Not too long ago I figured out that I’ve lived more than 90% of my life. I don’t think of this as a morbid thought, but rather a motivating thought. Since I may only have 5-8 years left (I just turned 82 in December), I want to make sure I invest my remaining years  in the best possible way. 

Many of you who read posts at “Leadership From The Heart” know that I very much enjoy Eugene Peterson’s The Message. It’s not a translation in the traditional sense, because Peterson translates ideas instead of words. So when you read The Message you are reading words that are not in the original, but rather different words to get the same idea across that’s in the text. 

In essence, The Message is a translation, interpretation and commentary all rolled into one. On my book shelf I have numerous translations of the Bible that I have purchased, read and studied over the 62 years I have been a Christian. I have probably been reading The Message for 20 plus years and have memorized numerous passages. 

In this post I want to camp on two verses in The Message that speaks to running toward the finish line.

“A life frittered away disgusts God; he loves those who run straight for the finish line” ~ Proverb 15:9

“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No lazy living for me! ” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:26

So we have:

1. Running straight for the finish line

2. Running hard for the finish line

I ran across these two verses at different times and later connected the dots for my own life. 

Since I can almost see that finish line, and since I’m a strong advocate for leaders finishing their race well ~2 Timothy 4:7)~(which led to my first book, Leaders Who Last), I totally resonate with running straight and hard toward that end-of-race line.

As I have been thinking and praying about these two verses I have realized that “straight” deals with focus and “hard” deals with passion. Two simple words that are very meaningful for me at this point in my life.

Focus– It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “The successful man is the average man, focused. ”I believe this to be true. It always amazes me what can be accomplished when I (or anyone else) focus on one thing rather than too many things. 

When Billy Graham preached Dawson Trotman’s (the founder of the Navigators with whom I worked for 37 years) he noted it could be said of Dawson Trotman, not these 40 things I dabble at, but this one thing I do. Trotman had a singular focus throughout his adult life. 

Most truly successful people I personally know or have read about are really, really good at only one thing. Perhaps the best professional basketball player to ever play the game was Michael Jordan. He also played golf and baseball but was truly only great at one thing—Basketball. 

There are not too many of us who are Thomas Edison—multi-gifted as he was. I’m a leader developer. I invest most of my time helping to develop, equip and empower leaders so that they finish well. I do this through coaching, writing and teaching. This is my primary and singular focus in order to make my best contribution. I want to be, a this-one-thing-I-do sort of person that Paul speaks of in Philippians 3:13. For years, It has been my conviction that many leaders are trying to do too much and are traveling too fast. Is it any wonder then that lots of them are exhausted, burned-out and living on empty.

Passion-When I wrote. “Leaders Who Last”, the lord gave me five P’s on which to build the basic thoughts of the book: 

  1. Compelling Purpose
  2. Contagious Passion
  3. Power (of Jesus)
  4. Clear Priorities
  5. Careful Pacing 

I believe that people are attracted to and enjoy being around  passionate leaders: Leaders who have wind in their sail, fizz in their Coke and fire in their belly. But before I can be passionate, I need to know what my life purpose is. I have recently begun coaching a leader who runs his own organization and built it for 30 years around the idea of helping people discover and live out their life purpose. He has no shortage of people eager to sign up, learn and grow. 

My purpose and passion (and yours) needs to flow out of a personal relationship with Jesus–the source of true and lasting power!

As the finish line for me slowly comes into view over the next few years, I want to stay stay focused and passionate; hitting the ribbon in full stride and hearing, by His grace, well done my faithful servant. 

As a Christian leader, what are you giving your focused time and energy to and being passionate about in order to love and serve the one who gave His all for you?