The Game You’ll Never Win

Gwen SmithBlog 3 Comments

When I coached high school volleyball, one of the games we played in practice was called Queen of the Court, the goal of which is simple: gain and keep the lead. Dominate. Serve more aggressively, pass more accurately, set more strategically, and hit harder than your opponents.

My life sometimes feels like a game of Queen of the Court.

I strive, set goals, create a game plan, and execute the strategy. I long to be my best (a good thing), but at times my goal changes from wanting to experience all of God’s best for me to wanting to be THE best (not so good). Look at me, everyone! Check out my people, my position, my possessions, my trophies-of-greatness…

I have to check my heart.

Am I striving to be my best in order to make the most of what God has given me—or because I want to impress others and be at the top of the heap? Those are two very different questions.

Too often I become fixated on aggressively spiking balls on the volleyball court of my ego, my family, my church, my community, my country. (My goodness!) To make it worse, I throw on an invisible jersey and play a game of Who-Is-The-Greatest? Aren’t we so good at that? We think:

  • I would be incredible at that position if the boss would just stop giving all the best assignments to other people.
  • If I use this decorating idea from Pinterest, my house will be the envy of every woman in the neighborhood.

We want to be seen as the best.

We want to be the best employee, work for the biggest Fortune 500 company, and attend the largest church with the most popular pastor. We want to parent the smartest kids, serve on the most important committees, and dangle on the arm of a hunky husband. Our shiny pursuits and performances become our social media statuses the moment they happen.

Can I get a witness?

We boast. We brag. We strive. We show. We want. We need.

As I think of these things a hush falls over my heart.

Conviction. Embarrassment.

Lord, forgive us.

We all want to be great. And that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. We need to be people of excellence. Jesus told a story, the Parable of the Talents, where He taught that each of us is responsible to wisely use what we are given (Matthew 25:14-30). God expects us to use our talents, personalities, gifts, and energy in productive ways. The problem comes in our motivation. If we’re striving for excellence so others will be oh-so-impressed, then we’re acting out of pride.

Instead of elevating our Lord, we’re elevating ourselves.

Lord, forgive us.

The fire of conviction warms me…bends my knees.

Queen of the Court is a useful volleyball drill, but it is not a game Christians should be playing. If I really want to have all the impact God intends for me to have, then I need to be far more concerned with the greatness of God than with the greatness of Gwen.

The. End.

Peter reminds us of this in his letter to the believers in the early church. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5b-6, NIV).

Our job: be humble before God and to others. Stop playing the greatness game.

God’s job: to lift us up as He sees fit, when He sees fit… all to elevate Himself.


Dear Lord, You are the great I Am. Help me to focus on Your greatness instead of my own.
Purify my heart and be glorified in and through me today.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Where does this message find you today? Spend time in prayer over this.

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Comments 3

  1. Totally agree very good devotional it’s good to be reminded that we are to be humble that we are here for a purpose to run that race of endurance completely with the Lord has ordained for us it’s not about me!

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