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Are You Resting On Your Laurels?

“What you are must always displease you, if you would attain to that which you are not.” –St. Augustine 

 No matter what you do, there’s room to grow at it. A certain amount of dissatisfaction with your abilities, achievements and accomplishments is a healthy thing. Those who are entirely satisfied won’t ever reach their full potential. 

Polish composer and pianist Ignacy Paderewski thrilled audiences around the world with his tremendous talents. Yet he remained very humble. On one occasion he was introduced to a polo player with these words, “You are both leaders in your spheres, though the spheres are very different.” “Not so very different,” Paderewski replied. “You are a dear soul who plays polo, and I am a poor Pole who plays solo.” 

While the world considered Paderewski’s talent near perfection, he continually worked to improve his craft. “There have been a few moments when I have known complete satisfaction, but only a few,” he offered. “I have rarely been free from the disturbing realization that my playing might have been better.” 

If anyone could have rested on his spiritual laurels it was the apostle Paul. Yet, he confessed“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). 

There’s always room to improve. There’s also more to consider.  

Every body at rest atrophies. In other words, when you stop “pressing on” you inevitably slip or regress. This isn’t a mystery. We’ve all experienced it. If you’ve forgotten, stop exercising for a month and then climb back on a treadmill. You’ll be able to measure atrophy by your huffing and puffing! This is true of our physical bodies, it’s true of our spiritual lives, it’s true of our talents and abilities—when they’re not exercised they cease growing and start to atrophy. 

The key to moving ahead is to keep your eye on the goal. Paul explained, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on” (Philippians 3:13-14). 

If our eyes are not on the goal, we’re like the captain of a ship with no course. But by focusing on what is ahead we’ve got a compass, and we can depend on God’s grace to provide wind for our sails. 

 My prayer for this week— Lord, I am thankful you are faithful to finish the good work you’ve started in my life. Would you stir within my heart this week some holy dissatisfaction with where I am, so I cannot rest here on my laurels? Would you help me fix my eyes on the higher goals you’ve set before me? May you be glorified!