Every Thanksgiving, my family and I take part in what is known as the Turkey Trot. This 5k run/walk brings thousands of people together with the goal of raising funds for the Dallas YMCA. In this race, finishing is winning because all proceeds go to a good cause. But not so for most races. Most races award a first-place finisher with a medal, trophy, jacket or any other statement of victory. To come in fifth, tenth or one-hundredth is not the goal. Athletes train and compete in order to come in first.
Paul urged us to win as well when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
Friends, I want to challenge you to develop a passion to be a winner for God. In order to do that, following these three strategic steps can help you accomplish your goals.
1. Go for the Gold and Nothing Less
A nice jogging suit doesn’t make you a runner. Just like wearing a football jersey doesn’t make you a professional NFL player. You need to do more than be a part of the pack in order to go for the gold. Never settle for simply getting on the field or in the race. One day, God is going to reward you for what you do for Him. On that day, you are going to wish that you trained and aimed high, rather than living a life of excuses.
2. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Athletes who compete take part in strict training. They do this in order to get the crown—the prize. Strict training and hard work are just that—hard. It’s something you have to make yourself do. Unless you stay focused on the “why” behind the “what,” you might quit. We have an Olympic gold medalist who attends the church where I pastor. I’ve known her since she was a kid. The hours, days, weeks and months that she put into getting prepared for the Olympics were only possible because she kept her eye on the prize. Every decision she made in the years leading up to her gold medal was influenced by that one pursuit. We, as followers of Christ, ought to pursue God’s eternal prize with no less effort.
3. Remove Distractions
The writer of Hebrews puts our last point this way, “Therefore… let us also lay aside every encumbrance,” (Hebrews 12:1). Get rid of it. Stop watching it. Stop talking to them. Stop going there. Whatever stands in the way of having you fully live out and gain the victory which is yours for the taking ought to have no place in your life.
Go for the gold; never settle. Keep your eye on the prize set before you. Remove the distractions holding you back. Do these three things, and you will live in the victory that is yours through Christ.