Used To Losing

This weekend some football coach or player was being interviewed, and he said something like, Losing hurts more than winning feels good. This, he concluded, was what separated champions from the pack.

I don’t think so.

My mind went first to my growing up years. As the youngest in my family, I didn’t experience a lot of winning, whether it was board games or the outdoor games kids used to play, like Mother May I or tag. Later my family got a ping pong table, and playing that game became one of my all-time favorite activities, though I seldom won.

Why? Why would I play and be content to lose? Well, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t content to lose, I just did it very well. 😉

Actually losing pushed me to improve.

Later when I became a coach, there were losses my teams took that I knew were a good thing. By losing we faced our own vulnerability. We knew where we needed to improve. And we had more drive to get better.

Easy victories can be deadly, I think. They can foster pride. After all, how good am I if I won so convincingly with such little effort?

That kind of thinking is sure to bring defeat down the road.

Easy wins can also mask problems. How do I know where I am weak if what I am doing seems to be working so well? How do I know what area to spend extra time practicing and improving?

In many respects losing is like the suffering the Bible indicates will be a part of the Christian’s experience. This from Paul:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil 3:8-10 – emphasis mine).

The point is, however, that losing or suffering is not to be without purpose. For me as a child, I learned with every loss. I grew in determination and steadfastness. Losses gave me something that winning couldn’t. So too with suffering.

In the passage above, Paul spelled it out clearly: he said he suffered the loss of all things “so that I may gain Christ.” Wow! Gaining Christ seems well worth losing out on some temporal pleasure.

Especially because I’ve left out the best part. I mean, being conformed to Christ’s death is the “taking up the cross” part of discipleship, but it’s not an end in itself. Here’s what Paul said next:

in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

I know it may sound strange, but I’m thankful for all that losing I did when I was younger. I can’t help but think God has used it to help me understand His application of suffering. Not that winners can’t learn the value of suffering, too, but it might be a little harder for them, especially if they hate losing more than they love winning.

Me, I love the winning part and nothing can be sweeter than gaining Christ!

Published in: on September 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm  Comments Off on Used To Losing  
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