Carol Wilcox finished well. After more than three decades in ministry, she made a graceful exit into retirement, celebrating with family and friends into a new season of life. Carol’s success is largely attributed to her focus and daily decisions as she responded to Matthew 22:37: “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”
A few years ago, Dr. Robert Clinton, professor of leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, did a very thorough study of leaders in the Bible. The study is found here: Few Leaders Finish Well.
According to Dr. Clinton, “There are approximately 1000 leaders mentioned by name in the Bible. Most of these leaders are mentioned by name only or are mentioned in connection with a role. Some of the leaders receive a bit more attention but not very much information is given about their lives. There are about 100 prominent leaders described in the Scriptures. Of the 100 or so prominent leaders, only 49 have enough information given about them to ascertain how they finished their life and ministry.”
As he analyzed the lives of these leaders he discovered that there were four types of finishes:
1) Those cut off early:
These leaders were taken out of leadership by assassination, killed in battle, prophetically denounced, or overthrown. Some of this activity was directly attributed to God. Some of these were positive, some negative.
Examples: Abimelech, Samson, Absalom, Josiah, John the Baptist, James
2) Those that finished poorly:
These leaders were going down hill in the latter part of their lives and leadership. This might be reflected in their personal relationship with God or in terms of their leadership competency.
Examples: Gideon, Samson, Eli, Saul, Solomon
3) Those that finished so-so:
These leaders did well but were limited in some areas of their leadership because of sin. They had some negative ramifications surrounding their lives and leadership even though they personally were walking with God.
Examples: David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah
4) Those that finished well:
These leaders were walking with God at the end of their lives. They contributed in God’s purposes at a high level. They fulfilled what God had for them to do.
Examples: Abraham, Job, Joseph, Joshua, Caleb, Samuel, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, Paul
Our Lord Jesus also showed us how to finish well. He stayed on track with his mission by applying five key habits that countered the negative forces in His life:
- Study and application of Scripture
- Accepting and responding to God’s unconditional love
- Involvement in supportive relationships (Lead Like Jesus pp 153-154)
Jesus loved God with His heart, mind, soul, strength and so did Abraham, Job, Joseph, Joshua, Caleb, Samuel and Paul. My prayer each day is that God will use me to leave a mark that makes eternal impact. What about you? Are you leaving your mark? Will you finish well?
For more on celebrating your successes: go to my blog at From Ashes to Beauty.