In my last blog, 4 Keys to Success, I had promised to write about the secret I have found to finishing well. I don’t know how you work, but I am an amazing starter and a horrible finisher. I am all about embracing a new idea or tackling a job, but about halfway through I would rather just pass the job on and have someone else finish it. In some ways, that works well in being an administrative leader because I can get something started and then find someone to run it and move on to the next area or idea. But sometimes, it is essential that I finish what I start.
Recently, my Grandma passed away and I flew to Ohio for the funeral over Labor Day weekend. Grandma had lived a long life and ended it with passion, and all of her children and many of her grandchildren came from all over the states. Although she struggled the last few years with several mini strokes and could not always remember things, she still had a strong faith in Christ. My mom would call me and tell me, “Grandma keeps talking about her childhood like she is living there, but the next moment she is telling me to make sure that all the family knows that the most important thing is knowing Jesus.” At the funeral, there were stories told of her evangelizing in the nursing home hallways, wanting everyone to know about heaven and Jesus. For those of you who didn’t meet Grandma, she raised ten children and many grandchildren, and her faith was quiet but strong. She wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t give up. You can read her bio here.
This leads me to the secret I have discovered to finishing well, and the secret that I believe Grandma knew and lived.
“When the going gets hard, the tough get going.” I am sure you have heard that before, but I think that was one of Grandma’s mottos that she lived by. She was kind and gentle, but boy was she tough. As a grandchild, I never heard her complain. She was always serving in the kitchen, making her famous cinnamon rolls, baking her cereal cookies, or in with all the ladies of the family preparing or cleaning up dinner. Perseverance is the key to finishing well. It is easy to look at someone’s success and wish we were them, but if we knew what it took for them to get where they did, we may not wish for it so quickly.
Once the 4 Keys to Success are learned and established, perseverance HAS to come into play to see the finish line. Grandma didn’t have it easy raising ten children! For crying out loud, it isn’t easy with five children. I should know! Endless laundry, homework, dishes, financial burdens, time commitments, coaching, working through life, middle school drama, teaching values, the list goes on and on and that is only the list of being a mother.
What is your overwhelming thing right now? Fighting an addiction? Trying to get a business off the ground? Overwhelming financial issues? Exhaustion? Raising children? Running a church? Studying for the next big test at college? Praying for a miracle? Whatever it is, perseverance is the answer.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Perseverance doesn’t mean perfection. Grandma wasn’t perfect. She lost her temper sometimes (with ten kids, who wouldn’t?), although from the stories I have heard it wasn’t very often. I am sure she didn’t always make the right decision. But I do know that she never gave up. She was not a quitter. And she never compromised in how she believed. She persevered to the very end. She kept the faith. And she passed the torch to the next generation.
I once had a prophetic friend pray for me after he preached at our church. He said, “I just keep seeing this picture of you as an old woman, and you are still faithful to the Lord. I think the Lord wants you to know that you have what it takes, and that you will be faithful to Him til the end.” That did something for my spirit. I cried a little when I heard that, and I have held that picture in my heart as a reminder to me that I CAN make it. It helped me believe that I CAN finish strong. Sometimes it’s hard being faithful. Sometimes it’s hard standing strong. Whether it’s in ministry, in marriage, with family, work, or whatever it may be, making the right choice is often not the easiest choice. We all need a cheerleader in our life, telling us we can finish the marathon of life and finish it well.
I am so thankful for the legacy of my grandma’s perseverance. In the middle of the message at her funeral, tears were pouring down my eyes as I could feel Grandma there through the message commissioning me to not give up on life, to keep on sharing my faith in Christ, and to love well. So, that is my plan. I plan to persevere and finish strong. How about you?
P.S. I know this is about my Grandma and how she finished strong, but I can’t write on this subject of perseverance and not give my husband some mad props. My husband is also a great example of perseverance in every area of life. Confession: It isn’t ALWAYS easy to love me. I have some very unlovable moments sometimes, usually when I am overwhelmed or exhausted. But my husband doesn’t choose to run, he stays and helps me get through those moments. It would be easier for him to leave and let me struggle, but he doesn’t choose that. He chooses to persevere and be patient. He has done the same for his children, and for the church that he leads. I am proud to be next to a man that is going to finish strong. I hope he can say the same about me.