It’s time to give it away.

October 19, 2007 at 9:34 am 1 comment

On June 19th I wrote a piece about an older church in Seattle that was merging with a younger congregation because the older church had resources and the younger had vision.  Turns out it was a good marriage.  The title is “Giving ourselves to the next generation”. If you missed it back then and want to read it again, the link is here.

This morning I was reading an Ellen Goodman article on Al Gore’s Nobel award and what that means for a potential bid for the presidency.  Ms. Goodman’s point is that for Al Gore the presidency would be a demotion because the work he is doing now is better duty than running for the Presidency.  She says it this way: Indeed, if the man who is free at last from politics has learned anything, it’s that becoming a candidate means open season on his weight, his wit, his wisdom and his son’s arrest record. Besides, which would you rather do, save the Earth or dial for dollars in Iowa?

This article peaked my interest, not so much for its content, though it is interesting, but more because it is about a direction for life after 55 that doesn’t necessarily include retirement as our parents fashioned it.   Goodman writes: Baby boomers are the first generation that can look forward to such a lengthy and (fingers crossed) healthy stage of later life. They are as likely to be talking about what they want to do next as about where they want to retire. Never mind all those declarations that 60 is the new 40. In fact, 60 is the new 60.

But here is the quote that really resonated with me, as it is a fair description of where Linda and I are as we forge a new direction for our lives: …Gore is its poster child, the model for what Marc Freedman calls the “encore career.” The head of Civic Ventures, a think tank promoting civic engagement as the second act for boomers, Freedman says, “Gore found himself by losing himself – literally losing – and being liberated from ambition, the idea that there’s a particular ladder you have to scurry up and if you don’t make it to the top it’s all over. Essentially, he found a different ladder.”  You can read the whole Goodman essay here.

Pastor Andy has said it this way and though I did not hear it this way nor did I arrive at it the same way, I am certain this is my calling as well: “The Father told me, ‘Andy, I want you to start giving away everything I have given you the last 20 years’“.  What I have been hearing is, “I am going to use your failures to put you in a place where you can pour into the next generation of church leadership everything I gave you for 30 years but from a whole different launch point”.

Most of the people I know between the ages of 55-65 are bored.  Their jobs don’t have real fulfillment, most of their lives are either built around their kids or they are trying to make that their mission, which by the way is not necessarily the best for the kids, but mostly life consists of hanging on until retirement.  But then what?

Freedman is right. Being liberated from ambition is amazingly freeing.  Not always comfortable, but it is liberating. Nothing left to prove and no one to impress, but all kinds of ways to influence the culture that you never had before. 

The door to new opportunity is not always through failure, as it has been for Al and me, but there is a big world out here that needs what you know and who you are and it is seldom boring but often laid back, never without challenge but always with the freedom to meet the challenge without fear of failure or frankly the stress that comes with trying to make an impression or climb a ladder with the top 3 rungs cut out. 

Most of us have worked hard, socked away a little money, done what we could do to get to the top and maybe some actually got there.  Retirement sounds great but risk sounds better.  One is waiting to die the other is learning to live.

What might happen for the Kingdom, if we all downsized enough to spend even a third of our time investing in children, youth, families, missions, solving complex problems, thinking of ways to change things that don’t work but no one has time to change.  Live on less, get mobile, stop fussing over your children, see the world, volunteer doing something rewarding.  It is all out there but it does involve risk and stepping out of what’s comfortable. Seriously, do you want to die holding a big retirement account or leaving your money to children who don’t spend their own money wisely?  Why not invest it and yourself in something eternal and fun!

I had a conversation with a man just yesterday who is thinking about leaving his career to do ministry with rodeo families.  His struggle is walking away from those great benefits. I know it is hard to imagine life without the great benefits from your job or the big check each month but are they worth the pressure and the frustration and the boredom? 

There are lots of other ladders out there.  Climb one, the view is worth it.


Entry filed under: Authority, Belief, Culture, Faith, News, Revelation, Supernatural, The Father, Travel.

Clogged up. Monday morning meanderings. Vol.17

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Your Wife  |  October 19, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    I’m thankful there’s room on the ladder for two! The view IS worth it.


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