Monday, April 10, 2006

"The Habit of Winning"

Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning is a habit and so is losing.”

Throughout the seventies and eighties the Chicago Bulls had grown accustomed to a bad habit-losing. That all changed when the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan. Michael not only became the game’s best player, he changed the way basketball was played. The rival coach of the Detroit Pistons made up what was called the “Jordan Rules”. The strategy was basically foul Michael every time he goes to shoot the ball. It is said that in response Michael Jordan made a habit of going to a gym by himself to shoot 1000 free-throws. Soon his free-throws became almost automatic-like daggers in the heart of opposing teams. He was practically unstoppable. He developed an insurmountable attitude toward discipline and an unmatched will to win. He now wears six championship rings and continues to be admired by much of the world.

Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)

What made Michael so unstoppable was a clear vision of becoming the best he could be and winning championships. His vision fueled a life of incredible discipline and focus. He developed the habit of winning.

The way we live our lives is compared to a race that must be run with determination and focus. We are to develop “winning” lives that are to be rewarded by God in eternity.
Do you have a vision of what a win looks like for you? Is the vision clear? Is it a vision that honors God and enriches the lives of those you love? What about your daily choices? Are they leading you toward the prize or away from it?

So let’s talk today about your daily regimen. This is where we develop the habits that cause us to become winners or losers. Let’s look at three habits of a winning life.

Diet, exercise, and focus. These could also be called self-control, self-discipline, vision clarification.
1. Diet or Self-control: Are you watching over the things you allow into your heart? Is your music inspiring and uplifting? What is the general message of what you listen to? What about TV or movies? Is the content healthy or is it junk food with no real nutritional value that makes you feel apathetic and lazy? What you habitually allow in can either propel you forward or hold you back.

2. Exercise/Self-discipline or as Paul puts it “discipline my body”. This moves beyond my “intake” to my “output”. This is the way I expend my energy. The kinds of exercises I do in my marriage, family, friendships, and work. These are the moves I practice over and over in order to live a winning life-my 1000 free-throws if you will.

3. Focus or “keeping your eye on the prize”. Paul says in the scripture above that there are prizes that will not last and prizes that will. I believe that a big habit found in winning lives is vision clarification. This is an area where I am currently meditating. Paul says he runs “straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches”. I find that if I don’t continually remind myself of the compelling win that God has placed before me I can easily get side-tracked. By the way, in order to say “NO” to all of the distractions, I must have a big “YES” that I keep in clear view.

I want to win this race, don’t you? But we must develop the self-control and self-discipline necessary to receive the prize. That is where God’s Holy Spirit comes in. Tomorrow, in our last writing for this series, we will talk about Him one more time.

Holy Spirit, I ask you to help me today. I want to eat well and exercise right. Focus my heart and mind. I want to arrive at the end of this day, put my head on my pillow, look up at you, and feel good about the way I lived it. Help us all. Fill us with you life so we can live a winning life today!

Play like a champion today!

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