If You Ain’t First You’re Last

“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Those words don’t make sense but they were the motivating force that drove fictional NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) to achieve greatness.

His dad told him that at an early age and it shaped how he lived his life.

He pushed others down in order to maintain his place as number one.

Even his best bud, Cal (John C. Reilly) was only there to slingshot him to victory and keep Ricky number one.

When Ricky Bobby’s world comes crashing down he is forced to see what life would like outside the winner’s circle.

He must deal with those mysterious and nonsensical words from his father, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

This is the American way. We like to win. We want to win. We have to win.

Okay, okay… Maybe it’s not every Americans’ way, but it applies to me.

The question I’ve been asking myself lately is this:

Is it okay to NOT be the best?

Am I comfortable not being #1? Will I be content if I’m not recognized as the expert or guru? Is it okay to not be the superstar?

I sure hope so, because in truth, I’m not.

The Cascade Range stretches from Southern British Columbia to Northern California.

It is full of tall, prominent peaks. Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Shasta all come to mind.

Are you aware that the fifth tallest peak 700-mile stretch of the Cascades is called Little Tahoma?

Yeah, me neither until I looked it up.

Little Tahoma is seen in most pictures of Mt. Rainier. It’s the peak to the left (east) of its bigger brother.

Mt. Rainier, Hood, Adams, Baker, Shasta, and Mt. St. Helens are all celebrated more than Little Tahoma.

In fact, some don’t even consider Little Tahoma to be its own peak. It’s often classified as a satellite peak because of its proximity to Rainier.

I feel bad for Little Tahoma. At 11,138 ft of elevation it’s achieved something great; it’s the fifth tallest peak in the entire Cascade Range, yet no one cares.

In our individual, corporate and church pushes to become great let’s not forget about others who have risen to prominence in their own regard.

We love celebrities. We like to aspire to be like someone else. We need them so much that we create them from reality TV shows.

This is not an indictment on our celebrity culture; I have heroes too.

I’m simply saying let’s recognize others, especially when they’re a little less prominent than others for what they’ve achieved.

  • The single mom raising three kids by herself
  • The faithful children’s worker
  • Grandparents who become parents again and raise their children’s children
  • Sound techs (usually recognized when the microphone feeds back)
  • People with special needs and their caretakers

It’s okay to NOT be number one. In fact it’s okay to go unnoticed at times.

Jesus said the way to be great was to be the least.

“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

That’s crap. Even Ricky Bobby knows that.

Stop wasting your time looking for recognition and do what God has called you to do.

Serve, love, help and care for others.

Let’s be more concerned with serving others than we are with checking our current “ranking” in the leadership hierarchy.

Let’s take time to recognize those who are doing an outstanding job even though they may be relatively obscure.

Let’s serve those who have nothing to offer us in return.


How can / will you accomplish this today?

5 thoughts on “If You Ain’t First You’re Last

  1. This is probably not a very good analogy, but…
    When we (pastor-types) drop numbers in our joy / pride, it feels weird – like maybe we shouldn’t be putting those out there.
    Wouldn’t it be weird / awkward / inappropriate if in our joy / pride we shared our wife’s bra size with everyone?
    I don’t know. Like I said, it’s probably not a very good analogy.
    And I’ll prolly keep on dropping numbers.
    Just a thought.

  2. Perry Noble tweeted not too long ago something like “Celebrating 6 salvation’s in church today.”
    I loved it because you don’t usually see that kind of thing. It’s often more like “we had 700 today and that was just in our overflow!” (instagram pic included)
    Maybe we should be less concerned about the number and more interested in celebrating people coming home to Jesus.

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