I write this after the first days of the playoffs. Many have predicted that the Cleveland Cavaliers will be in the finals. Time will tell. But you have to win to get there.
In Cleveland’s first game they were humiliated, losing 98-80. It was a lopsided game from start to finish.
Yet Cleveland has Lebron James, who is considered to be the best player in the NBA. Without a doubt he is the King of Basketball.
So why did Cleveland lose?
Simple. No help. Winning is a team effort. You could be the best at what you do, but if you are not getting help from the people around you, it’s a no-win situation.
That’s how it is in sports and in life. Unfortunately, many will never reach their potential because they don’t have the help of others. Which means we all have the opportunity to help someone go further in life.
Today, this week, you can help someone win. Who will it be?
Mark is best known for being the writer of the Gospel of Mark. That in itself would put him in the winner’s circle. Can you imagine being one of forty different authors whom God chose to write the Bible? I cannot even imagine. What an honor. What a privilege. What a WIN!
Winning is fun. Winning alleviates a lot of pain. It makes you forget about your losses.
But Mark didn’t start out in the winner’s circle.
Actually he started out in the loser’s circle.
We first meet Mark in Acts 12:12 when the church met in his mother’s home. Mark must have showed some promise because when Paul and Barnabas set out on their first missionary journey, Mark accompanied them. It didn’t last long, however. For whatever reason Mark left and went home (Acts 13:13).
A few years later when Paul and Barnabas set out on another journey, Barnabas was ready to give Mark another chance. But Paul was not so keen on the idea. Perhaps he thought Mark was lazy, uncommitted, or lacked the necessary skills. He may not have been up to the travel physically. We don’t know.
Although I don’t know how Mark felt, I know to be rejected by Paul had to hurt deeply. Rejection is never easy, but to be rejected by one of your heros multiplies the pain.
A sharp disagreement ensued, and Barnabas wound up leaving Paul and sailing to Cyprus with Mark. Evidently it got pretty heated. “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus” (Acts 15:36-39 ESV). Paul is vehemently saying, “I don’t want him on my team.” OUCH!
Towards the end of Paul’s life he writes to Timothy and asks him to bring Mark with him. In 2 Timothy 4:11 he says, “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.”
As you can see, Mark is now considered valuable to the apostle Paul. I’d call that a win.
Clearly there were some hard feelings earlier, but these two men overcame those and were once again a team.
You need to understand Paul’s high estimation of Mark at this point. He is a lonely man since everyone but Luke has left him. To consider Mark very useful at this point says a lot about Mark. This was the guy who bailed earlier. Paul was not afraid of that now. Obviously Mark had grown personally over the years, and Paul noticed. Quite possibly Barnabas, Mark’s older cousin, was a huge inspiration to Mark’s personal development.
What did Mark do? What can we do in order to arrive in the winner’s circle?
1. Never give up on yourself.
There are only 32 NFL head coaches. It’s hard to believe you can actually make it into that elite group and be considered a loser. But some are. That’s how hard life can be.
One reason I love football is that there are so many parallels to life within the sport. For one, attitude plays such a huge role among NFL coaches. They all experience losing. Yet they all act like winners. How? Bob LaMonte, a sports agent who works with NFL coaches, said, “When I talk to a winning coach on Monday morning, I often detect that his mood isn’t much different than that of a losing coach.”
For another, it’s a game of second chances. As I write this the Seattle Seahawks have just won the Super Bowl. The coach is Pete Carroll. Several years ago Pete coached the New York Jets and totally bombed out. He was criticized for his coaching skills. When he returned to the NFL as the Seahawks coach, he was criticized for his drafting skills. In fact, some said the 2012 draft proved he couldn’t coach. Needless to say, it was in that draft that he chose Russell Wilson, the current starting quarterback, along with a few others who were on the roster of the Super Bowl winning team.
Pete Carroll never gave up on himself.
Neither can you.
