I’ve been around sports all my life. From childhood, I spent many hours in the school yards of New York playing basketball, baseball, and football. When we tired of those, we filled our days with many variances such as stoop ball, association, running bases, and stickball, just to name a few. I followed my childhood heroes religiously. But as a teenager, I began to see professional “greats”, such as Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Bob Cousy, and Oscar Robertson, reach the end of their careers. In the world of professional sports, different age limits exist. Some may lend themselves to shorter or longer careers. Yet the typical professional sports career, however, begins to deteriorate in a player’s mid-thirties.
Should Our Christian “Careers” Deteriorate?
Recently, I posed the questions, “At what age do we reach our peak performance as followers of Jesus? Do discipleship and its passion lose their vigor and value? Are our efforts to serve and please God less effective?”
I’d like to make a case for our peak performance as a believer, coming as we head into the 4th quarter of life. It’s then that we have a wealth of experience. Experience often gained from living through the disasters and challenges life has thrown at us.
By this stage, we have (hopefully) done the most reading and studying of God’s Word. We have heard the most sermons, been to the most conferences, and logged the most hours of prayer. So why it is that many of us facing or living in the 4th quarter of our lives feel unappreciated? That our best is behind us, or it’s too late to take on anything of significance? What is contributing to our lives feeling discounted during a period that has the potential to be our most meaningful season of life?
Learning How To Thrive
While there are many reasons we may feel that way, I suggest that very few are Biblical. Perhaps you have fallen into one of the many traps our environment presents. If that’s the case, it’s not too late for you to realize it and make some necessary changes. God never gives up on us and therefore, we shouldn’t give up on ourselves and His call on our lives. Recognize and realize what’s occurred and then begin re-establishing new goals. And pray that God will give you new opportunities to be useful.
As you begin to look for those opportunities, it’s always good to reflect on your past experiences. You have likely heard the phrase, “those that can’t do, teach.” In keeping with my earlier sports reference, we see this in action in the sporting world frequently. A player “retires”, and then goes on to coach or announce. Do you have areas of (past) expertise you could now use to help others excel?
Many may be familiar with the Westminster Catechism that states, “the purpose of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Forever. For believers in Christ, I take that to mean for the entirety of our lives on this earth, as well as for all eternity. Friend, these are not empty, actionless words. James 2:6 reminds us that “faith without works is dead.”
The Work is Worth It
When there was “peak performance” in the prime of our life, it did not occur without exerting effort and work. Our “work” may take different forms in our later stages of life, but it still requires initiative and intentionality.
Will you climb out of whatever compromise or slump you may be in and begin to slowly add some new things to your days? God will lead you if you are willing to follow. Scripture says in Matthew 9:37 (ESV) that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Will you obey the next words Jesus spoke in this passage and pray earnestly to the Lord to see how He is calling YOU into his harvest?
At Q4 Impact, we want to counter the cultural messaging that says our later years are best spent on activities filled with self-focused leisure. While pleasure isn’t bad in and of itself, fruitful living is comprised of so much more! Rest and relaxation have their place, but God never intended that they define our lives – no matter our age. Rather, ask yourself, “How can my experience and wisdom help younger generations learn how to become stronger followers of Jesus?”
The 4th quarter of life is a time to maximize our impact, finish strong and cross the finish line with the joy of knowing we never stopped giving Jesus our all. So TODAY, “let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, NLT), and never stop!