"The Pole Vaulter Fallacy"

A lot of my time is spent listening to people beat themselves up for a wide range of reasons. However, a large bulk of reasons that I hear people being so hard on themselves is what I am going to call the "Pole Vaulter Fallacy."

Generally speaking, listening to people I hear them talk about the shame or disappointment or anger they feel when they were not able to live up to some standard. Some of those standards are internal standards that a person has for what they expect of themselves. Some of those standards are perceptions of what others have of them. Either way, when these standards are not met, there is a lot of hurt that is shared. 

Here is why I call it the "Pole Vaulter Fallacy": The internal or external standards that are perceived to be so high that we need a pole vault in order to clear them. What makes it a fallacy, is that too often the reality is that the standards are only as high as a high jumper. Meaning, that many people are more than clearing the bar, but the pole they are using is knocking the bar down and so it looks like failure. 

Friends, consider the ways that the "bar" that is before us is not as high as you think it is. You don't need to grab a pole in order to clear the mark. Your jump is more than enough. You are more than enough. Trust in that.

Put the pole down, you are only hurting yourself. 

Eric the Eel - The man who swam in an Olympic race alone

Every four years since 2000 there is a story that comes into my vision. It is the story of Eric "the Eel" Moussambani. Here is a section of the Wikipedia page for him:

Moussambani gained entry to the Olympics without meeting the minimum qualification requirements via a wildcard draw designed to encourage participation by developing countries lacking full training facilities. While Pieter van den Hoogenband won in a time of 48.30 seconds (setting a world record of 47.84 in the semi-finals), Moussambani took more than twice that time to finish (1:52.72). "The last 15 meters were very difficult", Moussambani said. Because the other two swimmers in his heat made false starts, and were thus disqualified, he won the heat unopposed. Before coming to the Olympics, Moussambani had never seen a 50 m (160 ft) long Olympic-size swimming pool. He took up swimming eight months before the Olympics and had practiced in a lake, and later a 12-metre swimming pool in a hotel[3] in Malabo.[4]

Here is a video for your enjoyment:

When you watch the entire video you hear (at around the 7:30 mark), Moussambani express part of his understanding of the Olympics, "It is not just competition it is participation." 

For many in the Christian tradition, the way of Jesus is a competition. It is a matter of winning. It is about getting the crown and the heavenly prize. It is about running the race to win. It is about trying to convince that your views are correct and others are incorrect. It is about counting how many people you brought to Christ as though evangelism is like a medal count.

Eric Moussambani reminds us all that life and I would argue Christianity is less about competition and more about participation. Are we participating the game God has give to us? Are we joyful and filled with excitement to participate? Do we play the game so that others would want to play? Do we we have a heart for participation more than we have desire to win?