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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is it Bad to Finish Last?

Tommy Nelson, senior pastor of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas shared an amusing anecdote. Tommy's a big, muscular guy who stays in shape by running, and working out at the gym. He's also got a quick, well-developed sense of humor. One morning as he worked out on some apparatus in the gym, a guy who was working out nearby sized him up. Then he said, "So, I hear you're a Christian."
"Yes," Tommy replied.
"Well, you know what they say about nice guys; they finish last."
Tommy grinned and said, "That may be true, but bad guys go to hell."
I think that may have been the end of the conversation.

It got me to thinking. Is it true that nice guys finish last?
Perhaps in the world.
Perhaps if you're honest and possess integrity you may not get ahead in a cut-throat business environment. Or maybe you'll struggle to survive in the world of politics.

But what did Jesus say about being last?
 Did Jesus ever cluck his tongue and say to His disciples, "Too bad you're such nice guys. You're just never going to advance in the Kingdom of Heaven if you keep giving everybody else a leg up."?
Gosh, I'm glad He didn't ever say that.
Instead, Jesus said, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant."

Recently on the news, I saw a touching story of a young athlete in a race who chose to stop to help an injured racer, thus forgoing the chance to win the competition.
So extraordinary was the kid's choice that he made the national news. Did this young hero finish last?

A decade ago, as a mountain climber laying dying on the slopes of Everest, no one stopped to help.
Do you admire the climbers who made it to the top?

My son returned from his own climbing expedition up the snowy sides of fourteen thousand foot, Mt. Shasta.
"Did you get to the top?" I asked him.
 He shrugged. "Not this time. I stopped to help a girl. She had altitude sickness, so I helped walk her back down the mountain."
I knew how much my son had wanted to get to the top with a better time than last year. He didn't make it, but to the girl he helped, he's a hero. (And to me, too!)
Fortunately, we don't always have to choose between being the nice guy or losing the race, or the contract, or the whatever.
But when it counts, wouldn't you want to be "last?"
Is that so bad?

"Jesus called them (the disciples) together and said, 'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10: 42-45 NIV Bible)


  1. Last Sunday our church was packed. As the congregation filed up to the communion table in rows, people everywhere were stepping back and allowing others to go ahead of them. It took a long time for everyone to receive the elements and return to their seats, to wait for all the others before taking communion together, but no one was irritated or flustered. Afterward, our pastor had tears in his eyes and said, "You get it." It was a beautiful picture of what Christ taught us. Thank you for bringing it back to my mind with your wonderful post.

  2. thanks, Nancy. What a lovely illustration.