There was both good news and bad news when I ran in my first 5K in over 25 years. The good news was my potential to win a medal. The bad news is that I would have needed to compete as a 75-year old woman in order to place!
As much as I just want to run for the fun of it, it is so hard to totally avoid a competitive mindset. It permeates just about every aspect of our culture and therefore our lives.
And it’s not just about sports at every level. There are music, academic and a whole host of other competitions. Reality shows, which abound on TV these days, are all about—you guessed it—competition. I do enjoy a good ballgame, but tire of the extreme emphasis placed upon winning. And to be honest, I really don’t care if the Channel 4 news crew made it to the scene of the accident before the Channel 2 crew. There is no way I’m going to switch stations until they hire newscasters that have won more beauty pageants than those at Channel 2!
The bottom line is that we all want to be winners. Everybody knows that winners are happy and fulfilled. Losers trudge home with heads hung low, wishing, of course, that they were winners. Winners bask in the warmth of human glory. Losers, well, at best they may win a good sportsmanship award—a polite way of saying, “You stunk at this game but did so with a better attitude than all of the other losers.”
What everyone fails to see is that winning can be a house of cards. (Spoken like a loser?) Winning has the potential to create a false sense of self-sufficiency—confidence in our own ability to do whatever we set our hands to. We begin to believe that any goal is attainable as long we work hard and believe in ourselves.
Losing, on the other hand, causes us to look beyond ourselves, recognizing our inability to navigate the tumultuous waters of life. To put it in Biblical terms, losing, like law, is a tutor to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:22-24). This means that losing is a merciful gift of sorts–although it is rarely recognized as such. It’s our inability to measure up to winning standards that compels us to draw upon God’s all sufficient grace. But this grace remains elusive when we continually strive to validate ourselves through channels of human effort.
The bottom line is that winners may actually be losers and losers can be winners. Winners who bask in the world of self-sufficiency and personal glory are losers in the sight of God. Losers who learn to believe God and abide in His love, are privileged to know not only God’s presence, but also His heart.
Have you wondered what gets God’s attention? Beauty? Strength? Athletic prowess? These are all gifts from our Creator! How about our dedication and hard work? While commendable, they mean absolutely nothing apart from the abilities He has given us.
Being a loser, while most certainly painful, has the potential to set us up for a big score (if we don’t wallow in self-pity, become hardened toward others and sink into a mindset of cynicism). Through the dark clouds of defeat shine brilliant rays of glory beyond natural human perception.
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB)
In whom does God choose to display His glory? Losers go first!