“I’m on record as being a sore loser. I hate losing,” said quarterback Cam Newton. “You show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
Newton shared his philosophy on losing to reporters Tuesday in response to his aborted press conference following a devastating loss in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Newton pouted during the post game news conference, channeling his inner Bill Belichick, by giving petulant answers to reporters’ questions. After mumbling single, short answers to seven questions he abruptly walked away saying, “I don’t know what you want from me.”
Newton is a talented athlete. He was a star at Auburn. A Heisman trophy winner. And led his Carolina team to 17 victories out of 18 games before being humbled by the Broncos and their vaunted defense. Newton’s post game actions reminded me of the quote by the great sportswriter Heywood Hale Broun, “Sports do not build character; they reveal it.”
However, in Newton’s defense, I understand what it means to be a sore loser. I’ve been there. We all know sportswriters can ask some pretty lame questions. And after losing the biggest game of your life, emotions are raw and you’re in no mood to talk about why you lost. His coach and team mates defended him. Even Broncos quartrerback, Peyton Manning, said that Newton was humble and gracious to him following the game.
But his behavior, critiqued and criticized by the media and the public, does raise a good question, “How do you win when you lose?”
I was reminded of the words by the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11-13. “….have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Granted Paul never played in the Super Bowl, but he faced incredible challenges in his ministry. Paul was the rising star of his day in Jewish circles. He was well educated, had connections with the people in high places, and was by his own admission “a Hebrew of Hebrews.”
After becoming a Christian, Paul became a great apostle and spokesman for Christ. He traveled the world. His missionary tours resulted in many conversions and churches established. He wrote more letters than any other apostle. And is more often quoted. Yet, he didn’t always win.
Paul suffered persecution. Rejection by his own countrymen. A physical “thorn in the flesh.” And unfounded accusations regarding his motives for preaching.
Paul didn’t always win in life. But he did learn something. He learned how to deal with it. How to develop inner contentment. How to rise above his circumstances. How to “be brought low,” yet maintain his honor, dignity and character.
The wise man wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:6 that there is a time “to gain and a time to lose.” Life, like sports, is filled with gains and lossses. Ups and downs. Prosperity and adversity. Winning and losing. We need to learn, and to teach our children, that losing doesn’t make you a loser.
Author and educator, the late Warren Bennis once noted that all successful people are tested by adveristy. Even when they are initially defeated, they did not allow the defeat to define them. Even in losing, winners use the experience to stimulate them to persevere and achieve.
I’m reminded of a great book by leadership guru, John Maxwell, entitled “Failing Forward.” The premise of the book is how to turn mistakes into stepping stones for success. Maxwell correctly observes, “The more you do, the more you fail. The more you fail, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get.”
Failing doesn’t make you a failure. Losing doesn’t make you a loser. This is true in sports, business, ministry, and in our Christian walk of life.
Use losing to make you better not bitter. Stronger not weaker. Gracious not grumpy. Kind not cantankerous
Show me a good loser and I’ll show you an eventual winner.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman