"Sing to the Lord a new song, for God has done marvelous things. With God's right hand and holy arm, victory is achieved." - Psalm 98: 1-2
Leadership coach Marshal Goldsmith often encounters "winning addiction" in his CEO clients. He offers this case study as a test: You want to go to dinner at restaurant X. Your partner wants to go to restaurant Y. Arguing ensues. You end up at restaurant Y — not your choice. Do you:
A: Be a grump, critique the experience, and explain that this terrible mistake could have been avoided. Or,
B: Shut up and try to enjoy yourself.
Seventy-five percent of Goldsmith's clients "fail themselves" by choosing option A, preferring to kill the evening on the altar of ego. I would take it a step further. I think "winning" is an illusion of the ego and not our domain in the first place.
Winning, or "victory" as the Bible puts it, is God's domain. True victory, which is divine love conquering evil and death, is not God's goal, it is God's nature. Therefore, the purpose of this life is not success but surrender. The ego loathes surrender because it looks like losing. However, according to our faith, the only real loss is to be without God. The only victory is communion with God.
So the next time you find yourself dining at Christ's table, don't complain about the tasteless bread or too small cup of juice, wishing you could have it your way. Instead, humbly and joyfully take your seat. Savor the smells, sights, tastes and words of God's victory. Celebrate that love wins.
Thine is the glory, risen, conquering One;
Endless is the victory thou o'er death hast won!
Matt Laney is a United Church of Christ minister and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available in April, 2018.