A November to Remember: How the Biggest Losers are the Real Winners

November 1, 2014 | 23 comments

Today’s Scripture — 11.1.2014

Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

~ Matthew 10:39

How the Biggest Losers are the Real Winners

I stood on a stage in front of about a thousand college students earlier this week. The room was swollen with promise, wide-eyed and carrying backpacks. So much hope. So much moxie.

Standing there, I remembered what it was like, to be one of them, with my whole life before me. My hands found the edge of the wooden podium, and I gripped both sides, white-knuckle-ish. Then, I scanned the width of the crowd, left to right, and I remembered being 20. My heart beat wild with ambition when I was 20. I remember how badly I hungered for the sweet taste of validation, how I was sure it would come somewhere on the other side of my college degree, out where feet would be planted in the dirt of the American Dream.

I was going to prove something to the world, and I was going to prove something to myself.

The microphone amplified my voice across the rows of students, up into the balcony: “Culture has built a multi-billion industry to make you think you’re quite un-amazing. Just look at the ads,” I told them, gripping the podium harder. “And how does the world tell us to amaze? To shrink into a smaller dress size, grow into a bigger income bracket, and climb your way to the top. All of it apart from God. The ads will tell you: Go big or go home.”

I told the students what I’m going to share here today–

The ads will tell you that you’ve got to be a winner, but that you’re not even close. The glossy covers will convince you that you’ve got to keep up with the Joneses, but you’re getting it all wrong.

In a cold sweat, we sink our money, energy, and time into what we think will give us joy, applause, acceptance, and a little bit more respect.

But no matter how much we get–or how good we are–there’s always someone doing life better, writing her story more poetically, speaking her words more eloquently, living her days more gracefully, being promoted more regularly. (And she probably has better hair.)

I know, because I’ve found myself trying to be the winner. I’ve scurried up corporate ladders, only to find the rungs never reach high enough to satisfy. I’ve tried to do everything perfectly and make others happy–all because I wanted more love.

So what is the chief end of all my striving to be a winner? Has it brought me lasting joy?

In some ways, I was a raging success. I was winning at the American Dream. I was winning at status. And all of that winning? Was killing me.

Once upon a time, it all went away. Poof! I no longer had my high-profile news-reporter job, my prestige, my clout, my friends, or my position to give me my identity. I felt like I had lost my life. I wowed no one.

I’ve never actually “heard” God speaking into my ears, but when I became a loser, I heard Him with “my knower.” We all have a “knower.” It’s that perceptive part inside of each of us, and it rests somewhere under our ribs.

God asked my knower this: “Jennifer, am I really enough for you? Are you okay with really losing your life, and never winning again?”

And God seems to be saying this to each of us, every day: “There is greatest hope for the biggest losers. People who lose their lives for the sake of Christ end up winning, living the life for which they were created.”

Can you hear Him speaking that truth into your knower today?

You want to win today? Be willing to lose your life.

You don’t have to “go big or go home.” You can go small, as you walk your path home.

You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses anymore. You can keep in step with Jesus.



This post is part of our month-long series, “A November to Remember: Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes.”

(Post includes excerpted material from Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes




I’m inviting you to spend the next 30 mornings with me, as we listen to what God says about us, before we listen to what Facebook says to us. We’re after “More Soul; Less Scroll.”

How You Can Be a Part of This Movement:

1 – Print out the Scripture sheets. (Click here for printable versions.) Each of the 30 daily Scriptures are quoted in Love Idol, and each one ties back in some way to our identity in Christ. (You don’t have to read the book to participate in this study. But of course, you’re welcome to! 🙂 )

2 – Find the passage assigned for today’s date.

3 – Ask God to speak to you through His Word, and read the verses assigned.

4 – Consider how God is speaking to you. How does the verse help you remember who you really are, outside of all the cultural noise?

5 – Visit us on the blog, or the Love Idol movement page on Facebook, to share what the verse means to you.

6 – Share your insights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your blog, to add more soul to your scroll. 🙂 Tag me, so I can find you. (Or feel free to follow along silently! No social-media presence required.)

I’ll post my own response here on the blog every morning at 5 a.m. Sometimes, you’ll find a story, maybe a few short words, maybe a series of photos. That will happen every day, for all of November, God-willing.

