Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
We can learn something about spiritual growth from Bill Belichick.
For Colts fans that may be more heretical than denying the virgin birth, but I’m serious here. And, no, I’m not talking today about the nature of evil or how to cast out demons.
Whenever you hear Belichick in an interview it’s always the same. The Patriots recently parted ways with their legendary QB Tom Brady. “Water under the bridge,” the coach said. “We’re really focused on this season.” Nobody was surprised by that. Win or lose. Record breaking performance or law breaking news story. The message is always the same. It’s time to focus on the next opponent or the next season.
Now, whether you give a rip about the Patriots, the Colts, or even football in general, there’s a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes it’s just time to move forward. It’s time to put the past aside and get back on mission. Even Paul said it this way, “Forgetting what is behind, I press on.”
That sounds great, but we’re in a weird time and it’s hard to press forward for one obvious reason: the future is so uncertain. How can I move forward when I don’t know when things will open back up? How can I answer the question What now? when I’m not sure What’s next?
Let’s dig into that challenge for a minute. Why do I have to always know the What’s next?
If you’re a football coach, there’s always a What’s next that drives you—the next practice, the next game, the next season. Nothing wrong with that. Every profession has that. Every phase of parenting has that. But is that what should drive us? Why does the What’s next matter so much?
Here’s my problem. Sometimes the what can become more important than the who. When all of my energy goes towards the task, I can lose focus on the relationships that matter most. Now this is tricky because there are critical tasks that need done. A doctor’s bedside manner doesn’t mean much if he or she botches the operation. A contractor’s friendliness won’t make up for a leaky roof. But we’re talking about a mindset here that always places a premium on the love that is embedded in the work.
That’s really what Paul is after here. We “press on,” he says to “win the prize.” But what is the prize? The ultimate prize is not really a what. Do you really think Paul is talking about shiny trophies in heaven?
The prize is a who, the ultimate Who, God himself. The more that we understand and drive towards our relationship with Him, the less dependent we are on what’s next. After all, that’s what faith is really about—loving God and sharing that love with others, even when the future is uncertain.
I can only do that if I care more about pleasing the One Who died for me than any trophy that my what’s next gets me.
Even if it’s a Lombardi Trophy.
How do you feel when your what’s next isn’t clear?
Father, help my what’s next come from my desire to please You.
Read Philippians 3:1-14