THE TRAGEDY OF UNFINISHING
By: J. Sergio Fortes
I have borrowed the title above from a speech by businessman Dr. John Haggai. Speaking with a strong voice and the energy of a “young man of 90 years old,” Dr. Haggai challenged business and professional people from many nations to consider the risks of “unfinishing works” in every area of their lives.
More recently, I watched the painful live images on local TV channels showing the tragedy of a commercial airplane crashing in my city with nearly 200 people on board. It had passed over a building where I often went on business – and where I had friends from whom I was anxiously hoping for news. As I watched, I heard the echo of Dr. Haggai resonant voice: “Be careful with unfinished works.”
The media have reported that work to correct the airport runway where the airplane tried unsuccessfully to land will continue for months. As I think of this unfinished work – and the works of those who perished aboard the jet – I also thought of countless unfinished things in my own life. The price I had to pay to finish some of them was high. For others, I am still struggling to arrive at a conclusion.
Unfinished works! How can we avoid being destroyed by them, or suffering a heavy penalty for delaying their completion? Philip Chesterfield was very precise in his conclusion: “Everything worthy of being done deserves and requires to be done well.” Unfortunately, due to negligence, inefficiency, laziness, fear, not wanting to suffer or cause others to suffer, the paths of our lives seem littered by unfinished works.
Reflecting on the earthly work He had been commissioned to do,Jesus Christ stated emphatically: “I have finished the work You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). And before giving up His spirit on the cross, He said: “It is finished” (John ). Here are some ideas to help us avoid unfinished works:
Be accountable to someone else. A friend, mentor, parents or spouse are among those who can hold us accountable for unfinished business. However, to be effective, such accountability should occur in a regular basis. Opening our private life and exposing weaknesses we would prefer to keep hidden requires emotional maturity. Knowing the hard task he faced in rebuilding the temple, Solomon sought out this advice from his father: “…Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God – my God – will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 28.20).
Maintain diligence and focus. Numerous day-by-day activities place a high demand on our time: the multi-tasking effect! Knowing how to set priorities and deal with each with diligence and focus requires wisdom. Solomon definitively learned this lesson: “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys” (Proverbs 18.9).
Pursue the end with determination. Two months after I began to write a letter to a friend I had not seen in more than 30 years, I heard from another friend that he had cancer. Two weeks my friend died. My letter to him remained unfinished, un-mailed. When I read it I cried, thinking of my lost chance to offer encouragement to one in his last days. Unfinished work often exacts a high price and a heavy penalty. To delay, wait for more inspiration or a better time – are only excuses. God provided our perfect example in the beginning: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done”(Genesis 2.2). Do not rest while unfinished work remains to be completed!
J. Sergio Fortes is an attorney-at-law and consultant in transportation living in São Paulo, Brazil, where he is a member of CBMC.