CLERGY CORNER: Press for the prize

Posted on 28 December 2017 by LeslieM

The approach of a new year often brings hope and anticipation for a better tomorrow. It’s a time of reflecting on the things that didn’t get done, and planning how to see the desired outcome in the future. Write the book, lose the weight, finish the degree and start the business. These are the ideas and projects that beckon or taunt us as we look toward a new year and a potentially fresh start. But without a definite plan in place and a commitment to persevere, we may find ourselves in the same position a year from now. How many times have we made resolutions in January, that were abandoned by March?

In his letter to the believers at Philippi, Paul reveals his mindset and hints at a plan of action for accomplishment. “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize” (Philippians 3:13,14 NIV). While the apostle is dealing primarily with matters of spiritual development and Christian service, his insight points to undeniable principles necessary for achieving the goals we set for ourselves.

The first step has to do with “forgetting what is behind”. Put the past in the past and stop reliving the failures or successes of years gone by. No one can safely navigate a car forward by looking in the rearview mirror. There is a danger in constantly looking back at what once was or what used to be. Life is comprised of right-now moments that demand our attention and focus. Learn what you need to know from the past and keep moving forward.

The second step involves “straining toward what is ahead.” In other words, put your prospects in perspective. What are the opportunities in front of you? Where are your strengths more needed? Where are the areas that fit your unique abilities? Invest your time and effort in those things that are within your reach, even if you must stretch a little. This step will require focus and the ability to dismiss distractions so that you can stay on course.

The third step is to press for the prize. With the goal in front of you, and determination to get it you can push forward. It may not be easy. To press means to face resistance, and there will be challenges, obstacles, and frustration that must be overcome. But the goal is in front of you and you can reach it if you try. At this stage, you can consider how far you’ve come and find the motivation to finish strong. Why get so close, only to give up after you’ve invested so much effort? Shake off discouragement, refuse to quit and press forward.

There were many memorable moments of achievement in the 2016 Olympics. One of the more daring and outrageous accomplishments came in the Women’s 400m finals. Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas was the frontrunner for much of the race but the American champion, Allyson Felix was closing in fast on the last stretch. In a desperate move to cross the finish line first, Shaunae Miller dove headlong into the tape beating Allyson Felix in a photo finish. It was an unorthodox and unconventional move that caused a lot of stir on social media, but it was allowable in the rules of track and field. Shaunae won the race because she pressed for the prize.

As we prepare to enter another year of events and experiences, position yourself for the accomplishment of your goals. Put the past in the past, put your prospects in perspective, and press for the prize. Have a happy and blessed New Year!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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