Studies show that the best way to form a habit, is to NOT break the chain. Habits form if you keep at it, one day after the next after the next. After our 30 days, we may have created a new habit of Scripture before Scrolling — a habit that can take us into the Christmas season, and beyond.


Follow Along

If you want to follow along, visit us here every day. Consider subscribing to my blog by clicking here to get these reflections in your email inbox.

The Printables
(Download for printing from Google Drive)

November 1-15

November 16-30

A helper sheet for how to do “Pin God 1st” and what it means to pray the scripture (Lectio Divina)

Let this be the November that we remember who we really are: Loved. Preapproved. His.



Find all the posts in the November to Remember series by clicking here.  

by | November 1, 2014 | 23 comments


  1. Jennifer Frisbie

    Well, this is one day down. So far so good. And I’ve even been able to spend time in scripture for the last hour without any interruptions from little feet running through the house.

    • dukeslee

      That’s awesome, Jennifer! So glad to see you here this morning. How did today’s verses speak to you?

      • Jennifer Frisbie

        First and foremost I examined my heart to see where I am still feeling to lay down my life. I specifically asked God if I have any plans in the works that I failed to consult him on, that are derived from my own feelings, that I would like him to intervene and remove those plans from my path.

  2. Rebekah M. Hallberg

    Just what my battle-weary soul needed to read this morning: “You don’t have to go big or go home. You can go small as you walk your path home.” When life turns upside down and we aren’t even sure which way is up, it’s good to know that Jesus is still guiding our steps. Thank you!

    • dukeslee

      Glad to have you here, Rebekah.

      • joni

        I hear ya about battle weary soul i just finishing three years of college at the age of 51, youth group ministry, change churches and waiting for God last two years struggle, rest, wait, struggle cycle. Amen Rebekah

  3. joni

    Well i am in for this; what am i willing to lose in order to find my life Jesus sake? Lose what? gain life, gain Jesus. Sometimes it is not even about the Joneses and i don’t think Jesus would even try keep up with the Joneses but He would Just love them where they are.

    • dukeslee

      So insightful, Joni. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Emily

    I am so loving this Pin God 1st Nov! I recently starteda new position at work and I have felt, since Aug, that I’ve put God on the back burner. I’ve spent more time on Facebook & Pinterest, and planning lessons so I could do great and be the best, make everyone proud, and… Not fail. The truth is, I’ve already won. Like you said, I’m preapproved and accepted. I don’t have to try harder! It’s really made me exhausted, stressed, on edge, short tempered. Ironically I have been reading The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst, but I have been so rushed & overwhelmed that I had no time to just soak in His presence. I wasn’t stopping long enough to hear Him speak to me. I have been so overbooked and preoccupied, I’ve squished God out, leaving myself drained & unsatisfied. I ran across a pin for your Nov challenge on Pinterest yesterday and I am so glad that I did. It’s time for me to Pin God 1st! I read Matthew 10:39 this morning before getting up and what spoke to me the most was not putting my love in earthly rewards. I’ve got to let go of earthly “loves” like power, popularity, success, etc and follow Christ, then I will inherit eternal life and heavenly rewards that will never run out. I reeeeeally must be on guard against materialism and self centeredness. God should be my 1st priority… Pin God 1st. The best way to enjoy life is to let go of these earthly rewards, and live a life of submission and service to Christ. This is a real purpose for living. That’s where true satisfaction and joy can be found.

    • dukeslee

      Emily .. I love hearing from you… so eager to hear how these verses are speaking to each of us. It’s truly a virtual Bible study, and even though the readings are brief, they are rich with truth about who we are, who we are called to be in Christ, and His great love for us.

      Live PreApproved!

