Finishing Well

She stared down at the finish line of the 40 meter sprint. She had made the sprint 6 times in under the time requirement. Missed one. There was just this one more try. Get in under the time and she qualifies to go to the camp to train to be one of the elite soccer referees in the country. Miss, and she goes back to youth games.

The signal beeped. She took off. The pain of so much running and so much stress started to enter her consciousness. Then she looked at the approaching finish line. Finishing strong. It was as much the way she finished as beating the time that guaranteed her success.

let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…  –letter to the Hebrews 12

Have you learned anything new today? This week? This month? This year?

John Kotter, in his classic leadership and management book Leading Change, talks about the many people he has seen in his consulting career who peaked at 35. They ceased to learn anything anymore. They grew comfortable. And the world passed them by. When change came, as it inevitably does, they were lost.

That is a big problem in our economy and country right now. We’ve had far-reaching changes in the type of work available, in the location of jobs, in new things to learn.

It’s not like it is the first time in human history this has happened. It happens in every culture, every geography, over millennia. Why do we think we can do the same things we’ve always done and expect different results?

Then there’s personal growth. When is the last time you really studied the Bible or one of the great thinkers of the tradition? Did your knowledge stop when your were 15? Do you still quote the same verses or sayings having long since forgotten the context or the reason?

How do you want to finish? Coasting to the finish line over the last half of your life? As for me, I wish to finish strong. Like the young woman in the story I led with. Like the “vast cloud of witnesses” at the beginning of the Hebrews passage, we were all rooting for her. But it was up to her to finish strong. There are people rooting for you.

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