You are not going to win Apologetics.
Sorry to break it to you, but that’s the truth. National championships are coming up soon, and you will not emerge the victor.
Now, I could be wrong. ONE of you might win. But every other one of you will not. And that’s why I’m writing this article.
Because not breaking is a part of Apologetics. A hard part. A devastating part. A realistic part. But a beneficial part.
So how can you deal with not breaking?
Remember three things.
1. Remember Dust
Dust is what covers the trophies on my shelf. I placed 5th in the nation in Apologetics one year. Second in the nation in Impromptu the next year. I was top LD debate speaker in my region two years running, with 2nd and 3rd places in LD to boot. I won Apologetics (and several other speech events) at multiple tournaments.
I have quite a load of medals and trophies: at least three dozen total.
And do you know what they do?
They sit on a shelf.
In my room.
Sure, I look at them occasionally. I remember the good times I had.
But would I be significantly happier if my 2nd place Impromptu trophy were 1st place? Or if I had been Apologetics champion for three years straight?
You may be less successful than me. You may be more successful.
But your trophies will collect dust one day too.
When you break, know your happiness now will be dusty soon.
When you don’t break, know your sadness now will be dusty soon.
2. Remember Life
Why do we compete in Apologetics, anyway?
Because it’s fun.
Because our parents make us.
Because we want to win.
Because it prepares us for life.
I think the last is the most important reason. Speech and debate is great preparation for life.
Not just in skills. In character.
I learned to speak well. But just as significantly, I learned to suffer well.
Not breaking is disappointing. I remember the times I longed to break but did not.
You know what? You don’t break all the time in life, either.
When you don’t break, know that your response now shapes your response later. Your not breaking can be GOOD, if you learn from it.
3. Remember Eternity
I left this one for last because it is simultaneously the most important and the most overused. We’ve all heard it—“God cares most about how you competed, not whether you win.”
Sometimes the “super-spiritual” perspective is the super-helpful one too. Because it reflects reality.
Ten million years from now, will you care whether you broke at the last tournament?
Will you be sad that you didn’t reach your goals?
I think not.
You will either have much greater things to be sad about in hell…
Or all your sadness will be swallowed up in the cosmic ocean of heaven’s joy.
I pray the latter will be true for you.
When you don’t break, remember eternity.
Finally: Trust God.
That’s the life skill you need the most.
Not preparing a speech.
Not speaking off-the-cuff.
Not wearing a suit with confidence.
When your prepared speech falls flat, you stumble around off-the-cuff, and your power tie doesn’t make you feel powerful…
You need a God you can trust.
Okay, I’m done preaching. (I’m primarily preaching to myself.)
When you don’t break at this next tournament:
And trust God.
As Piper would say:
“Don’t waste your not breaking.”