Wins, Losses, Sports, and the Gospel

"Probably the worst thing that could have happened to you was going 15-0 during your senior year."

I'll never forget when he told me that. I was talking to a guy when I was going through a period of depression. After debriefing him on some of my background, he picked my brain apart a little, in a gentle way, of course. And then he spoke words that I had never thought of, but needed to hear.

Yes, we went undefeated my senior year of high school football. And since we capped the previous season with 11 straight wins, we won the last 26 games in a row of my high school career. Two region and state championships. Individual honors. Yada, yada, yada.

How was this "the worst thing"? Is it bad to be successful? No, not in itself. But from that point on, he helped me see, all that I do is compared to that perfection.

I'm an internally competitive person, not really externally competitive. I want to win not to beat you, but to prove to myself that I'm better. And when (or if?) you beat me, I don't think, "Wow. He beat me." I think, "I can't believe I let him beat me." It's all about me. Just another way that my pride manifests itself.

Does you child play sports? I know you want to help him or her display Christ-like character. You can read this post from Family Matters on the Top 10 Ways to Be a Great Teammate. This article gives great tips for your child. But we can't stop there.

When we have a list that includes "work hard," "show love," and "pray for others," I wonder where the Gospel fits in. Sure, godly character and behaviors are important, but they must not be our primary focus.

We need to remember our identity. What we do matters, but only as it flows out from who we are. Because whether we win or lose, we must remember that God never intended our value or self-worth to rest upon our performances.

Our value, and our satisfaction, must always be founded in that fact that we have been created in God's image, and that He purposed to redeem us (with all our flaws) by sending His Son to die for us. It's not about my victory (or loss) on the field of play, but about Jesus' victory over sin and death.

I'll take that over my "perfect season" any day.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:2
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  II Corinthians 3:18

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