This past Sunday I was at Church and I was really excited to be there,
because I hadn’t been there since forever. Seeing as how it was the Last Sunday, the Bishop, Bishop Mosa Sono, decided to end the year off with a bang. His message was titled ‘The Determination to Finish’ The message he preached was so profound that I sat there thinking ‘I HAVE TO share this with my readers’.
What I’ve tried to do with this message is to make it a generic message for anyone to adapt and put into practice in their own lives, even if you’re not a believer. That said, you have to remember that this is a church message so I will make references to a few scriptures to prove a point, just like the Bishop did… and also, I’m a performer so that is the way I have understood the message, and that’s the best way I can share it. Otherwise; sit back, read the message and take it in the best way you understand it.
Brace Yourself, this might be a bit long.
The Determination To Finish
Key Verse: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and FINISHER of our faith; who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weird and faint in your mind (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Basically, Jesus is the Finisher of our lives. He is the best example of a determined Finisher. He finished his task, he was determined to go to the cross and die on the cross for us. What we are challenged with as human beings is finishing what we have started… our generation is plagued by too many absent fathers, college drop-outs, HIGH SCHOOL DROP OUTS even… all of which are examples of people who haven’t finished the race set before them. God wants us to develop a determination to finish what we have started, which is something we often forget and/or neglect to do. I mean, he has finished everything he has started.
Take a look at Genesis 2:1-2 Thus the Heavens and the Earth were FINISHED, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day GOD ENDED HIS WORK which he had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which He had made. (KJV)
The more unfinished projects you have in your life the more it’s going to affect you. You’ll get to a point in your life where you, yourself, won’t even believe what you’re saying.
take a look at Mark 11:23-24 For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, ‘Be though removed, and be thou cast unto the sea’; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. (KJV)
You can get into the habit of saying things you really don’t mean. What you don’t realise is that when you say things that you don’t mean, IT WILL START TO AFFECT YOU! You end up not believing believing in YOU (especially when you say things at random). This ultimately affects how you interact with people. Think about it, you eventually project who you are onto other people. You say ‘You don’t trust easily’ but this could be rooted in the fact that you don’t trust YOURSELF easily, as a result of not living up to what you say.
Out there we find that there are Four Kinds of FINISHERS:
1) Those who are cut off early
These are people who aren’t given the opportunity to finish what they have started because they are overthrown, or a revolution takes place. They never get to show what they are truly made of because someone always comes in and takes over (whether they want it or not). Have you seen when a lead gets replaced by their understudy because they just aren’t delivering what is expected of them or they just aren’t cracking the role or getting the intention of the the character or the song right.
2) Those who finished poorly
These people usually start off well but finish poorly. I think the result of this is due to the fact that they have no growth and progression which is important. There has to be a difference every time you step into the rehearsal space; a good difference at that. There also has to be a difference every time you perform; you can’t start off well and gradually start to deteriorate with every performance.
3) Those who finished ‘So-So’
These are people who didn’t do what they could have or should have done. This, I believe, is the one person in a performance who no one ever remembers, yet they are never forgotten too. Have you ever shared a stage with someone, and you always feel like you never seem to notice them until after the performance; as though they were not there, but they were. The best way to describe these people are people who have the potential to be great, but they could not live up to it…
4) Those who finished well
These people don’t need to be described. We all know people that finish well, and that’s what we aspire to do. These are people who have made the most sacrifices and have had to withstand ambush from negative people. These people leave a mark; an imprint in your heart and/or mind (after a performance).
The Story of John Stephen Akhwari
John Stephen Akhwari is a man with a truly inspiring story that goes to show what being a finisher is all about. He is an athlete, a runner to be exact, and in 1968 he entered in the Olympics and represented Tanzania. The Olympics were held in Mexico City that year and apparently, as the story goes, Akhwari had not trained at such altitudes in Tanzania. The race began at 3pm and Akhwari had a good steady, and stabilised start. The heat got a bit too much for the runner and he got a cramp at about the 19th Kilometre mark. He tried finding his place between the other 74 runners and he got hit. Akhwari fell, hit his head and injured his knee. He also got quite trampled on before he could get up. Despite his injuries, Akhwari got up and continued the race; even though medical practitioners on the scene were against it. At 7pm, long after the race had been completed, Akhwari came limping into the stadium, bandages and all. The few people that were left behind at the stadium got front row seats to see history being made when they watched John Stephen Akhwari FINISH the race; last.
