Winning Is So Addictive

Pep Guardiola is a serial winner. As a football player and manager his stats are impressive. It seems that everywhere he goes he has a relentless pursuit of success.

Winning Is So Addictive

Following his latest title he gave a wide ranging interview and said to BBC Sport:

"When you win, you take a shower and then you want to win the next one and the next ... it makes your life better and easier. Winning helps to win more and it helps to make this club better."

It seems that Pep Guardiola does not rest on his laurels. At the end of season 2018/19, in which his Manchester City team won an unprecedented 3 domestic trophies, he said: 

"Manchester City's players risk their futures at the club if they do not show the hunger to keep winning ... every player has to feel they must play well or they won't play ... they have to feel they must win again or they will have problems, they are in trouble and won't be here any longer."

The language, drive and insatiable appetite behind Pep Guardiola's sporting success is very similar to the singleminded pursuit of spiritual accomplishment by the Apostle Paul. In fact, there is a striking parallelism between both men's determination to reach their goals and win their prizes. Both speak of giving their all, doing whatever it takes, looking forward and not backwards, striving, not settling for mediocrity or being pleased with falling short.

'Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.' (Philippians 3:12-14)

The glory that Pep Guardiola has won will fade. It is all meaningless when death replaces life, and eternity replaces time. When the acclaim of thousands gives way to the silence of the grave, what then? It is this eternal perspective which is the essential difference in the passion of Paul. He gave all for a prize which is incorruptible. He cared little for the acclaim of men, but cared deeply for the praise of God (1 Corinthians 4:5).

'Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. ' (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

Men like Pep Guardiola, who apply themselves wholeheartedly in the pursuit of their prizes, often shame us Christians. We serve a risen, glorified Lord. We have an eternal perspective and a glorious hope. We have been given gifts and opportunities to serve and strive and apply ourselves, yet so often we are half hearted and lazy. We live on fleeting memories of past glories and are satisfied with the dying embers of spiritual ambition, rather than a roaring furnace. Hear the words of Paul to Timothy:

'For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.' (2 Timothy 1:6-8)