The importance of starting right cannot be emphasized enough. How you start often dictates how well you perform. Many people have tried to recover from a poor start only to find themselves falling short at the end. If you want this year to be a productive one, you are going to have to make sure that you start right.
The Scriptures often refer to life as a race. 1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Everybody is in the race of life. This verse challenges the Christian to run the race in such a manner that they will receive a prize. You don’t run a race just to run it, but you run so that you can win. God wants you to win in the race of life, but you must run your race properly if you are going to win.
Life is made up of years, years are made up of days, days are made up of hours, and hours are made up of minutes. You will never win the race if you don’t make the most of each year. You cannot make the most of each year if you don’t make the most of each day. You cannot win each day unless you make the most of each hour. Likewise, you cannot win each hour unless you make the most of each minute.
Each minute that is not lived right is a minute you lose in the race of life. You may be able to make up a few minutes lost in life, but there comes a point when you can’t make up those minutes because they have turned into hours, which have turned into days and weeks. Before long, you are years behind. If you are going to win the race of life, you must make the most of each minute.
When I was in high school, I was a part of the track team. The short distance events were my best events; however, my first year on the track team my father asked me to run the mile. Honestly, I hated that event, but that event is very similar to life. The whole event is made up of individual strides. Each stride you take, and the pace and distance of each stride will determine how well you do in the race. If I started too quickly, I wouldn’t have the stamina to make the race. If I didn’t have the right pace, I wouldn’t have the energy for the final kick at the end of the race. If I didn’t save the energy to sprint the final stretch of the race, I wouldn’t be able to finish strong and have the best chance of winning the race. It all came down to starting right.
Life is like running a long distance race. You will never make this year right if you don’t start right. It’s hard to finish your year right if you don’t start it right. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” If the LORD made each day, I then need to make the most of each day so that I can win the race. At the end of each day, you should be able to say that you won. The more days you win this year, the better chance you have of making this a winning year. But, if this is going to be a winning year, you are going to have to start it right just like the runner has to start his event right. Let me give you five things you need to do to have a winning year.
1. Start right by setting goals to accomplish.
You are sure to have a losing year if you don’t set goals to accomplish. Philippians 3:14 says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” I encourage you to set goals that will cause you to grow in the LORD.
Set some spiritual goals you want to accomplish this year. For instance, set a goal to read the Scriptures every day. I know many people will challenge you to read through the entire Bible in a year, but I would rather challenge you to read a portion of Scriptures every day. Too many Christians get discouraged because they miss so many days that it becomes nearly impossible to read through the entire Bible. Certainly, some Christians need to make it their goal to read the entire Bible in one year, but most simply need to read it every day. If you read it every day, you will probably read more and get more from it than trying to read the entire Bible in a year.
Set a spiritual goal to witness to someone every week. For some who go soul winning every week, set the goal higher to witness to someone every day. Set a spiritual goal to have a big day in your ministry. Set a spiritual goal to conquer a besetting sin that has defeated you for too long. You will not have a good year spiritually if you don’t have spiritual goals.
Moreover, set family goals you want to achieve. Make this year the best year of your married life. Set goals that will make you a better husband or wife. Maybe you need to listen better this year, or help your spouse in areas of their life, or it could be that you are going to have more dates this year. You can’t have a stable family if you don’t have a healthy marriage. Set a family goal to have a better relationship with your children or parents. Do whatever you have to do to make this happen. It may mean that you will have to spend more time with each other, or find things to serve the LORD together. This year should be a good year for your family, but it won’t be unless you start it right by setting family goals.
Furthermore, set financial goals. Make this year the year you are going to pay off some debts. Set a goal to save a certain amount of money for retirement or your rainy day fund. Set financial goals to give more to missions or the church. This year will never be the best financial year if you don’t start it right by setting financial goals.
These are just some suggestions of goals you need to set. Certainly, setting personal goals you want to accomplish are suggested, but the main emphasis of what I’m trying to get you to do is to start right by setting goals.
2. Start right by pacing yourself.
One of the greatest mistakes many make is they try to do too much at one time. Paul said in Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do…” You will notice after this verse is the verse challenging the Christian to “press toward the mark.” Instead of trying to do all your goals at one time, set a pace to get them done throughout the year.
For instance, many people trying to lose weight will never lose the desired weight unless they pace themselves. Instead of trying to lose the “x” of weight all at one time, determine to lose a pound a week. That adds up over time. Likewise, you will have a better chance of making this a winning year if you learn to pace your goals. Divide them up into manageable accomplishments that you can achieve every day, week or month.
3. Run right by not comparing yourself to others.
One big mistake you will make in making this a winning year is if you compare your year to another’s. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” There are some whom you will never be able to compare to what they are doing, so don’t discourage yourself by comparing your goals to theirs. There are others that by comparing yourself to them will give you a false estimation of yourself because you are stronger than they. This will only lead to mediocrity. Galatians 5:7 says, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?”Comparing yourself with others hinders you from doing what God expects you to do. Stop comparing yourself to others, and run the race God expects you to run.
4. Continue right by making adjustments when you fail.
The key to making this year a winning year is to make adjustments in the areas where you are not performing well. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…”You are going to fail throughout the year, but you don’t have to let your failures dictate the rest of the year. When you fail, get up, reanalyze what caused the failure and change what led to the failure. As the saying says, “If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always got.” Don’t change what is working, but make the right adjustments in the areas of failure so that you can have a winning year.
5. Finish right by doing what you started out doing.
Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” The key to winning a race is to finish strong. Stay focused on what you started out doing. Galatians 6:9 challenges us by saying, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” When you get close to the end of a goal, keep doing what got you there if you want to win. When you want to quit because you are tired of the race, keep running so that you can have a winning year. It is just as important to finish strong as it is to start right.
This should be the best year of your Christian life. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have trials and struggles throughout the year, but it does mean you can have the best year ever in spite of what you face. If this is going to be the best year, you are going to have to start it right. Start it right, run it right and finish it right. This is the key to having a winning year.