A phrase you hear all the time in sports is “playing not to lose.” This refers to a team who is either winning a game or is better than its opponent, but is so afraid of losing that instead of going for the win, they play it safe and simply don’t try to make any major mistakes. Not surprisingly these teams rarely amount to anything. They’ll win an occasional game, but not much more. And when they lose it’s usually in the final minutes of a game they could have easily put away much earlier. But now it’s too late to stage a comeback.
I think this attitude and mindset extends beyond the playing field. I would say that most people play not to lose. In other words, most of us live in such a way that our main focus is on not ruining our lives with some kind of a major failure.
Typically ruining your life is associated with a big decision that you make. You make it actively. Definitively. Maybe you do something completely stupid with your money and go bankrupt. Or maybe you have a major moral failure and devastate your personal life.
Most of us are so afraid of these things that we focus all of our energies on not doing them. And none of us should want to. We should be careful not to ruin the lives God has given us.
But there’s something that’s just as dangerous and more subtle that we should be just as afraid of. And that’s wasting our lives.
In fact, wasting your life has the potential to be more destructive because you don’t realize it’s happened until it’s too late. You wake up one day and your life is gone. You might still be able to make something of it, but you won’t be able to regain the time you’ve lost.
God hasn’t placed you on this earth for the sake of simply avoiding making mistakes. He put you here to do something. Something significant. Something lasting. The measure of your life isn’t in the mistakes you don’t make but in the measurable impact you leave.
The people who should be most afraid of ruining their lives are the ones who aren’t wasting them. They have the most to lose.