A great start is important. Look back just a few months ago. College basketball coaches and teams were all ready to launch a new season. Most started the season with high hopes and big dreams. A year before many were playing as star players on some high school team. They were anticipating staring on a college team and having dreams each night of what it would be like to be the star. They could see themselves and their team at the Big Dance and on days when their imagination went wild they could see themselves in the winners circle on the night when the finals have been played. The vast majority of all those young men and women who were having those wild dreams are at home now watching the champions of the basketball court play for the final four and then for the championship itself. They had a wonderful start. Think of how great they felt at the end of last season when the scholarships were being offered. Then think about the beginning of the season this year with their new team. Now instead of just being a star they played alongside others who were starters last year on their high school team. Everything looked great. The coach told you how good you really could be. If you just gave it everything you’ve got and played together as a team, unselfishly, you could be real stars. You wouldn’t just be the star of your high school team. You could be known to people all over and you could later star for a professional team making millions each year. But now, your season is over. You didn’t win the big games. You didn’t stand out among the other stars. You didn’t play as a team. Everyone was out to be a star. All the potential but nothing. All you can do is watch as other stars do the very things you dreamed of doing.
A great start is important. But it never has a warranty of a great finish. It is just a start, no matter how great it is. At the start what matters is ability, potential and dreams. At the finish, what matters is practice, work, perseverance and team work. Unselfishness is vital, but extremely rare. The challenge is to become a team man longing so much to be part of a winning team that you are willing to lose yourself for the team. But what a challenge. So few can ever meet such a challenge. Great players are fairly common. Great players who become part of a great team are rare. Great players who can become leaders of a great team even rarer. But great players who care more for the team than their own success so that they give themselves to making everyone else on the team the best they can possibly be, are so rare they are almost unheard of. But what coach wouldn’t give his whole career to find that player who is such a team man who makes others all they can be?
But life isn’t a basketball game and we aren’t part of a college team. But all of life is lived on the plane of either selfishness which thinks always about ourselves and what can make us look good or on the plane of one who becomes sold out on a cause bigger than they are for which they are ready to give everything to see the cause fulfill its purpose. We all have opportunities to get involved in things bigger than us. We see needs and challenges that we know need our full efforts. We often think to ourselves that if we had the time, the energy or the training we would give it our all and make a difference. But the important work goes undone because we are too busy living to grasp such an opportunity. We wish for the rewards of a completely devoted life while only paying half the price. Bargains are wonderful in many areas of life. But they are never available in the world of service and opportunity. Doing a great work requires full interest and involvement.
A great start in a life for God, for good and for service is important. But finishing is not only rare, it is vital.