Finish What You Started

Finish what you started

I’m the queen of unfinished projects. For example, I’ve got pretty fabric in the back of a closet which I planned to use to make pillowcases. Yet the fabric remains neatly folded and tucked away, just the same as the day I bought it several years ago. Add that to a list of many other things I need to finish around the house.

Worst of all, I’ve got five, yes FIVE, fiction manuscripts I started but never finished. They range from a few thousand words to over 60,000 words. When things get hard or I hit a writing roadblock, I simply set it aside and promise myself I’ll get back to it and rework it later.

Instead of staying true to my promise to myself, I start new projects because new ideas are shiny and fun to chase. Besides, who wants to untangle the knots of a mess they made when they could just start something new? It’s more immediately satisfying and much easier to start new things than to finish the old ones.

This week’s sermon at my church was about finishing well. My church is undergoing a change. Our founding pastor has passed the baton of ministry to our newly elected lead pastor. The older pastor is about to turn seventy, while the younger is in his early thirties with a wife and baby. Both are amazing men of God, one just starting a life of ministry while the other is bringing his to a close.

The scripture shared during this week’s message comes from the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is a book of wisdom in the Septuagint (the earliest Greek version of the Christian Old Testment translated from Hebrew). According to, the book of Ecclesiastes is “foremost a study of philosophy for the faithful—about the purpose of life, what it means to be wise versus foolish, why terrible things often happen to the best of people, how to achieve self-fulfillment, and whether it is permissible for God’s people to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.” It’s not a book I have spent a lot of time reading.

The verse from Ecclesiastes reads:

“Finishing is better than starting.
    Patience is better than pride.” -Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NLT)

Thinking about this verse gives me lots to consider. My church, which consisted of twelve people who met in a funeral home when it began, has grown to a weekly gathering of about 700 people total during two Sunday services. Over thirty-eight years, the church moved to a few other meeting spaces before finally purchasing the land it sits on today.

Our founding pastor’s point this week was how much he has grown and come to know God better since starting the church all those years ago. As he finishes his time as lead pastor, he can reflect on the journey of where the church has been. He shared about difficult times that brought him pain and miraculous times God moved in the ministry. How blessed he must feel to see the fruit of many prayers and lots of hard work, tears, and trials. The early days of uncertainty and challenges of building a ministry were necessary to get to where the church is today.

Upon hearing the message, I considered how this relates to my life as a writer. While starting new projects is easier and more fun than doing the hard work of finishing, I am robbing myself of the deep satisfaction of completing a task. As the author of Ecclesiastes notes, it’s better to finish than to begin. And patience is preferable to pride.

Patience to see my writing through, even when it’s uncomfortable and messy, will pay off. Being too prideful to stay the course because I don’t like feeling inept and incapable has gotten me nowhere. Five unfinished books are worth way less than a finished one in the hands of a reader.

All of this reminds me of the comparison of life and faith to a race in the book of Hebrews. It’s a verse many of us know and have heard over and over. Today, coupled with the scripture from Ecclesiastes, it feels even more relevant to my spiritual life and my writing.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

Finish what you started
Image courtesy Unsplash

Whatever we aim to start, so should we aim to finish. This includes when it’s difficult, lonely, frustrating, or uncomfortable. To finish what we start and choose patience over pride helps us grow and honors God. I consider what might have happened if our founding pastor had given up when the early days of the church were discouraging. Or if the disciples had decided that the cost of following Jesus was too high. Even in my little corner of the world with five unfinished manuscripts, I am hindering my personal growth and preventing my writing from bringing glory to God.

As springtime draws year, it seems fitting to recommit to what I’ve started. I’ve marked my calendar with blocks of writing time in the coming weeks. I’m planning on spring cleaning and decluttering my home too. Little by little, all things are possible. Unfinished business is waiting for me, and I resolve to greet it with patience to finish the job. I hope you will too.

With Love and Gratitude,

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