I too, like our guest blogger Martha Lawley, am at a point in life and ministry that I pray that God will strengthen me daily to “finish well”. Even if you are younger, you will benefit by reading this post as you consider the legacy you will leave behind one day…and only God knows when that day will come.
Finishing well . . . It’s a phrase I’m hearing a lot lately. Perhaps it’s because of my age or the phase of ministry many of my friends find themselves. Either way, I’ve been asking God to show me what it really means to finish well.
I have to admit, I was a little surprised by the first thought God brought to my mind on this subject. He reminded me that we rarely know when we are experiencing our “lasts” in life. While many of our “firsts” are celebrated, our “lasts” seem to sneak up on us without notice. Only later do we realize it was a last.
This reality has led me to more closely examine the idea of finishing well. God alone decides when we are finished and I’m beginning to see the wisdom of being in a state of ready by remaining focused and faithful to what God has ask of me.
I’ve learned a lot about life and ministry from the Apostle Paul. The challenges he faced in living out his calling and his openness about his human failings have been an inspiration to me. When I think about finishing well, I think about Paul’s last visit with the Ephesian elders recorded in Acts 20:24-27. Nearing the end of his ministry, Paul gives valuable insight into finishing well.
1. Certainty of Calling – Paul knew what God had called him to do. In times of defeat & difficulty as well as times of joy, Paul was clear on one thing: God’s call (vs. 24). What about you? Are you certain about God’s call on your life? How can we finish well if we have not even started what God has called us to do?
Certainty of calling is crucial to finishing well. Calling sets our priorities and defines our successes. Living out God’s call, finishing the task given him had become the most important thing to Paul. He considered his life is worth nothing compared to completing his calling.
Clearly it would be easier to work for God without a call. We would not have to be bothered with what God requires and would be free to follow our own sentiment. However, in God’s calling we find protection and the fulfillment that can only come from living a life that truly matters.
2. Confidence of Success – Perhaps most remarkable of all is the wonderful confidence that results from a certainty of calling. In Acts 20: 26–27, Paul makes a profound statement of confidence. He knows, without any doubt, he has done what God called him to do! Now that is something every leader could benefit from. How did Paul get such confidence? Well, from being certain of his calling, letting his calling determine his perspective and living in obedience. Let’s be clear – Paul did not always get it right (remember Barnabas?). His confidence of success was not based on being perfect, but rather on being faithful.
Did you also notice that Paul’s success was not determined by the response of those he ministered to? How often do you and I make that mistake – allowing the others or the enemy to beat us down? Like Paul our success as leaders – our finishing well – is determined by our obedience to God’s call!
Finishing well sounds a lot like starting well. What do you think? How is God helping you finish well?
Martha Lawley formerly served as the Women’s Consultant for the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention until her family moved to northern Wyoming. She contributed to the women’s leadership books, Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level and Women Reaching Women: Revised and Expanded edition, published by LifeWay, and has written numerous articles for LifeWay’s Women’s Ministry web site. She is also the author of Attending the Bride of Christ: Preparing for His Return. Martha is a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier and serves her local church in various areas of leadership, and is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.
Attending the Bride