pain, and self-doubt, maybe they can do more with their lives than they ever imagined.
Trophies, awards, and prizes are given to “winners.” And don’t we all want to be considered winners? Doesn’t it feel good when we’re awarded a prize?
Sometimes winning an award can help you further your career. It’s almost as though it’s proof that you’re worthy of being given more opportunities.
That might also be the case when it comes to writing contests. Some, like the Genesis, are open to unpublished writers. Others, like the Carol and the Christy, honor published authors and books. Winning in either a published or unpublished contest seems to give the author more credibility with agents, editors, and publishers. Winning is helpful in starting or building a career in publishing. Contests help unpublished writers get noticed in a competitive industry, and often times provide constructive feedback.
The flip side is that not everyone can win. For some people who have put hard work and hope into winning a prize, defeat can be disheartening. They might feel discouraged to the point of giving up trying.
But if we keep our focus on the real prize, winning or losing won’t be such a big deal. The result will be kept in perspective. If we remember that an award is temporal, we can win and be humble, and we can lose and be gracious.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor. 24-25 NIV)