In the last few days I’ve been reminded a couple of times about the importance of finishing well. Many of us start off strong but not many of us actually finish well. The first reminder was a movie Lainey and I saw recently. (To keep from spoiling it I won’t mention the name or give revealing details).
I thought it was a really good movie with a great story. During the course of the movie I even found myself smiling as I allowed myself to be carried away by the story. The acting was superb and the movie was beautifully shot. I was enthralled right up until the end, which wasn’t bad…it was just flat. In my opinion, with just another scene or two and a few more lines of dialog they could’ve elevated a good movie into a great one.
The other incident that reminded me of the need to finish well was a short novel I had been reading by Elmore Leonard, one of my favorite authors. Like the movie, the book was great, right up until the end. It was like Leonard had a word count in mind and when he got within 200 words of his limit he simply shut things down.
At any rate, all this got me thinking about the finish and specifically about finishing well. There’s a line from Paul’s letter to the Galatian church where he says in frustration, “You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?” For the purposes of this post, I’ll ask it like this, “who has held you back from finishing strong?”
Like I’ve said before, oftentimes, we’re the ones who hold ourselves back.
You can imagine the graph of the trajectory. The graceful curve, the climbing line arcing beautifully upward and then the sharp drop off; like off a cliff. What causes this drop, the loss of line and momentum?
I’m sure there are more but here are three thoughts about how to stay on target and finish strong.
- It’s an old cliche but relevant in this case, “Begin with the end in mind.” To finish well is not just a pie-in-the-sky goal, it should become a target. To finish well becomes a targeted outcome before the very first step is taken. From that first step forward; before every decision and every little course correction or fork in the road you have to ask yourself, “Will this help me finish strong?”
- Plan now for the dip later. The dip, or the opportunity to compromise and fall short, will come. Bank on it. And you know yourself; you may be too weary and unable to make the strong decision when the dip comes. So…make the decision now. Have a “dip plan” ready to go. Successful marathoners know all about the wall that lurks at mile 21 and they make a plan on how they’ll deal with it before the race even starts.
- Invite others to join you. We were never created to walk alone. It’s easier to finish well when you’re with a team…it’s more fun too. We can all use the encouragement, the camaraderie and the accountability that comes from walking with others.
In Judges it tells us that Samson killed more Philistines in death than in his life. Is that good or bad? Should we be happy about that? Is that a reason to celebrate? I think not.
Who knows how successful Samson would have been in fulfilling his destiny if he’d made the decision and taken the steps to finish strong?