Sunday, January 22, 2012
Finishing Well: A Reminder from Joe Paterno
Sunday Joe Paterno, the all-time winningest college football coach died after a battle with cancer at the age of 85. He coached the Penn State Nitanny Lions for 61 years (46 as head coach) winning 409 games, playing in 37 bowl games and winning two national championships.
Paterno will most likely be remembered as a man of determination and dedication to the sport, the University, his family and friends. Paterno will also be remembered for failing to do more in the protection of children that were allegedly abused by one of the members of his coaching staff. For all of his accomplishments and respect in the world of football, Paterno will also be remembered for being fired by the University for the child sexual abuse scandal.
It is hard to live life well and finish life well.
My family and friends began a journey January 1 of reading through the entire Bible in 2012. In these first few weeks several have commented to me, “I didn’t realize that the people in the Bible who did great things for God also committed such awful sins.”
It’s true. I tend to look at Moses and David as heroes in the faith. God used them in powerful and eternal ways. But they also committed terrible sins and finished life poorly.
For over a couple of decades now I’ve intentionally concerned myself with the challenge of how to live lovingly, adventurously, generously, holy and also finish well so that when I breathe my last I’ve not been an embarrassment to God, my family or my church. I’m not talking about sinless perfection but rather a consistent godliness that honors the Lord and encourages others.
I regularly meet with some men with the same heart. We’ve made a commitment to each other to be accountable. We confess our sins to each other. We pray for each other. We call each other whenever we think the needle on our heart-gauge is getting in the red zone of danger. We regularly exhort one another, “Let’s finish well.”
As a fan of college football I’ve admired Paterno for years and with respect to the game I probably will never forget him. I’ll also not forget the final few months of his life.