How can we finish well in ministry? Today, I’m thinking about pastors I knew who finished well—those who faithfully served God all the way to death. Here are some of their characteristics that challenge me to live differently today.
- They oozed humility. Though they, like all leaders, at times wrestled with a desire to be somebody, they knew from the beginning that the work of the gospel was not about them—it’s about Jesus.
- They always knew they could be steps away from a fall. They weren’t so foolish as to think they could not fall. Their honest recognition of the possibility made them ever alert and prayerful.
- At the same time, the thought of failing Jesus was almost a foreign thought. They just loved Jesus, and serving Him meant more to them than anything. Even the thought of letting Him down broke their hearts.
- They planned to finish well. That is, they didn’t end well by accident. They made a commitment to finish well each day, and the faithful days became years.
- They were firmly committed to their families. They adored their spouses and children, and everybody knew it. Serving God meant building their homes on His Word, praying daily with their family, and protecting their time with them.
- They had some kind of mentor in their lives. These relationships weren’t always formal, but they were intentional. The pastors I’ve known who finished well always had somebody walking with them and encouraging them.
- They lived in the Word and on their knees. They knew the Word so well that it naturally flowed from them. Prayer was not ritual to them; it was relationship.
- They were committed to integrity. Their “yes” really did mean “yes,” and their “no” really did mean “no” (Matt. 5:37). Never once did I question the truthfulness of their lives or their words.
- They evangelized regularly. This characteristic may be surprising, but I can’t deny what I saw in their lives. These pastors wanted others to know about Jesus. Their world was first and foremost about Him.
- Their only ambition was to please Jesus. Some of these pastors were elected to significant denominational positions, but none of them sought those roles. Hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21) was more important to them than hearing the accolades and applause of man.
My prayer is that you and I finish well, too. What characteristics have you seen in pastors who ran the race well?