By Leo Hellyer
I was recently invited to record a segment for a show titled, “Finishing Strong,” on a local Christian radio station. As I was waiting for the scheduled date to arrive, I began thinking more about what it meant to finish strong. I thought about the Christian men that I knew who I felt fulfilled the life trait of finishing strong. Some of the men in my close personal circle of friends and mentors who I feel finished strong are: Armond Taylor, Harlon Nelson, Leland Cantrell, and Chuck Mary.
Some more distanced mentors of mine who I feel finished strong, or are in the process of finishing strong, are Dennis Rainey, Stu Weber, Robert Lewis, and Gene Haub. None of these men lived perfect lives. Every one of them faced challenges, difficulties, and temptations in their lives. But there is one unifying trait or strength that each of these men possessed, and that was integrity.
Men, regardless of what age we are, at this moment in time each of us should be pondering what it means to finish strong. How do I live my life as a man of integrity? So, what is integrity? The Cambridge English Dictionary defines integrity as, “… the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change”.
As Christian men, we are provided with a considerable amount of insight and guidance on how to live our lives as men of integrity through the Word of God, the Bible.
In Proverbs 4:25-27 we read:
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
In Philippians 4:8 we read:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
If we are to finish strong as Christian men, we need to make it a priority in our lives every day; to make sure we are prayed up; that we are seeking the guidance of the Lord; that we are being still enough to hear the guidance that the Lord provides; and that we are obedient enough to faithfully follow the guidance the Lord provides us in all things.
This life that we are living is a long, rough journey, with many challenges along the way. As people look at a marathon race, most remember the finish, not the start, and not individual points along the path of travel. Many times, people start out well, but somewhere along the way, they lose their sense of direction, they lose their compass. All of a sudden, they veer off course and quite often never get back on course. As we try to live life as men of integrity, we need to use God and His Scripture as our compass and not be tempted to follow after a cheap but shiny and good-looking substitute.
It is truly unfortunate when good Christian men, even good Christian men in ministry, start off very well, but somewhere along the line get diverted from the godly path that they were on. Quite often, when men fall off the godly path that they started down, they fall hard. Recent indiscretions many times will block out earlier achievements, and even great Kingdom service and leadership.
To finish strong as Christian men we must always have on the ‘Full Armor of God’. We are in a constant spiritual battle. God Almighty gives us instructions in how to be valiant warriors in this battle.
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 we read:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
In 1 Peter 5:8-9 we are instructed to, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”
Okay, so how do we finish strong and keep our integrity above reproach? How do we finish our race with our head held high and the legacy of our lives showing a fruitful and true walk with the Lord? We do so by knowing where our strength in battle needs to come from. It is when we try to go into battle under our own strength that we fail miserably. We can only be victorious in our spiritual battles through the strength of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you want 20/20 vision in your lifelong journey, look through your life with the vision of Christ. Do not be deceived by Satan, or other men or women in your life. God has all of the answers, seek Him, follow Him, get your strength and direction from Him.
Leo Hellyer is a non-staff pastor with a Treasure Valley church and has been married to his wife Norma for over 50 years. Leo and Norma served together on the Boise FamilyLife Volunteer Ministry Team for 20 years. Leo has served with Boise Rescue Mission Ministries for over 22 years, and is currently at the River of Life Rescue Mission. He is a veteran, having served in the U.S. Air Force for 22½ years. He is President and Chief Firearms Instructor with Helping Hands Firearms Training. If you have any questions about Real Man’s Toolbox, or need other assistance, he may be reached at [email protected] or (208) 240-5544.