February 2, 2022
Serving leaders not only want to run well, but they want to finish well. They begin with the end in mind and lead with the end in mind. They ponder the meaning of Paul’s words written near the end of his life.
6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6–8, NIV).
As Paul reflected on the end of his journey, he was able to list three accomplishments, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Serving leaders reflect on these words of a great leader near the end of his life. They learn from Paul’s example to keep their focus by asking themselves, “What am I doing to finish well?”
Serving leaders ask “What am I doing to finish well?“ to keep their focus on calling.
“I have fought the good fight.” Paul boldly confirms that he has completed the calling God gave to him. There were many battles along the way. But Paul focused on his calling and didn’t allow distractions to shift his life in other directions. At the end he could say with confidence that he had fulfilled the great purpose God had for his life and leadership. Serving leaders learn from Paul to keep their focus on what really matters. They discover their great purpose and then pursue that relentlessly. In the group or organization they lead, they invest significant energy in keeping that purpose a part of every activity. Serving leaders reflect on the end to keep their calling the focus of their daily activity.
Serving leaders ask “What am I doing to finish well?“ to keep their focus on successors.
“I have finished the race.” Paul shifts his analogy from fighting to running and asserts that he has run to the end of the race. He was well aware that handing off the baton to the next runners was a key element in running. Paul, as he discipled Timothy and many others on his team, equipped them to run the race. So, he is able to say “not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Paul knew that there was no personal success without successors. He did not fear that the next generation would not be able to carry on, he had equipped them well. In the language of The Serving Leader Model*TM, Paul was able to “upend the pyramid” by passing on power to others. Serving leaders think about finishing well to keep their focus on the next generation of leaders. Serving leaders reflect on the end to remind themselves that there is no success without successors.
Serving leaders ask “What am I doing to finish well?“ to keep their focus on values.
“I have kept the faith.” Paul was confident at the end of this life that he had not compromised his faith. He lived what he taught and was able to affirm that he had not taken the easy way out of difficult situations. He had not compromised his values in pursuit of success. Serving leaders reflect on Paul’s example and look at the end to keep their daily focus clear. They do not measure their success by the size their retirement accounts, but by the daily acts that live out their faith values. And as they live out these values, they “Raise the Bar” for those around them. Serving leaders reflect on the end to keep their daily focus on the things they value most.
For further reflection and discussion:
- Is my purpose in life clear to me and to those around me? If not, what do I need to do to clarify that purpose? If it is, how does this shape my daily activities and choices? What are the current ‘distractions’ that I am facing which would take me away from my purpose?
- Where am I in the process of handing off the baton to the next generation of leaders? Am I spending adequate time to equip and empower those around me to do the work after I will be gone? Who are the persons into whom I should be investing the most time and energy?
- Are my life values clearly defined? What about the values for the organization or group I lead? Where am I currently tempted to compromise on those values? How can focusing on the end help me avoid those temptations?
Until next time, yours on the journey,
In the next issue, we’ll examine the final question serving leaders ask others: “What are you doing to finish well?”
*The Serving Leader Model includes five actions. Three are mentioned in this issue, Run to Great Purpose, Raise the Bar and Upend the Pyramid. The other two are: Blaze the Trail and Build on Strength. To learn more, read the book The Serving Leader or visit the Center for Serving Leadership’s website.