What in the world is Finish Period?
It's been a most asked question: what does "finish period" actually mean? Well, it was an inspiration as retirement popped up on the screen in my head a few years ago. When I announced the date family, friends, and ministry colleagues started advising me to "finish strong" or "finish well" or "get 'er done", dozens of verbal encouragements to remain on point in those final months of active ministry. Evidently the ministry cohort has a reputation of shifting into neutral as we approach retirement. There's often a change in momentum or ministry direction when ministers move on. Wandering til the new guy comes! .
Having served in a state denominational position I had discovered a shocking reality about ministry. It's hard and demanding stuff. As a result many ministers step away from ministry long before they reach retirement. The actual numbers are lost in legends about church life and the grueling expectations of clergy in a nation with declining spiritual influence. So, along the way my counsel to fellow pastors and church staffers changed. I challenged them to "finish period", the emphasis being on the finish part.
Even more, national headlines flashed realities about declines in church attendance. Evidently thousands of Christian were abandoning their spiritual disciplines and commitments to church life. As our nation slipped into secularism or new religious practices the truth about quitting became an even greater issue. When I Googled "why Americans are quitting church" a totally new perspective expanded these concerns. Americans were basically a population of quitters. Beyond church attendance Americans were beginning many new involvements---gym memberships, social media programs, parenting guidance, marriage training, financial monitoring---only to step away because of overloaded schedules or some other distraction. To "finish period" became an even greater urgency in the broader societal context. Perhaps these lessons on finishing period could apply to this wide cultural truth.
You see, finishing is a strong Biblical theme. What is more, the reasons we fall to the side are most often spiritual in nature. So, finish period provides counsel to those who are over-committed and must re-evaluate how their resources are used.
The Citadel, B.S. in Business Administration, 1971
North Carolina National Bank, Commercial Loan and Marketing Office, 1971-1976
Wayne County Memorial Hospital, Assistant Administrator-Finance, 1976-1980
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, M. Div. with Languages, 1982
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, D. Min. in Christian Leadership, 1990
Woodland Baptist Church Wake Forest, N.C., Senior Pastor, North Carolina 1980-1982
First Baptist Church, Goose Creek S.C., Senior Pastor, 1982-1986
Hampton Heights Baptist Church, Greenville, S.C., Senior Pastor, 1986-2001
South Carolina Baptist Convention, Director of Pastoral Ministries, 2001-2003
Northwood Baptist Church, North Charleston, S.C., Senior Pastor, 2003-1015
Sound familiar? Want to talk about it?
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