Finish like a Champ

Recently, I’ve been posting some tips to help pastors find the right job in a local church. This post is a continuation of the series. It’s about what to do before you leave your current role, namely, finish like a champ.

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When I was thirteen years old, I ran a local 5k. At the start of the race, some kid ran full-speed for the first 100 yards. I passed him at 200 yards. And so did everyone else.

The next day, however, he got his picture on the front page of the paper. I remember being really mad about it.

See, he started well but didn’t finish well.

Anybody can start a race well. But they don’t give you medals at the starting line. It’s finishing well that counts—in a race and especially in life. Marriages can start well, pastorates can start well, and so can the Christian life. But consider Solomon in the Old Testament (1 Kings 3; 11:1-8) or Demas in the New Testament (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:4; 2 Timothy 4:10). They seem to have started well, only to fail at what really counts: finishing well.

At the point in the job process in which you have put all the previous tips into practice (1234, 5, and 6), you are likely in the process of a transition. Maybe you even have your house on the market and looking at new homes in another city. That’s great, right?

But planning for and making the transition are hard work, and, in the midst of it, you may find it easy to neglect your current role. You may find it easy to forget to finish well.

I remember what a busy season this was for me when I found my first job in a local church. After I accepted the offer, I still had to finish my final exams at school, complete projects at work, and make updates on my home. This was hard work. There was a lot to do. But whether it’s difficult or not, is irrelevant. God calls you to finish like a champ.

I’ve worked in several places, and it’s always memorable and telling when someone finishes well or doesn’t. Those are the memories that last. Did he simply coast to the finish line, collecting paychecks but not really working? Or was he actually fired for misconduct? Or, on the other hand, did he finish all of his responsibilities, tie up loose ends, and go above and beyond to make sure no one would be left with unfinished projects—to make sure he finished well?

How you finish is what people remember.

I know of a pastor who oversaw the small group ministry at his church. As he prepared to transition to a new church, he continued to help launch small groups, even launching one a mere two days before he left. It was confusing to people—in a good way. Why would he keep working like this?

It says a lot about us, and our God, when we finish strong, especially when we have a “better” job starting in a matter of days. Regardless of who the employer is, we ultimately work for the Lord, and therefore we should work “heartily” unto him (Colossians 3:23).

Many times people don’t finish strong. But Jesus did. And he calls us to do the same.