By SCOT THIGPEN
How to Win In 3 Easy Steps
Win. It’s as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. We naturally gravitate toward winners. We raise our little boys to win. We ingrain a winning attitude in them. It does not take long for a certain worldview of winning to develop. I was a young teenager when the movie Rocky came out. The music, the training regimen, the commitment got in my soul and is still there to this day.
I am also drawn to the great speeches of General Patton. Here is an excerpt from a famous speech: “Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.”
How does one win in life? The truth and reality are found in Jesus, who showed up on the scene declaring what seems like crazy talk by saying things like, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” (Matthew 10:39). In Matthew 19:30, He teaches things like if you want to be first, then you have to be last. Then comes the clincher. It’s the “S” word. A word that is detestable in an American lexicon, until the Holy Spirit changes a heart. The word is surrender and is the difference in finding real life or death.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he gives what I see as three (as strange as they may appear) keys to winning.
- Are you willing to lose everything for the sake of Christ? Paul “presses on to win the prize for which God has called him.” However, in order to do that, he considers all his fleshly gains as garbage. What is the real prize in life that you are trying to achieve? To win in life means to align ourselves with God’s prize. See any misdirected attempt to win in life, through the lens of Paul’s description of Jesus, “Who being the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” Is that the way we try to win at life? By being a servant to others? The answer is peculiar but the truth of the matter is that we never will win at life unless we lose ourselves.
- Quit holding on to earthly things. Paul writes to quit the selfish ambition and your own interests. Quit your grumbling and arguing. Quit being anxious. He reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven.
- Paul writes this letter about how to win, while in chains in prison. We might look at Paul’s life and determine he had lost. How do we judge our circumstances? In the midst of his, Paul is content and thinks of others. He writes to them to encourage them. He is thankful for others. He rejoices. He says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That’s a surrendered life. That is ultimate freedom.
Paul has won. And so can we.
Scot Thigpen is president of The Thigpen Group, a Wealth Advisory Firm in Jackson, MS. He is married to the former Kimberly Inkster and they are parents of two sons and attend Christ United Methodist Church. Contact Scot at firstname.lastname@example.org.