It's How You Finish That Matters

The Apostle Paul had an incredible ministry journey.  It all started when he had a life-changing encounter with Jesus on a road to Damascus. 

He would go on to see God do amazing things through his life. 

At the end of his life and ministry, he penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.                    2 Timothy 4:7

Paul served faithfully 'til the end.  He went the distance.  He completed the course that God had for Him.  

It has recently been sad to see many church leaders not finish the course God had laid out for them.  Men that I looked up to and learned from. Pastors that have committed adultery.  Church leaders that have misused church funds for personal pleasure and gain. Pastors that have walked completely away from the faith.  

One man in particular that impacted my life over the years was Bill Hybels.  I have read his books, listened to him teach and been inspired by his passion for reaching those far from God.  In spite of all he accomplished through the years of his ministry, his primary legacy will not be one of finishing strong.  As he prepared to retire from the church he founded and led, accusations surfaced that have tarnished his ministry legacy.

We have to remember that ministry is not a sprint.  It is a marathon.  If we are going to finish strong, then we have to put boundaries around our lives that will help us go the distance.  It only takes one incident to ruin what we have spent years and even decades building.  It can all come crashing down if we do not remain faithful.

Remember this - greatness in ministry is not measured in years, but in decades.  It is a lifelong journey.  And it requires you to finish strong. 

If you want to finish strong, then here's what you must live by.

Fight the good fight.  You and your ministry will come under attack from the enemy.  We are in a battle against the forces of evil.  Fight for your family.  Fight for your marriage.  Fight for a good track record.  Fight against sin. Fight against the temptations that the enemy is using to try and take you down. Your relationship with Jesus is worth fighting for.  Your relationship with your family is worth fighting for.  Your relationship with those you are serving in ministry is worth fighting for. I have often said this...

The best way to be successful in ministry is to stay in ministry.

That only happens through being intentional about doing what it takes to go the distance in ministry. 

Finish your race.  God has a specific course He wants you to complete. Stop comparing your race with other people's races.  Stay in your lane.  Focus on what God has called you to do.  Keep your eyes on Jesus instead of what other people are doing. 

Remain faithful.  Paul wraps it up by simply stating that he remained faithful. That doesn't happen by accident. You must guard your heart and ministry with diligence if you want go the distance.  You must be committed for the long haul. You must run from sin. You must flee from what the devil will send your way.  Remain faithful to your spouse.  Remain faithful to your kids.  Remain faithful and practice what you preach. Remain faithful in your walk with Jesus.  Remain faithful in your words and actions.  Remain faithful in guarding your testimony.  

Why is it so important to finish strong?  Because that will be what you are remembered for.  It only takes one mark against you to ruin all that you have spent years building.  Unfortunately Bill will not be remembered for the huge impact he made over the years.  He will be remembered as someone who did not finish strong.  

What will your legacy be remembered for? Always keep this in mind.  It's how you finish that matters.  Will you go the distance?  Do you have the safeguards and precautions in place that will help you go the distance?  Is anyone holding you accountable for your daily actions?  Is there anyone who is asking you the hard questions that will help you stay on course?  

Did you know there were 3 men who started their ministry at the same time many years ago?  Critics said that 2 of the men were better speakers than the third one.  But no one remembers the names of the 2 men who were better speakers.  Why? Because they weren't cautious and veered off course in just a few short years. But you have heard the name of the third preacher.  He is known around the world as one of God's choicest servants.  His name?  Billy Graham.  Billy went the distance and left a great legacy because he was very intentional about staying away from temptation and other things that could tarnish his track record.

I want to hear these words one day.

"Well done, my good and faithful servant."  Matthew 25:21

And I know you do too.  Finish strong.  Be faithful.  And always remember - it's how you finish that matters.