“End with the Beginning in Mind” by Garris Elkins

by | Oct 13, 2012 | Future, Hope, Leadership, Transition, Trust, Vision. | 2 comments

In the late 1980’s and early 90’s many pastors in America
hung out in the business section of their local bookstore.  In those aisles stuffed with business
knowledge were books that drew their titles from subjects like swimming with
sharks, searching for excellence, creating wealth and a one-minute approach to business,
health and everything else. All the titles were verb-oriented. We all wanted to
get things moving.

One book that stood out, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People”, was written by Stephen Covey. Covey helped guide people into more
productive lives.  Most of us read the
book and implemented its concepts into our personal lives and ministries.  Covey’s points made sense. For many years
these principles served us well and still do in some circumstances.

There are many life-plan programs out there. Covey is now
one among many. What I have come to realize about life-plans is that they work
long-term if they are built upon a word from God.  The development of a plan must follow a word
of revelation that is only available from God by His Spirit.  If the plan is to work it must rest on
revelation. In the middle of the night when doubt and fear come visiting, it
will be the word, and not a plan, that will bring us comfort.

One of Covey’s classic lines was, “Begin with the end in
mind.”  Stephen Covey asked us to imagine
the finished product before we began to create a plan to make our vision a
reality. With that finished product in mind we would then return to the present
moment and create and define measurable steps of a process that would lead us
to the realization of our desired goal.

While Covey was right about developing a plan, there is
something going on in my heart that is shifting the process around.  Many of us have done life and ministry
for a long time and we are looking for a jump-start to reignite our vision and
calling.  We want a plan to finish

To finish well requires that we make adjustments now for a
strong finish later.  This way of
planning for a strong finish has us start with the beginning, not the end, in
mind. Some of us will need recapture our beginning if we are going to
experience fruitfulness in our ending.

years ago, I was in Indianapolis for a training event and had the pleasure of
having lunch with Dr. Bob Logan. Bob is well known in church circles for developing
leadership training and church planting materials that are considered some of
the best around.

one of the lunch breaks, I sat at a table with Bob and several others. As the
lunch conversation continued I asked a question. “Bob, what advice do you give
to individuals or organizations who have plateaued or are in decline – how do
you help them get moving again?” I asked this question knowing that Bob is
very gifted in evaluating the effectiveness of individuals and corporations and
his advice is utilized with great confidence.

answer was interesting. He said, “The first thing I ask is this, ‘What was your
original vision.’” He went on to say that most leaders are able to recite their
vision in great detail. Bob would then ask a set of questions to determine if
the leaders were still functioning in their original vision. Within plateaued
or declining corporations and ministries there was a common reality – each one
had stopped doing the very thing that brought them success in the first place.
They had ceased doing their original vision.

then shared a deep nugget of truth with me, “Each time someone rediscovered
their original vision, and began to do it once again, in each case, without
exception, they began to move forward and grow.”

those words of wisdom were shared, I sat there wonderfully stunned by what I
just heard. The lunch conversation continued to move around the table, but I
was still processing the words, “in each case, without exception”.

God does an original work in our lives there is more going on than something
new and refreshing. In these times foundations are being built and vision is
being cast. Those first few years when God is doing an original work in our
lives is the place where He develops and defines the DNA structure that will carry
us into the future towards a fruitful end. Most of the decisions I make today
are sourced in the original truth and wisdom I learned in my first few years of

wife and I had a recent discussion about our years in ministry. The times of
personal renewal and redirection that have taken place over the last 30 years
have always centered on the rediscovery of that original DNA and reengaging it.

this point in our lives we are living out those basic truths in deeper and
wider applications that many years of service can bring. Our vision for life
and ministry may be deeper and wider now in its application, but it is all
based on the original truth revealed to us in those early years of our calling.

did God give you as a vision or direction when you first began your journey of
faith? Are you doing that now? If not, chances are your life and ministry has either
plateaued or is in decline. You might be scrambling around for a new word or some
fresh concept to grasp. Maybe your answer for a jump-start is
already in your life and simply needs to be revisited, redefined and reengaged.
Go back to the beginning and take a new look at that original word, embrace its
truth and new life will begin to flow once again.


  1. Linda Wallenius, Prineville, OR

    This is such a great word Garris! Your posting made me take a mind journey. Guess what I found? While I'm not a pastor in the ordained sense of the word, my original fresh breath from God some 36 years ago was, "get to know me". For me, the journey has been slow, sometimes painful, but always moving on up the continuum of getting to know, love, and serve God. In the process, I've learned that I AM a pastor of sorts because of the giftings He bestowed on me. I'm absolutely loving where I am in my walk at this point in time, in spite of our path turning toward taking care of elderly parens. I've felt recently (even today as I write from my mother's dining room table) that I was stuck, plateaued, not able to hear Him in this difficult season of my life But your word today spoke. I am not plateaued, simply employed in the business of learning more about loving on and serving His blessed children, my parents. Thank you…I cannot express how much I needed to hear this today! Blessings, Linda

  2. Isaac


    Great word again! And Linda, yes, your giftings have blessed me!



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