Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Get It Done! (Men Need to Learn to Finish)

I am of the opinion that most young men do not know how to finish – how to take a task all the way to completion.

These young men grow up to be adult men that get 90% of their taxes done but don’t “sign and mail” or have 11 half-finished projects littering their front lawn.

“Finishing” is hard, especially when there is a lot to do, but men need to learn to finish. I cannot think of a single Bible verse that commands this, but there is much by way of example to teach it is the case. Think of Paul in Acts 20 or his words to slaves in Colossians 3:22-25 or a whack of Proverbs that speak to diligence and hard work. Then there is that very wise little grade school poem:

Work while you work,

Play while you play,

One thing each time that is the way!

All that you do

Do with your might

Things done by halves are not done right!

If we are going to cease being half-doers, then we need instruction on how to finish. Here are some ideas I have had over the years... not a single one is original!

1. “Touch it once.” Whenever possible, touch each piece of paper or mail or email or [insert object of your work here] only once. Open the letter, respond to it, put the response in an envelope, mail it. It may seem to take up a lot of time, but you will avoid getting stacks of paper and such all around you then “getting overwhelmed” one day!

2. “Do the next thing.” Elizabeth Elliot gave this advice to young mothers. It is quite simple. Don’t panic and do 10% of this and 12% of that! Just keep at the one thing then move on to the next thing. Each day has enough things of its own.

3. “Cultivate dependency.” Learn to walk with God through the mundane and momentous episodes of your day. Praying is a good way to start!

4. “Make a list and check it twice.” Some people hate lists. Sorry. Unless you are a super-brain you probably need to write down what it is you need to do. And then you need to discipline your mind to read the list! You can even learn that happy feeling of striking something off of your list. Be a big black marker and have fun!

5. “Humble yourself.” Admit your failures, don’t cover them up. And don’t be shy to ask for help.

6. “Stay at one project before you begin another.” It only took me 38 years to learn this. The idea is, finish the bathroom renovations before you start tearing out the front windows.

7. “Do the worst first.” Check your list for what ignites dread in your soul... and you just found your priority task!

8. “Be watching for Divine interruptions.” I am not suggesting we become so focused on our tasks that we remove God’s right to sovereignty. Wait on the Lord to re-direct you. (Think Acts 16:6-10 “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”)

9. “Ask your authority if you are done.” Any 9 year old is sure they have finished cleaning their room when the covers are half-pulled and the mess on the floor nicely moved to one side. But they ain’t done until mommy says, “Done.” And you ain’t done until your boss, or parent, or Lord says, “Finished.”

P.S. I was going to post this in sections... but I was afraid I would pull a Challeez and never get it finished. Nothing worse than those unfinished blog series! [insert smily face here]