How We Live

There are two guiding principles that we want to guide our everyday lives.

01. Play to Win the Game

In 2002, Herm Edwards gave an all-time great paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 9:24. Watch this 36-second clip:

The Apostle Paul was just as passionate. Both in person and in letter after letter, he implored Jesus followers “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).

Imagine how much different the world would be if we pursued our calling with the same dedication that elite athletes pursue their sports — if we actually played to win the game.

There are three principles that help us do that.

Prepare to Win

We can’t play to win unless we first prepare to win. Fielding Yost said it this way: It is all right to talk about this “will to win,” but I tell you it’s not of much worth unless you have the will to prepare. Bobby Knight said it this way: The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win. Everyone wants to win but not everyone wants to prepare to win.

Luke wrote that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). And in Hebrews 5:8–10, the author of Hebrews wrote:

Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he learned obedience by what he suffered. And having been perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. For in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God—for whom and through whom all things exist—should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

If even Jesus himself had to develop, how much more so do we?

Right after Paul exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 9:24 to “run in such a way as to get the prize”, he writes this:

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. So I do not run like someone running aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

If we want to play to win, we have to prepare to win.

Do Your Job

On a team, everyone has a role. Some roles are larger than others, but every role is important.

Bill Belichick’s well-known guiding principle for the players on his team is simply “Do Your Job”, and (love ’em or hate ’em) it’s one of the reasons for the Patriots’ incredible success. For any team to reach its full potential, every member of the team has to excel in his role.

Football wasn’t around in Paul’s time, and the most popular sporting events were individual events not team events, so he turned to the analogy of a body to drive home this point to first-century Jesus followers — and to us.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12–14, he writes:

For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink. Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many.

In verse 7 he says that everyone who has the Spirit has been given a gift by the Spirit for the common good — just as each part of the body has a role, each of us has a role. How well we each fill our roles determines how healthy the body is and how well positioned we are for God to work through us.

The early church realized this quickly. As the church grew, there were more and more things to be done. Luke records in Acts 6:

“The number of followers was growing. But during this same time, the Greek-speaking followers had an argument with the other followers. The Greek-speaking widows were not getting their share of the food that was given out every day. The twelve apostles called the whole group of followers together and said, ‘It is not right for us to stop our work of teaching God’s word in order to serve tables. So, brothers and sisters, choose seven of your own men who are good, full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. We will put them in charge of this work. Then we can continue to pray and to teach the word of God.”

The apostles could have done both jobs, but not well. They knew their role, and they knew that venturing outside that role wasn’t right.

The more we each know the roles that God has given us and focus on doing those well, the more healthy our church will be.

Make Plays, Not Excuses

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
– The Dread Pirate Roberts

“The road that leads to life is narrow and difficult and few find it.”
– Jesus

Life is hard. Period. There are often multiple points in the day that encourage us to just give up and take the easy road, and any number of people who will agree with our decision to do so. But that’s not the way of the Jesus follower, and it’s not how we want to live at SoFo Church.

02. Love Like Jesus

We can do everything above absolutely perfectly and still fail if we don’t do it out of love. That was Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 13:1–3, and few have illustrated his words better than Jarrid Wilson:

As you may have found, loving like Jesus is one of those things in life that seems easy until you really try it. Then you gradually begin to realize who it was that Jesus loved, and how he loved them, and the extent to which he loved them, and it begins to become clear that Jesus was on a whole different level.

God is love, though — it is the very essence of who he is — so the more we become like Jesus, the more this love will naturally be apparent in our lives. And that is our goal: to grow in spiritual maturity until our lives can be compared to Jesus’s (Ephesians 4:11–14).

Paul wrote in Galatians 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” That’s what we strive to do, every minute of every day: show our faith by our love.