What do you think about when you think about winning. I prefer to think of winning like this:

The Gatorade moment when the team has the victory in hand and they are happy and celebrating. It is easy to identify a win in sports, but not so easy in life. If we allow our culture to define a winning life, chances are it would look different from the standard God has placed in front of us.

On a heavier note; At the saddening news of the loss of Steve Jobs, I can’t help but think of a man who is identified as a winner. Steve Jobs wasn’t just a CEO at a computer company; he was probably the greatest visionary of our times. The effects of his vision will be felt and realized for decades. Personally, I am grateful because my interest in the computer-related world began with my iPod and then grew from there (thus, this blog).

With all that said, can we look at his life and say that he was a winner? It all depends on what scale you use: our culture’s scale or God’s scale.

On the cultural scale there is no doubt about it, he is a winner! He accomplished great things.  At the age of 30, he, along with Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, won the first National Medal of Technology.  Recently, he was named the most admired entrepreneur among teenagers. He is admired by geeks and businessmen alike, and his successes with Apple, NeXT, Pixar, and Apple for a second time fill the pages of numerous books. Apple’s meteoric rise from near-bankruptcy in 1997 to the technology leader that everyone is trying to follow today, Fortune has dubbed Jobs “CEO of the Decade” He had four children and a lovely wife of around twenty years. By looking at his life, would you say that he won? In many ways, I would.    

However, God may look at life differently. God’s scale can be summed up in Matthew 16:25-26. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

What good comes to a man identified as a winner on the cultural scale? It may be a hollow win when you find out that you can’t take the power, prestige, money or possessions with you. The Apostle Paul talks with his young apprentice, Timothy, about the prize in the life of the Christian: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” For Paul and all believers, the gift of salvation had everything to do with Christ and his sacrifice. The relationship with Jesus Christ is what defines a win in life.

I am not making a judgment call of the life of this famous man. Records show he was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Reports also show he walked away from that faith and explored Buddhism. When it comes down to it, I can’t judge another person’s salvation. Salvation and judgment are in God’s hand, I can only declare what the Scriptures say and take comfort in knowing that God is faithful to his promises.  

As Steve Jobs said at his 2005 Stanford address, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” 

After this speech, I am not sure how Jobs defined what was important; however I do hope Jesus was at least considered. As Paul T. McCain, a Lutheran blogger, said in his blog today, “We hold out hope that, in His (God’s) mercy, He once more reached into Steve Jobs’ heart and mind at the end. And that is the “one more thing” that would be better than anything Steve ever announced and told us about.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to define my life in terms of God’s standard. In fact, when I see Jesus face to face, my heart’s desire is for him to say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

How do you define winning? Does it change how you live today? Please leave your comments below. Let’s start a dialogue about this.