Pastors and Ministry Leaders – they are all ages and with each age group brings a unique perspective. I met with a 20 something pastor this week – I heard lots of 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 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. Determine in our hearts and minds, with all that we have, to stay faithful to Christ, to our spouse and to our calling. Over the last couple of years, I have reflected that most of the big name ministry leaders who left their ministry posts due to moral failure or other issues, have been in or around their fortes. I’m not sure if it’s burnout, unmet expectations, or midlife crisis of heart and soul or what – but I know that we must decide, even in the uncertainty that may come in the forties, to remain faithful.
How Can I Stay Fruitful?
The forties can bring with them the sobering thought of, “this is it – this is my life.” You may not be successful in the way that you thought. You may not be in the position you wanted to be in. But here you are and one question you need to ask yourself is, “How can I remain fruitful?”. No doubt you have made a difference in the lives of people. And to keep doing this effectively, you need to remain sharp and healthy. Remaining fruitful means a few things:
1) Growing in your discipline and heart to remain in Jesus and His word,
2) 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!),
3) Commit to do the best with what you have where you are – don’t look elsewhere and don’t compare. You have an opportunity to make a major difference – to be fruitful – right where you are in ministry.
How Can I Focus?
Once I read a book about half-time. The forties can be a lot like the half-time time of your life. You can look back to see that you have had an opportunity to do lots of different things. But now, over the course of maybe four or five years into your mid-forties, you start realizing that time is short, you have to focus. You may have come to 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 thing, you have weaknesses and you’ve made mistakes. But, you can also be grateful that you do have skills and something that you can 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. It’s hard work, but you can do it.
How Am I Making Friends And Family A Priority?
In your forties, no one, probably including you, 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 stay focused on building the 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 in a sense, because there is a good chance you have lots of spaghetti noodle relationships – many of them, a mile long, but not too 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 too many funerals where the person was honored for their number of hours at work, but nearly 100% of them have talked about connections, friendship and family.
How Am Honoring God With My Finances?
How are you doing financially? Most pastors and ministry leaders are not going to 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 with 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 do you think? What are some of the other struggles for pastors and ministry leaders in their forties?
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