Unfinished business?

Faithwriters.com challenge 2nd June 2016 – Topic: Finish – 3rd place

“Steven will rarely finish anything.” This seemingly negative comment, made over twenty years ago, has been proved false on numerous occasions. I could name several projects I have completed successfully,  and that have benefitted other people and often me personally.

In fact, in its original context the statement was intended to be neutral. As part of a team profiling exercise, everyone in my department participated in a structured review process to identify the roles we most naturally filled. Some were initiators who conceived plans and created enthusiasm, others took care of the details and still others tied up all the loose ends. I was identified as the resource investigator, whose role was to identify the people, methods and materials that would help us achieve the goal. Therefore, my role was only finished when the project was complete. Being unable to complete it myself was not relevant.

Of course, there are times when my investigative trait can be a problem. More than once I’ve got engrossed in reading or been distracted by some interesting sideline, and had to rush in order to submit an essay or article on time.

But on the whole, life seems to carry on, even if I don’t complete everything I begin. Often the assignment is simply part of an ongoing process. I notice this particularly as a church leader in a denomination where postings are typically five years. I join a congregation that is on a journey. My role is to help them through their next stage. Sometimes that involves reaching a defined milestone, but often it simply means helping them find their direction for the next few years. Either way, someone else will pick up where I left off, and perhaps have the joy of reaching the next milestone. I guess this is what Paul was thinking of when he wrote, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6 NIVUK)

So I’ve learned to accept that I may not always see the results of my work; but I can enjoy the success of those who come after me, knowing that I have played my part in helping them to succeed.



About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
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