Learning to Lose

She sat in the locker room dejected. Frustrated, sad, angry tears rolled down her face.

This wasn't how we wanted the day to end. Her hockey team had lost it's first tournament -- with a minute left in overtime. They had played so well. They had played so hard. This little team that no one expected much of had made it to the championship game. They were short six players, including a couple of their best. They had never played a tournament together before. They had gone so much farther than we thought they would.

None of that mattered to my daughter. She wanted to win. She knew they had played well enough to win. It just wasn't their day.

It all came crashing down with one well-placed shot. No one on her team was out of position. No one made a huge mistake that caused the goal. The puck just got through, ending in celebration on one end of the ice and hanging heads on the other.

It's a tough life lesson, this learning how to lose. For so many years there's been a philosophy in parenting and teaching that there should be no winners and no losers. Everyone gets a pat on the back no matter how much or how little they have accomplished.

But the truth is that in life, there are winners and losers, and our kids have to learn how to do both with an attitude that pleases God. My daughter didn't take losing well. She didn't want her medal. She didn't want to talk to anyone. She wanted to blame someone.

So we spent some time on Saturday learning how to lose. We spent some time learning that God expects our actions to honor Him no matter how disappointed we might be, no matter how frustrated, no matter how sad. Letting emotions get in the way of God-honoring action simply isn't an excuse.

When our kids lose, because they will, we have to be ready to help them lose well. No one likes to lose, but we can honor God even when we lose. We can congratulate the other team or person. We can encourage our teammates. We can be gracious when someone compliments our play.

Winning is fun, but losing builds character. If our kids can learn to live out the words of Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him," they become a light to others even in the midst of their own frustration.

No matter what our kids are doing -- whether it's winning or losing -- we want them to let Jesus shine through to others. They can only learn to do that if we are there to teach them in the moment. Grab a winning or losing moment with your kids and teach them to live out the words of Colossians 3:17.

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