#128: Running the Great Race

11 Qualities of a Winner

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  (1 Cor. 9:24)”, they knew very well what he meant.

Winner Running Race

The citizens of Corinth were familiar with athletic contests since their annual Isthmian games were second only to the Olympic games.  They knew that to win a runner must stay on the course, focused on the race, and keep going until the race was over.

How do we, as Christians, run the race in today’s marketplace, in such a way that we “get the prize”?  You don’t have to go far to find people willing to give you the answer.  Bookstores are full of books that proclaim methods sure to harness your inner powers to win; to be successful in life.  Entire magazines are devoted to teaching you the secret power of your inner-self on a monthly basis.  The problem with these self-help volumes is that they focus on how you can serve yourself and they call that “winning”.

Sadly, there are millions of people who accept this advice, focusing on their own pleasures and success, but suddenly they find a great emptiness in their gut.  The title and corner office at work, the luxury car, the nice house, none of these visible signs of winning bring true satisfaction.  So how can you live your life so as to “win” the race?  How can you serve God and win the greatest prize of all?  Here are eleven qualities of winners that will get you started.


Paul, writing to the Colossians said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” (Col. 3:23-24).  Most people only work to get through the day.  So, if you work with all your heart you will be a high achiever.  If you go a step further and work as for the Lord nothing can stop you.

Positive Attitude

Paul wrote to the Philippians that they should, “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…” (Phil. 2:14-15).


Paul speaks of his determination to complete his ministry saying, “I can do all things through Him that strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13 NASB).  When you are feeling down and a bit discouraged do you redouble your efforts knowing that God can help you accomplish all things?


You build a brick wall by laying one brick carefully upon another.  Confidence is built the same way.  One win builds the confidence for a bigger attempt, which leads to a bigger win.

Open Minded

At least four times in the Old Testament you can find words similar to those recorded in Jeremiah, “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear.” (Jer. 5:21).  Strong words!  But people with closed minds and hearts need strong words to get their attention.  Great achievers are people with open minds willing to listen to the ideas and plans of others.  They value the contributions of people regardless of their education, job status, sex, race, or age.


Motivated achievers take advantage of the opportunities that arise to fulfill their dreams and work very hard to achieve success.  They have the kind of energy and enthusiasm that makes them look like a cheerleader at a football game.


If you want to be a winner you need to be goal-oriented.  You need to look into the future to plan your course of action.  Solomon writes, “The naive believes everything, but the prudent man considers his steps.  A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.” (Pro. 14:15-16 NASB).  As you set your goals “consider your steps,” be cautious, and turn away from evil.


If you can’t control your emotions, your tongue, your time, or your money, how can you hope to control your life?  Paul also spoke of discipline as he wrote to Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7).  Begin building discipline into your life by picking something that you really want to change; lose a few pounds, start exercising, stop smoking, stop criticizing people at the office, etc.  Gain control over your life by bringing discipline into one part of your life at a time.


Supportive winners care about the people that surround them, and as a result, people care about them.  Jesus describes the difference between a good shepherd and a hired hand saying that the good shepherd would lay down his life for the sheep while the hired hand would protect himself first (John 10:11-13).  There is no better picture of support than that of Jesus as our good shepherd.


Winners take responsibility for their actions.  When things don’t work out they don’t look for a sucker to hang the blame on.  As Solomon points out in Proverbs, “The lazy man is full of excuses.” (Proverbs 22:13 TLB).  When things go well winners give credit to the employees who did the work and when things go bad winners take responsibility for the failure.


The last and most important attribute of a winner is their dependency on God.

Habakkuk, knowing the imminent Babylonian invasion will destroy the fig trees, grapes, olives, grain fields, and the cattle and sheep, writes, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” (Hab: 3:18-19).  Despite the destruction that was at hand, Habakkuk depended on the Lord knowing that He would give him the confidence and ability to go on to new heights.

One Final Thought

Paul provides a perspective of a man with a significant life who was dependent on God, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24).

Paul understood two very important elements of a life of significance.  First of all, Paul knew he was shaped by God to do a job and second, Paul also knew that God would always be standing with him to help him complete this work.

We are no different than Paul.  God has given each of us unique skills and abilities to do unique work during our lives.  If we honor His design in us we will do that work, knowing that He will always be there for us.

What will it be for you; vegging out, striving for success but “missing something” in your life, or living a significant life doing the work God created you to do?

Bonus Whitepaper

If you would like a broader discussion on this topic, download the free Running the Great Race whitepaper.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Are there other Biblical qualities of a winner that you think should be included in this list?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category:Skills | Leadership Development

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.