Losing and winning

Helping children learn about God's care

If you play sports, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Losing can be tough. My friend Peter was so sure he would win a race that he'd entered. When he lost, he cried really hard. We've all been there. Some kids I know talked about how they deal with playing sports and losing.

Matt said, "I'm happy if we win. I'm happy for the other team when they win. If it's a close game and we lose, I might feel bad. Or if I miss a shot I might feel bad. But no one's ever a loser. Everyone is a winner when you play sports, because you all get something good. You get to have fun and you get good exercise. When other kids feel bad about losing, I tell them, 'It was a good game. There's nothing wrong with losing. We're playing for the fun.' This makes them feel better."

Alex plays soccer. She said, "One time after we lost a game, a girl said to me, 'You let us down.' I got mad at first, but then I knew it wasn't true. I had tried my hardest. So I kept thinking that I'm good because God made me good. That makes me feel confident. It's not a big ego thing; I'm just sure God made me perfect. (And He made everyone perfect.) So I knew I could play well. I kept thinking about what I could actually do to play better, like improve my skills or use a different technique. I could play better, and that was my goal."

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Jim, a football player, said, "After a game it's important to think about what you've done well and be glad about it - even if you lost the game. Winning isn't a score thing. Practicing and being better at what you do, that's winning. Your progress is the victory. No one's a loser. But if you feel like a loser, you'll lose. If you're out there to win, that's really the wrong reason for playing. You're out there to play football - to play well and to love it.

It's interesting how all three said some of the same things.

No one is ever a "loser." The Bible says we're all the sons and daughters of God. That's not being a loser! God created us to be perfect, just like He is. We've been given God's strength, intelligence, accuracy, endurance ... all the qualities we need to be good in whatever we do. Maybe you don't see this now, but that's where prayer and practice are important.

Prayer can be a way every day to think about how great God made you. It's a time to think about how you have God's qualities, and so you can do whatever you have to do. And do it well. When you pray, you can ask God to show you your greatness, and how He wants you to use the talents He has given you. Then, as Alex said, "When you know you're good, no one will be able to make you believe you're bad."

In the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," there's something important about doing well in anything, including sports. Mary Baker Eddy, the author, wrote that the starting point in overcoming limitations is admitting that we're God's perfect sons and daughters. Limitations might be, "I can't run so fast," or "I'm not very strong," or "I can't catch the ball well enough." If we admit that God made us, and that our abilities are from God, we'll start to overcome limitations and do better.

Practice is important, too. It can be a time to put down those voices inside that say, "I can't." It's a time to see that you're better at running, catching, kicking ... than you may think. When you get out there and practice, you see how to use the intelligence and strength God gave you. Then you develop better skills, techniques, and strategies. When you get even a little better at what you do, you beat your own past records for speed, endurance, accuracy, and self-control. That's being successful. That's being a winner.

Playing sports is a time to have fun. It's fun when you see the good you're able to do, and when you appreciate how good the other players are. And remember, whether you win or lose a game, nothing changes about who you are. In God's sight, you're always a winner!

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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