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Do You Feel Like a Loser?

Do you ever wonder if you are winning or losing in life? How do you keep score? Those of us who are born competitors (usually 3’s or 8’s on the Enneagram or a high D on the DISC), struggle with winning and losing on a daily basis. I am a 3 and I can’t help myself, I love to win. Let me be a…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Do you ever wonder if you are winning or losing in life? How do you keep score?

Those of us who are born competitors (usually 3’s or 8’s on the Enneagram or a high D on the DISC), struggle with winning and losing on a daily basis. I am a 3 and I can’t help myself, I love to win. 

Let me be a little vulnerable here as this is a problem. The real issue is that I often don’t know where the scoreboard is or what the score is. So, I may be losing, but not even know it, which is even worse!

Growing up in Columbia, MO, certain members of our family were ultra competitive. Losing was not acceptable. Playing Monopoly was an ugly scene. I learned to make myself scarce when the board came out, partly because I didn’t trust myself to win or lose well.

Here was how I kept score on my life then:

Girls – Didn’t understand them. Every day interactions posed a high potential for embarrassment. It was better to not say anything than it was to potentially expose myself for the loser I suspected I was.

Grades – I was not as smart as my neighbor who always wanted to debate with me on the school bus. I was bored in class. Chemistry was a foreign language. I felt like Brian Regan standing there with a cup of dirt. Every day held the potential for losing.

Sports – Football  confirmed my loser status.  I was 112 pounds – way too small to compete. We had a state champion football team that never lost. We were winners, but I was a loser.

Faith – Church was inevitably embarrassing. My family was always late! Sometimes we would arrive so late, I would just go hang out in the nursery rather than suffer through the humiliation of showing up with 15 minutes left. Also, we were the last ones to leave after the service because mom had so many people to talk to. Plus she would cry when we sang hymns. And on Christmas, she would have the family get up in front and sing to the congregation! I wanted to die of embarrassment and felt like a total loser.

Self-image – Ouch. I was short, shy and constantly applying too much Clearasil and cologne in a desperate attempt to prop up my loser self. I was depressed and couldn’t wait to leave home.

Growing up was a disaster. I had an inner drive to win, but I felt like a loser. How about you – how did it feel growing up? I hope you fared better than me.

The good news is that I’m actually OK now. God took the shambles of my false self and said that he sees me as a winner, so I can just relax. Wow – I can breathe again. This is the good news that the whole world needs!

Does it mean that I am a completely different person and I don’t keep score? No. I was born an Enneagram 3 and will always want to win. But it does mean that the stakes are completely different. You and I don’t have to work at being OK. We are already loved exactly for who we are.


I’m not being glib. Recently someone showed me an anonymous blog that calls us a cult and says that I’m a cult leader. There’s my picture accompanied by some really horrible accusations. It’s slanderous stuff. I know it’s not true. If God didn’t love me, it could really wreck my day and tap into the pain of my high school years. But I’ve already got the scars from that battle – it’s over, I don’t need to re-fight it.

I help steward a ministry that is all about helping people grow. It’s about connecting people to Jesus and empowering them. We are big on helping people take responsibility for their actions. We’re big on vulnerability and feedback – it’s one of our values. I try to lead by putting my own mess out there. That can make me an easy target. 

Why do it? Because a whole generation struggles like I did. They need to know they’re OK and need to be set free. They are not losers. They are loved. They are going to make it.

Maybe you’re a part of that generation. I long to introduce you to the God who knows you’re really a winner.

Comments (9)

  • My dear friend Seth,

    We first crossed paths at Wheaton College where you were two years behind my ultra-competitive path at an institution filled with inherently brilliant and often overachieving souls punching their own scorecards and rarely grading on the curve.

    A nationally competitive debate team had me traveling all over the country for years that should have been spent developing my spiritual walk and going deeper. Deepening the abyss of my own needs for affirmation and approval I ran for student body president, won, exposed myself to new layers of Machiavellian demons and left the institution feeling raped and pillaged by my own attempts to “fill holes” with *Silly Putty* or just paint over the cracks in my heart.

    I am not surprised you have detractors which we must always balance out against the legitimate need to hold up mirrors outside of the carnivals of what can be committed “fans” who may love without correction and take at face value what is said because of their own need to “belong” to something bigger than themselves.

