When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."  Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."  When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break (Luke 5:4-6).

Because we are Christians, it doesn’t mean we should be accepting of a less than hundred percent effort or second best in what we do.  In fact, we should be living a life above and beyond how our peers do and exemplary to others.

Over the past couple of years, I have had the unique opportunity to participate in the sport of outrigger canoeing.  I joined the only “church-affiliated” team within a highly competitive club league.  Even though we are determined and rigorously trained with a winning attitude, we aren’t always the most “competitive” in all of our races; however, under the leadership of our Head Coach, Cy Kalama, he has taught us the importance of being gracious losers, not good losers. 

As a result of our attitudes and graciousness in losing, we have attracted many paddlers to our club who are not believers, but want to be a part of a group who paddles, competes and lives in a way different than they have seen in other clubs.

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5).

Consider those individuals you want to be around.  Look about to see who others gravitate to.  Do people want to be with those who just “get by,” those who cut corners or don’t put their complete effort into what they do?

Most of us have a tendency to want to be around those who are successful, those who are or strive to be winners, those who work and try hard at everything they do, and those who live graciously and make a difference.

Maybe Vince Lombardi’s quotes can be updated with a positive Christian slant.

Excellence isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

“Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser, but show me a gracious loser and I’ll show you someone who will always be a winner.”

Striving to win and to succeed is not un-Christian-like.  In fact, God wants us to be successful using the gifts he blessed us with.

In everything he did he had success, because the Lord was with him (1 Samuel 18:14).

The God of heaven will give us success (Nehemiah 2:20).

Don’t be afraid to put your best foot forward and receive the success and rewards God has called all of us to, but in the face of disappointment (even in relationships) live graciously.

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books), as well as the monthly column, "He Said-She Said," in Crosswalk.com's Singles Channel.  An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback?  Send your comments and questions to cydmg@yahoo.com.

Publication date: November 15, 2012