(OCTOBER 2, 2018) — You’ve heard the old adage, “Winning isn’t everything.” Our highly permissive culture fully embraces that idea. At school track meets, everyone gets a ribbon. Everyone’s a winner. No one is “the best” because that would be “unfair.”

Last week, a teacher in Florida was fired for refusing to abide by the school district’s no-F policy. She dared to fail students who refused to turn in their papers. The policy provides that everybody passes no matter what!

Similar, some Christians have dismissed the idea of hell because a “good God” would never permit such a thing (even though Jesus taught quite clearly about its reality). Every dog goes to heaven, as does every person.

Baloney! Such notions are entirely false.

The truth is that there really are winners and losers in life–and that winning really is everything when your definition of winning is the correct one. Winning, from a Christian perspective, is not having the most toys or wealth. It’s not having the best job or the most followers or likes on Twitter and Instagram.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump ran on the promise to “Make America Great Again.” He said that Americans would be winning so much that we’d get tired of winning. He was promising prosperity and material success. In and of itself, there is nothing inherently wrong with that—unless we make worldly achievement the measure of our success.

As Catholic Christians, we know that this world is passing and that living for the things of this world—power, possessions, prestige, and pleasure—will only bring sorrow and misery in this world and the next.

There’s no doubt that those who embrace the things of this world do so because they’re convinced it will make them happy. For rational people (even those who are misguided), all of our decisions are oriented toward making ourselves happy. After all, happiness is the desire of every human heart.

My hero, Pope St. John Paul II, addressed this topic regularly with great clarity.

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you. He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts the most genuine choices, the choice that others try to stifle.” (Source)

So, what is “winning”? Winning is striving to love Jesus and all people with your whole heart. Winning is living an other-centered life. Winning is living a life in the Spirit. Winning is letting the Lord guide your every decision, moving forward confident that He is with you—even when you make mistakes. Winning is living for heaven. Winning is hearing Him say after you’ve drawn your last breath: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

This type of winning is everything, truly.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is a seasoned Catholic speaker, journalist and thought leader who runs NovaMedia and blogs at The Praetorium and for TSG in collaboration with iAmplify.

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