The Unfinished Man

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 11 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Strength And Beauty)


Ah, thank God for the unfinished man - the fellow who knows he is not yet finished. Far too many men think they are equipped simply because they have been called to a certain task. Still others think they are equipped because they hold a certain position. One of the hardest things that I have faced through the years as Pastor is combating the idea that subconsiously creeps into a person who becomes a staff member at our church. He is now on the staff of one of the world's largest churches. He becomes suddenly the finished product. No he is no more than he was before he came. Actually, he is less finished now. He has a bigger task to perform with the same equipment that he had. If he could only realize that he is the unfinished man and even less finished than before, he will have begun the first step toward equipping himself for the new task.

Somebody has said, "Good, better, best, never let it rest, 'til your good is better and your better, best." Just because someone holds a big title or receives a multitude of compliments does not mean he has arrived. The truth is that none of us ever arrive. We must constantly be improving. It was Einstein who said he used only five percent of his potential. If this be true, think of the undiscovered potential in those of us who are normal human beings.

Along the same line, character is developed, not acquired. A man may have his sins forgiven at salvation but that does not mean that he has necessarily developed character. Character is the subconscious doing of right. It is developed by the doing of right so often, so regularly, and with such habit that it becomes embedded. A person does not have character just because he is saved, called to preach, or a little educated just as a person is not considered to be educated because he bought a text book, or a pianist because he bought a piano.

Let us remember that our Lord said He would pour water on him who is thirsty. One will not drink unless he is thirsty and one will not improve himself or be improved unless he is hungering and thirsting for improvement.

Don't forget that the Bible says, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:29) You will notice He doesn't stop after the calling. There are gifts to follow. A calling should not be thought of as an equipping but rather as an unequipping.

I well recall as a college lad going out in the country one Thursday afternoon to visit an old missionary who at the time was in his nineties. He had served for many years. His name was Gustave Norling. Several of us young preachers would go out and listen to his bits of advice. We came to a time when we thought we had arrived. We had enough education and we were more spiritual than the professors. We told Brother Norling we thought we ought to stop attending school because the professors, in some cases, were "dead" and those who pastored churches were not succeeding. We felt they had nothing to offer us. The old man lifted up his head and spoke wisely as he said something like this: "Young men, no doubt some professors are "dead", but, bear in mind, these men are not well-rounded men; they are not complete men. Each, however, is an expert in one field. I would not advise you to emulate these men or to be like them, but I would advise you to find out what each one knows. You can take from an incomplete man what he knows in his field and by learning from many incomplete men, you can become a complete man. Stay in school, learn all you can from each man as he teaches his own specialty, and then become the well-rounded preachers that I want you to become."

I learned a lesson that day that has helped me in my entire life.

Again, may I say, a calling should not be thought of as an equipping, but rather as an unequipping. A calling or a position is simply an opportunity.

Once I thought of hiring a man as an assistant pastor. I talked with him and told him something about what I had in mind and asked him to pray about it. Several days later we discussed the matter again. I asked if he had thought of any questions.

"Yes," he said, "I have two questions: 1. What would my title be? and 2. What would the remuneration be?"

I answered both questions but discounted the possibility of employing him. Oh, for men who are unfinished and who in their own eyes are never finished; men who can learn from lesser men; men who are strong enough to be weak, tough enough to be tender, hard enough to be compassionate, cold enough to be warm, and knowledgeable enough to be understanding.

There are so many people who read my books and use my methods. One fellow said one time, "I have used all your methods and I just don't seem to be able to succeed."

I said to him, "Young man, using Hyles' methods will only go so far; using Hyles' philosophies can open limitless methods of your own."

The wise school teacher continues to learn. The wise mechanic continues to study the newest cars. The wise leader will not settle in his position nor be impressed by his title nor be aware of the shingle on his door. The successful man is the unfinished man-one who keeps his eyes open, learns all he can from everybody, employs all men as his teachers, and realizes that the greatest of all is not the leader, but the servant, and even the leader must be a servant.

When we think of greatness we point to the one who gives the orders. When God thinks of greatness He thinks of the one who obeys the orders. When we think of greatness we look at the head table. When God thinks of greatness He looks at the servers.

Oh, to be an unfinished man always!

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