Monday, May 6, 2013

The Character Built In Losing

We work and go to school and live
in a world that ranks us.

By age, weight, grades, dollars, status, followers, numbers.

I have loved ranking when I am doing well
and despised it when I am not.

I leaned on it heavily as a student in school and in my career as an early adult.
Leaned on it to determine my value.
And eventually had to realize that neither high or low ranking determined my value as a person.
Something we are told.  Something we know.
But when the time comes to really learn it, it can be a hard pill to swallow,
but brings freedom in the end.

So how do we navigate those waters of ranking
without ranking our value and self-worth by those numbers?

How do we teach our kids to navigate the numbers?

This is the gist of what I told my kids.
There is value in doing things in which you will not be the best.
There is character to be built in losing as well as winning.
There are areas where we are strong and areas where we are weak.

It is good to recognize when we do well at something.
But our performance compared to other people does not determine our value.

It is good to cheer one another on and be excited for your friends when they do well.
But it is not ok to wallow in jealousy of them nor to idolize them for their excellence.

There are whispers in our thoughts that come from what we see in the world.
Whispers that we need to be cautious about believing or agreeing with.
Whispers that say, "You suck at running, so you suck as a person."
{By the way, I hate that phrase, but it is one that kids "hear" in their heads...I have too.}
The whispers can also say,
"Wow! You sing unlike any other!  Your voice makes you so valuable."

When there is danger either way in determining our value from our rank and performance.
We are more than a test score, more than a number on a ribbon, more than the pounds on a scale,
more than the dollars in our checking or savings account, more than the debt we owe, more than the house we live in, more than the list of accomplishments we have achieved, and more than the failures and mistakes we have made.

I told my kids that is why we have to lean so heavily on God
and learn who He is and learn what He says about us.
Because if we lean on what the world tells us, we will develop a false sense of our worth.
But our worth in Christ is solid.
We were worth dying for.
We were worth His life.
Because He loved us in the worst of times and the best of times.
We are made in the image of God.
That is solid.
When He is the rock we have built our life upon,
the recognition we receive is like sprinkles on the cake.
It's bland and blah without the cake,
but a pleasant extra with the cake.

When He is the rock we have built our life upon,
the times that we come in last place
or somewhere close to the bottom or even in the middle,
we can have courage and confidence
to applaud the winners
because we know we are solid, we're good, we're golden, because of Him.

When we do the things we won't be best at,
it takes courage
courage is valuable,
it takes character
character is valuable,
it takes grace
grace is valuable,
it takes being humble
being humble
has great value.

Courage.  Character.  Grace.  Humility.
Each have far greater value than any ranking.
We have to lean in close to God.
We have to listen to His voice and be wise to know what to believe and what to let go.

There is good to be gained by being "in the arena"
and that is why it is good to play the game 
even when you know you won't come out on top.

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