NOT ON THE 'A' LIST: Paul's ministry could be compared to a scrappy athlete who always outperforms others because he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Maybe it came from the fact that he wasn't as big or strong, or because he didn't get to play in the club leagues when he was younger, so he always feels the need to prove he's not inferior. Most of the time, the only person he really needs to prove himself worthy enough to is himself.
Paul never felt like he was one of the top tier apostles. He wasn't with Jesus during Jesus' ministry like Peter and James, and he wasn't a smooth talking crowd pleaser like Apollos (another apostle we know little about but whom Paul mentions often). Whether it was right or not for Paul to have this chip on his shoulder is debatable, but the way he reacts to it should be a model for us. Rather than let it make him angry that he was never really felt accepted, to wear he sulked off and quit, Paul harnessed the frustration and used it to motivate him to even greater acts of service for the gospel.
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES REQUIRE SELF DISCIPLINE: A top-tier athlete spends every moment of her life honing her sport, letting it dictate what she eats and how long she sleeps, lifting weights, running drills, and constantly thinking about how she can improve her game just a little bit more. This is the same attitude Paul tells you to take in regard to your Spiritual Disciplines. Spiritual Disciplines are activities - things you do - that lead to attitudes - things you feel, such as peace. Once again today, you're encouraged to go into "strict training" so that you can "get a crown that will last forever (v25)."
For a quick refresher on what Spiritual Disciplines are, check out this short video.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father in heaven, whose name is holy.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Run in such a way that you will win the prize - the reward God desires to give you (v24).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: