Competing in contests hosted by our county fair has become an annual tradition for us as a family. Our niches vary, but we’ll pick our favorites and enter baking, photography, lego inventions, decorated pumpkins, and art.
Once the day of the fair arrives, one question lingers tangibly in the humid, exhibit hall air:
Whose creation won which ribbons?
Unanimous enjoyment ebbs through each of us when we browse each category to make that discovery.
Some years, to our ecstatic delight, we’ve found blue ribbons taped proudly on our handiwork.
Other times, it’s a red ribbon for second place or yellow for third.
Perhaps the most disappointing discovery is finding a standard “participation” ribbon hanging there in plain jane purple that kills all of the piled up hope in one glance.
So, what does our tradition of county fair competitions teach us in everyday life?
There are traces of valuable lesson hidden: how to win, and lose, with grace.
Subtle pitfalls of winning and losing
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3
Although winning is a treasure, we can easily shift from a sense of accomplishment to unhealthy pride. Our opinion of ourselves may get boosted just a little too much.
The Prideful Winner…
- Is greedy about winning
- Looks down on those who lose
- Boasts about their accomplishment
These things can be true as they happen silently behind the smug curtain of our own thoughts or it may be on display with our words and actions.
The Sore Loser…
- Wallows in self-pity
- Can’t rejoice with those who won
- Gives up on next time
Getting our focus right
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
Ultimately, if we’re focused on pleasing Him it won’t matter what the judges decide if the work we have put into it has been for the purpose of glorifying and serving God.
Here are some practical steps to winning and losing well, with grace:
A Humble Winner…
- Has a grateful heart towards God for their win “…in everything give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18a).
- Encourages others who didn’t get a ribbon Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3).
- Lets others praise their accomplishment instead of boasting “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2).
The Good Sport…
- Doesn’t feel sorry for themselves – “Love…does not seek its own…” (1 Corinthians 13:3-4a)
- Congratulates those who won – “Rejoice with those who rejoice…” (Romans 12:15)
- Takes a loss as a learning opportunity – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10a).
Whether it’s savoring a moment of successful winning or learning to bravely stomach a loss, let’s strive to have a heart attitude that rejoices with whichever one He places into our hands.
What have you learned from wins and losses? Is there something special God taught you? Please share! Let’s talk about it in the comments below…
*All verses are taken from the NKJV from BlueLetterBible.org
Humilityby CJ Mahaney