Joe Keller

4 Principles for Finishing Well

May 20, 2015


It’s springtime, one of the more challenging seasons for college students. It is that time of year when all major projects and papers are due. Every weekend is full of activities. Students are trying to find a summer job or a place to live after graduation. Friends are getting engaged left and right. The sun and surf are always calling…and everyone around you is a little bit punchy.

They can literally smell summer break, but there is so much to do between now and then.

In college, as well as in life, it doesn’t matter as much how you start, but how you finish that really counts. Everyone can use some encouragement during this time of year. Here are four practical biblical principles to help the college student finish the school year well—principles that all of us can relate to our calling to finish well.

Focus On Faithfulness (1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 25:20-22)

There is an unspoken expectation that success is only defined by excellent achievement. However, the Bible defines success as faithfulness. The Master’s welcome in the Parable of the Talents is “good and faithful servant,” even though the achieved outcomes were different (Matthew 25). The challenge of finishing well is not doing everything possible, but doing the right things well. When the end is in sight and there are more opportunities than time, focus your priorities on being faithful to what you have been entrusted.

Give consideration to what it means to be faithful spiritually, physically, academically, vocationally, and relationally. There comes a confident clarity that orientates your days as you evaluate your responsibilities and focus your priorities on being faithful to what God has given and not on the expectations of others.

Trust in Your God (Romans 8:28-39; Proverbs 3:5-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Even when you are focused on faithfulness, there will be times when you don’t know how everything is going to get done. Who is going to pick up the pieces? How is everything going to work out? During this time of year, we need to not only be reminded that God is in control of everything, but that He can be trusted with the results.

At times, our trust in God is diminished because we are placing our trust in other things. Summer is fun, but it does not give joy. Rest is good, but it does not give peace. Intellectual pursuits are profitable, but they do not give personal worth. And let’s admit that nachos are great, but they do not give ultimate comfort. An expression of this dependency and trust in our God is through prayer. The practical mindset to acknowledge our dependent state and reliance before the presence of God opens our eyes to see Him on display through our circumstances. This gives daily hope as the pressure of the end of the semester is upon you.

Stay in the Moment (Matthew 6:24-34; Psalm 127:1-2; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

When there is a lot to get done, our minds are constantly thinking of the next thing. In fact, even though your body can only be in one place at one time, your heart can be drawn to 15 different places seemingly at once. This effect can create greater fatigue (even though you are not actually doing much activity). Letting your heart be fully engaged with what you are doing, not what you could be doing, is a practical discipline that builds upon your faithful pursuits, as you lovingly place your hope and trust in your God.

“I’m multitasking” is the lie we tell ourselves. Whether it is time to do homework, have lunch with a friend, workout, or participate in Sunday worship, seek to stay in that moment. Distractions can make anyone tired. This is not to say that you don’t plan for the future, but consistently thinking about what is next impacts the present. There is a simple joy in being present, both in heart and body, that brings contentment to the weary soul and will make you more effective as the semester draws to a close.

Work Hard and Don’t Complain (1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 2:14-16; Romans 5:1-5)

There is a temptation to grade our efforts on a scale when finishing up the last 10%. Ninety percent is still an “A” right? There is no way around it. Hard work is hard work. As we seek faithfulness and trust in God’s provision in challenging moments, we are empowered by His grace to persevere and grow in character. That’s one of the reasons you’re going to college in the first place, isn’t it?

Working hard is not just about grinning and bearing it, but pursuing it as a grace of God in your life. It is during the hardest times that God sanctifies us into His likeness. That transformation outweighs the temporary pleasure of cutting corners to finish early. If this process is not embraced, we complain. We essentially say that God’s provision, timing, and situation is not perfect for us and that we would do it differently if we were in charge. We can, however, have a confidence that God is working all things together for your good and especially in the last 10%.

Join the Conversation

What are some practical sacrifices and/or creative complements you can make to be faithful to your responsibilities? What are some practical and spiritual rewards for faithfulness? Consider who could use that encouragement in their lives and commit to sharing that with them.

What are ways that we lean on our own understanding? What does it look like to trust in the Lord in those times without neglecting our responsibilities?

What are some ways we can combat personal distractions to stay focused in the moment?

What motivates you to work hard? How can you be an encouragement to others to work hard when it is hard to work hard?

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