It was one of the most interesting questions I ever heard.
“So, what is a win for you?”
To be honest with you, it was interesting and dumb all the same time. Winning is just about the easiest thing to define on the planet isn’t it?
- I have the most points, I win
- I come in first, I win
- I receive the applause, I win
- I beat you, therefore I win
I know it’s fairly Neanderthal of me (all you men get it, right?), but isn’t that what winning is all about? Maybe it’s just caveman man of me, but if you put a mark in the “W” column, we just call that a win!
Still, that day sitting in the conference center when the speaker asked that question, “So, what is a win for you?”, I was intrigued.
They were making an argument that someone else’s win might not be your win. I’m not talking about that relativistic nonsense where it doesn’t matter what you think, what you believe or what you do so long as you’re happy doing it, then you’re a winner.
Turn off the Barney tape and quit singing that stupid song, even though it’s true, I do love you.
What they were really trying to stress was that for some, a win might be financial, for others relational, yet others political. It’s important not to let others set the definition of what a win is for you.
For example, as a pastor who is responsible for an organization called the local church I am continually asked about the 3 B’s: baptisms, budgets and butts. How many did you baptize, how are we doing financially, and how many showed up this weekend?
It’s such a part of that culture you might begin to believe that those are the wins. But at my church, there are 3 standards we hold up for every life that passes through our doors:
- Love God
- Grow Up
- Serve All
Finances, baptism and attendance might be a part of this process, but they are only “a part” of the process. The real goal is transformed lives. That’s the win!
It is not that keeping track of those other things doesn’t prove helpful, but if you’re not careful we can start thinking weekly numbers are the goal and not the people they represent.
You really do have to know what your win is.
I was reminded of that again as I read Revelation 15 for my devotion this morning. Amid the metaphorical images there was a verse that seem to backward:
2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.
This heavenly choir made up of the Saints has appeared before the book. But, they are described with an interesting clause in this particular verse, “those who have conquered.”
Hmmmm… I am all for positive thinking, but the reason there in the heavenly choir is they died, martyred by the beast.
I might need a little help here, but of all the scorekeeping scenarios I’ve ever come across, I’ve never seen the one that counts dying (specifically being murdered) as a win. I guess that’s why this is not my book, it’s my God’s book.
Apparently, He defines a win differently.
If I were writing the book, one of the Saints would have used incredible courage, supernatural strength and become a Holy Spirit infused ninja. Somewhere about Chapter 13 he would have dropped down out of nowhere hurled a flaming tongues throwing star into the beast’s neck and save everyone from having a UPC code stamped onto their forehead!
Probably would’ve made a great movie, but it’s also a reason number 4,752 why you should be glad I’m not your Savior.
You see, God saw these dead, martyred saints as victorious, not because they defeated the beast, but because they were faithful and endured.
What everyone else might define as a loss, was defined, outlined, praised and proclaimed in the word of God as a win by the Almighty Himself.
You might argue, how can it be a win if the evil one defeated them? Well, he didn’t.
Their job was not to slay the beast, that was God’s job. Their job was to be faithful… and, they were good at it.
I wonder how many other things in life we’re wasting because we have the wrong win as our target? I wonder what God is valuing as a win and a the loss in our personal lives?
Something tells me he’s not that interested in our bank account, our social status, our physical prowess, our public persona or our cultural ranking.
I imagine He is far more interested in walking in forgiveness, expressing kindness, living in generosity, relishing in contentment, risking relationship while sharing our faith, overcoming the addiction, sacrificing for Him, growing in Christ, battling the sin and fighting the good fight.
Let me ask you an interesting question, what is a win for you?
Are you sure you’re even playing the right game?