Finishing Well

In light of the passing of our former President Frederick Chiluba last Friday, let us take a moment to reflect on “finishing well”. Bill Hybels says those who finish well stay focused on the exact ministry God has given them. Finishing well is the result of daily intimacy with Christ for those who choose to fulfil the purpose God has given them. The apostle Paul put it this way at the end of his journey, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim.4:7). The writer of Hebrews gives us this encouragement, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…” (12:2).

For most of us, starting well is easy but finishing well is difficult. Getting married is exciting and fun, but staying married through the struggles, disappointments, temptations and trials is not always easy. Reflecting on the verses above we see that finishing well requires great sacrifice. The Apostle Paul “fought the good fight…finished the race…kept the faith”, and Jesus “endured the cross”. It is no coincidence that the sacrifice of Jesus produced in his disciples the same kind of self sacrifice and focus. When your vision and values are reproduced in the life of your followers it is often because you have finished well. Whether we are leaders or followers, sacrifice is essential to finish well. The Apostle Paul did not see his end as a cruel tragedy or as unfair treatment considering his many years of dedicated service. To live well and to finish well we need to view all of life as sacrificial worship to God (Rom. 12:1).

As we reflect on the life of Mr. Chiluba there will be many perspectives. Some will point to the courage it took to stand against the mighty UNIP and its government, refusing to serve as a member of the Central Committee. He did this at the threat of his life. Many will recount the mistakes that he made. Others will remind us of the discouragement he encountered as he sought to enshrine Christian morals in the nation. Still others will remember the way he advanced Christianity through his activities while in and out of office. God be blessed for enabling him to stand up against pornography in this nation. Whatever the case, many Christians can say with assurance that Mr. Chiluba stayed in the race. The question which only heaven can answer is did he do what God called him to do? Did he fulfil his ministry?

What about you? Can you say with confidence that you are involved in the fight for the cause of Christ? Do your lifestyle and actions reflect your profession? Is your life characterized by the pursuit of comfort and affluence or by self sacrifice and generosity? As for me, Mr. Chiluba’s life taught me that in the Christian life there is joy as well as many trials and temptations which require endurance. His passing has also taught me to prepare for my own departure. When I pass on will those who have walked closely with me be able to say with confidence, “He fulfilled the ministry?” While we have the opportunity may we confess our wrongs and put things right with others, so that when our time comes it will be said “he finished the race” and the people will say Amen.

Lawrence Temfwe