Unfinished Tasks and Success: Are They Connected?

Like most Christians whom I know, I want to finish the race of life and hear my Lord say, “Well done!” Finishing well means finishing every task that we begin, doesn’t it? If you grew up like I did with the instruction, “You shouldn’t start something that you can’t finish,” then there might be guilt (as well as disappointment) related to not finishing things. Dr. Archibald Hart has a different viewpoint. In his book, Adrenaline and Stress, he makes the following astounding statements.

I suspect that the more we want to “finish before we die,” the more likely we are to die before we’re finished! Life is composed of a chain of incompletes. We never quite finish the business of adjusting to one state of it when we are pushed on the next . . . is it realistic to think that we can learn to accept incompleteness and still be content? I think so . . . A successful life will always be unfinished, and the more successful it is, the more will be left undone.[i]

Although there is plenty in my life that’s unfinished, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of that being okay and, also, linked with success. I still have a desire to finish everything that I start. The problem is: I start more tasks than I can finish—everyday. And perhaps it would be better if I did not start some of the things that I do. I’m trying to be more realistic about what I think I can accomplish, as well as to what God would like me to accomplish.

For example, when I made it out last night, I thought my things-to-do list for today was reasonable. It seemed like my plans for today were minimal; however, by noon, even though I had not strayed far from my list, I could see that I would not be able to finish everything on it. This did not coincide with my desire to finish everything I start. Unfinished tasks feel like failure—not success.

Jesus finished every task assigned to him. At age 33,  he finished everything that was important for him to do. Everything else he left undone.  If we want to hear the words “Well done,” we must do the same. How? Maybe we could start by asking ourselves (and God) what we do not need to do.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What tasks would you like to leave undone?
  • What tasks do you need to leave undone?
  • Are the tasks that you would like to leave undone the same ones that you need to leave undone?’
  • How do you determine which tasks are important and which are not?

[i] Hart, Dr. Archibald D., Adrenaline and Stress (Dallas: Word, 1995) p. 213

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