I assume that most of you who read these blogs are well aware of the fact that I am very fond of The Message by Eugene Peterson who recently passed away at the age of 85. I know that The Message is a paraphrase and not on par with a genuine translation. Peterson translates ideas not words and, in his rendering of what he feels the meaning is, will use words not in the original; so it’s always a good idea to have a legitimate translation in front of you when reading, studying or memorizing in The Message. I enjoy both reading and memorizing key passages in The Message. I find it very helpful and illuminating.
Most of you also know that I authored the book, “Leaders Who Last” and am always thinking about, writing about and focused personally on being a leader who finishes his race well. (Acts 20:24 & 2 Timothy 4:7)
There are two passages in The Message that speak specifically to the issue of finishing well that I want to share in this post.
“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 sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Corinthians 9:26,27
Straight for the finish line in my way of thinking has to do with intentionality. In Philippians 3:13 Paul says: “This one thing I do.” Psalm 27:4 has the psalmist saying: “One thing I ask of the Lord.” There is enormous power in being very intentional about one (or a very few things), whether we are talking about a week in your life or your entire life.
It was C.S. Lewis who said that everyone is composed of a few themes. Not many of us will excel at a lot of things, but just a few–maybe only one. A runner has a single focus on the finish line and does not get sidetracked thinking about anything other than reaching and crossing that line. Focus, focus!
When I begin a coaching partnership with clients, I share that being intentional is one of the benefits of our coaching. I tell them that we are going to beintentional about a handful of things and that they are going to tell me what those things are.
I worked with The Navigators organization for 37 years. Billy Graham preached Dawson Trotman’s (founder of The Navigators) funeral and said “It could be said of Dawson Trotman: “This one thing I do, not these 40 things I dabble at.” It was Steven Covey who is famous for saying: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I believe that the journey in finishing well should begin by identifying your purpose in life and then being faithful and consistent in staying focused on that purpose.
Hard for the finish line has to do with intensity by giving it everything we’ve got. “Leaving it all on the field” as President George H. Bush was fond of saying. In Numbers 14:24 we read: “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” (ESV) This is the same Caleb who said at 80 that he was as strong as he was at 40 and was ready to ask for a mountain. No half-heartedness with him. If he was a football player he would be giving it everything he had on every play. Caleb had energy, excitement and enthusiasm. He was running hard for his finish line, not a lazy bone in his body, no slacking off. I’ll be 85 next year and can totally resonate with Caleb. He is my kind of guy.
A while ago I wrote down some ideas for a five-year plan that would take me to 85. I don’t know how many years I have left, but whatever the sovereign Lord wants to give me I, by His power, want to live them well and run with intentionality and intensity.
I truly believe that these two traits will help all of us finish well and hear His, “Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Lord.”