Finishing Well: Navigating Leadership with the End in Mind

I had the privilege of hosting a podcast episode featuring the incredible Kay Warren, where we delved into life, leadership, and the art of finishing well after decades of leadership. One particular remark she shared has been playing on repeat in my mind ever since our talk. I asked her for some advice to pass on to young leaders about achieving a strong finish, and her response has stuck with me: “You have to know where you are headed. Finishing well is going to include 1,000 decisions in a day.”

In light of Kay’s wisdom, I’ve been reflecting on my own leadership journey and the need for an intentional pause from time to time to adjust, evaluate, and redirect my heart toward finishing well.

Know Where You’re Going

Back when I took my first steps into ministry, my heart was set on a straightforward and innocent dream: I longed to talk to people about Jesus and witness the incredible ways God would bring about His glory. That same hope and desire has stood the test of time throughout my two decades in ministry. However, the true essence of this journey lies in the moments that bridge the gaps between the incredible highs and the challenging lows. These are the everyday struggles and wounds that shape any leader’s path. Things like who we serve, where we are, or even our job description might change, but unless we stay focused on our direction, it’s easy to lose our way.

Kay wisely shared with me that she and Rick, from the beginning of their marriage in order to finish well, needed to choose what they would be marked by: integrity, humility, and generosity. 

Choose Character in the Mundane

Our personal growth isn’t solely forged through grand ministerial achievements or notable successes. Instead, it’s the culmination of the seemingly modest, everyday moments that truly mold us. Within these unassuming instances, a profound connection forms as God aligns our innermost desires, passions, and aspirations with His own. Whether it is the discipline of showing up on time to the office or a meeting, the grace exhibited when someone cuts in front of us in the grocery store line, or even our simple faith to give generously during a financially challenging month, it is in these unremarkable choices that our vulnerabilities and need for both faith and grace are laid bare.

Cultivate Your Inner Life More Than Your Abilities

Navigating leadership in these times often resembles operating as a trauma response team rather than conjuring up fresh initiatives and ideas. From grappling with limited volunteer sign-ups to managing staff dynamics and addressing critical feedback of members, the demands placed on you revolve around execution, strategy, and intensified effort. The lure to prioritize productivity and honing leadership abilities is strong, but it’s all too easy for your personal well-being and spiritual practices to be pushed to the background, invariably leading to an unhealthy outcome.

Just as important as it is to schedule meetings and training, it is equally as important to prioritize rest, time of connection, and silence and solitude.

Ultimately, your leadership journey is an intricate tapestry woven with your ministry goals, choices, and character. May you find inspiration in Kay’s wisdom to lead with intentionality, resilience, and a heart directed towards a strong and meaningful finish.

Listen to my conversation with Kay Warren here and check out other episodes of Season 2.

Posted on September 1, 2023


Jacki C. King is a respected and popular Bible teacher, conference speaker, and ministry leader. She has a passion for seeing women fall in love with Jesus and His Word while challenging them to be on mission in their homes, workplaces, and communities. Jacki is a native Texan who now lives in Central Arkansas with her husband Josh, who is a Lead Pastor, along with their three boys. Jacki holds a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies and Ministry to Women from Criswell College and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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