Concerning Contests

[Written Especially for Young People]

Contests may be said to begin in human experience as soon as a child becomes consciously active, for as he learns to reach farther for a toy or to take a longer step than before, in that degree he has bettered his previous performance. A contest does not necessarily imply competition with others. It deals with existing records and the intent to bring out a more advanced expression in any particular line of endeavor. There are many types of contests to engage our interest—in education, athletics, politics, art, research, or invention—but the same lessons may be applied in each case.

A lesson unfolds as we learn to examine our motives regarding the activity before us. Questions like these may present themselves: Why do I long to accomplish this feat? or, Why does the gaining of this special thing seem so important? Searching inquiries such as these often uncover surprising things in our thinking. Of course, everyone desires to be successful in his undertakings, but not all have the right sense of ambition. If we interpret ambition as a worthy eagerness to accomplish something good and, therefore, truly great, such an incentive would certainly never be selfish, for good blesses all. Indeed, ambition of this sort is both proper and legitimate, for it is the response in human consciousness to the divine demand for perfection, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

The original meaning of the verb "contest" was to be a witness. If our primary aim, therefore, in any line of endeavor, is to bear witness, that is, to express more clearly than ever before the infinitely good qualities of the divine Mind, our motive is really to glorify God. As sunlight streams through a clean windowpane, so through a motive like this the light of inspiration may readily shine into our consciousness.

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April 28, 1934

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