This week the semi-finalists of the American Christian  Fiction Writers Genesis contest were announced. For those of you who don’t know  what that is, it’s a contest for unpublished Christian novelists.

While congratulations are in order for those who made the  list, are condolences in order for those who didn’t? As one of those who didn’t,  I struggled with my feelings – genuine happiness for my friends who made it and  pangs of disappointment for myself.

Knowing there were about 400 entries for the contest eased the pain slightly; however, feelings of rejection surfaced and taunted,  threatening my self-esteem. A picture of elementary school appeared in my mind  when the teacher-appointed team captains chose players for their teams. Those who were the best players and the most popular were picked first; the rest of  us endured the excruciating embarrassment of waiting to hear your name called,  hoping it wouldn’t be the last, like a consolation prize.

Shortly after the contest announcement, I went for a walk,  praying and sorting out my feelings, ashamed of myself for harboring any thoughts of jealousy and chiding myself for not “getting over it” quickly. As I  walked, I noticed many others in the neighborhood were out as well. I observed  an interesting variety of folks – young and old, slender and heavy, male and  female.

From the seemingly weightless swift-footed runner who ran  with ease, to the overweight man heavily plodding along, to the talkative pair of women whose conversation cadenced with their footsteps, to the girl marching in rhythm to her IPod – each person approached their exercise in different ways.

I didn’t compare myself to them or judge whether one was  better than the other. It didn’t affect what I was doing either. What I realized was that we all had a common goal – to get outside and exercise. Instead of being proud or critical, I was pleased to see so many sharing the same desire, and appreciated the fact that we were all different.

The problem with winning or losing is in comparing ourselves  to others. We risk being proud if we win, thinking we’re better than others,  whereas if we don’t win, we view ourselves as not good enough. However, just as  we all move in diverse ways and speeds when exercising, we also move forward in  our writing careers at different paces. When someone else wins an award, it doesn’t mean that those who didn’t were losers.

On the contrary, God has marked out a path for each of us  according to our differences. Just as no two of us are alike, neither will we each travel the same journey in our writing careers. What is important is that we seek God’s plan for our writing and strive to pursue it with the talents we’ve been given, working to become the best writers we can be. When we do that, none of us are losers. Instead, we’re all winners in God kingdom.

“if only I may finish the race and complete the task the  Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  Acts 20:24