How to Win While Losing

“Losing is only temporary and not encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self-control to forget about it.” ~ John Wooden

This evening I was doing two things at the same time.

I was watching the Gonzaga-Baylor NCAA title game. And I was polishing up my notes for my Sunday message out of the Sermon on the Mount.

Obviously, with Spokane less than 30 miles from our house, I was pulling for the Zags.

But it was obvious from the get-go that Baylor came out with more energy and greater determination.

(As an excuse for the loss, I’d like to think that Gonzaga burned up all their passion on their win over UCLA two days before.)

On this night, there was no denying that Baylor was the better team.

The Zags were, sadly, the losers.

But then I stuck around long enough to catch the post game interview with Gonzaga coach Mark Few.

And as Few spoke, I found my spirits being lifted.

The more Coach Few talked, the more I could tell he was a man of character and healthy perspective.

-He graciously congratulated Baylor on their victory.

-He spoke of his love for his players and how he sought to encourage them in the face of a loss on national TV.

-He marveled that his team could actually win 31 games in one season, and saw it as a gift to be enjoyed rather than grow bitter because of one loss.

-He told his players that the difficult emotions they were experiencing would pass.

Coach Few didn’t come across crestfallen, but grateful. He displayed an air of peace, joy and humility.

Interesting, so much of the Sermon on the Mount of which I was studying is about living differently than the rest of the world.

-Its a call to make peace rather than fight

-Its the challenge to go the extra mile

-Its the invitation to be people of our word

-Its Jesus summoning us to shine like lights in a dark world

-Its a bid for us live humbly in a world filled with pride

One can’t read Jesus’ sermon without realizing it’s a call to live in contrast to how people typically live.

A lot like how Mark Few displayed himself during the post-game interview.

My hunch was that Coach Mark Few would follow in the footsteps of many other coaches who have confronted loss with anger, frustration, blame or defiance.

But what I saw was more than good sportsmanship. I believe I was witnessing deep character being revealed.

Few offered a fresh perspective that I imagine his players couldn’t help but notice.

And because Coach Few was placed on the national stage, we also got to see the type of man he is: a winner in the face of losing.