When asked why he persevered on even though he was obviously in pain… he answered “My country did not send me over 11,000 kilometres to start a race. They sent me over 11,000 kilometres to finish one.”
Which he did… Take a look at the video below showing John Stephen Akhwari arriving at the Stadium to finish the race, despite his injuries and the fact that he was guaranteed the last place (which receives no medal or acknowledgement)
How to get to the Finish Line
To finish, you have to have the determination to win and the will to reach the finish line. Like John Stephen Akhwari, you shouldn’t go there with the goal to start but with the goal to finish. It doesn’t matter how long it’ll take you to get there or how to get there; just make sure that you do get there (to the finish line, that is)
Here are a few tips on how you can reach your finish line (athlete style)
Inconsistency will cause you to never finish. When it comes to training (or rehearsals) consistency is everything, you have to do it every day. It starts small; You have to consistently arrive on time, consistently be prepared for the rehearsals for that day etc. You can’t expect to play at a high level while training at a low level… that doesn’t work. We are creatures of habit, so you have to be consistent as often as possible to the point where inconsistency is out of the question. You have to arrive on time everyday till the question of not arriving on time (or at all) never arises.
2) Be Disciplined
Avoid destructive behaviour that works against your goal of reaching the finish line. You need to eat well, train, rehearse, stretch etc. Leave the alcohol behind if it’s not good for your voice. Wake up 30minutes earlier to stretch and warm-up if you know your body takes longer than usual. Get into character an hour before you perform if you know that it’s hard for you to do 10mins before you walk onto stage.
3) Work Through The Pain
I struggle with this one a lot. You need to not stop, but to keep going instead. This is the whole mind over matter thing, which I have not yet mastered. You have to train your body to have a high level of pain tolerance. You need to get to a point where you enjoy the pain, that’s the only way you’ll be able to work through any sort of pain thrown at you. This one is my personal challenge for this year.
4) Enjoy The Training
The only way something starts working positively for you, is when you have a good attitude towards it. You have to be able to wake up and be excited for rehearsals. Without that, it’s all in vein. Success comes from doing what you LOVE to do, and enjoyment is a by-product of love.
5) Stay Focused And Alert
You need keep your defences up and not loose focus. Constantly scan for your environment for changes so that when they come, you will stay afloat and be better prepared for them. You need to protect your work, anything you do has to have high walls around it. This means that nothing can get through and throw you off track and/or negatively impact your race. Stay vigilant. I once read the book, ‘Who Moved my Cheese’ and it talks about this; you need to constantly stay at the top of your game with eyes wide opened, and a focused mind.
6) Relax When You Are Racing
I bet you weren’t expecting that one right, well neither was I… But it’s true, you have to relax; perhaps meditate before you start your race. This is even the case with stretching, when you are tense your muscles will not work for you, but against you. To achieve supreme physical effort you must relax. Get out of your own head. What do singing lecturers say when singing high notes??? RELAX!!! It not only applies to that, but it also applies to finishing your race. Once the race has started, let the work you’ve put in before, show for itself…
So that’s all you need to FINISH YOUR RACE. Everything above makes sense, regardless of the field of work you’re in… This is my new attitude for the New Year. In my opinion it ties in closely with The Importance of Preparation and also with Having the Spirit of Excellence (A post to come).
So share with me what you aim to FINISH this year. If you don’t have anything I suggest you create a few; don’t see this as New Years Resolutions but rather a ‘A To Finish List’ for 2014.
The post is based on church notes so if you’d rather get that I can email it to you. Leave your email address, in the comments section, and I’ll send you a copy of the church notes (with scripture references, some even typed out)
I dare you right now to GRAB A HOLD OF YOUR VISION AND WORK HARD TO FINISH IT.
That way, you will
***remember to keep the sting burning***