ARE YOU PLAYING TO WIN?
Are you playing to win?
To be successful in life demands that a man make a personal commitment to excellence and to victory, even though the ultimate victory can never be completely won. Yet that victory might be pursued and wooed with every fiber of our body, with every bit of our might and all our effort. And each week, there is a new encounter; each day, there is a new challenge. – Vince Lombardi
On Sunday night, my beloved Golden State Warriors beat the Toronto Raptors 109-104 in Game 2 of the NBA finals. This was a welcome turn of events after the flogging they endured in Game 1, made all the more painful by Drake's smack talking finale.
My favorite part of the night - second to watching them win - was listening to the commentators recap every play of the evening. As they reviewed the 3rd Quarter, when the Warriors took a commanding lead, one of them noted that Toronto switched from playing to win, to playing "not to lose." Consequently, they did.
I've been chewing on that comment all day, so inevitably, it bubbled to the surface during a call with my client. In discussing our public affairs strategy, I reiterated my belief that we should "play to win." Better results invariably stem from playing offense, rather than defense. Playing defensively means you've already bought into the lie that you're going to lose. If that's your perspective, then you're a million times more likely to, as the Raptors proved in Game 2.
The Bible offers similar advice on how we, as children of God, should approach the challenges that arise in our lives. 2 Timothy 1:7 [AMP] reads, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, cowardice, or fear, but He has given us a spirit of power, love, and sound judgement." If you internalize this truth, then the only way to engage the world is with certainty and confidence, recognizing that whatever happens, God is in charge of your outcome, which means that the outcome will be GOOD. Any other approach confuses the Creator with the created, giving the latter more power than it deserves.
All day long now, I've been asking God to reveal the areas of my life where I'm playing "not to lose." A few came to mind immediately: in my marriage, when I'm scared of getting my feelings hurt; socially, when I'm afraid of rejection; whenever I step out of my comfort zone, and the possibility of failure, humiliation, or being "put in my place" are real. What God reminded me of, as I reflected on each of these scenarios, is that If we're truly "more than conquerors" in Christ, then battle is already won - whatever the temporal outcome may be. And since that's the case, I should be giving everything He gives me to steward - every relationship and opportunity - my ALL. In other words, I should be playing like I'm on the offense all the time, even if it feels and appears as though I'm not. Because the truth is, in Christ, I really am.
Whatever you're fighting against today, I hope you'll join me in acknowledging God's truth over your situation: that victory is already yours. Whether your battle is internal or external, God is fighting with and for you. The war is over and victory is won. It's time for you and I to start acting, believing, and playing like it.
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. - 2 Corinthians 4:18
Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. - Deuteronomy 20:4