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Having Done in Room 1501 (wk 15) Winning is Everything

I just wrapped up week 15 at Joy Christian High School as a first year teacher.  I teach the Bible Class to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.  Sophomores are going through New Testament Survey and the others are going through World Religions.   It’s still pretty amazing to me that I get all those students in Room 1501 every week and we get to learn The Bible and it’s impact on life.  I pray it plants seeds that God continues to grow for the rest of their lives.


It is a true honor to witness the students of JCHS entering into that blue door each day.  A majority of them wear their emotions on their sleeves.  It is pretty evident what kind of day each student is having just by reading their body language when they enter.  I can tell that the semester is getting ready to end, because many of the students are weary of school.  They are in need of an extended break.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.

Week 15 at JCHS, taught me its most valuable life lessons, outside of the classroom.  This week the JCHS Volleyball and Football teams had their season ending State Playoff games.  Both teams had a phenomenal season as they demonstrated their athletic gifts God gave them.  But, each team, even with their overall successful season, ended the season heartbroken because they didn’t progress and have an ending result of ‘State-Champs.’   In their minds they didn’t win.  In reality they didn’t win.  As the Room 1501 Bible Teacher, I found myself heart broken for them.  This week’s experience reminded me of something that our American culture seems to be embarrassed of.


Stop and think about it for just a moment.  If you disagree with that statement…then…when did you stop believing that winning is everything?

Harry “Red” Sanders, head coach of the of UCLA Bruins from 1949-1957 is the one who get’s the credit for that phrase.  Vince Lombardi is known for using that phrase as he led the Green Bay Packers to be a winning dynasty that still inspires people today.

Harry Sanders’s exact quote is, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Lombardi gives Sanders the credit for being the originator of the phrase in his book, “The Lombardi Rules.”

So, do you believe that winning is everything?

I think there is Biblical evidence that winning is everything.  However, before we jump into the Bible let’s first start with the Dictionary.com.

WIN …  verb (used without object), won, winning.

1.  to finish first in a race, contest, or the like.  

2.  to succeed by striving or effort.  

3.  to gain the victory; overcome an adversary.

It is of my opinion that the current American culture…is meandering through life without any stimulating vision. Somewhere along these past 10-15 years, the American people have catered to some strange people who live on the fringes of society. Somehow these types have gotten into the leadership of too many things.  Am I the only one who thinks we have given influence of the American Culture, to the kind of people who were not present when the “Common Sense Train” stopped to give out its gifts?  I think these types have been influencing some very important USA things, and have been brilliant in their influence, to the point that the average, common sense gifted American, has become the frog in the kettle that is about to be cooked.

Have these types somehow slow-cooked you into thinking that winning is for greedy, mean-spirited, and self-ambitious people?

I say it again, Winning is everything.

Bible time… 

The Apostle Paul, the writer who wrote more than half of the New Testament under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote this…

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!”

1 Corinthians 9:24

“So run to win.”  The Bible says that!  If you think with me, I think you will agree that there are 7 areas of life.  All things life, fall into one of these 7 categories.  1. Spiritual  2. Social  3. Psychological  4. Parental  5. Physical  6. Financial  7. Marital.

In the 7 areas of life, can you think of one that would be okay to NOT win in?  Do you want to lose in your marriage?  Do you want to lose in your physical life?  Do you want to lose in the Spiritual world?

I repeat, Winning is everything!

Part of the problem we might have with our current attitude towards winning is the simple fact that somewhere along the way we have been slow cooked into believing that winning is only about some position.  No doubt…part of a win is actually a 1st place position.  Surely you have heard the phrase “2nd place just means you are the first loser.”  But I want to say, that if the attainment of your first place position was done with any form of integrity problem, then you may have won a 1st place position, but you did not win a first place function.  (Please understand the difference between Functional and Positional winning.)

There are many things in life that carry attributes of what is called Functional and Positional differences.  As an example, I’ll demonstrate what I mean by using one of my favorite topics, Spiritual Leadership.  There are many people who hold the position of leadership in their Church, but it’s just a position.  Somewhere in that church there is a person or a group of people who truly FUNCTION as the leadership. In Church world this is not healthy.  In Church world, the average Church(an average church in the USA runs about 90 total  in attendance) is struggling to produce any kind of fruit, because the Church might have a Pastor/Minister/Preacher that has a Position/title of leader, but in all reality, there is a group of about 5 -10 people/families that function as leaders and if you the positional leader do not do what they say…well…there will be heck to pay. Positional vs Functional Leadership.  There is a distinct difference.

