Years ago my son’s baseball coach told his team, “It’s not about winning. We’re here to have fun.” My dad leaned down and whispered, “He forgot to tell them that it’s not fun if you don’t win,” and I nodded, a believer. My daddy coached my softball team through junior high and high school. We were in it to win it and we usually did.

As a twenty-something, I once called a local radio station to verify my answer in Trivial Pursuit when my mother, aunt, and cousin questioned it. I not only believed I was right, I was willing to work to prove it in a day when a quick Google search wasn’t an option.

I’m competitive by nature: I’ve played for a state champion softball team; if you pick me for your team, I’ll give it all I’ve got. I like to win.

Don’t we all?

But in the last few months I’ve questioned the win-at-all-costs mentality as I’ve watched it backfire around me.

I’ve seen students in the high school class I tutor withdraw from a debate, unwilling to compete if other team members don’t pull their weight and winning doesn’t feel certain. Unfortunately they miss the hard, valuable lessons learned in losing: even when our efforts don’t bring success, we can learn from them. We can grow.

Sometimes we grow up.

I’ve watched a church crumble while sides are chosen and the desire for control trumps the pursuit of peace, when winning the argument obscures the fact that we shouldn’t be arguing in the first place.

There are times in life when we aren’t supposed to win, when winning isn’t even supposed to be an option. Sometimes we’re meant to work together and get along or more specifically, to be of one mind.

Anonymous victories can occur on athletic fields: hard-fought battles where victor and vanquished go their separate ways in the end. Unless you are very, very wrapped up in the game, life moves on soon after the clock runs out or the playing field is abandoned, win or lose.

But is there victory in a win that hurts the ones we love? Maybe not. Sometimes everyone loses.

Summer Wildflowers

I sit beside a woman on a flight home to Atlanta, anonymous strangers who’ve observed each others’ faith during unexpected turbulence as I bow my head and she searches her Bible for comfort. In the final stretch of our journey, she turns and tells me about her morning and the frustration she felt toward a family member.

Then she shakes her head and softly says, “I once thought I had to prove it if I knew I was right, but not now. I know how to let it go.” With tears in my eyes, I tell her about an article I’m writing for a Christian women’s website—for you—entitled Why You Don’t Have to Win, and we nod in agreement of this truth.

Friend, I encourage you to think hard when these situations arise in your life:

Do you really need to win that argument with your husband?

Is it necessary to prove to your parents or your children that they’re wrong?

How important is it to you to get your way? Is it worth sacrificing peace in your church, your friendships, relationships within your family?

We all want our way, but what are we willing to sacrifice to get it?

The Bible tells us that God is our defender: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust . . . “(Psalm 18: 2).

Do you trust Him? Is He enough, even if you don’t win?

by Dawn Camp, My Home Sweet Home

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    As the saying goes…you can win the battle, but ultimately lose the war. I guess I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I have never been an “I have to win at all cost” type of person, but I’ve been around people like that and it really isn’t fun. I had to chuckle, because I have a family member, who while we were playing trivial pursuit, did go and look up an answer in the World Atlas to prove that she was right. My hunch is that many answers have been looked up or Goggled while playing that game. The only real game that matters is a “game” of choice…will I choose to glorify self or glorify God? I may not battle my pride in “winning” but I battle pride in other ways. It all reminds us just how much we need God and His endless mercy. Thank you for a wonderful post this morning and for your honesty.

  • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

    Bev, clearly you are more mature and less competitive than I am. :) Your point is good: will I choose to glorify self or God?

  • Sharon

    Needed this. Yep. Thank you.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      You are welcome, Sharon. I need it myself.

  • Kristi

    I tell my kids it is ok to let someone be wrong as loud as they want.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      Ha! My kids always want to correct people and always want to be right. We’re just wired that way.

  • Polly

    well written..that just reminds me of the guys dressed in suits cutting us off in our cars as they race past me to get to the next light..then we all sit at that light together..?? I have beeped and waved and smiled at them knowing its just that they have to be first even if they almost hit and hurt our family to do so..but the next day the same guy does the same thing..winning can sometimes look really ridiculous and also makes us lose who we really are as people. Jesus wasn’t always interested in getting ahead of the rest of us and being rude to be first..he was calm..he sat and listened and reflected in prayer..so much of what this crazy rush rush world really needs !! we are to think of others better then ourselves..and I think that is with a calm mind and heart so we can see who really needs us.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      I always notice those cars, too, and how we sit next to each other at the next light. ;) These words are so good: “Jesus wasn’t always interested in getting ahead of the rest.” He’s our model.

  • karyn

    I used to win so much that when people talked about things that seemed useless and not true I would just be the doormat. All I really thought was important at that point of my life was to win win win and win again and again and again.

    But I found out that in church where really you can’t fight battles has hard as nails …. I let things go ….. but ….. it was thought weakness. Failure. Uselessness.

    I felt bad inside for the very first time in my life.

    So, I fought back. What people think is not really the truth but something perceived to satisfy their own insecurities.

