Bob Tamasy: Your Finish Is What Counts

Thursday, February 13, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Ready or not, NASCAR’s 2014 season is getting underway with preliminary events this weekend and the Daytona 500 Feb. 23. If you’re not a NASCAR fan, fear not. My goal isn’t to discuss “stock car auto racing.” (Doesn’t that sound redundant?) I want to comment on a fundamental principle that guides the sport – and most other sports: It’s not how you start, but how you finish.

Before every race, drivers boast about what great cars they have. “We’ve really got sump’n for ‘em today,” they promise faithful fans. But by race’s end, only one team gets to celebrate, having proved they really did have “sump’n.”

During the race different cars take the lead. But then they crash, have miscues in the pits, experience mechanical failure, or fall behind faster cars. They looked good midway through the race, but only one car reaches the finish line first. What’s true for NASCAR is also true for life: It’s not how you start, but how you finish.

Recently I received a card and photo from a long-time friend, Bob. He just turned 94, and is doing something not many nonagenarians do – taking a mission trip to China. At age 94! He committed his life to Jesus Christ as a young man, and for more than seven decades his passion has been singular: To tell others about the Jesus who radically transformed his life, and lives of countless other people he’s known throughout his lifetime.

You might disagree, but in my view, that’s what finishing well looks like. Rather than devoting his hours to a favorite rocking chair, Bob’s still finding ways to talk to people about Christ. No matter where they are.

Finishing well, however, isn’t confined to ending your time on earth without making a fool of yourself. Finishing well is equally important in your teens, 20’s or even middle years. For instance, many people begin college and start well, but lose interest, decide goofing off is more fun than studying, or get caught up in destructive pursuits. Promising lives derailed into disappointment. The high school’s “most likely to succeed” becoming a failure.

Couples exchange wedding vows with bright smiles and high expectations. But they discover the challenge of “two becoming one” is harder than they thought, or think the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, or decide their spouse isn’t as much fun as he or she used to be. So they divorce, another marriage piled on the social scrap heap, often with children suffering collateral damage.

Sales executives start strong, ticketed for corporate stardom. But for one reason or another, their determination, energy, drive and enthusiasm fade and eventually they’re just hanging on

Years ago I was changing jobs. My boss, not pleased I was leaving, changed the employment terms for my final weeks before I moved to my new position. I wasn’t happy with the changes and was tempted to stop working on the projects I hadn’t completed. “If he doesn’t appreciate me,” I thought, “I’ll show him.”

Coincidentally, I’d started working on an article about NASCAR titled, “It’s Not How You Start, But How You Finish.” Driving to a spiritual retreat, I grumbled and complained to God. “It’s not fair,” I thought, knowing He was listening. After a few moments, I heard a still, small voice in my mind. God, apparently tired of my muttering, asked, “What’s the name of that NASCAR article you’ve been writing?” Oh, right.

Humbled, I doused my anger, decided to forget “my rights,” and resolved to conclude my employment by finishing what I had started as well as I could. And I never regretted it for a moment. If I’d failed to fulfill my obligations with my former employer, I might still regret it today.

The apostle Paul knew nothing about NASCAR, unless the C stood for “Chariots” in those days. But he knew about finishing well. Encouraging believers in the city of Philippi, Paul wrote, “Not that I have obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

And in his final letter to Timothy, a young man he’d mentored for years, Paul stated, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…” (2 Timothy 4:6-7).

In reality, the apostle’s start hadn’t been good. He’d zealously persecuted the same people – followers of Christ – that he one day would become. But his poor beginning was more than overcome by his unwavering faith and determination to finish well.

Here’s the question facing us: How are we finishing our own race?

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.



Rivermont Presbyterian Hosts Chuck Brodsky In Concert

Rivermont Presbyterian Church, 3319 Hixson Pike, will present Chuck Brodsky in concert on Saturday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. Chuck Brodsky hits the heart of folk music: honest, lean, and passionate. His work is laden with narrative, social commentary, humor, and personal experience.  Larry Groce, Mountain Stage (National Public Radio) said he was “one of the finest singer-songwriters ... (click for more)

Bob Tamasy: Living In The Moment

Time’s a funny thing. When we’re having fun, it seems to have wings. But when we’re anxiously waiting for a day or hour to arrive, time seems to adopt the pace of a snail. Either way, time often dominates our thinking. Confession: I’m one of those that have paid too much attention to time, especially focusing on the future. Too frequently I have found myself so caught up in ... (click for more)

Girl, 12, Stabs Boy, 13, Twice At Lookout Valley Middle High School

A female student stabbed a male student twice at Lookout Valley Middle High School on Thursday morning. It happened in a middle school classroom. Sheriff Jim Hammond the students are seventh graders.The girl is 12 and the boy 13. He  said the boy was taken by ambulance and went into surgery after the mid-morning stabbing.  He said the boy received a superficial ... (click for more)

Chief Fletcher Gives Maximum Punishment To Officer Who Fired At Vehicle That Backed Toward Him; Attorney Vows To Fight To Reverse Decision

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher has given a maximum punishment to an officer who fired four shots toward a vehicle after he said the driver backed into his vehicle with him standing behind it. Chief Fletcher sustained a finding of “improper use of force – discharge of firearm.” He suspended Officer Alex Olson for 30 days without pay – the maximum suspension allowed ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed - And Response

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Magic Bank Account

As the month of January is almost out the door, I am opening my email today to share a marvelous story that legend has it was printed on piece of paper found in Bear Bryant’s wallet when he died in 1983. While I don’t know that the famed Alabama football coach had this lesson in his wallet, chances are he might have if he’d read it. * * * THE BANK ACCOUNT & RULES Imagine ... (click for more)