Our obsession with “winning”

Decades ago I remember a column or opinion piece written about our obsessions and warped values. At the time it was referring to the way we lift up people who work hard, work long hours, and don’t have time to “take it easy.” The prime example for that article was Dick Cheney (long before he was VP). Cheney had some heart issues (well… that’s just a sentence to get teed up, isn’t it?) and he was praised at the time for going into the doctor to get a stent or two in the morning then getting back to work that afternoon.

No one paused to say, “The man is a workaholic and that’s dangerous.” (Except for the author of the column or opinion piece.)

Cue Urban Meyer: uber-football coach in the college ranks who just can’t quit. Decades ago, I had a sense the man was a walking train wreck. His ego has taken him to the NFL… and, like Nick Saban and other phenomenal college coaches… it’s beating him up. So much so, he just had to “blow off a little steam” last weekend… by feeling up a co-ed in a bar in Ohio. It’s okay… he “apologized” to his current team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. More HERE.

Urban Meyer

What stood out to me in this piece is one line: “…schools will fight to hire him again.”

This is our obsession. WIN.

Can’t make it in the NFL? No biggie. We know he wins at the collegiate level. HIRE HIM! We can deal with the ego and roving hands long enough for him to get a championship for us!

This is our obsession as a culture. We have to WIN. It has to be BIG.

Cue Mars Hill. The podcast “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” is garnering a lot of attention. It’s being praised and challenged and panned, but it’s worth listening to in so many ways. The current episode, “Red Sky at Morning“, goes to the heart of what changed for Driscoll: winning.

Cover for The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill

We don’t want to sound crass in the church world, so we call it “effective” or “powerful” or “influential” or something a little more sanctified.

The bottom line for Driscoll isn’t just Driscoll’s issue. It’s about being BIG. It’s about being “at the table” as defined by whatever table you want to be at. You then thinly veil it by saying something humble like, “Look what God has done.”

It’s a devastating episode that demonstrates how megachurches will chew people up in massive numbers (and don’t think smaller churches don’t try the same) just to accomplish some goal for the narcissist leading them. Of course, it’s all to the “glory of God.”

Will college football reform to the point where winning doesn’t matter? Are you kidding me?

Pro football?

The American conservative church?

Mars Hill has come and gone, but the issue is still there. Over and over we’re told that “attendance and money” doesn’t count in the church world. Just do what God calls you to do! (I call it “butts and budgets” just to drive the point home.)

But you know what? Butts and budgets are ALL that counts. How many attend and the size of your annual budget is what gets you to the platform. And the platform is winning.

Mark Driscoll is still out there even years after Mars Hill has faded off the scene. He’s hoodwinking another group who are willing to drive themselves into the ground “for the glory of God.”

God’s glory takes a beating in the American conservative church.

We are a culture of obsessions. Football coaches. CEO’s. Pastors. Social influencers.

The culture may be that way. The Kingdom of God is not that way. And the people of God following the Kingdom need to get off the obsession train and find the Kingdom of God.

So many are doing it. It’s looking different, but I am admiring what is happening. I am admiring what I am seeing. The Body of Christ DOES exist, even in America. There are places where people are radically in love with God and with their neighbor. They are worshiping with passion. They are serving their neighbors with deep care and longlasting love.

It won’t make the headlines. It won’t make a podcast series. It won’t be filmed and put into a glitzy documentary. That is NOT the way of the Kingdom.

And it is refreshing.

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