I recently spent several days at a conference with sixty other Pastors. This particular conference is one of my favorites because we simply get together to learn from one another, encourage one another and help one another be the best Pastors we can possibly be.

As most of you know, from following the evening news, it’s not unusual these days for many in the ministry to mess up. Scandals like Ted Haggard’s recent fall are unfortunately far from uncommon. The respect that once came simply from being “clergy,” at the very least is now tainted.

At the end of the conference, we honored two men who will be retiring this year from the churches they have been leading. Both of them have been in ministry for more than forty years. We honored these two Pastors for finishing well. For staying faithful to their wives. For keeping their hands off the money. For being men of integrity.

As a husband, a father, a Pastor, my deepest desire is to finish well. So, I’ve surrounded myself with close friends who really know me. Friends who aren’t afraid to ask me difficult questions. Friends who love me enough to say hard things to me.

God says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one friends sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Do you have friends in your life who are “sharpening” you? Do you have friends who will help you “finish well?” Are you willing to invite people into your life and allow them to know you at an intimate level?

Building the kind of relationships, that in my opinion, make life worth living can be difficult. Relationships take time, energy and grace. Sometimes they’re painful. Sometimes they’re messy. Sometimes they’re just downright hard. But in the long run, if these relationships help us stay faithful to our spouses, handle money with integrity, be the kind of people that others want to emulate, then the work and pain and messiness is worth it.

It really comes down to how highly we value finishing well.