Devotion: My Losses

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  Matthew 16:25

Am I willing to lose?

I think you can tell a lot about a man by how he responds to losses in his life.  You may stack up 17 wins, but how you respond to that one loss says volumes about your character.  The joy of victory can cover up a myriad of problems.  It is a whole lot harder to motivate and lead people through loss.

This is why many churches may produce a pep-rally-faith and then are woefully prepared to shepherd people through the valleys of darkness.

Am I willing to lose?

Pat Conroy said,

The thing that has always been a theory of mine that does not sit very well in America is, I don’t think you learn anything from winning. You just jump up and down, it’s wonderful, it’s fabulous, it’s glorious. But losing – there’s a deeper music in loss. There really is something about losing that you have to figure out what you did wrong, you have to change the way you played, you have to look at yourself in a different sort of way. Losing seemed to prepare me for life – bad reviews, my mother dying. There was nothing about my mother’s death that reminded me anything about winning, but it did remind me of how I felt whenever we lost.

20 years later, I can still recall the score of the Crim-Lovett football game from our senior year in high school (49-44).  Our team had made the playoffs 20 years in a row, and we had been ranked to finish high in the preseason.  But our team underperformed all year.  This one particular game was a must-win for us to squeeze into the playoffs.  Fumbled snaps on my part, miscues, and mistakes bogged us the entire game that in the end we lost.

That week my coach benched me, reworking the team.  As I have shared before, that week became a defining moment in my life.

My first test in college: 47%

Whenever I have applied for a church job where there was a pool of applicants, I have never been selected.  The only jobs I have gotten have been when I was the first (and only) one through the door.

I lost my adolescent sense of immortality when I was diagnosed with cancer at 27 having just failed my ordination exams, unemployed and a new father of a 4 month-old.

My losses prepared me for life.

“There is no teacher more discriminating or transforming than loss.”  Pat Conroy


Am I willing to lose?

In today’s workout, I mentally debated a twist as a social theorem: Have partners work together, but while running force them to try and beat each other (loser had to do burpees).  Interestingly, what I witnessed was men who would drop back and let their partner win some so that they could lose some.  Or other men who finished ahead of their partner who would do the punishment for them.  Thereby sharing the “burden.”

What I witnessed was men who were willing to lose so that they could be made stronger.

Witnessing this, brought to light what my research is showing–while F3 men are far more competitive then most men, they are also far kinder.  They are men seeking to become not first, but 3rd.  They are willing to lose for your sake.

Am I willing to lose?

This is what Jesus asks his disciples over and over and over again.  Are you willing to lose yourself for my sake?  Are you willing to lose your identity?  Your safety net? Your accomplishments? Your ego?

What can you lose for Christ’s sake today?

2 thoughts on “Devotion: My Losses

  1. Failed your ordination exam? I know I was preoccupied with Dad at that time, but did I miss something in your life? Love you, Mom

    Sent from my iPad

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