Most people in their 40’s and 50’s realize that they’re not going to achieve what they hoped for in their 20’s. Or, in a few cases, they did achieve it but found that it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as they had hoped.
Most people think that their most productive years will be in the 1st half of their life. They tend to view the 2nd half as a lot more tranquil, gently going up the hillat a fairly constant rate. But is this reality? Is the 1st half of your life really more productive than the 2nd half?
Studies show that its not. Time and again, we’ve found that the 1st half of life is preparatory for the 2nd half. It’s is the 2nd half that we see more success for our labors. This really goes against conventional wisdom. Even Paul, the apostle, wrote in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on…”
To determine how successful you’ll be in the 2nd half of your life, you’ll need to know a few things about yourself:
1…What are you passionate about? In order to give your life meaning, you must have a higher purpose, something that you’re passionate about. The average person dies between 2-7 years after retirement because they’ve lost their purpose in life. They retire “from” something rather than “to” something. A career is something you’re paid to do and what you can retire from. A calling is what you’re made to do. You NEVER retire from your calling.
2…Does your passion involve making other peoples lives better? Is it bigger than yourself? My passion has been to teach people about the Lord and to show them the reasonableness of Christianity and how it can effect their lives for the better.
Success commonly means using your talents to satisfy your own needs and wants. Significance means to use your talents and skills to serve others, to change and bless their lives. Even if most people don’t realize it, they want to be significant.
A good exercise is to visualize what you’d want people to say about you at your own funeral. Take what you’d want them to say and work backward from there. Make this your game plan for the rest of your life. Become that person. Realize that who you are now is on a journey to becoming what you want to be. This is going to be hard work. Are you willing to change certain things about yourself? Like dealing with an anger problem or becoming vulnerable to correction from our spouse? Many people quit at this stage.
3…Are you willing to keep on learning? If you stop learning today, you’ll stop growing tomorrow. But, whatever your passion is, you should always want to know more about it. If you try a way of exercising your talents or “spiritual gifts” and it doesn’t work out, try another way. Don’t give up just because you tried one particular way and it didn’t work. Your ”gift” or “calling” remain the same but the way of expressing them may change.
4…Be risk-taker. God usually asks you to go further than you can go on your own abilities. He wants you to step out of your comfort zone. To go where only by trusting Him could it be a success. We can water a plant but only God can make it grow (1st Corinthians 3:6).
David goes up against Goliath, Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac, the rich young ruler is asked to sell his possessions and follow Jesus. We are asked to go beyond our comfort zone and plant something, believing that God will make it grow.
In all of this, I am not saying to take unnecessary risks. Seek Godly counsel from trusted, mature Christians (Proverbs 11:4 & 15:22). God will guide your way.
5…It’s about running thru the storm (the problem). The important thing is what we DO in the storm, not what we THINK about the storm. Storms are inevitable. They can happen anytime. The Devil doesn’t want us to succeed. He will do everything in his power to hinder our progress (1st Thessalonians 2:18). When we are doing what God called us to, we will meet with resistance. We need to keep on going (Philippians 3:13-14). Winston Churchill once said that if you’re going thru hell…keep going.
6…Don’t blow it at the end. Temptation can overtake you at any time, but Satan can sense when you’re vulnerable (1st Peter 5:8 & James 4:7-8).
7…Weigh things that come into your life in terms of how they fit into your calling. Of course, everyone needs a hobby to relax and re-charge from. Hobbies serve this purpose as long as they don’t become obsessions. Other things and activities may be good but learn to say NO to them if they interfere with your calling. The old saying, “The good is the enemy of the best” is still very true.
8…Finishing well…our calling gives us a sense of responsibility right up to our last day on Earth. Can you finish well? Or is the 2nd half of your life meant to be turning inward with an ever-shrinking circle of friends and ending up just watching TV? Or can it be something more? You can retire from your job but you should not retire from your calling. When I die and meet Jesus, I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21).
“Finishing Well” by Bob Buford
Here’s to finishing well,