How we close the last three months of this year will impact how we start next year.
It’s all about the close. If you are or have ever worked in sales, then you fully understand what that means. Closing is everything. In fact, anything short of the close is a disappointment. The close is the culmination of intense planning, labor, and negotiations. It is the reward and satisfaction of having achieved one’s goal. Whether you are the buyer or the seller, both parties walk away from the transaction enriched by the experience.
As we enter the month of October, we are in the 90-day close. The goals we set for 2023 have 90 days to be achieved. Though the year may be winding down because we are in the fourth quarter, our drive and motivation must ramp up so that we finish strong.
Life Is Negotiation
Life is like sales: We list our goals at the beginning of the year, and then we haggle over the price we are willing to pay to acquire them. When the final details of the contract are being discussed, we are given the option to walk away from the table and try again next year, or to stay at the table and close the deal.
Deals are not done in a dash. They take resolve, fortitude, and resilience. The truth is, we are closing deals all day, every day. We begin our mornings negotiating whether we will get out of bed and start our day or grab a few more minutes of sleep. We negotiate with our spouses, our children, our pets, the clothes in our closet, the cars on the freeway or passengers on public transportation, and the cashier at the café—all before we ever get to work.
Yet, when it comes to those accomplishments we identified as most important to us, we surrender all too easily. But the apostle Paul urges us to press on when we feel like giving up on our endeavors: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9, NASB).
Three Dos of Dealmaking
There are three principles Paul teaches us about closing the deal.
1. Doing good requires ongoing enthusiasm. In a world filled with immoral people, it is easy to abandon our principles by taking the low road. When so many people are taking that path by cheating or cutting corners, we sometimes wonder if doing good pays off. But the goals we set at the start of this year were the aspirations we envisioned after having consulted the Lord in prayer. Some of them we have been able to accomplish, others we may have moved into next year, but there are a few left that remain realistic and achievable if we do not lose heart.
When we lost heart, we surrender our enthusiasm. Our excitement about what we wanted to produce loses its luster in the caldron of life, difficulty, and resistance. James Boice says, “The great hindrance to such good sowing is weariness that results in discouragement and eventually in giving up.” But Paul exhorts us to stay excited because enthusiasm is the petroleum that fuels our drive. Quitting, on the other hand, requires no passion; it is the consequence of those whose candles no longer burn. So, let’s trim our wicks and keep our passion pumping.
2. Doing good requires ongoing effort. The reason people resort to the low road is because they are not willing to put in the work that it takes to win. But winning takes effort, and effort is more than an event. Our microwave, instant coffee, Doordash, and ChatGPT society has conditioned us into being lazy. No one wants to invest the sweat equity necessary to see plans through to completion. Instead, we opt for a 60-second TikTok video, hoping we will make it big. But the stories of overnight successes are few and far between. Typically, they don’t last long, because they don’t have the stamina and substance required to go to the next level.
The difference between winners and losers is that winners push past their weariness. During Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan pushed past his illness to lead the Chicago Bulls to a victory and, ultimately, a championship. He maintained his effort despite whatever hardship he was facing. This last quarter of our year should be no different. We may not be playing for the NBA championship, but we are laboring for a reward that is sufficiently important enough for us to have pursued it as a target. So, let’s lace up our shoes and give it the best effort we can muster.
3. Doing good renders the optimum effect. Some people suggest that goal setting is more about the journey than the destination. It is no question the journey makes the destination all the sweeter; but make no mistake about it, the destination is what we’re after. This is not about moral victories or lessons learned—we’ll save that for another blog—this is about the sweetness of victory, the fruits of our labor. Paul refers to it as a harvest that we “reap.”
The effect of our ongoing enthusiasm and effort is the attainment of that for which we have been laboring. To reap is to produce a result, and a result presupposes cause and effect. Thus, our efforts are the cause of our reaping. It’s always easy to quit when life is asking more of us, but we are also rewarded because of it. That’s why it is the optimum effect, because it is the desired outcome that we had hoped for at the beginning of the year. So, let’s revisit our lists and determine which goals we will continue to pursue. You can still make it happen if you are willing to put in the energy and effort that are required to reap what you have sown.
Goals are our guide to progress. With them, we have a roadmap to a better life, but without them, we will wander aimlessly to nowhere. 20203 is rapidly drawing to a close, but our futures still have more to disclose. How we finish this year will set the tone for how we start next year. I don’t know about you, but I plan to finish it strong!
Rev. Isaac Hayes is an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and author of Men After God’s Heart: 10 Principles of Brotherly Love. He is also a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.
 James Montgomery Boice, “Galatians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans through Galatians, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976), 504. William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 453.