Where did the time go? I blinked and the year is gone! Now more than ever we can all deeply understand how our life can be gone before our eyes in a moment. Watching the news of the horrors and tragedy of the shooting of innocent adults and children in Connecticut brands our hearts with this reality that we can otherwise overlook. Each day becomes precious in the context of what we as a nation are watching happen. I have thought each morning since news of that shooting came out – what can I do to make certain that the last words I speak to my children, family, co-laborers and friends are words of kindness and encouragement rather than words that belittle or negate them. As a nation, we have all realized in the midst of this tragedy that we must finish well each moment we have with the ones we love.
“Finish well” – these words are a topic that Paul writes to Timothy in Acts 20. Paul is telling Timothy that he is about to finish the race. He has kept his eyes on the prize and is about to receive his reward from God for a life well lived. “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:23-25 (NIV).
As you finish off this year, I invite you to consider this goal offered up by Paul and ask yourself how are you doing at this part of the call? Is your life a living testimony of the good news of God’s grace? Do you overcome the injuries and circumstances (finances, job, marriage, uncontrollable events, etc.) with grace, or are you so injured that you inflict wounds on yourself and others as a reaction to the events of each day? Wherever you find yourself, there is hope for a new you not only in this new year but in every day to come.
Each year, Dan and I use the time between Christmas and New Years to “pull out” our goals – for ourselves, our home/family and the companies – and we assess how we have done. Our goals are centered around mission statements we have established for each of the areas of our lives – personal, family, companies. Some of our goals are earthly and mundane: “establish a college savings program for all four children” was an example from a previous year’s list that falls into this category. Other goals are more obviously spiritual: “publish a book about my faith journey” was one of mine over the past two years that was centered on the “finish well” discussion that Paul had with Timothy in Acts.
If you have not yet written your own life plan, do this. Define – for yourself, for your family, for your business life – your overarching vision and mission statements, and write down your 5 and 10 year goals for that area of your life. From there, you can easily identify in smaller one year chunks what you need to do to get where you want to go. Submit your goals to prayer before you lay them down and adopt them as your plan for the New Year. Once you adopt the goals, all you have to do is start heading toward your goals each day with intention. Remember this – the only Author of our life is God – and His plan may just be a little different from yours. Sitting down quarterly and annually to see how you are doing towards your goals is a great way to evaluate if your plan is still in alignment with God’s will.
Finish well this year as you review your stated goals for 2012. Celebrate what you accomplished. Celebrate the areas where God stepped in and redirected you. Identify ways in which you can better align your plan with God’s plan for your life. Determine where you need to make immediate versus longer-term progress. Before you know it, you will have finished 2012 well… a course will be set for 2013.