    Following inspiration that can’t be stirred up from within they sometimes depend more on the words of a singular personality than those coming from the “alive and active” verses from their own study of God’s book.

    In the end preachers, shock jock radio personalities, sports achievers, iconic business people, televangelists, actors & actresses and every expression of a media saturated 24/7 consuming news cycle world feed on opinions–the more extreme, negative and sinister the better.

    The writer of Jeremiah in chapter 17 & verse 9 tells us “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked–who can know it?” Left to our own devices all of us without accountable voices around us who lovingly correct, inspire, challenge and love through it all will be pulled out to errant places by undertows.

    Swirling eddies can become sordid spots where neo-orthodoxy becomes as common as a BLT sandwich as throngs of the adoring consume, believe and act upon every word from the mouth of a trusted and charismatic leader.

    I’ve known you since 1983 Seth and we have seen many fecal rivers in my life and those around us and my seasoned, broken, *wounded-healer* advice to you this morning is this:

    1. AIM & the World Race are more of a “movement” than a “ministry.” That’s messy.
    2. You are inviting people to radical transformation which many will not understand.
    3. Any leader calling out for individuals to “pull up the tent stakes” will invite detractors.
    4. The battle is fundamentally spiritual. The Evil One hates you mobilizing spiritual warriors.
    5. Social media has made everyone an “expert” on everything. Commentators abound.
    6. The nature of blogs is that people take content, scrutinize, then cut & paste responses.
    7. In a strange irony vulnerability often invites attack by those who sense “weakness.”
    8. Our culture has a virulent appetite for scandals and the search for malfeasance.
    9. Disciples are leaders in the making. They will in immature moments misapply truths.
    10. The assignment from dark places to unrelenting minions is–“Steal. Kill. Destroy.”

    I’ve lived and worked in the global Christian ministry arena for 30+ years and the drivers of deceit resulting in failure for leaders and their enterprises invariably fall into these categories:

    1. A failure in properly applying the core truths of scripture. Bad exegesis.
    2. A failure in having leader oversight by a board exercising fiduciary responsibilities.
    3. A failure in being a good steward of money, how it is raised, spent and reported on.
    4. A failure in managing relationships with the same and/or opposite sex.
    5. Pride masked in “spiritual confidence” morphing into a Teflon “Can’t do no wrong” belief.
    6. Physical, emotional, and spiritual weariness. Guards go down. Trojan horses roll in.
    7. A spiritual portal has opened up transporting evil into the DNA of an organization.

    The truths of *Holy Writ* are hard. “Do good to those who despitefully use you” is one of those proclamations from Jesus that along with “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile” seem impossible. But we are promised grace and encouragement–especially as brothers and sisters in the fight hold up weary arms of those like you Seth who are of the Tribe of Issachar of which it was said “They understood the times and knew what to do.” {2nd Chronicles 8 I believe.}

    You are in my prayers just now, loved without reservation and I’m always ready to grab my weapon and medical kit for the battles we are called to and those showing up announced.

    Much love. Always.

    • Butch – this is truth and it is encouraging. Really it’s a blog post in addition to my blog post. Thanks for taking the time to bring perspective. We perform for an audience of one. He sees our hearts and looks at our fruit.

      Thanks for the love. We need it most in times of testing. You’ve been given much and tested much. And you’re still in the ring. It’s an awesome thing to feel pain and tilt toward love and lean toward the author of life.

  • Good stuff Seth! I applaud your boldness to be vulnerable and the leadership you display! Keep up the great blogs.

  • This has been an almost constant struggle of mine for years. How can I know I’m really not a loser, when everything inside me is telling me otherwise, and I feel so alone?

  • Love, love, love this! Thank you for leading the way for people like me to get out there and do it too. Thank God for the vulnerability that connects us, the courage that makes us share it, and the security we have in Him empowers us.

  • This resonates, Seth. Have you heard my “pocket sermon” is entitled “The Girl Name Loser”? It’s about identity and a girl in China I met who named herself “Loser” because of her mistakes and shortcomings… she did publicly what we only do privately. Jesus changed our name and I wish I would have done that for her.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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