Pastors and Ministry Leaders come in all ages. Each age group brings a unique perspective. I met with a 20-something pastor this week and heard great, enthusiastic stories about ministry, leadership, dreams, and potential. Last month, I had lunch with an 80-year-old pastor who is still serving and preaching. His conversation was filled with wisdom, burden, urgency, and contentment. I’m somewhere right in the middle – the forties.
I don’t reflect on my own age all that often, but this middle ground gives me an opportunity to think about what was and what is ahead. It’s a great place to be. Here are five questions for ministry leaders in their forties:
How Can I Stay Faithful?
Finishing strong in life is important. To do this, we must decide to stay faithful. That means determining in our hearts and minds, with all that we have, to stay faithful to Christ, our spouses, and our callings. Over the last couple of years, I have reflected that most big name ministry leaders who left their ministry posts due to moral failure or other issues, have been in or around their forties. Whether we experience burnout, unmet expectations, or midlife crisis, we must decide, even in the uncertainty that may come in our forties, to remain faithful.
How Can I Stay Fruitful?
The forties can bring with them a sobering thought: “This is it; this is my life.” You may not be successful in the way you expected. You may not be in the position you wanted. But here you are. Ask yourself, “How can I remain fruitful?”. You have already made a difference in people’s lives. To keep doing this effectively, you need to remain sharp and healthy. Remaining fruitful means:
- Growing in your discipline and heart to remain in Jesus and His word.
- Staying or getting more physically fit. (According to this study, being active in the 40’s greatly increases your chances for a healthy life after 65.)
- Committing to do the best, with what you have where you are, without looking elsewhere or comparing. You have an opportunity to make a major difference right where you are in ministry.
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How Can I Focus?
I once read a book about half-time. The forties can be the half-time time of your life. You can look back to see past opportunities to do many different things. In your mid-forties, you start realizing that time is short, so you have to focus. You may realize that your endeavors aren’t going to change the whole world. You’ve matured to the point of knowing that you aren’t the most amazing person; you have weaknesses and have made mistakes. But, you can also be grateful you have skills and something to offer to the world. You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want. Now is the time to begin to zero in on what you were created to do. Focus is hard work, but you can do it.
How Am I Making Friends And Family A Priority?
In your forties, no one cares how you dress, what your style is, or what you look like. There’s a good chance fair-weather friends are long gone and you can focus on building relationships that really matter. Are you making quality time for your spouse and those closest to you? Are you planning times to meet with others and develop friendships? Ministry life is unique, giving you lots of spaghetti noodle relationships, many a mile long but not deep. Now is the time to take one or two close friendships more seriously. Honor time at home. Focus on close friends and family. I haven’t been to funerals where the person was honored for their number of hours at work, but nearly 100% of them were remembered for connections, friendship, and family.
How Am Honoring God With My Finances?
How are you doing financially? Few pastors and ministry leaders will be listed on any “wealthiest people” lists, but we are called to be financially fit and faithful. Are you faithfully giving a tithe to the church? If not, begin today. Are you living within a budget? Are you doing all you can to be a faithful witness through your finances? Maybe you feel the pressure for new, bigger and better stuff when you hit a certain age. In the forties, you can usually find a way to purchase what you want and need. But don’t give up on being faithful with your finances.
Faithful, Fruitful, Focus, Friends, Family, and Finances. What other struggles do pastors and ministry leaders in their forties face? What do you think?