John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach who led the team to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, was not only a basketball coach to his players but a life coach. John Wooden did not want his players to be champions on the court and chumps off the court. One of his many inspiring insights was, “Make each day your masterpiece.”
He notes: “. . . I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece. Too often, we get distracted by what is outside our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So, make today a masterpiece...”
Winning the day and making each day a masterpiece is a great piece of advice. The years of our lives are an accumulation of the days of our life, and just as a building is built one brick at a time, so a good life is constructed one day at a time. Winning the day is the path to success. Like the psalmist in Psalm 92:2, I want to move from sunrise to sunset in a manner that glorifies God. Like the psalmist in Psalm 118:24, I want to take control of the day given to me and live it to the hilt. But winning the day does not come just by wishing, but by acting. So, here are five things that help us make every day a winning day.
First, give the day to God in prayer early. In Psalm 5:3, David notes, “My voice shall you hear in the morning... ” The morning is the gate of the day, and we need to guard it with prayer. Looking up to God for His grace and mercy fortifies us against life getting us down.
Second, stop to smell the roses. Seek to find joy in little things. Jesus took time to look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field (Matt. 6:26, 28). Life is not about big events but little joys. For the most part, life is sipped, not gulped. It is coffee with a friend, sitting under the stars, reading a good book, or a leisurely walk along the beach.
Third, help others (Phil. 2:1-5). According to the Gospel, those who get the most out of life are those who get outside themselves and serve others (Matt. 10:39). Christianity teaches that fulfillment involves emptying oneself into others. We help ourselves by helping others.
Fourth, bury resentments (Eph. 4:32). Collecting postage stamps, baseball cards, coins, or autographs, is one thing; collecting resentments is another. Collecting hurts, slows us down, spins us around, and impedes our forward progress in life. Resentment enslaves while forgiveness releases. Do not bury the hatchet with the handle sticking up.
Fifth, trust God today for tomorrow (Matt. 6:34). Life must be lived one day at a time. We must not allow ourselves to be crucified between the regrets of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. There is grace for today. God never promised to give us tomorrow’s grace for today (Heb. 4:16; Deut. 33:25). There is strength to fight today’s battles.
You can win the day by living within the day you are in. Look to God and look no further.