Thursday Thief is about the things in life that steal the life that Christ has for us.  It’s based on John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I am a competitive man. I always have been. My competitive spirit is what helped me be successful in sports as a teenager, and it’s what helps me in whatever “success” I experience today.

Competitiveness in and of itself is neutral – what makes it “good” or “bad” is the goal for which we compete. When we compete for God-centered things, it’s good. When it’s for aimless or fruitless things, it’s bad. First Corinthians 9:24-27 clearly speaks to this:

“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. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Last night, I competed in two “competitions” at the same time. It’s actually the reason why I didn’t post on time for Thursday Thief.

The first game I engaged in with my competitive nature was “Settlers of Catan”. If you’ve never heard of this game, “Settlers” is basically a combination of Monopoly, Risk, and the TV show “Survivor”. Intense stuff! We barter resources, form alliances, back-stab those alliances…good times!

I played Settlers three times with guys from my youth group and church, spanning almost six hours!! I won twice, and lost once.

If my goal for the night was to “get the prize” of being crowned the best Settlers player in the house that night, I did a good job competing toward that end.

And, if that were the goal…what a tragic waste of time that would’ve been! Today, as I type this, I have nothing to gain from yesterday’s conquests. Tomorrow, there will be no benefits from my striving. If my competitiveness were focused on being the King of Settlers, the Thief just robbed me blind of the life Jesus offered.

Thankfully, there was a second “game” in which I was competing in. This competition was about mentorship.

Around the game table included a veteran youth group volunteer, a ministry-minded youth group alumnus, two current youth group students who are future youth pastors, and at least one future career missionary. There were a couple other boys who are living for Christ; I’m not sure where they are headed vocationally, but I know God will be in the middle of it all.

Three other men whom I had successfully mentored in ministry were there as well: one volunteered to lead worship for my first church in Wisconsin after we moved away, one is our current Middle School pastor, and one is currently a key volunteer for our ministry and our church’s children’s ministry.

Last night wasn’t intended to be a formal “mentorship seminar”. But it was an informal opportunity for me to have these men in my home, share life together, and even have a couple meaningful conversations between victories and losses.

I regularly compete hard for these gentlemen, because I know what’s at stake: a Kingdom-worthy prize. And I believe that last night was a stirring victory over the Thief.