Getting the job done feels good. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction at wrapping up a project, completing a task or finishing a role, in spite of the fact I’m not a natural completer-finisher. For me, the feeling is no doubt heightened because so many things on my to-do list are incomplete: there are books half read, articles half written, a basket of ironing not even begun. When there are three messy children, white walls and dirty hands, when most of life is well intended but half baked, the sigh of satisfaction when I’ve finished cleaning the bathroom is disproportionately deep and rich.
Being conscious of limited time and resource, I find it interesting that in spite of our limited capabilities, we so often yearn to have things wrapped up. We keep the end in sight, not the tedious means to that end. Consider the current US presidential race: two candidates making promises about the future, forced to confront their daily failures. They are wondering if they’ll make it to the White House; we are wondering if they’ll make it through the day. More to the point, we’re watching how they navigate the day.
And it’s this business of navigation that is, in the end, the business. Like an examiner on a GCSE maths question, we want to see how people work it out. The working out is important, and how we do that matters. It matters to pay attention to our goals, but it matters just as much to achieve them with integrity. A terrorist group can paint a picture of the future, but their means to that end tells us all we need to know.
Some of the most famous words Jesus ever uttered are the words “It is finished” from the cross. This from a man whose career began at 30, who was dead by 33. For sure Jesus got things done, but nothing like compared with the reach of his hope: that all people on earth would be reconciled to God. Jesus walked and talked, did many good things along the way, gave some people answers and some people questions. In fact he started more conversations than he finished. So if you worry it’s up to you to put the world to rights, think again. Your hope will always exceed your reach. Join the conversation, respect your conversation partners, and try to navigate well. That unfinished business really can change the world.