Many are familiar with the story of the Hare and Tortoise.
The moral of the story is not that the hare was so much faster, but the patient, steady plodding of the tortoise actually made it to the finish line first because he never stopped.
January 1 can feel like the starting point to another Hare and Tortoise-inspired race to December 31. How appropriate we’re back in Ecclesiastes (we’ve been on a break since the week of Thanksgiving) to help us frame this year so that when December 31, 2017 rolls around, we’ll look back and find we’ve made it across the finish line.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
Ecclesiastes 7:8–9 (NIV)
In some ways, these verses speak of relationships, but the principle here goes far deeper. Verse 8 confronts us with the idea that how we end is more important than how we start. And this verse also holds the meaning of these verses.
Starting is sometimes the easiest part of what we do. We see it every year at this time. You make a commitment to lose weight. You get a game plan, set your schedule for going to the gym, and the first three to four weeks of the new year, you’re slamming it. Weight loss here you come!
Then, something goes awry. There’s a schedule change. You get sick. A vehicle must get dropped off for repairs and takes away your gym time. A quick meeting goes long and you have to scarf down an unhealthy lunch.
Before you know it, it’s the end of February and nothing has changed. You started great…but you didn’t finish well.
These verses speak of the perseverance—the stick-to-itiveness required to see something through.
The issue at the heart of commitments to anything isn’t so much
that we start, but that we finish and finish well.
In Luke 15:11-24, we find the story of a son who started off wealthy but ended up in poverty; he didn’t finish well.
Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine (cf. John 2:1-11). There, we find the Son of God finishing the wedding well—it was the BEST wine.
While we’re on the journey from our start to our finish, we’re called to be a wise person who is neither naïve nor cynical. 2017 is still brand new and all the promise lies before us. I’d like to offer some suggestions to making 2017 a great year.
- Make a list of what you’re hoping to accomplish this year (be realistic!).
- Develop a process from starting to finishing (you’ve got to “connect the dots”)
- Set your start date and “checkup” dates where you revisit your plan.
- Get after it!