In the movie City Slickers, Curly (Jack Palance) tells Billy Crystal that the secret of happiness is in one thing.

“What’s the one thing?” Crystal asks.

Curly says, “You have to find out that for yourself.”

Here’s how Paul defined the one thing for himself.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

His “one thing” was winning the prize — the prize of knowing Jesus. It was the driving force behind all that he did.

A subtle, but crucial, distinction: Paul wasn’t driven by the idea of success in the ministry, of building growing congregations, of reaching unchurched people with the gospel. True, he did these things — and he did them well — but he was driven above all by the desire to know Jesus.

His devotional life, not his ambition, fueled his ministry.

Here’s how this plays out in our lives today.

When you’re driven primarily by the desire to see results, you often end up frustrated. Nothing — not even success — is quite good enough.

But when you’re driven by the desire to know Jesus, two things can happen.

One, you tend to work harder.
Two, you have peace in the process.

When your primary motivation is the hope of gaining Christ, as Paul says in Philippians 3:8 … when your greatest goal in life is to know him and become like him, as he says in 3:10 … when your work is fueled by your devotional life and not your ambition … the ministry becomes less of an exercise in frustration, and more of the adventure God intends for our lives to be.

Did you enjoy this post? It’s one of more than 500 One Minute Messages by Steve May in the illustration archives of