Are You Winning?

The Lovable Losers

It is playoff baseball time again. My Royals didn’t make the postseason, but I’m enjoying following the teams still in it. The Chicago Cubs clinched the last spot to face the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs won the series handily against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but early on it was not so sure.

Last Wednesday night, the Cubs won a big game to even the series at two games a piece (the first to 4 wins moves on). Leading up to that game, I listened to a conversation about the mentality of Cubs fans. All season long, the Cubs have been favored to both go to and win the World Series. All season long, the Cubs have played like a champion should – in front of everyone else by a mile.

What if the Cubs didn’t even make it to the World Series?

That was the question asked. How would Cubs fans react? Would the season be a success?

The answer…anything less than the World Series is a bust. Even making and losing in the World Series isn’t enough. Only a World Series championship is a win. The only win is winning the World Series.

#winning by Andy Bondurant in Shawnee Kansas

Are you winning?

It leads me to this question.

Are you winning?

How do you know? Honestly, most of us don’t know if we are winning or losing. One day I feel good. The next day I’m in the dumps. Am I winning? Am I losing? How can I know?

Here are three ways to help answer this question.

1. Define the win.

You won’t ever know if you’re winning or losing unless you pre-define the win. Your feelings and emotions are subjective. One day they are up, and the next day they are down. Your feelings will mislead you. Even your current objective circumstances will let you down.

I run the kids ministry at my church. Not only do I have a personal Word of the Year (BOLD), but I have a Word of the Year for the entire ministry – JOY. My goal or win is to grow in JOY in 2016.

Let’s be honest, that is a very subjective goal.

The true win is growth. We are growing in joy if we add new families and new volunteers. We also win by maintaining current families and volunteers. I am winning! Each week, we are averaging anywhere from 5-20% growth over a year earlier. We also are gaining and keeping teachers in our classrooms.

Without that definition, it can feel the opposite. Some weeks are down in attendance. Some volunteer spots still have holes. Those days or weeks can feel like a loss. Thankfully, the big picture tells me different.

What is your win?

2. Don’t win alone.

Several years ago, I was building a business/website, and I was seeing success. Traffic was increasing and income was slow but growing. It was a win in that category.

Except I was alone.

Day in and day out, I was working hard and seeing results, but I was still lonely. I wouldn’t have defined it as a loss, but it was. I was lonely.

God designed us to work in tandem – with a partner. I have more fun winning with a team. Even my losses are more enjoyable, because I’m not in the hole alone. If you want to win, you need a team.

Are you winning with someone?

3. Sometimes it’s not about me.

You say, ‘These are bad times for me! It’s one thing after another. God is piling on the pain. I’m worn out and there’s no end in sight.’

“But God says, ‘Look around. What I’ve built I’m about to wreck, and what I’ve planted I’m about to rip up. And I’m doing it everywhere—all over the whole earth! So forget about making any big plans for yourself. Things are going to get worse before they get better. But don’t worry. I’ll keep you alive through the whole business.’”  -Jeremiah 45:2-5

This is the story of Baruch, Jeremiah’s assistant. He’s been hauled off to Egypt by a band of outlaws. His world is crumbling around him. Baruch is not winning.

But is he losing?

If you’ve defined the win, and you’re working with a team, but you still feel like you’re losing, dig a little deeper. Maybe it’s not about you. Maybe God is doing something bigger and greater than a personal win.

A few years ago, I was Baruch. I was sure God was piling on my pain. In truth, he was pulling weeds in my life and wrecking things which needed destroyed. It wasn’t just about me. It was bigger and definitely greater than my personal win in those days.

Let me be honest. You may not have an answer to this soon. It might be weeks, months or years. You’re alive to fight another day. The win is around the corner.

Remember, it’s not all about you.

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