This year is the first year my seven-year-old son is eligible to play little league football. It is an exciting time as a father to see his son play football after growing up playing little league football myself. It is also an interesting experience to see how parents react as they see their children compete in sports.
In the one camp, you have the “ultra-competitive” parents. These are the parents that buy their children the designer practice clothes, special gloves, and high priced water bottles. These parents work with their children for months before the season begins so that their kids are the best. They teach their kids that winning is everything. To win the competition must lose and you must beat them at all costs.
In the other camp, there are the “every kid deserves a trophy” parents. These are the parents that do not care if their kid is on the winning or losing team so long as they have fun. These parents are happy to just drop their kids off at practice and show up for the games. They do not put any pressure on their kids to win. So which camp of parents is right? Should kids win at all cost or just be happy to be part of the game?
Looking at the eternal gospel perspective regarding the competition of life, the answer is that neither parent is right. In the gospel, we are taught that there are three kingdoms in heaven, the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom. The glory you inherit will depend on the depth of your conversion, expressed by your obedience to the Lord’s commandments. It will depend on the manner in which you have “received the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:51 and D&C 76:74, 79, 101). As different people will inherit different kingdoms, the “everyone deserves a trophy” mentality is incorrect. Everyone will not automatically make it into the celestial kingdom just for participating in the game of life.
In the gospel, we are also taught that just because we win at the game of life does not mean that someone else must lose. We are not trying to beat out the competition to make it into the celestial kingdom. Heavenly Father does not have a limited number of mansions in heaven and once they are full there is no more room in the inn. Earthly life is not a competition between the Mormons, the Catholics, the Baptists, the Buddhist, the Jews, and the Muslims to see how can make it into heaven and how will be cast off.
Our Heavenly Father teaches us that while all of his children will not return to Him and live with Him in eternal glory, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22). Life is not a competition of winner and loser and beating others at all costs. This life is a team sport where all of Heavenly Father’s children are on the same team working towards their salvation. We do have an opposing team. It is the Devil and his followers. As they work to defeat us, we should work as a team to help as many of our teammates endure to the end and receive their eternal reward.
Our eternal reward in a reward beyond measure. We are able to be with our spouse, our children, our family, our Savior, and our Heavenly Father for eternity as we become as our Heavenly Father to create worlds without number and help innumerable souls reach their eternal glories. While everyone will not get a trophy in heaven, we should work to help as many of our brothers and sisters get their trophy in heaven.
When we sit across from our maker on that final judgment day, our Heavenly Father will not ask us how many points we scored against other members, the Catholics, the Baptists, the Buddhist, the Jews, and the Muslims. He will ask us what we did with our lives and how we worked to help bring souls back to him.