In life, it seems like all the power is in the Positional leadership…but eventually functional leadership will WIN out.  FUNCTIONAL leadership trumps POSITIONAL leadership…sooner or later!  It may take Jesus’s return and the initiating of eternity to set that point as fact…but it is fact, none the less.

This is why Jesus says, “The Last shall be first and the first shall be last.”  According to Jesus, true winners may not hold the less important POSITION of leadership, but FUNCTION behind the scenes as a real functioning leader.

Position does not always define a win.  A true win is accomplished when Position and Function bond as one.  If you cheat to win, you don’t win…no matter the position you finished in.  If you have positional power and you have to “show”your power to get what you think is a win…then you didn’t win at all.  (In teaching world…there are teachers who think they win when they “nail” a student, but that teacher won the little skirmish at the loss of the entire battle.  They lost the student’s respect…that’s not a win.)  Positional leadership “sticks out its chest.”  Functional leadership doesn’t need facades. Functional leadership is invisible power.

I think, part of the reason as to why America has developed a misunderstanding about winning, is simply because we have become a dumbed down society that is too busy to think deeply anymore.  We do not think deeply about what a TRUE WIN really is because we don’t have the time to really study and learn deeply about things, due to our fast pursuit of what we think is a win.  We have become a society of “the ends justifies the means.”  Too many just want some end goal result and they will bypass almost anything to get to that first place position.

I have heard and experienced horror stories of churches, corporations, schools, and governments that will do anything to get a “win.”



Because…winning is everything.

It’s time we quit lying to ourselves about winning.  Winning is everything. It really matters to every one of us.  Winning matters so much that people will do anything to win.

But here is the deal…

If you win a first place POSITION by ignoring first place FUNCTION…then you are a loser…not a winner.  If I have to cheat/lie or in any other way keep secret what I had to do to get the “win”…then in all reality I lose.   If in no other arena…then when I look in the mirror.  If I lost my integrity to get a win…my mirror will let me know.  Below are just a few comparisons between Functional and Positional Leadership.  Understanding the difference will help you truly win. The material below is written from a Biblical World-view perspective.

Positional vs Functional Leadership.jpgBottom Line … Winning is everything.  I can’t think of anything that I want to lose in.  I suppose what is difficult to determine is what is truly a win.  All the money in the world, all the fame, all the influence, all the positions of power, all the _____________????

Have you heard the following phrase?  “He who dies with the most toys, wins.”  I want to scream, “FALSE!”  The true phrase is…

“He who dies with the most toys, still dies.”  

You can erase the underlined word above and put in any earthly word in its place and it is still true.

I don’t want to lose in anything.  I want to win.

Especially in the Spiritual realm.  To lose spiritually is to go to Hell eternally.

To wrap up this blog post about what I have learned from Room 1501 on this 15th week at Joy Christian High School, I simply want to add what Jesus said about winning and losing.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”    Luke 9:23-24 

Jesus didn’t come to be served…even though He deserved it.  He came to serve others.  Jesus didn’t come to win in this world…He came to die…a.k.a…”lose,” so that He could live eternally in the presence of His Heavenly Father.  He “lost” so that you could win.  Now…we are going to have to copy Him.  What is it that you must “lose” in this life so that you may gain eternal life?  What positional powers are you indulging in right now that you need to transform into Functional powers.  What is it that you must die to, so that you can win? What must you lose…to truly win in what matters?


The athletes that filed through Room 1501 this week helped me think about what true winning and losing really is.  And no matter how you look at it…Winning is everything.

Don’t let anybody tell you any differently.



“What should I do God?”

What’s your dream? Don’t hold me to this, but I think the very last scene in the movie “Pretty Woman,” there is a homeless man crossing the street moderately shouting out as he passes by, “What’s your dream!?”

Have you really answered that question for yourself?

What’s your dream?

Makes me wonder, right now, what’s going on inside your brain as I cause you to think about your dream/goals/vision/plan? Are you the type A person right now just thinking to yourself… “Ya…Ya…I’ve got my dreams…come on Renner…get to the point.” Or are you someone who has been bashed by life’s circumstances just enough that you have become cynical and you don’t believe your dreams are possible for you anymore and you’ve given up on “childish” dreams?

