Looks to me like defining your own personal finish line is pretty important. 

2 Corinthians 8:11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 

For me four words save this verse, “according to your means.” Paul was writing to the church in Corinth and he was talking about giving, but not about their giving, the giving done by the churches in Macedonia. Darned if I know where Macedonia is or was but I can get behind what they did and as I look at the things I undertake it gives me some comfort.

The churches at Macedonia were as different in their abilities as each of us. Some had many abilities and some had few. Some were rich and some were poor. I imagine some had tons of people who were good with a hammer and some were a peril to every thumb in the county. However, even with all their differences they did one thing alike, they gave according to their means and they made the end of their task match the beginning.

Ever been part of a group or committee that starts out with big dreams and big ideas and loads of enthusiasm? The group is literally on fire the first meeting or two and fantastic ideas abound. But as the days and weeks go by less and less is actually done. You’ve all talked a good game and planned a big party but other things have gotten in the way. There have been some roadblocks that appear too large to surmount or go around. Eventually even the meetings stop happening and after a few months the whole thing just fades into the ether. If anything is done it’s a shell, a mirage of what the group set out to do. Completion, if you can call it that, rings hollow. But what happened?

Often the dilemma wasn’t dollars and cents like it was in Macedonia; it was the group’s commitment. Maybe the execution just didn’t match the excitement you all felt at the beginning. Or maybe you over-estimated your group’s abilities to invest the time to get things done. Maybe you out-kicked your coverage. It

happens. There’s no crime in it. The shame of it comes in chucking the whole enterprise or just letting it die a slow death in never-never land. What Paul is saying is we don’t all have to be rock stars; we just have to contribute according to our means, our talents and our gifts.

We’re not all expected to hit one out of the park (sacrifice bunts are useful too) but we are all expected to finish; however that looks. I like that. I like that my finished product doesn’t have to look like or be as big as your finished product. My success is mine, not yours. In fact my success may not really be success at all. Maybe my success is realizing I can’t swing a hammer or build consensus. Maybe my success is just making a phone call, checking out options and being part of the team. My success, as Paul says, is according to my means.

The Everyday QuestionIf you take all the comparison out of whatever you’re trying to do, what does completion or success mean to you? 

It’s tough to define finishing without comparing, isn’t it? The thing is, completing anything to our own satisfaction is a really, really good thing to shoot for. Paul said, “according to their means” and I imagine that’s sometimes difficult to define for you or those you know. If this might give them some comfort or peace of mind, please share it with them. 

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