24 Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. 25 Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies. 26 So now this is how I run—not without a clear goal in sight. I fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing. 27 Rather, I’m landing punches on my own body and subduing it like a slave. I do this to be sure that I myself won’t be disqualified after preaching to others.
The apostle Paul (with no football to write about!) used images from the Greek Olympic races and boxing to describe his disciplined approach to Christian life. Hank Stram, the coach of that Chiefs’ 1969-70 championship team, said, “You can't be fat and fast, too; so lift, run, diet and work.” He knew being a championship team requires a disciplined, diligent lifestyle. Paul described his disciplined commitment to spiritual life. He had a vision of a "crown that never dies" (greater than any human trophy) waiting for him after the final victory.
Heavenly Father, I pray for strength and consistency to fight and defeat the temptations that come at me daily. Amen.
I'm not much of a football guy, but I love baseball. And, thankfully, I think that most of our conversations around football this week also apply to baseball, so I hope you'll forgive me if I turn our metaphors toward a sport that I know more closely.
In football, from what I understand, each player has a position that he calls his own – one that he focuses on and excels at. The same is true in baseball. While there are a few players who are successful all across the diamond (I'm looking at you, Ben Zobrist!), most of them specialize in one or two positions. They don't try to be the best at everything – they find their role and they embrace it and develop that particular part of their game.
I can't help but think that it's the same way in our lives.
There is something deep inside me that wants to do everything. I tweeted this the other day: "Any kind benefactors out there who want to pay me to read, write, and play video games? There's just not enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want to do + all the things I need to do." And I don't want to do them just for fun... I want to be the best at them!
But I can't do everything. And I certainly can't do everything well. The discipline that we're discussing in today's GPS reading isn't just about training ourselves to perform well in a given role, but is also about the discipline of being selective about what we will pursue. Sometimes we have to say "no" to some things so we can truly say "yes" to others.
In baseball, there are no unimportant positions on the diamond. But I can't do them all by myself – that's why we field a whole team of players. For me, personally, the biggest challenge of self-discipline is in laying aside the distractions that are so enticing and focusing on my position.
If you are in the Kansas City area and would like to chat about this more, I am co-leading a class called In Case You Missed It where we are taking a look at Pastor Adam's sermon from last week and discuss how we can apply it to our lives. It starts at 6:30 pm tonight (Tuesday) at Resurrection Leawood. I'd love to see you there and hear your thoughts!
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