A decade ago, Bob Buford wrote a wonderful book called Half-time. In it, he begs Christian men and women approaching middle age, to think past earthly success and leisure, and to live the second half of their life for significance. But if you blew past that milestone and are still cranking it out in the marketplace or are now retired, and you think you missed your chance you’re wrong!
I’m 67 now, and statistically 3/4 of my way through life. Millions of Christian men, baby boomers they call us, are facing the last 1/4 of life and if we’re not careful, we’ll end up like so many, simply killing time pleasantly in warm places. A wasted life!
Here’s how to make sure you finish strong.
1. Don’t look to most of your Christian friends for a model.
Sadly, there are so few Christian men truly committed to live for God, that you’ll have to look past most of your friends to find someone to guide and mentor you to live differently. I’ve been mentoring men for more than 30 years and here’s an observation you can take to the bank; we tend to become like the friends we keep. And based on my observations, most of the Christian men I’ve met with actually do have as the primary goal of their lives, killing time pleasantly in warm places! (oh and of course, going to church, attending a Bible study and volunteering a few hours a week in some ministry).
As I wrote in The 10 Second Rule, “Nobody wakes up one morning and makes the decision to be a lukewarm, religious Christian. So, I have a theory. I think we Christians who were once on fire for God often slowly and unconsciously drift toward religious activities, even good ones, because they’re relatively convenient and culturally acceptable forms of obedience. It’s a faith we can schedule into our busy lives – worship at 10:00 a.m., drop our offerings in the plate, Bible study on Tuesdays, volunteer on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. It’s a spirituality that we can measure ourselves and others by – familiar and predictable, and it still leaves 95 percent of our waking hours for ourselves.”
The beige Christian life is contagious!
2. Make an appointment with the Christian man you most admire spiritually and find out how he got that way.
Consider asking him these questions:
How do you maintain your love and devotion for God?
Do you have some rules of life you’ve tried to live by?
How have your friends helped you, hindered you?
I want to make the most of my life for God, how do I do that?
3. Take at least a day alone to examine your life
A few years ago, I blogged on this subject with some ideas on how to make this time spiritually profitable. (http://bit.ly/1hGiApv)
4. Spiritually mentor someone
I mentor men because it keeps me sharp! The men I mentor ask me questions that force me to ask questions of myself. Mentoring forces you back to studying the Bible for answers and to pray for wisdom. Spiritually mentoring men also forces you to think about your own spiritual legacy. At the end of your life, at your funeral, how long will the line be of people impacted by your life? I’ve blogged on Spiritual Mentoring here (http://bit.ly/1wnXeUf).
5. Have a kingdom reason for getting up in the morning.
I meet with retired men often who have no spiritual reason to get out of bed. God created us for a purpose. Do you know your kingdom assignment, or are actively praying for one? (And I don’t consider attending a Bible study a personal ministry unless you’re leading it) I’d recommend reading another of Bob Buford’s books, Game Plan, for specific ideas to identify your kingdom purpose. (http://amzn.to/1JUojTH)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
6. Begin every day with God
The first of the Ten Commandments is this, “You shall have no other gods before me.” If I didn’t have 15 or 20 minutes a day just to learn from God and speak to God, then I think he’d conclude that everything else in my life is more important to me than him!
I don’t know of a man living with true spiritual significance, who doesn’t have time set aside regularly to be alone with God. That doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish great things for God, but the Bible warns about doing them in “the flesh,” and in our own power. “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5