Do You Finish What You Start?
1, 2. In order to have the satisfaction that comes with accomplishment, what is required of you?
MUCH of human happiness comes through accomplishment. For instance, if you decide to learn to play a guitar and you keep at it until you can, then you get enjoyment from it. But if you quit soon after starting, you never get that pleasure and satisfaction. The same is true of any undertaking that requires practice and training, covering a period of time.
2 However, in this matter of sticking with a project until it is finished, there are certain tendencies we all have to outgrow or overcome.
3-8. (a) What can help a person to overcome impatience? (b) Before you ever start on a project, what is it wise to do? Whose counsel could benefit you in deciding? (c) Under what circumstances might it be better not to finish what you have started?
3 As you know, little children have a very short attention span. Even in play it isn’t long before they are easily distracted or lose interest. But as a person grows, powers of concentration develop. You may have noted that in yourself. To a large degree you have to cultivate this quality, but it’s surely worth it because it helps you to get so much more out of life.
4 To concentrate means that you have to overcome another common trait. That is impatience. Think back to when you were a small child. As you remember, little children always want things NOW! Often when they try to do something and do not succeed after a few attempts, they are ready to quit. Well, you probably know many teen-agers who are still like that. But if you appreciate that some of the most worthwhile things in life take time and effort, it will help you not to give up easily.
5 An impatient person usually undertakes things hastily, on impulse. A wise proverb tells us: “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage, but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want.” (Proverbs 21:5) So, before you embark on some project or accept some assignment or job, first of all make sure it is something genuinely worth while.
6 In some cases the wise thing to do is not to finish what you start. How so? Because perhaps it was a bad idea from the beginning. The goal may be a wrong one, one that is out of harmony with right principles. Or, it may not be a good one for you. Is it worth the time and effort that it will take to reach it? Do you have good reason to believe you can reach it?
7 Jesus told of the man who sets out to build a tower without first figuring out the cost and whether he can meet it or not. As Jesus said, the man may lay the foundation and then find that he can go no farther, causing observers to laugh and say: “This man started to build but was not able to finish.” (Luke 14:28-30) So, if you want to finish what you start, count the cost beforehand.
8 Weigh advantages against disadvantages. Ask others their opinion, especially your parents. Benefit from their experience; they have made mistakes and can steer you away from these. The Bible is an outstanding source of wise and practical counsel. It is from God and it sets forth lessons learned by people over a span of thousands of years. For example, King Solomon did about all a man can do in the way of seeking pleasure in purely material things. He tells us the result: It was just a “striving after wind.” So why take up a similar worthless pursuit?—Ecclesiastes 2:3-11.
AVOID BECOMING A QUITTER
9-12. (a) Once you have selected a goal, why is it good to plan how you are going to reach it? (b) When you encounter problems, how should these be viewed? (c) Why is it important not to get in the habit of being a quitter? (Luke 9:62)
9 Once you are convinced that your goal is really worth while, planning how to reach it is also vital. Many young persons fail to finish what they start because they become discouraged. Some unforeseen problems or obstacles may spring up. Or they find that what they undertook to do is harder than what they thought it would be. What now?
10 Such a situation reveals what you are really made of. If you let hardships fill you with negative and pessimistic thoughts, this will rob you of the strength to go on. It is just as the Bible proverb says: “Have you shown yourself discouraged in the day of distress? Your power will be scanty.” (Proverbs 24:10) So, instead, look on the situation as a challenge. Rise to meet it with extra effort—extra thought, energy and time. Challenges can make life interesting if you do not run away from them. By overcoming, you grow in confidence and resourcefulness. You can then undertake future tasks with greater assurance and enjoyment.
11 So avoid developing the habit of quitting just because the going gets hard. Otherwise, the next time things get difficult, the tendency will be to do the same, to “throw in the towel,” to quit. By not letting this habit get a start, you can keep your life from becoming just a series of failures and unfinished projects.
12 If you prove that you are not one who gives up easily, not a quitter or a dropout, you will earn the confidence and respect of others. While yet a young man, the early Christian Timothy was “well reported on by the brothers” in two different towns. (Acts 16:2) That is why the apostle Paul selected him as a traveling companion. Timothy had unique privileges, going with the apostle throughout many parts of the Roman Empire. After about a dozen years of faithful service, sometimes in dangerous situations, he was entrusted with weighty responsibility, which he carried out despite not having the best of health. Yes, Timothy could be relied on to stay with his assignment and do thorough work. He was a man to be trusted. But it took time and perseverance to merit that trust.
BASIS FOR PERSEVERANCE
13, 14. (a) How have we benefited from Noah’s perseverance in building the ark? (b) What can we learn from the apostle Paul’s example of perseverance? (2 Timothy 4:16, 17)
13 If you are seeking to do something because it is right or out of a desire to please God, then he will help you to see it through. Consider Noah, for example. The ark that he and his sons built was a three-story chestlike structure over four hundred feet (122 meters) long. It was no “weekend project.” But because he saw the job through to its finish, Noah and his family survived the deluge and we, his descendants, are alive today.
14 Again, consider the apostle Paul. He was a real example of one who did not give up when matters got difficult. To him, his particular assignment of service was worth enduring all manner of hardship for in order to retain it to its finish. He was willing to undergo beatings, stoning, imprisonment, hard labor, sleepless nights, thirst, hunger, cold and lack of clothing, dangers from enemies of the truth and from common criminals, also from wild beasts and the forces of nature as he traveled over land and sea. Because he was not a quitter, he could truthfully say he had ‘fought the fine fight, run the course to the finish, observed the faith.’ On what basis? Not because of self-confidence, but as Paul himself said: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” And as he also wrote: “We are coming off completely victorious through him that loved us.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Philippians 4:13; Romans 8:35-39) Wouldn’t you say he was a person worth imitating?
15. (a) Why do we all need to be able to get along well with other people? (b) What will help us to avoid being quick to “give up” on others when they disappoint us?
15 To enjoy life you must also be able to get on well with others, get their cooperation and win their respect. You cannot do this if you are quick to “give up” on people, starting friendships and then dropping them at the first sign of disagreement. Examine yourself. Do you sometimes handle your relations with others poorly, so that they may have reason to take offense? Well, does this cause you to “give up” on yourself? Then why be quick to get irritated or lose interest in others because they may sometimes disappoint you? Take the time needed to work out problems with patience. Who cannot see the wisdom of the proverb: “He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment, but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness”?—Proverbs 14:29.
16. How is our developing perseverance involved in our getting the fulfillment of our Christian hope?
16 The rewards of perseverance are many and well worth the effort. By proving yourself a person who sees things through to the finish, you gain many privileges and benefits. Jesus said of those following him: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) As Christians, we are in a race. The grand prize is everlasting life. You will gain that prize only if you develop the ability to persevere in spite of problems or hardships and see things through.