Monday, May 01, 2017

Finishing Well by Eleanor Shepherd

              The countdown is on. Today is May 1 and by July 1, I will no longer complete the questions on the survey forms from Survey Monkey by ticking the box saying “employed full time.”    I will be officially retired and this time it is my intention to finally retreat to the quietness of my home office where I can write at my leisure. My only pressure will be deadlines for articles that I hope will be accepted by magazines and e-zines or for the next book that I plan to finish.

            In scanning the Internet to find some helpful information about finishing well, I came across a few ideas from an article by Steven Cole on about how to finish well. They come from 2 Timothy 4: 7.

            To finish well means that we have fought the good fight. Well, I am glad the verse does not say that we have to have won the good fight, because I know that while I have engaged in facing some of the challenges that I have come my way, I have not always been victorious. I guess the important thing was that I was willing to engage in the combat, when it was necessary and not that I always be successful.

            A book that my research on finishing well took me to was one by Bob Buford who approached the topic of finishing well by chronicling the stories of several high profile people who were examples of those who finished well. His premise seems to be that to finish well, one shifts from striving for success to seeking for significance. To me that seems quite a profound discovery and one that helps me to put into context my lack of 100% success in my battles.

            Another measure of finishing well, according to Steven Cole is not dropping out of the course, but staying to the end. I have to admit that there have been times when I have been tempted just to give it all up, particularly with some of the challenges that I have faced in the last year. I recognize I suffer from decreased stamina that seems to accompany aging, and a few health concerns. Thus I have longed at times to just opt out.

            However, I find that when I feel that I just cannot continue any longer, someone will come along and offer words of encouragement or do something that makes me realize that it is all worth while, and I do love what I am doing. A concrete example was Saturday morning when I was at the church to help out with a program we have for children. The father of one of the children came in with armloads of roses for the other parents. He presented me with a huge bouquet of roses that I placed in a vase in my office, breathing in their fragrance, with gratitude for his kindness.

            The final aspect of finishing well suggested by this verse, according to Steven is keeping the faith. Actually he goes on to describe keeping the faith as knowing what you believe and sharing it. To keep the faith we need to give it away. This is just another one of those paradoxes of the Christian life that we find so true. There is nothing that gives me more joy than being able to share with others the way that God has been so faithful to me and to hear their stories of His faithfulness to them or their questions that we can explore together. However, this is something that will go on beyond my retirement day and I can take it with me into my next chapter. To finish well this one will prepare me to begin well the next one. I can hardly wait!  

Word Guild Awards
Word Guild Awards

Eleanor Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than 90 articles published in Canada,  France,  the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her Award winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening. Eleanor works as a pastor in Montreal with The Salvaton Army.


Peter Black said...

Eleanor, thank you. That's an important and helpful distinction you make - having fought the good fight is not that same as having won every battle along the way. Congratulations to you on your planned retirement (or resumption of it :)).
(I've been drawn back into pastoral-related service as a volunteer associate pastor in a rural congregation, while continuing with community residential ministry.)
May your hopes and vision for the future from here prove to be a blessing to you and many others through your writing endeavours.~~+~~

Colleen Kimberley said...

I loved reading this and can relate so very well. Looking forward to July 1 and retirement and at the same time appreciating the people who have crossed my path. Many of them planted life lessons into my life and allowed me to share with them. How blessed we are.
Congratulations to you and best wishes for your future endeavours.

Glynis said...

Oh Eleanor. You are such a hard working woman and although I don't know you on a personal level, I think I know you on a heart level. And I am also thinking that you are leaving an incredible legacy and have 'won the race' - not in a competitive way, but in a plodding, enduring, persistent for Christ kind of way. What a lovely goal to look forward to - writing at your leisure! Thanks for this great post. And beautiful roses! Well deserved, I would say.

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