I saw this picture the other day on a friend’s website. Its a street corner in Anthem AZ. "The Ultimate Crossroads."
I’m giving a testimonial for just 10 minutes at a Church Service in Anthem this weekend and when I’m up there I want to find this street corner and take a family picture in front of this sign. This sign on that street corner is truly a crossroads that everyone of us face, sometimes daily, in our lives.

How do you decide which way to go? I’ve just closed down an era of my life of being a Sr. Pastor for more than 14 years straight. I’ve been a preacher, preaching nearly every weekend for 20 years now. But now what? I’m staring the next 20 years of my life in the face and its blurry. I can’t get a good look into what its going to look like. And here’s the deal. I think God likes it that way. Does that make Him cruel? No. Maybe I’m too playful…I like to think its a form of the game called “Blindfold.” You’ve played it, right? Where one person puts on the blindfold and has to trust the directions of the teammate and hope not to be led into a wall or hit their Shin bone on a coffee table or fall off a cliff. If God is our guide and He chooses to “blindfold” us…aren’t we still in great hands that we can trust?

I have found that I am more of a control freak than I thought. And I’m actually deeply laid back. If I’m not liking my future being out of focus, then I’m pretty convinced you, maybe not as laid back as me, really don’t like it when your future is out of focus.

So…here’s what I know God says about all this. First look at this passage in Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (NLT) The NASB version says, “The mind of man prepares the way, but the Lord determines his steps.”

That verse makes me squirm a bit. It makes me think of another game. Tug-O-War…but…Tug-O-War against God. And He’s bigger than me. I love Tug-O-War, but only when I win!

So when we’re at the crossroads of Vision and Opportunity Way…what shall we do? Is this Tug-O-War time? Or…Blindfold time?

I think the answer is found in one Story of the Bible. Its in the Book of Exodus. The key part of the story is in Exodus 14:15. Its up to this point that the Israelites have been led out of Egypt and have found themselves at a dead end. The name of the place is Baal-Zephon, which is literally translated, “God’s Cul-de-sac.” Sounds like a crossroads. A crossroads for so many can be a dead end because the choice to go left or right is too overwhelming so they freeze up and quit. Dead End. Many will fall to their knees and spend hours on end praying about which way they should go and they get frustrated when God doesn’t seem to answer. So…they pray more and nothing ever moves forward. Just lots of prayer. Prayer is good, but prayer only is tragic. Faith is Action. Forward movement. So in the passage I refer to above…God says, “Why are your praying right now.” (Not exact translation, but same thing…agree?)

I think God is saying…”You know me…I’ve earned your trust…I’ve shown you how to live…get off your knees this time and let’s practice praying without words…pray with your actions…I got your back.”

Isn’t it fair for me to say that at this point in the story of Moses…that Moses had already been told how to live and what to do by God? The answer is yes. (God gave Moses clarity at the Burning Bush.)

At this point, Moses found himself in a scary moment and he froze in his tracks and he did only what he knew to do. Pray and cry out to God. And…God told him to “knock it off and get going..just do what I told you to do when I met with you at the burning bush.” (TRVB…Trent Renner Version Bible LOL)

So Moses got up…shook the dust off his robe and held his staff high and put one foot in the Red Sea and experienced an unprecedented miracle.

So…here’s my challenge to you. What do you continually pray about but there seems to be no answer? Maybe God is saying…just move. Maybe God is saying to you…”Pick Opportunity or pick Vision. They both end up in a good place.”

Is it possible that God is not concerned as much as you think about what House you live in, who you marry, what job you do, what car you drive, etc?

And with some things people pray about…give me a break.
Do you really have to pray about leaving your spouse?
Do you really have to pray about cheating on your taxes?
Do you really have to pray about beating that guy up?

God has told us how to live in the Scriptures. We have a perfect road map(Bible) that God laid out in detail about how to arrive at one of two final destinations. Heaven…Hell.

The crossroads and fork in the roads and Cul-De-Sacs, and Dead-Ends are all part of the incredible journey to our final destinations.

What we should be praying about is our behavior, our heart, our thoughts, our purity, our integrity and character, our influence, etc.

When we get those issues worked out and we have our lives spiritually going the way God would have them going…THEN…when we arrive at the corner of Vision and Opportunity…does it really matter to God which way we turn and move forward as a person who is blindfolded and being led by the greatest leader of all time past, present and future?

So which will it be for you this time?
Vision or Opportunity?
Those are great choices!

Pick and then step forward in Trust.
It really will be okay…even if it doesn’t turn out like you think it would.