  5. Jillie

    Is it mere coincidence that we’ve begun this November challenge with Matt.10:39? I think not. The Lord has me on a path here, evident in the verses I’m drawn to and the wonderful book I’m reading by Lisa Whittle. (I Want God.) Early in the book she writes about our “comfort zone”, the place many believers are these days—comfortable more than anything else with our safe, controlled existence amongst our “stuff”, the stuff that brings the false sense of security. Our fine homes, our bank accounts, our vehicles, our ministries done in the Name of Jesus even when our hearts are far from Him. Her book is a call to surrender ALL! Surrender all in order to gain Christ and the life we say we want, a life sold out for Him. Doing what He says, going where He sends us. In other words, losing “OUR” life in order to gain REAL life, life more abundant and free, life given over completely. Soul revival! That’s what Matt. 10:39 says to me.
    I’m also so happy to report that I did NOT turn on this laptop until I had spent over 90 minutes in the Word and written prayer this morning–something I haven’t done in a long time! What a difference He is making in my day! Thank you so much for this challenge, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      Lisa’s book is convicting, challenging, and soul-stirring. I love that God is intersecting our ministries, through you today Jillie. Lisa has come to be a dear author-friend on this writing journey. She’s the REAL DEAL. … Thank you for sharing how Matt. 10:39 is speaking to you. God’s Word never returns void, and I have no doubt that those 90 minutes yesterday yielded (and will continue to yield) a mighty harvest.

  6. kortney

    Augh, I feel like ive never truly battled “keeping up with the joneses” until lately. This is really getting to me and not quite sure what to do with this drive inside me to be the best at everything. For so long I was happy to be in the back corner with no one aware of me. And that is still true…sort of. When I decided to be sold out for God I knew that involved me speaking up for Him. With his help he has truly helped me overcome many of my fears of speaking in public, as well as speaking on the internet. But with the speaking up for Him, comes praise towards me and Im not quite sure what to do with it. I find myself feeding into the desire to make my name known instead of my original desire to make God’s name known. “Oh wretched man that I am-who will rescue me from this body of death ? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I read stories of Gideon who helped fight for God, but in the end caused the people of Isreal to stray and worship an image that Gideon had made to glorify his own self. Im praying that the Lord purifies me in this area!!!

    • dukeslee

      I’m reading a book about speaking from Christian speaker Ken Davis. He addresses exactly what you’re talking about. I have struggled with the same thing, Kortney. It is not a struggle unique to you. Praying that all of us in the speaking ministry would keep our eyes and hearts laser-focused on making Christ known.

      God bless you in your ministry.

  7. Leanne

    I pinned God first this morning!! (I keep wanting to say “ping” instead of “pin”, it’s my computer background I suspect). Then I made breakfast, did the grocery shopping and came back to put some of my reflections into a blog post: http://provokingbeauty.blogspot.com/2014/11/find-your-life-day-1-of-pin-god-first.html I hope it’s okay that I used the Pin God First button. I credited and linked back to this post in the my blog.

    • dukeslee


      You are more than welcome to use any of the images. God bless!

  8. Lorna Jansen

    Great post! What a striking first verse to begin our November journey. It’s as if Jennifer cut to the heart of the matter — will we serve Him first or will we serve ourselves? Almost everything else in the Christian walk rests on this one issue and it is extremely counter-cultural to put God (or anyone else for that matter) before ourselves. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

    • dukeslee

      Yeah. This verse doesn’t mess around. It gets right up in our business, amen? But the harvest that comes from living like this is out-of-the-world.

      Thanks for stopping by Lorna!

  9. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    “More soul, less scroll”. Love it.

  10. Dusty Becker Allison

    The NLT uses the verbiage: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it”.
    When I chose to hold tightly to ‘my’ life and ‘my’ things, that is not surrender, and I miss out on Papa’s best for me. As a matter of fact, it reflects my lack of trust in my loving Daddy’s sovereignty in my life. Do I think He is withholding from me? Do I really think I know best for me? I had nothing to do with the purpose for which He created me. However, I have everything to do with surrendering every moment of every day. He is not a dictator, but a perfect gentleman Daddy who will, like a good parent, guide and direct through Holy Spirit. I am disciplined about so many things, but in this area of life, I often “fall off the wagon”. He never tries to make me feel guilty, but woos me back with His tender love. And when I am in that place, receiving and soaking in His grace and love, giving up, letting go of, not clinging to my life is so much easier. Why? Because of perspective…rich and true perspective found only in God’s word and presence.
    Thank you Jennifer for being transparent and obedient.

    • dukeslee

      Dusty Becker Allison,

      Yeah. CLING. I saw that too. I’ve been reading these daily verses in three or four different translations, and I was really drawn to that word cling. How often we cling to this life. Thanks for being here.

  11. Katie Andraski

    Thank you for doing these because I’m hurting and wrestling with these things. Your honesty and grace help. I’m trying to come to grips with how deeply counter cultural our walk with God is and I’m trying to find ground to stand on.

    My husband and I are going to read these together too.



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