By Liam Bunce
Last Friday I spent the day listening to a church leader called Jonathan Bell teaching on ‘Finishing Well’. Jonathan urged myself, and the other “Leadership Training” students present, to consider how we’d like others to sum up our lives when we’re gone. How do we want to be remembered? What are we doing about it now?
How easy it is to take for granted that we’ll “finish well”.
The examples Jonathan shared of well-known Christian leaders who’ve messed up big time was a wake up call to anyone who assumes that they’d never compromise their faith or integrity. The tragic stories of broken marriages, families, churches and lives shook me to my core.
It was perhaps the most sobering thing I’ve ever heard.
It was all the more sobering given that, as he spoke, Jonathan’s dad Arnold was seriously ill in hospital. I admired Jonathan so much for speaking with passion and clarity under such difficult circumstances. What makes it all the more sobering now is that Arnold sadly passed away on Monday, Jonathan and Arnold’s wife at his bedside.
Arnold Bell, who led City Church Sheffield and the Leadership Training course I’m doing, kept his integrity and faith in Jesus when it counted. I didn’t know Arnold well, but I’ve been fortunate enough to hear him teach from the Bible a number of times, for which I’ll always be thankful. Sometimes you know that what you’re hearing somebody say will affect the rest of your life. That’s what it’s been like hearing Arnold teach. I’ve seen so many tributes to this outstanding man of God from people all over the world. They honour him for his biblical teaching, faithful leadership, radical faith, God-centred family life and wicked sense of humour to name a few.
That’s finishing well.
That’s how I want to be remembered.
The apostle Paul wrote: “The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day.” (2 Tim 4v6-8)
Arnold will be deeply missed, but has left us with an immeasurable example to follow. For that I’m so grateful to God.