“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”
That phrase is often attributed to Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame coach of the Green Bay Packers. The phrase was actually coined nine years before Lombardi used it in his opening talk during the first day of NFL practice in 1959.
The quip was initially used during a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo physical education workshop in 1950. Henry Russell “Red” Sanders (a colorful football coach at Vanderbilt and UCLA, whose Bruins won the national championship in 1954) in his talk to those coaches attending declared “Winning isn’t everything” — then came a long pause — “Men, it’s the only thing!”
Winning may not be the only thing, but what I believe we can all agree is this: winning in life feels good.
Yet, none of us feel like winners every day. Life is filled with ups and downs, and what we all must do is get up off the mat and deal with life head on. This was recently reinforced at a Christian men’s conference I attended. The topic presented by the five speakers dealt with the amazing life of Joseph found in the Book of Genesis.
Joseph was certainly a winner as described in God’s Word. You can read the full account of his life in Genesis 37 and then chapters 39 through 45. He was favored by his father, Jacob, and his 10 older brothers despised him when their father put him in charge of them over the flocks.
Joseph was a dreamer, who openly shared his dreams with his family. He envisioned ruling over his brothers and his parents. This led to his brothers originally plotting to kill him, then later throwing him in a pit/cistern and selling him to Midianite traders who in turn sold him into slavery in Egypt.
Joseph became a servant to Potiphar, a high official in Egypt, who put him in charge of his household, which prospered immensely. Joseph gave all credit to his Lord and took no credit for himself.
Sadly, Potiphar’s wife wrongly accused Joseph of sexual advances and he was thrown into prison. Since God was with him, he quickly gained favor with the head of the prison and found himself running the administrative affairs once again. While in prison, he was asked to interpret the dreams of the king’s cupbearer and baker.
Interpreting the dreams correctly eventually led to his release two years later. By the way, the cupbearer lived and served Pharaoh and the baker was beheaded three days later!
The cupbearer advised Pharaoh that Joseph had accurately interpreted their dreams and Joseph was released to likewise interpret the two dreams of Pharaoh. Joseph not only interpreted the dreams of the pending seven-year drought, but he also advised Pharaoh of his plan to properly prepare during the seven years of prosperity preceding the drought.
Pharaoh wisely put Joseph in charge of all these affairs and made him second-in-command under Pharaoh. So, from age 17 to 30, Joseph went from the pit to the prison to the palace. Through it all, he gave all the glory to God Almighty.
In the meantime, God’s plan was to reunite Joseph with all his brothers and his father. Rather than go through the reunification process, which took some time, let me simply say that Joseph realized how God orchestrated the circumstances of the drought to bring his older brothers to Egypt and he wisely used his position of authority to bring the whole family of Jacob (Israel) to live and greatly multiply in Goshen.
The story of Joseph is one of restoration and it also shows God’s amazing work in the life of His people to increase in a foreign land for 400 years in anticipation of their eventual Exodus and return to the Promised Land.
In our own small way, we can all learn from God’s intricate plans for Joseph and His people. If you claim to be a Christian, you need to realize that God has a special plan for your life and the certain victory that He has planned for you and your loved ones. In the end, our Lord and His followers will certainly win!
Passages to Ponder
— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.