How you live your life is very important, but how you finish is even more important. Many enter the race, but over time and because of many challenges they get out of the race.
In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul tells Timothy, the young man he considers his “son in the ministry” that he has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.
Most people will not remember how you started the race but they will remember how you finish.
In a study by J. Robert Clinton he concluded that less than a third of both historical and contemporary leaders finished strong. Using that as our measuring stick, two out of three leaders in the ministry will not finish strong. They will get out of the race because of things like discouragement, greener pastures, or sin in their lives.
How do you finish well? Clinton offers five factors through his studies that are necessary for a leader to finish strong, the last of which is “Mentoring.” Dynamic Church Planting International defines a mentor as “someone who has been where I want to go and is willing to help me get there.”
It is the concept of having a Paul in your life, a father in the ministry, someone who will keep you focused on being faithful, fruitful, and finishing well.
Clinton writes the following about mentorship:
“Relationships are vital to life. One who finishes well has recognized that such a feat does not happen by going it alone. Leaders who finish well mentor others and are also mentored. They do not restrict themselves to a single mentor, as if one person can provide them with all they need. Usually these people have many voices that speak into their lives and hold them accountable to what is truly important. We need this to finish well.”
He goes on to say, “More than that, we need also to invest it in the next generation. The very definition of finishing well requires that we leave this planet in the care of the next generation of leaders. Unlike the Dead Sea, which receives water from many tributaries but contributes to none and is therefore stagnant and dead, the leader who finishes well is constantly growing because they are always giving and receiving.”
The reason some leaders have not finished well is that they have put so much emphasis on accomplishing tasks instead of having strong mentoring relationships. Consider this example:
Pastor Kenneth Bobo ministered and encouraged my family through good times and tough times. He once asked my advice and prayers on a decision he was making in the ministry at that time. I was honored that he would even ask but challenged in a way that I have not forgotten when he said “Larry, I want to finish well!”
Here was a man of God in my life who was not talking about stepping out of the fight but praying and asking God to make the latter years of his ministry his most productive.
It is a shame that so many will not finish well because the cause of Christ is damaged when leaders fall by the wayside. If we do not want to be a statistic then we must be accountable to others as we strive by the grace of God to run the race and to finish well.
A mentor does not just point the way; he or she leads by example.
A mentor does not want you to just be a follower but challenges you to become a leader.
A mentor is as interested in you finishing well as they are in finishing well themselves.
Let’s run the race together!
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