Walking With God: 5 Things to Help us ‘Go For The Prize’

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. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27]

At school we are taught that it was the taking part which mattered the most. [Thoughts like these surely only come from people who never won anything]. Yet right here in scripture we see Paul encouraging us to ‘go for the prize’, to ‘go for the win.’

Everybody can participate, yet only those with a certain set of characteristics actually win the prize

Jesus has set us up for the win already. Everything that could possibly hold us back as been nailed to the cross, the only restrictions are those we place on ourselves through lingering doubts and unbelief, or those spoken over us reminding us of our past, our shortcomings or the impossibility of success.

5 things which may just help us…

Know your race. We are not running for ourselves, we are running for Jesus. We are not running because we ‘have to’, instead this is a race we have ‘chosen’ to be part of.  When I was at school I was more a sprinter than a long distance runner so there was a difference when I ran the 100 metres as opposed to the one time I was asked to fill in for the 1500. One was my race and I ran thinking I could win, the other I ran thinking when will this be over, especially as I finished at least half a lap behind everyone else.

Run as if to win. Be determined. When you know you are running the right race for you then you can run as if to win. When it comes to the Christian faith, knowing what has been done for us, and the prize that awaits us, should give us enough motivation to run with the attitude of someone who already understands they are a winner.

Develop some self-control. Train hard, keep learning. This is the stuff we don’t like so much but its often in these small areas of discipline and hard work which influence the level of our success in any race. Prayer. Fasting. Worship. Reading the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Each one build our stamina and ability to run well for the entirety of our journey with God.

Focus. Run with purpose. Always keep the bigger picture in view. We don’t run for ourselves, we are running for our Saviour. We are not competing to win a prize for our own sense of accomplishment but rather for a prize of greater value and importance. To hear the words of Jesus when we enter glory. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.

Don’t disqualify yourself. Stay in the lanes. There may not be a need for any qualification to become a runner in this race but we can easily disqualify ourselves. Don’t run over people to get to your victory. The way we run is as important as the running itself.

Lets not be so focused on the finish line that we miss out on the opportunity to win along the way.

A better way to win is taking others across the finish line with you, which means always being on lookout for ways to help others join the race with us, as well helping those who are running alongside us to keep on running their race too.

How’s your attitude to the race? Still running ‘as if to win?’ Why not take some time out today and ask God to help you run your race well.

How’s The Attitude?

Here’s something I’ve learned in 25yrs of leadership ~ a leaders attitude determines a leaders influence. 

At 19 I had a pretty carefree attitude. I was only really a leader by title and position rather than a leader in lifestyle. That’s the journey I have travelled and will probably continue to travel until I go to heaven. 

Attitude is caught not taught. It’s not easy to teach others what the right attitude is for life’s multitude of circumstances. What works for one doesn’t always work for another.

5 things you could choose to do when it comes to improving your own attitude:

1. Learn by observing others. Find some leaders you admire or consider have a right attitude. Maybe you share some of the same values. Watch how they handle people, teams, make decisions, how they lead. 

2. Learn by getting it wrong. Not wilfully, that’s just daft. We all get things wrong from time to time. The difference is what you do with that. Don’t implode. Be a leader who can make adjustments along the way. Become better from the experience. 

3. Learn by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Friends will encourage you to keep going when you may consider giving up. Don’t forget to return the favour when they need a friend. 

4. Learn by always thinking of others first. Leadership is about serving. It means you are not always right. I have learned that the attitude of ‘just do it because I’m the leader’ rarely wins people’s hearts. 

5. Learn that you’ll never stop learning. It’s been said many times by many people, leadership is a journey not a destination. As soon as you think you’ve got this attitude stuff sorted is the moment you are heading for a fall. 

If my attitude determines my leadership influence then it behooves me to continual be aware of what my attitude is really like. Otherwise people won’t be happy that I’m in a leadership role. 

I would love to know what you would add that can help people improve their attitude and become a better leader

If Only…

We can often use this as a get out clause. IF ONLY…

If only…all the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted then I would feel better about saying yes.
If only…all the ducks were in a row, everything sorted, then I would go for it.
If only…angels would visit me then I would know God really wanted me to.
If only…I knew it would be a success.

Just as well those in the early Church didn’t have this philosophy. Think about it for a moment. If they had lived with an ‘if only’ attitude then you & I may never have heard the Gospel.

If only people weren’t hunting us down.
If only persecution wasn’t waiting for me.
If only people just believed and got it straight away.
If only it weren’t so inconvenient.
If only the Spirit would stop telling me that ‘prison and hardships are facing me’ [Pauls words in Acts 20:23]

They were incredible. The commitment to the cause transcended all their personal preferences. They gave everything for what they believed. Let’s be honest – we think we give everything but we rarely do. We give what we can afford, we give what we can, we give in a measured way, we give until it becomes inconvenient, we give thinking of what we might get in return.

When I read the book of Acts I am challenged. In fact I am confronted by a faith that goes beyond my 21st Century, Westernised, comfortable-living style of giving.

THEY GAVE.
EVERYTHING.

‘I consider my life worth NOTHING to me, IF ONLY I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’.[Acts 20:24]

My prayer:
Please Lord, let me have the attitude like Paul. One that says ‘whatever it takes, being up for the challenge of telling others of the Good News of Jesus, whatever the cost’. Let me mean it too. Let this not just be another prayer to look good. Lord, put me in places that FORCE me to count the cost. To give. To give everything.

Are we IN?
ALL IN?
I don’t think the Apostle Paul would consider that there was really any other way.

Matthew 7 & 8: Having the Right Attitude

There is so much packed in Chapters 5, 6 & 7. As a Christian, you cannot help but love them. If you want to know how you should be living then you can’t go far wrong by starting here!!

Stuff like…
…judging others. Jesus definitely has a sense of humour…why do you spend so much time telling someone about that speck in their eye while you have a huge plank stuck in yours. Don’t be so stupid!!

…ask & it will be given to you, seek & you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. I truly believe that God wants us to ask because Jesus tells us to do that many times. I also truly believe that very often we then just sit down and wait for God to come through when we should be getting up and doing something…maybe seeking, maybe knocking. (Just a thought).

…building on the right foundation. You would be daft not to build on these words. Don’t just read them, make them your lifestyle. Make them part of your non-negotiables. Living this way gives you something to stand on when the stuff of life comes along.

One of the amazing things about Jesus…He always had time for people. He was willing to be interrupted, not get agitated by that but respond with compassion and meet their needs. A great example of this is right at the start of Matthew 8 and the man with leprosy…’If you are willing, you can make me clean…I AM WILLING!

Challenged to have that same attitude. How about you…any thoughts?

Culture & Attitude

I think this a truth: allowing yourself to get immersed in the culture of a certain place takes a certain attitude. After all, every society, every region, every community, every team, every Church – they all have a certain culture. Even if it’s not designed, culture just happens by default.

As a Christian the Bible says a few things that I think can be related to culture. It says…

…that I live in the world but I am not of it.
…that greater is He that is me than he that is the world.
…that Jesus said that He had overcome the world.

It reminds me of the continuous need to make the right choices, of flesh v spirit. Whatever the culture I want to create as Pastor at Xcel Darlington, I must maintain a certain attitude towards it.

Remember whose I am.
Remember the bigger picture – it’s not mine, it’s Gods.
Remember that culture of itself is not wrong.
Remember to walk by faith and stay connected to God.

Anyway – just some thoughts…what do you think?