I just turned 39 years old in August. Yet, for some reason, the message God is giving to me in my 40th year on the earth is “Finish well.”
No, I’m not dying. Not that I’m aware of anyway.
But I’m well aware of the culture we live in—a culture that began about a hundred and fifty years ago at the time of the Industrial Revolution. A culture where, “Today’s leaders,” as Alex Soojung-Kim Pang describes, “Treat stress and overwork as a badge of honor, brag about how little they sleep and how few vacation days they take, and have their reputations as workaholics carefully tended by publicists and corporate PR firms.”
I have seen the same in ministry. In an era of platform building, content development, and social media comparison, it’s way too easy to prioritize ministry and confuse what we do with who we are.
I got this confused too. Maybe that’s why finishing well matters to me so much. I have had a pattern through the years of going hard, burning out, and crashing. Going hard, burning out, and crashing.
I have also seen the same in family life. In an era of Instagram and Pinterest, private sports lessons, tutors, gourmet recipes, and tranquil vacations with children (though we all know there is no such thing) have become the measuring stick of how we’re doing as parents.
Unfortunately, this way of living has left parents feeling frantic and out of control. In a recent survey of over 700 parents, we found that “being too busy” or “not having enough time” was the biggest parenting struggle of our day.
Yet, as I study the Scriptures, research on success, and data on raising great kids, I see why Paul was adamant about fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith (2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1).
If it wasn’t easy to finish well then, how much more difficult is it in a Western world where work has become our identity and being busy our badge of honor?
Finishing a race is impossible if we don’t pace ourselves.
As I process what it means to “finish well,” I’m learning that it begins and ends by being famous at home.
Practically, here’s what I mean:
Keep the Sabbath.
Being famous at home begins by being famous in our heavenly home. Repeatedly throughout Scripture we’re reminded that we can’t give to others what we don’t have ourselves (1 John 4:19, Galatians 5:22-24). That’s why we’re told, in our weakness, to seek the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), not the comforts of the world (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
But doing so requires that we slow down long enough, especially as parents, to get to know God intimately. To set this rhythm in our own lives as a family, I constantly remember Jesus’ words, that the Sabbath was created for us, not us for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
For the sake of finishing well and modeling a healthy lifestyle for our kids, we must return to the Sabbath.
The greatest red carpet you’ll ever walk is through your front door.
Whenever I travel, I can’t wait to come back home. That’s because my wife, Christi, is my biggest fan. And I am hers.
Yes, we have our moments. But when your spouse becomes your greatest teammate, you learn that fighting for one another is much more rewarding than fighting with one another.
We also invite each other into every aspect of our individual lives. We share passwords, pick up the phone whenever the other is calling, and date regularly. When you faithfully champion one another, it’s easier to remain humble and accountable in all you do—and both are necessary for finishing well.
Create rhythm with your kids.
In an interview about parenting and work/life balance on our podcast, Matt Chandler said balance is not something the Chandler’s try to achieve. That’s because, “Balance,” he said, “requires everyone else to stay still.”
And Lord knows that will never happen.
Instead, find your family rhythm. One of the best ways of doing this is to create 3-5 family values that will help you know what to say yes to and what to say no to.
You are the only person looking out for your family. Don’t blindly do what everyone else is doing. Find what makes your family unique and then lead well.
Your kids don’t need every activity to have an advantage in life. You are their advantage.
Learn more about 22:6 Parenting, a community of parents helping each other disciple their children in everyday life.
Want to see more from Dr. Josh? Check out his other LifeWay Voices posts: