Personal Challenges

Some like the idea of competition…

Challenges Ahead… almost as if the only way we determine worth is the winning of a competition.

When we win, we feel like a conqueror. When we lose, and this is often enough the case, we feel less than we should.

I understand this as there are always contests in life.

We pursue and consider ourselves better off when we have won the prize. In hindsight, the prize is often less valuable than the stresses the pursuit should warrant, but we look with pride on the accomplishment of winning the challenge. We look at the reward and think, “Boy, I’ve done something now!”

Reward? Do we always need a reward to prove our winning? Too often it is a plaque to hang on the wall, or a watch to wear on the wrist, or some nameless piece of junk to put on the shelf. I have many of these mementos.

CMG AwardsStill, we continue to pursue with the mind of a keen competitor. What do we pursue? A career. Education. Financial rewards. Recognition by the community. Positions that require a vote, and if you do good and everyone likes you, then the political framework often puts us back in office.

We pursue our future spouse, and win their heart for life. I think I’m the winner, but really, I’m the loser – I lost my heart to my bride.

Still, I think our best challenge is pitting our self against our self. Habits, desires, and addictions. Our personality quirks are challenges to just about everything we do. Laziness. Procrastination. Stick-to-it-tiveness…

I know my own frailties and faults better than anyone, and my greatest challenge is overcoming self.

How do you identify your challenges, and can you develop a plan to overcome them?

Perhaps you need a coach, a mentor, a guide? These are always available. Can you coach yourself? Be your own mentor? Or guide your own steps? The other day, my doctor told me the best thing we need when it comes to healthier living is an accountability partner. Hmmm…

This means you have to open up to someone, have some type of score keeping system, and fairly judge the results as you pursue your pathway.

Are we not strong enough to take ownership of our own needs? How many times have we promised to do something, “when we get around to it?” Well, here’s one…Round Tuit

It seems like there are many things to consider!

When we look at scripture, and especially when we consider the disciples, we can read between the lines and see all their personal challenges. Peter – hot headed, James and John – sons of thunder, Judas – more interested temporal things.The list seems endless.

The Apostle Paul probably understood personal challenges deeply. His feelings of failing when he tried to do what he thought God wanted him to do. In fact, he was in complete agreement with the first execution of Stephen in Acts 7.

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (Acts 8:1-3 ESV)

He continues down his destructive path…

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  (Acts 9:1-2 ESV)

But I believe his thought of past mistakes constantly haunted his every step.

“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. (Acts 26:9-11 ESV)

But then, Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and called him from his murderous path and put him on a new pathway of life. Yet, he struggled with his past, and all the crimes against Christians he had committed. I have often wondered about his personal view of his calling, and wondered if he struggled with his actions. God called him to a great task, but how much of his past was a personal affront to his revelation and knowledge for the churches.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

How often did he consider his past actions? We often dwell on our past and it’s one of our personal challenges. How do we get past this?

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

Forgetting our past. I “press on to make it on my own.” Straining forward to the future. Pressing onward. Yet, we still have personal challenges to overcome…

So, one final thought… The race we run is not against each other. It is against our own self. Run. Race. Exercise self-control. Win the prize!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.  (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)