Are You a Loser?

Interesting thing happened at preschool this week. If you are reading this, please understand that I do love this little girl who I’m about to talk about. She is only 4 and is still learning – that’s what preschool is all about. I know without a doubt that there is a good lesson in this.

When it was time for the students to line up for class, each teacher announced who their line leader was for the day. As soon as I announced who mine was, another student began to cry because SHE wanted to be the leader. This wasn’t the first time that she reacted this way, but like I said before – she is young and is still learning.

One of my co-workers reminded her that we need to be happy for our friends when it’s their turn. Well, that reminder didn’t work because she continued to cry.   She was asked if she thought it would be fair if she was the leader every time – she said “yes”. There’s a point and time when you know you just need to move on, and you hope and pray that what you’ve said will begin to sink in and make sense.

As I was walking to the front of our line, I noticed that the girl who had been crying was walking v e r y slowly. When I asked her why, she said that she wanted to be the last one since she couldn’t be the first one in line. I tried to explain (in a nutshell) that we don’t choose where we are going to be in a line and that it’s important to do what you’re asked to do.

Well, this is where I stopped writing yesterday. Had something happen yesterday afternoon that pretty much made my brain freeze, so I decided to finish it another time.

I love how God works. He speaks and touches our soul when He knows it’s the proper time – perhaps when He knows we are ready to receive it. As I listened to the communion meditation this morning, my thoughts flashed back to my little preschool story. Tears started to well-up as I listened to Steve share the following message. He provided the rest of the story – the lesson.

“Here we are in March already, spring is right around the corner, can you believe it, but first we have March Madness, right? As you know, this is when college basketball takes center stage and provokes spirited debate about who will make it into tournament play.

We American’s get very passionate about who wins and loses. Winning brings bragging rights for fans, revenue for schools, and even professional signing opportunities for the greatest players. For a coach, however, losing badly can mean forfeiting an extended contract or finding a moving van parked in the driveway. No one wants to lose or be last do they? If you know your bible you know that the disciples of Jesus certainly didn’t! Once, after a long day, Jesus asked them: “What were you arguing about on the road?” (Mark 9:33). The next verse says “they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” Then, “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:48).

You would think the disciples eventually would have learned this lesson, since it was repeated and modeled so often by Christ. But as the Twelve gathered for a last supper in Jerusalem, a spirit of competition elbowed its way in once again—even after Jesus humbly washed their feet and told them he was about to die for them. With the taste of the bread and wine still fresh on their lips, Luke records, “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest” (Luke 22:24).

Jesus, once more, had to set matters straight. He told them, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:26). Then he added, “I am among you as one who serves” (v. 27).

We argue about our place in life, too, don’t we? In our workplaces, in our homes, in our families, and maybe even in our churches? Sometimes we even bring that attitude to this table around which we are gathered—just like the first disciples did. We look around and compare ourselves to each other. We may even wonder which ones Jesus might love the most, while all along he wishes we would learn the all-important lesson that it’s not about clamoring to be first, but choosing to be last. It’s not about who wins, but who willingly loses.

It’s true that being last won’t get you a cushy coaching job or a place in “The Final Four,” but the kingdom of God has never been about competition, but about a cross. It’s not about a greatest win, but a greatest sacrifice.” ~  Steve Zell

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