To Live and To Die

“…to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, NIV).

In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey offers several best practices of leadership. Principles such as “Be Proactive”, “Begin With the End in Mind”, and “Sharpen the Saw” instruct the reader on how to excel in both business and life. “Habit 4” in Covey’s book is entitled “Think Win/Win”. This habit encourages the leader to strive for solutions that benefit all parties in any given conflict or situation.

As a teacher and coach, I tried to implement Covey’s “Think Win/Win” strategy on numerous occasions. I consistently attempted to position students and athletes in the best possible scenarios for success. Instruction and playing time were often structured to mutually accomplish my personal goals of learning and winning games and the individual goals of the student/athlete.

The Apostle Paul found himself in one of the most critical win/win scenarios of life. In his letter to the Church at Philippi, Paul writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…” (Philippians 1:21-23, NIV).

Paul reasoned that either way, through life or death, he had Christ, and that’s all that really mattered to him. While his desire was to leave this earth and live for all of eternity in Heaven, Paul ultimately realized that his God-ordained purpose on earth of reaching the lost was far more important.

What a paradigm-shifting way of thinking! Far too often, I believe, our focus is on the here-and-now of living in the present, not the then-and-there reality of salvation in Heaven. In all actuality though, we have both our witness for Christ while living and our reward with Christ at our dying. May God help each of us see the “Win/Win” opportunity before us!  

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