1 Corinthians 9:24-27
You know that in a race, the winner takes it all. So run to win! Serious athletes go to huge lengths just to win a cheap trophy, but we’re out to change the world! So don’t just meander down the track! Don’t just play the air guitar! And, unless you want to be a fraud, get serious about doing the work yourself before you try to tell others what to do.
Seth Godin wrote a little book a few years ago called The Dip. His point: to be truly outstanding at something, anything, you have to get through a time of slogging through a lot of hard work. You’d think it goes without saying, when you put it that way. But another way of saying it is that there are no shortcuts to excellence. And the difference between those who are truly great at something and the rest of the crowd that is, well, average, is that those who are truly great, who make us say “wow!” have done a lot of hard work to get there.
Seth’s corollary point here is that the worst place to quit is in the middle of that time when things get hard. You’ve invested a lot of time and energy already, and you never see anything come of it. So, either determine to do the work to push through the hard part, or don’t bother starting.
Paul’s point was pretty much the same. The Corinthian church wanted all the glory without doing any of the work. They were just playing at church, really. They were like the garage band that never gets out of the garage telling everyone else what they should do to make it big time. Churches are supposed to be changing the world, not just keeping old buildings open once a week.
But, whatever profession you’re in, and no matter what religion (or non-religion) you ascribe to, if you want to stand out (and you should want to stand out!) you’ve got to run like you mean it. Half-ass never amounts to anything.