Each of us differs in terms of 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 there are many who feel the same way about the things I love in life. The truth is that God has placed different dreams and desires inside each of us, and thatís what makes us tick.
I thought that since I went to college to be an engineer it would rub off on at least one of my six children. After all, they are all of my flesh and blood. But that didnít happen. In fact, no two of my children have similar career interests.
There is something common to all of them, however. They all want to be winners. Thatís true about everybody. Really, who in her right mind wants to be a loser? Iím convinced God has wired us that way; that is, to desire to want to win in life.
Winning requires more than a desire to win. We also must have or develop a winnerís attitude. This mindset is not incidental to salvation. A person can be born again, confident of his salvation, and still be driven by a loserís mentality. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, writes about the winnerís attitude. The points we can draw from his letter are very practical and can be immediately implemented:
1. Be determined to win. ďKnow ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?Ē Paul asks (1 Cor. 9:24). ďSo run, that ye may obtain.Ē What he is saying here is that 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. No, he is not saying we should go around competing with everybody. But he is saying that winners become winners because they first determine to be winners.
2. Strive for mastery. Observe any great athlete on TV. One of the reasons he electrifies a crowd is because he has mastered what he does. This mastery does not come overnight. To get there, one must become ďtemperate in all thingsĒ (v. 25a). That means he must endure the road to perfection with much patience and persistence.
One thing that intrigues me is the finesse with which figure skaters perform. I can only imagine how long it takes for them to master their performance. They do all of this working for a crown thatís here today and gone tomorrow, but from the Lord we will receive an incorruptible crown (verse 25b).
3. Remain focused. We must maintain some sense of purpose in life. Paul talks about this in terms of a boxer. In order for him to hit his target, as opposed to missing his target and beating the air (verse 26), he 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 purpose. No one can be a winner going through life aimlessly.
4. 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 himself becoming a castaway! What he is talking about is being disqualified. Even if you are not a baseball fan, you have no doubt heard the controversy surrounding Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. At my writing this newsletter he is within one home run of tying Mr. Hank Aaronís record. Many baseball lovers, however, do not and will never respect Mr. Bondsí accomplishments because he allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs. I donít know if he did or did not. But his case illustrates the importance of our playing by the rules so in the end we are not disqualified.
There are some people who will do anything to get ahead in life and to realize their dream, but God never regards cheaters as winners.
Notice the verbs used in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: run, strive, fight, etc. These verbs suggest that opposition exists to our becoming a winner. This opposition comes from the devil. Hence, winning is not happenstance.
A winnerís attitude has nothing to do with where you are in life at this very moment. As you read this newsletter, you may be in the worst of times, but you can still adopt the biblical principles above, and they will revolutionize your life.
The medical profession recognizes the power of a winnerís attitude. I have witnessed a couple of instances where a person was in the hospital at the point of death, the doctors had done all they could, and the family had been praying constantly. After all of that, the only thing standing between the patient and death was the life support system to which he was connected.
Acknowledging that medicine and techniques have been exhausted, the doctor will say something like itís really left up to the patient now. What does he mean by that? He is saying that a patientís mere determination to live and not die can bring him through at times. Apparently, even when the body is at the point of shutdown, and all bodily organs have been compromised by the shadow of death, a winnerís attitude can energize oneís morbid being.
ďIf thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth,Ē Jesus said to a manĒ (Mark 9:23). The Lord was saying to him that if he could believe that Christ could do for him what he was requesting, then it was possible. Let me paraphrase this for you:
No matter what your situation is, and no matter how finished you appear to be, if you pray to God with a winnerís attitude, and if you believe that what you are praying to God for is possible, then to you it is possible.
From what I have said up to this point, it should be obvious that a winnerís attitude requires more than positive thinking. You donít become a winner simply by repeatedly telling yourself that you are until you believe that you are. Think about the pointers we drew from Paulís letter: be determined, strive for mastery, remain focused, and play by the rules. A winnerís attitude is a way of life characterized by these actions.
There is a lot of truth in the trite clichť, ďattitude determines altitudeĒ. I firmly believe that a winnerís attitude can soar us to great heights.
Up to this point I have been purposefully ambiguous about the application of the four pointers above from Paulís epistle. Though I have been talking about winning 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 are determined to be a success, strive for mastery, remain focused, and play by the rules, you will be a great teacher.
As you have been reading this article you may have been thinking about how you can implement the principles to boost your success in your career. Again, the concepts will work for you. But Paulís focus in the epistle is on our walk with the Lord and our service to Him. Thatís where we are being challenged to implement the principles above. They will make us winners in our walk with the Lord. In turn our winnerís attitude will spill over into every other aspect of our life. More importantly, our trophy will be an incorruptible crown that only the Lord can give.