Shattering silver medal syndrome
Recently I was watching the Tokyo Olympics with my family - we love the swimming and we were cheering on the Aussies in the 4x100m swimming women’s medley race. They won that race by 0.13sec from the American team, while the Canadians came third.
Not surprisingly, the Aussie relay team were beaming, having just won the gold medal. So too were the Canadian team in third place, and if you didn’t know the result you could be mistaken for thinking they had actually won.
But in the middle were the silver medallists from the American team - they looked like their spirits had been shattered. There were no smiles, no congratulatory hugs, no high fives or anything like that.
As I watched this unfold in the pool, I wondered what was going on. Why wouldn’t an athlete who has just won a silver medal on the biggest stage in the world be celebrating? Why wouldn’t they be beaming because of their achievement?
Well as it turns out there is something called silver medal syndrome. In essence silver-medal winners are unhappy because they compare themselves to the Gold-medal winners, which is what they think they should have been. Their near-miss makes them miserable.
The research also found something interesting with those that came third. It turns out that Bronze-medal winners are almost always happier than Silver-medal winners. The Bronze-medal winners are aware they were ‘that close’ to not even being on the podium, so they are happy to just get a medal. The colour doesn’t matter to them.
It’s an interesting phenomenon isn’t it? But the truth is that it’s not just something that happens at an Olympic Games or in sporting contests. It’s actually something that can affect every aspect of our life if we are not careful.
We can look to someone who has a bigger house or better car or more successful career and wish that was us. Maybe it is the number of social media followers someone has, perhaps it is the ministry platform the Lord has given another, or it could simply be that they are not in lockdown and you are.
Whatever it is for you, the danger is that we can become dissatisfied with all that we have been blessed with, because we are focussing on someone elses gold medal and wishing it was ours. But there is good news if that has been an issue in your life - there is a cure to silver medal syndrome.
It is simply to always maintain a kingdom perspective, as we read in Colossians 3:2 - “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”
When we look up and fix our eyes on Jesus, we are not concentrating on what is going on around us. We’re not looking to see who won the gold medal or who has the bigger house or the better job.
When we fix our eyes on Jesus we get to a place of contentment and gratitude - thankful that the Lord has blessed us with everything we have, even if that is a silver medal. We are filled with an overwhelming joy for what the Lord has done in our life across the years - and the silver medal is just a bonus!!