    Now, O well, I truly think it’s important to allow others to know who the real deal is here with myself. Not just some figment of their imagination that is so far from the truth of who I really am as a person.

    It’s my right to be me. Not a me they think I should be.

    Who is insecure here.

    Not me.

    I know my Godly values from a very young age. I know what is right and good in the eyes of the LORD and I know where I am in Christ JESUS and in which part of the journey I’m in.

    It is demeaning others to think they are not able to know the real me. It is feeding their insecurities in whom they are in Christ. To a make-believe me.

    Sometimes I think I just have to use my heart that the LORD has given me and be more and more and more transparent.

    The LORD loves everyone.

    I just pray that I can. Still working on it. Especially women. A challenge. Men are so much easier. To the point. No winding roads. Fact not fiction.


    Am I silly. Probably. But, hey, this is the real me. The real deal. As silly as it may seem, it’s my right to be me. My God given right.


    Nice post btw.

    Nice discussion. Helps me anyways.


    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      Karyn, thanks for contributing here. Transparency is crucial and yet difficult—you’re so right. Pretending doesn’t help us so yes, be the you God created you to be.

      • karyn

        Thanks, just my struggles I’m sharing.
        We all struggle in different areas of our lives. We are all different.
        Just participating.

  • http://www.crickethillguestsuite.weebly.com Dee

    Hey Dawn!
    Kudos for writing this one! I live with 2 of the most competitive men on the planet. My husband is a twin for starters….. just by virtue of being twins means competition. They both ran x-country in high school and beyond winning every meet and state championship. Our son, cut from the same cloth, only he is a bitter competitor. Do you even feel the least bit sorry for me? It took me years to realize this is their problem and not mine to work out. I never realized this until later in life how the response to the competitor really can make or break the issue. If I chose not to fight my desire to be ‘right’ and just lay back and watch it all unfold, be the bigger ‘woman’ and perhaps even apologize for something I never said or did………that’s HUGE…. then I believe the Lord when He says ,’ He will protect our reputation’ . Kristi you are right on girlfriend when you tell your kids ‘that it’s ok to let someone be wrong as loud as they want’ What amazing wisdom!
    Thanks for knocking on my hearts door this morning Dawn. I’ve had to deal with this for some odd 25 years and now more with our son who is watching me as I try with the hand of the Lord over my mouth, to be still and let it all play out. He is my defender!

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      Wow, Dee. You really do live this every day, and it sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job and setting a good example for your son. Kudos to you, too!

  • http://hopehearthome.com Susan Shipe

    I am not a competitive person – never have been. But one thing sort of on the same theme and has been totally freeing is learning to say “I was wrong.” Not just “I’m sorry” but to add, “I was wrong.”
    We do not have to be right all the time. Learning this has enhanced my relationship with my husband of 30+ years.
    Great post.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      Susan, you are wise. Those words are hard to say and I love you’re perspective: it’s freeing to say them.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      your perspective, not you’re {sigh}

  • http://martysmoosetracks.blogspot.com Marty

    Excellent post. Thank you for sharing.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      Thank you, Marty, and thanks for reading.

  • http://www.butterflymoonjewels.wordpress.com alli

    Wow im really competitive and i believe God wants me to step aside. It hurts to lose even when others are wrong. But if ‘letting it go’ will get someones attention so they will listen to the gospel so be it. For example some folks will only hear the gospel from a certain type of person. They may not receive from a woman or youth. In stead of arguing you just have to let it go. Even if youre right. God sometimes wants to be the one to change hearts and prove wrong. But you can do that if you keep getting in the way.

    • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

      Alli, you have a wonderful point: “God sometimes wants to be the one to change hearts and prove wrong.” To Him be the glory!

  • Josephine

    Thanks for sharing. I am not that competitive, but I am a type of “what is right is right, what is wrong is wrong. If decide to give way for it, it is because of other reasons, but still right is right and wrong is wrong”. Especially now with young children of my own, I feel the need of teaching them that. This way they know that their parents can also be wrong.

    You wrote: “Is it necessary to prove to your parents or your children that they’re wrong?
    How important is it to you to get your way? Is it worth sacrificing peace in your church, your friendships, relationships within your family?
    We all want our way, but what are we willing to sacrifice to get it?”

    What if there is in the first place “no relationships at all” and when those people do not look at us as worthy to have a place in their heart, or when those people do not look at your loved ones as worthy to have a place in their heart. Relationship is a two-way thing in my opinion.

    I can understand your point and find it very good point. But, I am in a crossing where not only my pride and principles, but also I feel that i have to sacrifice the actually no-relationships-at-all type relationship we have because I do not want those not-allowed-principles enter my children daily life and values.

    It is a very difficult thing for me since someone very dear to me really wants to have that relationships with those certain people, while I see that there is no real relationships there, while it is destroying our family.

  • Emily

    Awesome article, Dawn. Thank you for sharing!

  • Beth Williams

    This is a marvelous post! We need to love each other in church not fight to win and perhaps tear up the church!

    I can be somewhat competitive, I don’t try to prove myself right all the time! Usually I just pour out some love on the situation and let it go!!

    Blessings :)