I got up to walk around in my seminary library and was almost startled to notice no one else around in the middle of the day. A backpack on a desk, a notebook computer at another, and lights on in a small meeting room, but no one around. I walked further. Still no one. And then, finally, a person emerged from a tiny room at the end of the library. The rapture had not yet happened!
Now before you literalists judge me about my lack of assurance let me state the point of this post: starting out well in life’s journey is important, but not near as critical as finishing well! In the spirit of Shakespeare, “I feel a soliloquy coming on”, or perhaps in this case, a sermon. But unlike Shakespeare, I’ll keep this short.
I was reading today in 1 Peter 5, preparing for a reflection paper due in my Leading Groups & Organizations class tomorrow. Peter warns those of us who are leaders to not take our responsibilities lightly; we are moving targets for the devil who would love to destroy us. I am especially aware of this fact after the recent suicide of Tom White, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs; a man who was in my home as a child and one I have always highly respected. No leader is farther away from losing everything than one small misstep. My faith must be firm, states Peter, in order to resist the devil and suffer well in my leadership role in the Kingdom. Peter wraps up this section by affirming that the God of all grace restores, establishes, and strengthens us. Yes! In Eugene Peterson’s words: “That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (The Message, Hebrews 12:3)
Also significant is Peter’s allusion to faithfulness at the end of his letter. Silvanus was a “faithful brother” he writes. And that’s how I want my story to end. I want to be known as one who was faithful to the end. Starting out well is noteworthy in the Christian race; but finishing well is of utmost importance. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27 that he strikes a blow to his body and makes it his slave so that after he has preached to others, he himself will not be disqualified for the prize. And at the end of his life he wrote that he had fought a good fight, he had finished the race, he had kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). How serious am I about finishing the race? What will it take to finish well?
Again, I am keenly aware of this in light of Tom White’s suicide that occurred around the same time Chuck Colson died. The latter finished well. I want my leadership story to speak of faithfulness; of the One who ultimately restored, established, and strengthened me from start to finish. To Him be glory forever and ever, Amen.