You have probably heard the saying “It’s not how you start, but it’s how you finish.” In theory that sounds good. This phrase tells us that we can do whatever we want in between as long as we finish well that’s all that matters. I would like to suggest and I believe that this saying is the wrong way to approach this race called life. I would like to suggest that the way you start has to do a lot with how you are going to finish.
In high school, I ran the 55 meter dash. All throughout practice and before each race, I would work on improving my start. If I could get out of the blocks well, the better chance I had at finishing well. Those first 10 meters were crucial in determining how I would finish. I never practiced my finish. Everyone I competed against never tried to improve the way they finished. Watch all the Olympic races and you will see all the athletes working on improving their start, getting out of the blocks well, and exploding through those first 10 meters. No one ever practices how they’re going to finish. It’s all about how they start.
The same is true for us as we go through this race called life. Paul writes that everyone runs in a race but only one receives the prize. He tells us to run in such a way to obtain the prize. Paul goes on to say that everyone who competes in the race goes into strict training and in such a way we should train in order that we should not be disqualified (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Now if you ever have watched a race, one of the only ways to be disqualified is if you start wrong. If you have too many false starts, they will disqualify you from competing in the race. So Paul is telling us here in Corinthians to train, practice, and work on our start so that we will not get disqualified from the race. The way you start something has a great significance on how you will finish. If you can start well, you will finish well.
I heard Apostle Ron Carpenter, Senior Pastor of Redemption World Outreach Center, say “If you can get #1 right, you have a better chance or probability of getting #2, #3, and #4 right.” In other words if you don’t get your start right, then you probably won’t finish well. Jesus tells us a story of two builders in Matthew 7:24-27. In this story, Jesus focusses on how these two builders started. One of them built his house on the rock and the other one built his house on the sand. When the storm came, the house that was built on the rock was left standing while the house that was built on the sand collapsed. The foundation of the house, the starting point, is so crucial in how the house finished after the storm had completed it’s course. The way they started building the house determined whether or not it was still standing or if it collapsed at the finish. In the same way, the way you start this race in life will determine whether or not you are standing or collapsing at the finish line.
How are you starting? Are you getting #1 right? Run this race of life in such a way that you are not disqualified and that when you cross the finish line you are still standing.