It’s not easy to finish. It’s even less easy to finish well.

Recent public denunciations of faith by well-known ministry leaders bring this reality to the forefront. In August of this year, Marty Sampson, a worship music writer, singer, and member of Hillsong, publicly said he’s out in terms of his faith. A few weeks earlier, well-known Christian author Joshua Harris announced his departure from Christianity.

After a few of these public confessions, you might begin to wonder: Does anyone finish well? Will I finish well?” Finishing well doesn’t apply just to ministry leaders. It applies to anyone who is a Jesus follower/worshiper.

The good news? You don’t have to wonder about it. We can finish well. The apostle Paul wrote: “I have finished the race…” If Paul could finish well, it’s not a stretch to think we can too. We have the same Holy Spirit living inside of us as he did.

I love how Terry Walling in his book, Stuck, defines finishing well:

“Finishing well is a term that refers to reaching the end of one’s life and having been faithful to the calling God has placed on that life.  Finishing well is about Christ-followers being more passionate about Christ and His mission as they fulfill their life purpose than they were in the beginning. An individual who finishes well is more surrendered to God’s will and more focused on running the race to the end.”

Beautiful description, isn’t it?

Question is, how do we live in a way right now that increases our chances of reaching the finish line of faith down the road? Here’s three ideas:

Go upward

Developing and nurturing our relationship with Jesus exponentially increases our chances of finishing well. Intentionally creating moments of meaningful connection with Him every day, through studying His word, holding conversation with Him, and worshiping Him pushes our faith roots deeper. Using a journal to record moments when God meets our needs miraculously provides an audit trail of His past faithfulness that helps us to keep running our race when stormy winds blow. We’ll keep making progress toward the finish line by continuing to surrender areas of our heart/head/relationships that God puts His finger on and says “It’s time for that behavior to stop or that thought pattern to be kicked out!”

Time spent going upward is the place where God infuses more of the fruit of the Spirit into our character. If we want to finish well, we need to go upward.

Go inward

Socrates is credited with the following words: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Now . . . some of us take self-examination to the extreme. We get so self-critical we convince ourselves we’re worthless. Others may take the opposite extreme, never pausing to ask self-reflective questions. A few years ago, Charisma magazine listed some excellent self-reflection questions in the article: 10 Questions All Christians Should Ask Themselves Here are a few that stood out to me:

  1. Am I seeking God commensurate to the call and assignment of God in my life?The more influential you become, the more opportunities will come your way that can crowd God out of your world.
  2. Am I solely focused on the outer world of goals, objectives, and accomplishments or am I also paying attention to my inner-man regarding my call to grow in love, humility, and living for the glory of God?
  3. Am I surrounding myself with the people who can bring me to the next level of His purpose?

It helps when we work through these questions not just on our own, but also with the help of a mentor or a wise friend. And that leads to the third idea . . .

Go outward

Hang around others who are passionate followers and worshipers of Christ. Join a small group of believers you can grow together with spiritually. Faithfully attend a church that compassionately teaches Biblical truth and helps you discover, develop, and deploy your God-given gifts to serve Him and others. You won’t finish your race well by yourself. The writer of the letter to Hebraic Christians wrote: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Do you want to finish well? Go upward, inward, and outward . . . on a regular basis. These three patterns won’t guarantee a great finish. But they greatly increase our chances.

I’m rooting and praying for you!