john-maxwellA few years ago, I did a leadership conference for pastors in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While I was there, I talked with a pastor friend from Houston, Texas, named John Basagno about the subject of finishing well. As we chatted, he showed me an old, well–worn Bible and said, “John, I received the call to preach when I was twenty–one years old. I told my father–in–law about it soon after receiving the call, and do you know what he told me? He said, ‘This is how it’s going to be. Only one person out of every ten who enter the ministry will still be in it when he reaches age sixty–five.’”

I could see that John was getting emotional as he opened up that old Bible and showed me the inside front cover. “I wrote down in this Bible the names of twenty–five friends I went to college with. All of us were in our early twenties. I’m not sixty–five yet, but I’m sorry to say that twenty of them have already dropped out.”

Then he looked me in the eye and said, “I’m fighting hard to be one of those who make it. I want to finish well.”
I think many people believe that if they had been given a start like Samson’s, they would find it easy to lead and to finish well. But God gives every one of us a good–enough start to be able to finish well. It’s up to us to see to our character and build trust with others so that God can use our leadership.
Samson’s lack of integrity was his undoing. When leaders lose that, they also lose the people’s trust. And when that’s gone, they’re finished. Samson might have taken down a few hundred Philistines in the end, but not without losing his authority and leadership as judge as well as his life.

John C. Maxwell, The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000).

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