To finish well


By 7 p.m. on Oct. 20, 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics Stadium, it was beginning to darken. It had cooled down as well. The last of the Olympic marathon runners were being assisted away to first-aid stations. Over an hour earlier, Mamo Waldi of Ethiopia had charged across the finish line, winning the 26-mile, 385-yard race looking as strong and as vigorous as when he’d started. As the last few thousand spectators began preparing to leave, they heard police sirens and whistles through the gate entering the stadium. The attention turned to that gate. A sole figure, wearing the colors of Tanzania, came limping into the stadium. His name was John Steven Aquari. He was the last man to finish the marathon in 1968. His leg was all bandaged and bloody. He had taken a bad fall early in the race. Now, all he could do was limp his way around the track. The crowd stood and applauded as he completed that last lap. When he finally crossed the finish line, one man dared ask the question everyone was wondering. “You are badly injured. Why didn’t you quit? Why didn’t you give up?” Aquari, with quiet dignity, said, “My country did not send me seven thousand miles to start this race. My country sent me to finish.”1

This material taken from Craig Brian Larson in his preaching material entitled “Strong to the Finish” talks to us in many ways.

• I have seen many businesspeople start a given task, excited with the project and getting to an awe-inspiring start, but could not sustain it, only to die a very inglorious death.

• I have seen employees filled with great excitement and enthusiasm as they joined the new company. Only to become mediocre over time without any effort to develop himself and add more value to the company of his employment.

• I have seen lovely couples in lovelier weddings only to endure their love in a lousy marriage because they do not know how to sustain the fire of their relationship.

• And here, the story worsens. I have seen people start their spiritual lives with a fiery passion – in love with the Lord Jesus Christ only to slide back to the enticement of the world.

• I have seen the religious leader who understood their calling is unique and now have slid back to pursue what this world values. Some of them have passed, and they have fallen out of the race.

A good friend and mentor, Krish Dhanam, one of the world’s best corporate trainers and speakers, says, “I am not afraid of success. What I am afraid of is to succeed in the things that do not matter.” His remark left an indelible impression in my mind. Over the years of doing business and practicing my craft, I have learned that sticking to my goals, excelling, and finishing well is more important than the many successes I have had through the years. Finishing strong and staying faithful to the very end is paramount. And this is the same message I pass on to my kids, who are now doing business and raising their families.

In the final analysis, whether we talk about spirituality, business, career or family life, the issue is not starting strong but finishing well. Life is not a 100-meter dash. It is a marathon.

Going back to Craig Brian Larson’s warning and reminder, he says:

God didn’t just send you to start this race. He didn’t just send you to begin a noble task or a noble relationship. God sent you both to start and to finish.

Fan that flame that is within you. Go home and be faithful to your family.

Go to your workplace and work as if this is the first day on your job, and you can’t wait to learn and contribute to your company. Be excellent at all times and in everything you do. Pray that God would give you the passion for the things of God. Life is short. Please do not waste it. Finish well.

Happy New Year everyone!



(Francis Kong’s podcast “Inspiring Excellence” is now available on Spotify, Apple, Google, or other podcast streaming platforms.)

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