Each Friday morning, a few friends and I meet at our local Original Pancake House, where we greet our friends who serve so well there. We have discussed Bob Buford’s book Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance; the second time I’ve gone through the book in less than a year. A leader in our organization recommended it for some of us when we were getting ready to transition out of the workplace as a result of changes in our organization.
Buford states that our second half (whether it begins while you are still working in your vocation, or when you retire), is about regaining control of your life. The key to a successful second half is not a change of jobs; it is a change of heart, a change in the way you view the world and order your life. I’ve noticed that some who have recently retired have no clear plan for their lives. After all, for perhaps 30+ years, they have had a vocational purpose. They knew where they would be each Monday through Friday, and knew what was expected of them. Now, they have new-found freedom in how to spend their time, but are unsure of what to actually do with that time. It can be a confusing and frustrating time.
Buford writes that leadership expert Peter Drucker once told him that retirees have not proved to be the fertile source of volunteer effort we once thought they would be. Rather than serving, some have tended to cut their engines off and lose their edge. Buford encourages us not to allow the second half of our lives to be characterized by decline, boredom, and increasing ineffectiveness for the kingdom.
As we move from success in our vocations to significance (though I would certainly argue that we are doing work of significance in our vocations), we have more freedom to focus on serving the Lord by doing what you like to do and what you are good at. Buford tells us that what is important is that you start off by discovering the way God built you so that you can use your uniquely developed talents for him. Another way to look at this is to ask “What have you been given, and what will you do with it the rest of your life?” If you are not sure about this, get input from a mentor, friend or spouse.
Buford suggests that you develop a personal mission statement, telling us that we will not get very far in our second half without knowing our life mission. Closely aligned with our mission statement are what he calls supporting life commitments.
Buford shares two most important questions in helping us discover the unique role God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in. They are:
- What have we achieved? (competence)
- What do we care deeply about? (passion)
Buford writes that his passion is to multiply all that God has given him, and in the process, give it back. His life mission is to transform the latent energy in American Christianity into active energy. My personal mission statement for my second half is to use my leadership experience and seminary education to serve the church.
Life commitments to support my personal mission statement include:
- Be a good husband
- Continue to learn
- Continue to serve as a church leader
- Look for opportunities to teach
- Look for opportunities to serve
- Write daily
When family and friends ask me how I enjoy retirement, I tell them that I am loving it. An unexpected pleasure has been a new-found joy in writing. I won’t say that I am particularly good at writing, but it is something that I enjoy and hopefully will continue to get better at over time. What talents has God uniquely gifted you with that you can use to serve Him and the church?
Finally, Buford encourages us not to let others talk us into doing something we don’t want to do or don’t have time to do, for it will then become a chore. We should pursue our mission, not someone else’s.
Are you nearing your “second half”? If so, do you have a personal mission statement and supporting life commitments?