2. Surround yourself with people who have your back. You need at least one person who is going to hang with you and encourage you. For Mark it was Barnabas. Who is going to be your cheerleader? Who is going to go through the tough spots with you. Oprah once said, “Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
How often do think about the company you keep? How often do you think of the influence they are having in your life? Are the people in your life the ones who will help you get to the winner’s circle?
Some are with you only because it’s convenient.
3. Add value to others. Near the end of his life Paul said Mark was helpful to his ministry. That is, Mark brought something to the table. Not only was Mark valuable to Paul, but Mark also spent time with Peter, another of the apostles (1 Peter 5:13). And we would all admit that the Gospel of Mark has added tremendous value over the years to millions of people.
Think of several ways you can add value to someone: Have a cup of coffee with someone and offer encouragement, spend time with someone, run an errand, etc. You could give someone you know a book on marriage, finances, ….Abraham Lincoln said, “The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” The list is endless. Start today adding value to others.
Had Mark given up, Paul and Peter would have lost out. The world would have lost out. If you allow failure to define you as a loser, you will never make it to the winner’s circle.
In many ways January is the height of the losing season. College football games, the NFL Playoffs, and personal reminders about 2013.
After all, that’s where New Year’s Resolutions came from. Failures or losses from the previous year are acknowledged and drive us into a new year.
Losses. Sometimes that’s where our focus is. Losses happen. If everyone won all the time there would be no inspiration to change.
Many losses sting for a long time. Whether it’s a championship game or a marital breakup or the loss of a job.
You can’t just shake it off in five minutes or five days or even five months.
Let’s admit it hurts. But let’s not quit playing.
5 Ways to Comeback After a Loss
1. Expect some horrible days. That’s normal.
2. Don’t take it personally. Yes, you experienced a loss, but that does not mean you are a loser. Auburn lost the National Championship game. Trust me. They are not a bunch of losers. Neither are you unless you pack it in and quit.
3. You may have to forgive someone. He missed a tackle, your spouse forgot it was your anniversary, or someone forgot to pick you up from the mechanics. Forgive and move forward.
4. Lose the guilt. We spend too much time focusing on what we did to contribute to the loss. The truth is you alone were likely not responsible for the loss.
5. Get back in the game. Never forget that others are watching. Your kids, your coworkers, and your teammates. Write down on a piece of paper what you think a winner would do after a devastating defeat. Then go do that. You know what to do.
Fascinating. You already know what to do. You already know the answer to the question, How do you come back after a loss?
Let me illustrate from football, especially since the Super Bowl is on everyone’s mind. In a recent post I referred to the 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. He has gone from backup to a sensational starter.
In midseason Coach Harbaugh made a change. He benched the starting quarterback and put in Kaepernick.
And it was not because Alex Smith was doing a poor job. Of course, all kinds of discussions abounded on all the sports networks. Was it the right move or not?
Like any coach, Harbaugh is relentless about upgrading the team, even when the team is winning.
So why the switch? Winning the division is one thing, winning the conference championship is another, but the Super Bowl is the ultimate win.
Here is the reason Harbaugh made the change. He knew that nothing matters more than getting the right player on the field and in the right position.
Jack Welch in his book Winning says he looked for three things in people he wanted to hire.
1. Integrity – truthful, dependable, authentic, and able to admit mistakes. Kaepernick does well here.
2. Intelligence – for Kaepernick he must be able to read defenses, understand complex looks on the defense, be able to audible and call the right play, and keep on learning.
3. Maturity – think about it. He is on national TV, you will get behind at times in a game, there will be lots of stress, mistakes will be made, interceptions will be thrown, etc.
Soon after the change had been made the 49ers started the game with the ball, but Kaepernick threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. So right off the bat he throws a pick and the other team takes the lead. How did he respond? With integrity, he admitted his mistake. With intelligence, he didn’t throw a pick after that one. Maturity, he kept his head in the game and led the team on to a victory.
While this in no way indicates that the 49ers are a one man team, but it does illustrate the necessity of getting the right players onto the field if winning is the objective.