"We hold to the philosophy that our defense will dictate how many games we win. Our offense will dictate how much we win the games by," Lute Olsen, former basketball coach at the University of Arizona, told me years ago.

Those are wise words in athletics and in life.

When LaVell Edwards coached the Brigham Young University football team to many successful seasons, the team was acclaimed for its explosive offense. But Edwards said it was the defense that brought the consistent winning seasons.

Sidney Harris, in his newspaper column, once wrote of world-class chess. He said many more games are lost by the loser than won by the winner.

The same is true in business. Most companies don't fail for lack of "offense" — that is to say innovation, expansion, experimentation. Many more fail for lack of effective "defense" — husbanding and managing their capital, keeping their present customers happy, guarding against downturns in the business cycle.

The same holds true in our lives. We need constant defense against the forces that would weaken our will to do right things. Then when opportunities come to serve well and reap the attendant blessings, we will be ready.

If we let our guard down, thinking we will make a spectacular surge someday and overcome the deficits of our weak defense, we will be disappointed. No team and no person consistently wins that way.

Jesus spoke of a man who did not guard and defend his treasures at all times. He was surprised and unprepared when a thief came by night and robbed him.

Wiser was the Psalmist who said: " ... the Lord is our defense; and the Holy one of Israel is our king" (Psalms 89:18).

Duane E. Hiatt is the former director of communications for the Division of Continuing Education at Brigham Young University. He has been a writer of "The Spoken Word" for broadcasts of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, is the author of the book "Overcoming Personal Loss" and composer of the Primary song "Follow the Prophet."