At the Crossroads

Will You Have a Purpose-Filled Second Half of Life?

In this article, you will begin to answer that question. You will learn how to claim your life story, consider the biblical story, and make choices to help you live a full life of significance.

Each chapter in our book, At the Crossroads: Leadership Lessons for the Second Half of Life, will give you guidance and insight to develop your own purpose-filled retirement plan that will bring a healthy lifestyle for your body, mind, and spirit. This study captures the stories of a number of members of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City area. The church’s own story is really about a growing number of members of all ages who have discovered a faith-based purpose and are making significant differences in changing lives, influencing the community and world, and bringing renewal to the church.

Purpose has a powerful way of bringing health and happiness into our lives and the lives of those around us.

Researchers are studying ways to encourage better mental vitality in older adults. Dr. Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist and researcher, claims that the research has discovered a way to slow cognitive decline in adults by 30 percent. Those who reported that they lived with a purpose showed a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who did not. Having a purpose and plan for your retirement life can reduce the risk of dementia problems, such as Alzheimer’s. People who live purposeful lives are those who have significant goals. By discovering and working toward your goals in retirement, you enhance your brain’s memory and capacity. Pursuing your purpose is vitally important to the rest of your life.

Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. — Ephesians 2:10

God gives you a purpose. Once you discover and pursue your purpose, you find greater joy.

Dave’s Story

The little gods in our lives are supposedly inoffensive; there really isn’t anything wrong with them, but they can grow into idols that consume our time and resources and keep us from doing something significant in God’s eyes.

What are the little gods in my life? I love my family and grandchildren; I have always had a passion for golf and for University of Kansas basketball. As I entered retirement, I had to decide how I would spend my time in following these passions and other interests without them becoming idols. I had to consider how my faith and my commitment to God would affect my new life.

Before retirement, I served as a congregational care minister, small group leader, and in other areas of the church that needed specific help. But if I decided that I could play golf almost every day and spend time with my buddies in the clubhouse, how much energy and time would I have to spend on faith-related activities and family? I had to take seriously that the scriptures were telling me to devote my life to God—not golf—and that in doing so I would choose life and blessings.

What blessings or curses might my choices produce for me? If I choose too much leisure, I could lose focus on people; if I do not keep up my exercise, I lose my health.

If I choose to serve, I might gain many new relationships with people at church and see how walking alongside or teaching makes a difference to someone else. Putting aside time for more family activity could mean so many more memories, love, and favor without the regrets that so often come during a career.

In my “before” life, I was accountable in my job to my boss; in my family, to my wife, my mother, children, and extended members; and in church, to God. I am still accountable to my family members and to God, but now that I no longer have a boss overseeing my daily work, I realize that I must schedule my time even better than I did during my career. Deciding how to spend each day requires discipline. It’s all too easy to procrastinate. I need someone to talk to about my comings and goings. I found an accountability partner, a church friend who was interested in weekly conversations over coffee or on the phone or by text at almost any time. This has helped me find balance in leisure, exercise, relationships, service, and in my time with and for God.

Whom will I serve this day? I can only say that I have to choose God and life, and it starts each day.

Questions for Personal Reflection

  1. What are the key elements to Dave’s story?
  2. Where are you in the transition process?
  3. What might be the next steps you take toward exploring all the possibilities for the second half of life?

Understanding the Bible Story

Joshua says, “But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).

Moses says, “I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that your descendants will live” (Deut 30:19).

Elijah proclaims, “‘How long will you hobble back and forth between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow God. If Baal is God, follow Baal.’ The people gave no answer” (1 Kgs 18:21).

Read Deuteronomy 30. Moses and the Israelites are looking across the Jordan River into the promised land. They have wandered around in the wilderness for forty years and now are ready to take possession of the lands that God had promised their ancestors hundreds of years earlier.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What does Moses say will happen?
  2. What does God promise to do?
  3. What did Moses say you must do in order to claim these promises as yours?
  4. What are the current little gods or idols that people worship?
  5. What choices do you face?
  6. Which of these choices might be worshipping little gods?
  7. How might your choice affect others to whom you are close, or perhaps people you do not even know?
  8. Moses called heaven and earth as witnesses as he challenged the people. Who might be a witness to whom you can be accountable?
  9. Moses says that he has set before the people life and death, blessings and curses, that you will experience because of your choice of whom to serve. What might be some blessings or curses that you might receive depending on your future choices?
  10.  How does God show you mercy, favor, and love?
  11.  Your career may have been successful in many ways. But what opportunities do you think you might have lost, delayed, or missed while you worked?

Experiencing Your Life Story

All of the events concerning Moses, Joshua, and Elijah were transition points in their lives and the lives of their families and community. The Israelites were ready to enter the promised land, a land filled with wonderful new opportunities, especially after living in the desert for forty years. Moses’s challenge is to lead the people and prepare them to enter the promised land. Joshua’s challenge occurs after the Israelites had conquered the promised land. Elijah’s challenge happens when the people follow foreign gods, which in this case had much to do with personal pleasures.

They are like a tree replanted by streams of water, which bears fruit at just the right time. — Psalm 1:3

Paul writes to the Ephesians that in Christ the Father “poured over us” God’s overflowing grace (Eph 1:8). When God outdoes God’s self for your good, life becomes greater than you could ask for or imagine (cf. Eph 3:20). This means that your life after retirement can be filled with blessed times. As you approach retirement or if you have already entered it, new opportunities lay ahead, opportunities to lay up treasures in heaven. You can come to know God better, love God more deeply, and serve God more effectively.

You no longer have bosses or supervisors to tell you what time to show up for work, what time to leave, or how to fill your day. You simply need to do what needs to be done. How will you claim God’s promises declared by Moses in Deuteronomy 30? What you choose will bring you blessings or curses, even life or death. Choose life—a life of significance!

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