Finishing Strong


As a basketball player, Bob Love was a 6-foot-8-inch powerhouse. As a communicator, he was a cipher. A serious stuttering problem made speech next to impossible. In 1968, at 26, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls. He soon proved himself one of the team’s greatest players—its scoring leader for seven seasons. But no matter how well he did on the court, Love felt he would never reach success until he learned to speak better.

At 45, Love saw a speech therapist. For months he forced himself though a 30-hour-a-week regimen of drills and exercises. He went back with the Bulls, a communications representative, addressing kids and adults nationwide. His topic? The power of perseverance.

Bob Love is finishing strong despite setback and failures. He refused to bail out when the going was tough. He knew that life is more like a marathon run, than a hundred meter dash. His life is a stirring testament to those of us who are tempted to give up too soon, throwing in the towel and quitting.

In a speech Bob Love gave to a group of men I heard him say that his desire to go on was like a fire in his belly. Something deep within him that burned that would not allow him to give up, whether on the basketball court or in overcoming his stuttering.

The fire of endurance was planted within Bob Love and us. We can become more powerful than the situation we are facing. Burning within us all is the force we need to keep going. We have to call on it, sometimes reaching down deep to grab hold of the fire in our belly that will not allows us to quit. As long as we keep going the fire remains, but once we give up the fire dies. We, therefore, must refuse to quit. Remember, we may be at the end of our rope, but never are we at the end of hope. We may be knocked down, but never knocked out.

Sometimes we want to give up simply because we have depleted our physical resources. Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Regularly, one of our most productive activities is getting rest and solitude. Nothing replenishes the body and the soul like a day off weekly, an affordable vacation annually. To finish strong we have to take care of ourselves physically.

When we are ready to give up we must draw upon a higher power that is made available to us through worship and meditation. Let’s not treat these resources as a last resort but rather as a first priority. Before we give up, let’s look up to God.

A pastor decided that it was time to retire. He explained his decision to his congregation: I wear two hearing aids and tri-focal glasses; I have a partial plate and I sometimes walk with a cane. It seems to me that the Lord is telling me it’s time to retire.”

After the service, a white-haired lady told him, “Reverend, you have misinterpreted what the Lord has been saying to you. He’s not telling you it’s time to retire; he’s telling you that if you keep going, he’ll keep you patched up.”

So it is. Spiritually we are given the resources that keep us going. Finishing strong requires spiritual stamina.

Strength, also, is found in relationships. The old adage is true: there is strength in numbers. In this case, the number of supportive and loving relationships we have. The tallest trees in the world are the Redwoods. Interestingly, they have a shallow root system. Their strength comes because their roots become intertwined with one another. When we have a strong support group around us to encourage and uplift us we are less likely to give up.

These resources are the ingredients that kept Bob Love going, enabling him to finish strong. They will keep you from quitting. You, too, can finish strong.


Did you know that if we practiced love our relationships would be stronger, our jobs would be more meaningful, our ailments would be fewer? Earlier this year I wrote an encouraging book on love called Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love. The book gets its title from perhaps the greatest statement ever made on love by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. It provides a guide to love, if practiced will make us well and whole. Click here to claim your copy.


About Rick Ezell

I am a husband, father, pastor, and writer. This blog is about shaping character, transforming church, and impacting culture. I believe that if one defines their moments then their moments will determine their character and their character will influence their world. I write on personal development, church leadership, and our changing culture. I also write about the resources I am developing and the books I am writing. My goal is to create challenging, relevant, and inspiring content that will help you be a better person, the church be a better parish, and the world a better place. If you are interested in those things, this blog is for you. I have served the church my entire career as a student minister and senior pastor. I studied at Samford University, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (eventually I will get it). I have written eight books. My most recent ones are Chapter 13: The Excellence of Love and Soul Therapy: The Healing Words of Psalm 23. Both are available as eBooks. I have written over 1000 articles for various local, regional, and national publications. I have been married to Cindy for thirty-three years. We have one wonderful daughter. We live in Greenville, SC. In my free time, I enjoy writing, reading, running, tennis, and golf. You can contact me via email or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. This is my personal blog. The opinions I express here do not necessarily represent those of my employer. The information I provide is on an as-is basis. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.
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