Each of us differs in our aspirations in life. I find it difficult understanding how some people are so passionate about things that I find utterly boring. I am sure some feel the same way about the things I love in life. The truth is that God has placed different dreams and desires in each of us, and that’s what makes us tick.
My wife and I have six children. They are all of my flesh and blood. But no two of my children have similar career interests.
There is something common to all of them, however. They all want to be winners. That’s true about every sane person. Who in her right mind wants to be a loser? I’m convinced God has wired us that way; that is, to desire to win in life.
Winning requires more than a desire to win, however. We also must have or develop a winning attitude. This mindset is not incidental to salvation. A person can be born again, confident of his salvation, and still be driven by a loser’s mentality. Paul the apostle, in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, writes about the winner’s attitude. The points we can draw from his letter are practical and can be immediately implemented:
Be determined to win. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?” Paul asks (1 Cor. 9:24, NASB). “Run in such a way that you may win.” We should live our life as if we are running in a race for which there is but one winner and we are determined to be that winner. Paul is not saying we should go around competing with everybody else. But he is saying that winners become winners because they first determine to be winners.
Strive for mastery. Observe any great athlete on TV. One reason he electrifies a crowd is because he has mastered what he does. This mastery does not come overnight. To get there, one must exercise “self-control in all things” (v. 25a). That means he must endure the road to perfection with much patience and persistence.
One thing that intrigues me is the beauty with which figure skaters perform. I can only imagine how long it takes them to master their performance. They do all this working for a crown that’s here today and gone tomorrow. But from the Lord we will get a crown that is imperishable (verse 25b).
Stay focused. We must maintain some sense of purpose in life. Paul talks about this in terms of a boxer. To hit his target, as opposed to missing his target and beating the air (verse 26), a boxer has to remain focused on his opponent. We must do the same in life. We need a clear purpose, and we must focus our energies toward that end. No one can be a winner going through life aimlessly.
Play by the rules. In verse 27, Paul talks about the possibility of his preaching and winning others to Christ while at the same time becoming disqualified! Some people will do almost anything to get ahead in life and to realize their dream. For instance, some athletes will even resort to illegal, performance-enhancing drugs for a competitive edge. But God never regards cheaters as winners.
A winning attitude has nothing to do with where you are in life this very moment. As you read this post, you may be experiencing the worst of times. But you can still adopt the biblical principles above, and they can revolutionize your life.
From what I have said up to this point, it should be obvious that a winning attitude requires more than positive thinking. You don’t become a winner simply by repeatedly telling yourself that you are until you believe that you are. Think about the pointers we drew from Paul’s letter: be determined, strive for mastery, stay focused, and play by the rules. A winning attitude is a way of life characterized by these disciplines.
Up to this point I have been purposefully ambiguous about the application of the four pointers above from Paul’s epistle. I have been talking about winning but I have done so generically. The truth is that the concepts will work in any noble endeavor in life. Perhaps you work as a teacher in the public school system, for example. I say to you that if you determine to be a success, strive for mastery, stay focused, and play by the rules, you will be a great teacher.
Of course, Paul’s primary focus in his epistle is on our walk with the Lord and our service to Him. That’s where we are being challenged to implement the principles above. But they will pervade every other aspect of our life as well. In the end, our greatest trophy will be an incorruptible crown that only the Lord can give us. So–are you determined to win in the game of life?
Copyright © 2017 by Frank King. All rights reserved.