Finishing Well by Mary-Anne Rulfs

Whether it’s a tennis match, a career, a volunteer role or a household project, finishing well is a pathway to beginning the next new thing in a positive way.

The demeanour with which a tennis player shakes hands with his / her opponent at the net and acknowledges the umpire can make a difference to their mindset (and the audience’s perception of them) as they prepare for their next match.

Rafael Nadal has been a great example of ‘finishing well’ this week. Returning to the Australian Open as the top seed, he chose to complete his 2nd round match against American Mackenzie MacDonald, rather than retiring. Amidst the heartbreak of injury and the inevitability of losing the match, Rafa offered his opponent the benefit of completing the match and recording a win. While Rafa recorded a 2nd round loss. Whether Rafa soon retires from professional tennis or not, he finished what may be his last Australian Open appearance with dignity and respect for both his opponent and himself.

One of the saddest experiences of my working life was some years ago, when the leader of the organisation where I worked failed to recognise the best timing to finish well. They stayed on for a few too many years, during which time they lost their edge, staff morale declined and they became distant from what was happening in the workplace. Having worked hard to build the reputation of the organisation, letting go became a challenge. And so, sadly, their farewell, when it eventually came around, was coloured by those disappointments. Had they moved on a few years sooner, the person would have been more wholeheartedly celebrated as they finished ‘on the crest of the wave’. And they would have left the organisation a more settled place.

It’s not always easy, knowing when to finish, and when to stay. Knowing when to move on can be tricky, especially if we really love where we are and the people we work alongside. This was my experience when I moved on from my role as chaplain at Coomera Anglican College.

I loved the community, doing life alongside students and staff members. I loved the work I was doing, helping to make God possible for people, especially for those who had written God off as being impossibly distant, absent, judgemental or vindictive. However, I knew that it was time to move on – and finish well. Someone put it this way for me:

“While the calling hasn’t changed, this assignment is finished.
It’s time to hand it in.”

And I did. And began this new role at Robina. Which I also love! I feel very at home in our Robina community, while having been able to maintain a strong connection with the community at CAC. Finishing well at CAC gave me energy and joy for this next 

‘assignment’. My experiences and the network of connections I made during those 9 years have been rich resources for my ministry at Robina.

Paul, in his 2nd letter to Timothy offers some great words of encouragement:
“I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness … ”

How are you with the idea of finishing well, and beginning something new?

Do you feel that while your calling hasn’t changed, the particular assignment in which you’re engaged – paid work, volunteer role, home project – has finished and it’s time to begin something new?

It’s ok to make a change.

It’s ok to take on a different role when you feel yourself tiring of a long-term commitment to a volunteer or paid role. Including a role in our church community!

Feeling gratitude for the experience and the people with whom you’ve served and then embracing change can be life-giving.
Taking time to refresh and recharge the batteries is healthy.

Then we’re in a good place to move into the next life-giving role or season in which our joy and the world’s need meet. Our sweet spot in the kingdom of God. And with a new lease of life.

Simon (Peter) and Andrew, James and John recognised the opportunity to begin something new as they left their nets to follow Jesus. Perhaps God is calling us to stay with our nets. Perhaps God is calling us to leave them. Either way, following Jesus in all we do will allow us to finish well and begin a new season with a fresh appreciation for what we have to offer in the kingdom of heaven.

Grace and peace,