Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. – I Corinthians 9:24
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Earlier on in this series, we talked about ‘preparation’ being the bridge between where you are and where you want to be as you seek to reinvent yourself. However, while preparation gets you started, the price of an on-going sacrifice is what keeps you going, and what ensures that you get to your ‘finish-line.’
The challenge with us often is that we do all we should to get started, get a degree, get the business or ministry started, and then we relax and expect it to run smoothly. No! There is a price to pay, and that price is a commitment to continual development, study, training, praying, etc., in other words, doing over and over again what you did to get you started. Imagine a lawyer, who once being ‘called to the bar, never reads again? Would you like a Doctor to perform surgery on you, whom the last time he read or improved himself was 15 years ago? Of course, such people may still have their titles, but they would have lost their relevance and may soon lose their place.
This is true in every field; Jesus began His ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting, but all through His ministry, He usually withdrew to pray (Mark 1:35). He never thought the preparation prayer was enough. He said, “I can of Myself do nothing, but only as I hear the Father instruct,” (John 5:30). Paul, although he had experienced an unusual conversion, said, “I keep on pressing in order to get the prize” (Phil 3:14). He said in our main text that, “I maintain hard discipline, so that I won’t lose what I started so well,” (I Cor. 9:27 – Paraphrased). He speaks about the place of discipline, of self-control and of denying oneself certain (sometimes) legitimate pleasure – Now, that’s paying the price for the prize! So, it is not just about starting or making adequate preparation for the journey, it is the tenacity, the discipline and the willingness to pay the price to carry to the end, every good work you have started.
Nothing good comes cheap, ask athletes. They will tell you talent is not enough, the right opportunity or right team is not even enough; they will tell you that it is continual training, continual exertion of themselves and the constant pushing of the limits of their best past efforts. So, pay attention to your gifts and talents; always work on yourself to improve and develop. People who pay attention to their gifts get paid attention to by people. On the other hand those who refuse to improve will always remain ‘under-performers who are under-valued and under-paid.’
I end with this quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
+ Pray that your heart will be willing first and foremost to pursue your goals sacrificially with hard work and patience
+ Ask God for boldness and tenacity of spirit to enable you finish any course you start, and obtain the prize you have set out to gain.