By Doug Inglish … Okay, I’m human. We all have things in common, and competition is certainly a big one. It doesn’t have to be in sports or games, either. It could be school, business, even yardwork (“Did you see the new landscaping across the street? We better put up that pergola we’ve been talking about before everyone starts talking!”) can become a competition.

In fact, it’s almost hard not to get competitive. Back in ancient times when we did door-to-door Ingathering (ask someone who’s been in the church for fifty years; they remember), we always knew at the end of the evening who brought in how much. If we had just emptied our collection cans into a big pile and counted up a single total, not one less dime would have gone to disaster relief work, but I’ll bet none of you can think of a church that did it that way. No, everybody counted up their own collections, and it got recorded by your name, and then we added them all together. So yes, competition is practically built into even noble endeavors.

Competition can bring out our worst characteristics if we don’t keep an eye on ourselves. A win-at-all-costs attitude can lead you to cheat, lose perspective on what matters, or do other things that you later regret.

So, here’s an idea for how to avoid being competitive in situations that should not be a contest: Rejoice when someone else is doing well, no matter how you are doing. If your neighbor’s flower garden is doing well, be happy for them, and fix up your yard for your own reasons rather than trying to keep up with them.

I make a lot of calls to leaders in other conferences, and one topic of frequent comment among us is how tithe is doing. Well, as you are no doubt aware, it’s going well in RMC. Five months in and we have double digit increases. That’s reason to rejoice! When I am on the phone with another conference and tithe comes up, I’m happy to share, because it’s good news.

You know what else is good news? Brace yourselves: When it comes to tithe increases in 2021, comparatively the Rocky Mountain Conference is about in the middle of the pack. And very often I find myself rejoicing over the gains in another conference, as they rejoice with me over our good news.

In fact, if the increase that we have right now was dead last in the division, that would still be cause for rejoicing. It would mean that we wouldn’t have any less because of the gains elsewhere, and that people in other places were also being faithful. I would be happier still if we had double or triple our current increase and still came in behind every other conference.

I love the fact that, at present, a 14% gain is not the best in the North American Division–I’ve seen times when no conference had as much as a 5% increase–because I know the Lord doesn’t have a money problem, but numbers like we see right now indicate that our people don’t have a selfishness problem. And why would it make me happy if other places were struggling? That response would only make sense if tithe increase was a competition among the conferences.

But it isn’t. Thank the Lord for that. And thank Him that we have faithful people, as there are in other places.

–Doug Inglish is RMC vice president for administration and stewardship director.