First Methodist just completed a series entitled Finisher with a central theme, “It’s not those who begin, but those who finish.” In fact, everyone else in and out of the church builds their lives on those who are finishers. In our lives, we depend on those kinds of people.
My father was a finisher. His life was difficult, with many ups and downs — health, financial, career, etc. I remember letting my Mom and Dad know, when Rhonda and I were living in Missouri with our first two babies, that we were preparing to move back to Texas to pastor our first church. I did not ask for help, but he borrowed his company van, put a trailer behind it and drove up to help us move. The last few years of his life he took care of my very ill mother and after that my sister. His commitment to his church was unquestioned. His life was not easy and he was not perfect, but you could count on him. He was a finisher many others built their lives on. I have learned through the years to appreciate that more than any other quality. Likability is nice and talent is good, but people who can be counted on are where the rubber meets the road.
I probably can speak for every pastor almost anywhere when I say that people we can count on are our greatest treasure — not perfect people, not people who never make mistakes, not people with amazing talent or tremendous gifts, not just people with personality plus (and First Methodist has all those) but people whose heart, faith and presence we can count on.
As we enter a new season in the life of First Methodist, begin our journey through Lent, prepare for Easter, continue our In the City for the City theme and work to fulfill our mission statement — “Making disciples of Jesus Christ who will love God, love others and serve the world” — can I count on you, can all our pastors count on you, can your church count on you? I don’t ask for perfection, sinlessness, talent or people who are just like Jesus (no one is), just people who can be counted on. That’s all any pastor really wants, and the longer we lead the church, the more we appreciate this attribute.
Finisher: We build our lives on finishers. I may not be able to be perfect or sinless, and neither can you, but we can be finishers, the kind of people our families, communities, and church builds its life on.
Paul said it well, “I have fought the fight, run my race, finished my course, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, and not me only, but all those who loved his appearing.” And 2,000 years later, we still build our lives on this apostolic finisher.
I want to thank all the finishers out there, all the people I have been able to count on through the years. You are a treasure to me, and I am grateful to God for you.