Finishing Well

May 17, 2020 | Written by Thomas Thompson

In high school, I ran the mile relay. Four of us would each run one lap around the track and then hand off the baton to the next person.

I was the anchor, the last runner. Sometimes I’d get the baton and had to make sure we kept a lead. Sometimes I’d get the baton and had to try to close a gap. And sometimes I’d get the baton when we were completely out of the race. Then it would be my job to run the best race I could.

Now, that was the most difficult kind of race for me to run because the chance to win was taken off the table. So what I would turn to in those moments was my Drive to Finish Well.

Around age 45, I begin to experience something: I could see the second half of my life and the finish line.

It’s a sobering vision because you realize there are many things that you thought you would’ve done by this point that you haven’t. You realize that some windows have closed. And you realize that you have more miles in your rearview mirror then you do in the windshield ahead of you.

And now as I am about to turn 50, I’ve found a source of inspiration in the message of the Burning Bush.

Remember Moses? Sitting out in a pasture for 40 years, shepherding after his run from Pharaoh.  Every day for 40 years he woke up and did the same thing. But one morning was different. He came upon a bush that was on fire, yet not being consumed. This bush was God’s way of getting Moses’ attention and calling him to a new challenge in the last lap of his life: To lead his people out of bondage.

The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve resonated with the power of this moment.

What’s happening here on a macro level is how God uses ordinary people to accomplish his extraordinary purposes. But on a very personal level, God saying to Moses these words:

“Moses, This ain’t it. I have new things for your second half of life—things you could not have dreamed. Things I have been preparing you for all your life. Things I have been dreaming about for you. There’s still mountains for us to climb, you and I.” 

What an amazing message! The second half of life could be different from the first half of life. Better even. Instead of a winding down, there could be a ramping up, a chance to take the baton, close the gap, grab the lead, and finish well.

Now, I’m not as old as Moses was, but I’ve felt the heat of the burning bush. 

  • I felt it two years ago on my sabbatical as reflected on Matthew 25 and how I could best steward the talents God had given me—my wiring, my experiences, my passions, my dreams—in my second half.
  • I felt it a year and a half ago when I began to talk with our elders about stepping out of the role of Senior Pastor. Like Moses, I knew what I was leaving behind but I wasn’t sure what I was stepping into.
  • I felt it when this church graciously invited me to stay on through the transition to Jonathan’s leadership, giving me space to serve here in new ways and explore what could be.

And I began to realize that God was inviting me to His dream for the next lap of my life: Helping people have the conversations that move their story forward. It’s really the distillation of The Table that we talk about at PRC. It’s what I have been chasing for the last decade—getting people to the table to talk about what is most important in life.

I mean, I love getting to preach, but my real joy is stepping off of the stage and sitting down at a table with someone. Asking questions that uncover where they are stuck. Seeing them connect with how God has designed them, how God has guided them through life, where God is awakening new dreams in their lives.

So where could I go with that?

I started to explore the idea of becoming a Leadership Coach. Helping people identify the gap between where they are and where God’s calling them to go, and then helping them close that gap.

My own leadership coach invited me to come on board with his company to be trained and certified by him personally as an executive coach while I was ramping up my own coaching ministry.

So for the last six months I’ve kind of had three jobs. My work here at Pulpit Rock, my time at COSILoveYou serving the city—which Pulpit Rock so generously donated. And then the work of training, preparing, and actually beginning to coach.

When I stepped down from being a senior pastor last year, Jonathan asked if I would stay on for a year as Pastor of Spiritual Formation. That year ends next month on June 30th.

So that will be my last day as a staff member at Pulpit Rock.

It won’t be my last day as a part of Pulpit Rock. Our family will still be around. We are looking forward to where Pulpit Rock will go in it’s next lap. We have such a strong staff. Our elders have risen to a new level of leadership during this last year. Jonathan has a clear vision of the lap ahead. This church holds a unique space in this city, and it is fun to be along for the ride.

One cool thing for me: Our teaching team asked me to take the last Sunday in May and the first three Sundays in June and preach on some passages of scripture that have really shaped me over the last decade. I’m excited to share those with you and unpack a little more of this transition with my own voice.

Pulpit Rock, I am so grateful to have journeyed with you during the past lap of my life.  And I am looking forward to the next lap with you.


To find out more about where Thomas is going, visit his coaching page or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Comments

4 thoughts on “Finishing Well”

  1. Thomas, I will miss your humor while delivering your scriptures, I will miss your sincere hugs and you praying with me after services when I was going through very tough times in my life. Thank you for that. I wish you and your wife well in your new journey. Many prayers for you and your family.

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