4 Secrets of Underdogs Who Prevail

We all love hearing the story of an underdog rising up to beat the odds. Our hearts are moved when we watch movies that depict a character who was not initially setup for victory, yet overcomes the odds and triumphs in the end. Rudy, Rocky and Braveheart are just some of the films that add courage in our hearts to prevail over obstacles.

This week I began to tell my three year old daughter, Abigail, the story of David and Goliath, one of the greatest underdog stories ever. We see in biblical record, a supernatural overthrow, where someone who in the natural, had no business facing a well experienced giant warrior. Yet David went in with a confidence in a God of the impossible to overthrow a threat to the army of Israel.

We love seeing underdogs climbing to the top and prevailing, but do we take note of our own battles—where the odds may be stacked against us? Have we stopped to think that we might be in a David and Goliath kind of situation? With that in mind, do we really understand what it takes to move from being an underdog to a giant killer?

It is important to note that the victory David had over Goliath was not just something that was thrust on him, there was a preparatory work that went into place, setting David up for this mighty victory. We will all need all four of these things to understand if we are to beat the odds and have victory over impossibilities.

1. They use limitations to become extremely creative.  

David did not try and fight Goliath with other people’s armor, but instead came to the battle with what he knew. He didn’t try to be someone else by putting another person’s armor on. He came with his arsenal, a powerful sling and some smooth stones. Underdogs who become giant killers win by simply being true to who God made them to be.

Everyone has limitations they bring to the table, and battles have a tendency to make us focus on what we do not have and who we are not. Many of us can fall into the “if only I had” mentality, where we see ourselves as victims, with no choice to take action.

Underdogs become giant killers when the pressure of adversity brings out some of the most creative options; ones they would not have chosen if life were easy. They even find ways to let weaknesses become their strengths.

2. They learn to step up and flourish in adversity. 

Its amazing to me how many people back down and freeze up during adverse challenges. Many people have been trained to be pushed around by a bully, a giant or some kind of opposition. Instead, this is the greatest moment for us to rise up and attack!

While everyone backed down, David rose to the occasion. This was his opportunity to grow. When he came to the battle and saw no one stepping up, he was outraged! How could this be happening?!

Through learning to protect sheep, David learned to step up to obstacles, not run and hide. He didn’t wait for someone to rescue Israel out, he became the solution by stepping up himself. Underdogs who become giant killers take responsibility for where they need to step up. The resistance of war is simply their signal to arm up and engage battle.

3. They are constantly learning and growing before the large battles even arrive. 

What David learned in protecting his sheep is what he used as leverage against this giant. He did not let the years of being alone with the sheep hinder him from the bigger picture of his future. His faithfulness to doing well with what was in front of him, set him up to what was next.

What learning and growing needs to take place in your life? Right where you are now? Could it be that what is in front of you is preparing you for overthrow an impossible giant?

To prepare well, underdogs expose themselves to the best teachers, mentors and leaders they can find. They look for them, they don’t wait for them to just come. They look for people who are going where they want to go. They are always teachable—never acting like they know it all. They might have seasons of loneliness, but they are not loners. They find resources that will help them to become victors.

4. They do not see the giant as an impossibility, but an opportunity for victory. 

David was more motivated more by the giant defying the living God than he was fearful over whether he could actually defeat him. The way we overcome the giants and impossibilities in our lives is that we become more passionate about that which is coming against God, more than focusing on how fearful or impossible the situation seems.

The Seattle Seahawks, in their 2014 Superbowl win, chanted the cry of “Why not us?” This shout was coined by the quarterback Russell Wilson, whose father instilled the phrase into his heart, “Why not you, Russell?” This word of life ignited courage for him to see the possibility of being triumphant during adverse and seemingly impossible circumstances.

Through the story of David and Goliath, David helps us to see that giants are not as powerful as we think they are.

Question: Where do you need to become more of a giant killer instead of seeing yourself as a underdog? 

(Note: the story of David and Goliath is found in 1 Samuel 17)