I think it’s time we admit that Satan currently has the upper hand in American culture. Hear and there, you will find Kingdom principles at work, but not often. This is true especially in media such as movies, TV, magazines, pop music, C&W music, Rap, and even sports. Sports has become all about winning. Winning is everything. And pretty much anything is acceptable to produce a win. Then, after a game, the fans celebrate …often to excess; and far too often, they heap ridicule on the losing team and their fans. Mention poor sportsmanship, and you’re likely to hear, “What’s that? We’re the winners, they’re the losers. What do you expect?”
Well, I expect Christians should recognize that the “winning is everything” attitude is not from God. As for others, they should remember that it was the team who did the real work. And while the fan support is important, it was the people on the field, hardwood, etc., who put in the long hours of practice; the trying, failing, learning, trying again, and again, and again, who actually won the game.
Our culture will tell you that pretty much everything is a contest of one form or another. So, it is not only sports. For guys, to be a winner it’s all about being “hot”, making big “bucks”, having a great car, the hot women, etc. For the girls, it’s having the hot “look”, the “killer” outfit (which is most often interpreted as showing maximum skin), the “buff” date, having money – or having a hot guy with money, etc.
So, before we do anything, we should be confident that we are working toward a goal that pleases God. There is nothing wrong with sports. God gave us our competitiveness, and our creativity. I believe God created art and music. There are many facets of our culture that you can participate in. It’s not the particular medium. It is the content (both real and implied) that determines it’s worth. It is the attitudes and values being expressed, and how they are expressed, that matter.
I find the false value of “winning is everything” particularly damaging. Please trust me when I say this: Life is not all about winning.
For every winner in any competition, there is a loser or losers. Understand this: losing is not failure, …unless you let it become a failure. Every failure is an opportunity. One might say that God has shown us a way that is not productive, and given us an opportunity to learn; to adjust, to correct, and to try again.
About 3000 years ago Solomon penned these words, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” [Proverbs 16:1, NIV].
Yes! Failure is a part of life. Truth be told, it’s a big part of life. What do you think happened the very first time you tried to walk? How many times did you fall while learning to ride a bike; or, learning to roller skate? Every time we try to do something new, we will have the opportunity to fail. If (when) you fail, embrace that failure. Let it give you an appreciation and desire for doing it correctly. Let it motivate you! Use that failure to analyze what you were trying to do and what went wrong. Now that you have a better understanding, make adjustments or corrections, and go at it again. Never, beat yourself up, or use failure as an excuse to quit. Do your best. If that’s not good enough be prepared to do what is necessary to get better, …and try again. Extremely few have won their first race. And, no one wins every race.
Occasionally, you may find yourself in over your head. Recognize that you’re not the first to do that. Take what you have learned from the experience and move on to a new challenge. But, you may want to talk to God about it first. There are lots of reasons God may want you to persevere; and if He does, He will get you to the point He has in mind for you. So pray about it and ask for guidance. Listen and watch for your answer. Don’t give-up too easily.
While God does not expect you to be good (let alone great) at everything you attempt. God loves you whether you succeed or fail. Let me repeat that. GOD. LOVES. YOU. In your successes and in your failures, …God loves you!
It pleases God when you use what He has given you, including your gifts, abilities and talents. You are free to stretch yourself in your chosen sport(s). Free to explore new opportunities. Free to create new art, music, dance, literature, etc. Remember, God never expects perfection from you; so don’t demand it of yourself. Ultimately, it is God whom you should be trying to please, no one else. Your best efforts – not perfection – are God’s expectations. It is God who has the “lock” on perfection.
So go for it. God does not see winners and losers. He sees you, His unique creation, making your way to the best of your abilities. He is watching, …and smiling. Fear of failure? What’s that!