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.
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