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August 2012 - Is 'Winning' the Only Thing?

By the time you read this the 30th Olympic Games of modern times will have started, followed by the Paralympic Games later in August. It is, undeniably, a spectacular event – the world’s greatest sporting competition. Huge preparations have been going on for years and every competitor will be in peak condition, hoping to win gold, silver or bronze.

But is winning medals the only thing that matters? When the Games last came to London in 1948 this was written up for everyone to read:

‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part......’

Would people say that today? So much sport is so professionalised that such an idea may seem quaint and out of date. There often is so much money involved that players may lose sight of the reason for competing – to achieve and enjoy excellence, simply for it’s own sake.

Doing something for it’s own sake – simply for the love of it – is an idea that the Ancient Greeks, who first thought up the Olympic Games, would have understood well. Doing something for the love of it enables people to accept winning or losing equally well and also to share the joy of other people’s achievements. When Andy Murray lost at Wimbledon last month the first thing he did was to congratulate Roger Federer. This excellent example leads to friendship, not acrimony and aggression, as was witnessed following a boxing match recently.

What I’m really suggesting is that ‘winning’ is not everything, whether in sport or anything else. What matters is doing and giving our absolute best to whatever faces us, whoever we are.

God has given every human being talents, gifts, which he wants us to use fully. Whether well known or unknown, we can use our gifts well. This not only benefits us, but encourages others and helps to make us more human, celebrating our being created in the image of the living, limitless God. Jesus did not come so that we could ‘mug along’ in mediocrity; he came ‘that they may have life and have it in all its fullness’.


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