By Jimmie Sheffield

Arkansas Baptist State Convention

Finishing strong

By Jimmie Sheffield

Arkansas Baptist State Convention

Recently, I have been thinking about what it means to finish strong. I am 85 years old and realize that I don’t have that many years left in my life. Some people are always asking when I will retire. I don’t have any desire to retire and do nothing. I want to serve my Lord as long as I live. I really do want to finish strong. 

I have two favorite Biblical heroes when I think of finishing strong: Caleb and Joshua. When Caleb was 85 years old, he went to Joshua and said, “give me this mountain” (Joshua 14: 12). This was land that the Lord had promised him as a result of his faithfulness. This land was given to him because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly (Joshua 12:14). 

My other hero, Joshua, said as he was finishing his work at 110 years old, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) I don’t have any illusion about living to be 110 years old, but I want my life to be the same as Joshua – serving the Lord until the very end. 

As I thought more and more about finishing strong, I began to develop some thoughts to help me. Maybe they will help you also. Consider the following suggestions and add some of your own thoughts.  

To finish strong, you must keep growing as a Christian. 2 Peter says: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I don’t believe there is an age limit to this command. I think you can grow in grace and knowledge of Christ by the following actions. 

  • Maintain a consistent quiet time with the Lord. You grow by spending time with Him in prayer.  
  • Study your Bible every day. God’s Word has so much more than we can fathom in a lifetime. We must stay in the Word.  
  • Read and view other Christian material as much as possible. Books and articles will give you different views that you need to know. Videos and podcasts can provide much needed help if they are biblically based. Of course, the Bible is the ultimate answer to situations; but knowing what other Christian leaders are saying will give you help, also. 
  • Read other books and materials to help you know what is going on in the world today. 

I would also suggest that if you want to finish strong, you will want to keep serving. No matter your age, you can always find opportunities to serve the Lord. Some pastors and other church staff members continue to serve on a part-time basis after they “retire.” You can always find ways to serve the Lord in the church to which you belong. You can find volunteer ways to serve in the community which affords many opportunities to witness to unsaved people. Of course, you can always serve God by praying.  

A third way  you can finish strong is to keep up with what is going on in various areas such as the following. 

  • Be alert about your church’s program of activities. You can help others know what’s going on if you know the activities your church has planned. 
  • Be aware of what is happening in the Southern Baptist Convention. I am asked many questions about SBC happenings. I have to stay up to date about these happenings. People expect me to answer their questions. 
  • Be sensitive to what is going on in our country. As Christian leaders, we are often called on to interpret what is happening in our government – local, state, and national.  
  • Be mindful of what is happening on the international level. Our world is changing rapidly. We need to know what is happening so that we can suggest ways to pray about international events, 

Finishing strong – that’s my goal. What is yours? 

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4 Responses

  1. My dear friend, Jimmy. Thanks for a great word on behalf of all of us who wish to serve to the end. I share your passion to remain in active service until my health prohibits it. Although you are only 1 year my senior, when I entered denominational in life in the late 70’s, you were many years my senior in the wisdom of serving in state work. I knew your name, but I didn’t know you until we met going in and out the door of the Sheraton Hotel across from the Sunday School Board in Nashville. One of us was returning from a jog and the other was heading out for a jog; sorry, that was likely 40 plus years ago. I no longer remember which was going and which one was coming back. What I do remember is thinking, this guy is a great role model to watch through the years; and I have! And, I’ve not been disappointed by what I’ve seen. Thanks for speaking out on behalf of us “old guys” who like to challenge our mind with fresh information, strive to keep our spiritual life “growing in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord,” and desire to keep service moving forward.

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