April 7, 2013: Can’t Let Up

You can win or be safe but you can’t do both.  But what happens when you win?

At my job this week, we had a big win.  An external auditor known for toughness was evaluating one of the social services programs run by our agency.  She represented the program’s biggest funding source, so a positive review was of the highest importance.  Our team prepared long and hard for the big review, knowing that the auditor’s opinion could translate into the program’s doom or its survival.  As the program’s manager, her opinion could translate into a similar fate for me.  If it goes well, accolades galore.  If not, the pink slip may be in the mail.  That may be a bit over-dramatic, but my reputation was definitely on the line.

We spent a week under the auditor’s expert microscope, poring through details of program operations, management, fund expenditures, outcomes, and much much more.  After five full days of living under her watchful eye, the auditor delivered her results to senior management.  To our relief, she had nothing but glowing remarks.  It was the best audit she’d had in twenty years, without any findings or concerns, and she will highlight our program as a “best practice” program for others to draw examples from.  Couldn’t have been a better outcome!

As I entered our staff meeting the next morning, I thought “Great!  What now?”  We had spent so much energy and time focusing on the win, and now that we had it…what’s next?  Many times in my life I have over-celebrated my wins, relishing the win and allowing it to lull me into a lackadaisical slumber that I believe I have “earned”.  I generally take the time to slow down and savor the victory (which is fine), but I slow down so much that I stop doing the things that gained me victory in the first place (which is stupid).

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

What I’m learning is that to keep from losing after a win we must (1) celebrate the win and (2) refocus on the mission.  At the meeting, I said to my team, “We won last week.  Big time.”  We handed out compliments and gifts for the staff involved in the audit all throughout that week.  We celebrated.  But while we celebrated we reminded each other that the work is not over.  In multiple meetings throughout the week we reminded each other of what we are here to do.  “We did well in the audit,” I said, “but we are not here to do well in audits.  We don’t get up in the morning excited about beating audits.  We came here to help people.”  It was a great moment for our team that I hope will result in us never letting up, but keep going and doing the things that made us great to start with.

In our walk with Jesus, we will experience victories.  When a friend meets Jesus for the first time, or a family conflict is resolved, or we conquer a financial debt, it is tempting to relax.  But friends need discipling, families need encouraging, and budgets need maintaining.  There’s always work to be done to ensure future wins.  Because to Christians, there was a HUGE win 2000 years ago when Jesus took the nails with our name on them, but we look forward to an even greater win when He comes back to put all things aright in God’s kingdom.  We strain toward the next win with all the intensity we can muster, knowing the next win is in sight…for you, for me, for all of us.  So, what “win” are you praying for?

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