Episode 41: What we are continuing to learn from Finishing Well
As 2021 begins to wind down, Hal and Randy reflect on what they have learned by working through Finishing Well Ministries. Listen in on three big takeaways from the beginning of working with Seniors specifically and what that tells us about the future.
Hal Habecker: 0:08
Welcome to the finishing well podcasts for this day. I'm how habecker and I'm here with Randy Hess, who has been with me now, Randy, we've been doing this for a little over a year. I think we started in November of 2020. And also thinking about a year anniversary on what we've been doing makes me think about coming up on seven years since we launched finishing well, ministries. Yeah, as a ministry. It's yeah, as officially it's December. But you know, you think towards the end of the year, what you're thankful for. And today, I'd like to just reflect with you a little bit on what we've learned and what we're continuing to learn through this ministry. And even through this podcast ministry. I know I've sketched out a few things that I want to share, and I know you have as well. And I invite each listener in this project, this discipleship project of continuing to grow in Christ. The thing for yourself, as Randy and I reflect, would you reflect on your own life and how you're finishing and what you're learning in this process? And actually, if you have thoughts or ideas, I'd love it if you shared them with me. You know, we record this at finishing well, ministries forward slash podcast, or you can get back to me, Howard finishing well, ministries, we'd love to hear from you. But today, we want to press on and share some things that we're learning that sound good, Randy,
Randy Hess: 1:41
sounds great. How. Thank you for that. And thank you for suggesting the topic. I think it's a good one. And I know that as we talked about it, you suggested that we focus on three things. We may come up with more than that, I'm sure. But as we move along here, we'll see how it goes. But three things that we thought were kind of big or important learnings and lessons for us, as we started and continued through the beginning years of this ministry, and what we've learned, right, so that's what I was focusing on. And I think it's a great time to do it. How,
Hal Habecker: 2:23
how about a five, share one, and then you share one, and we'll go back and forth? Yeah, and converse with each other. Sounds great. I want to begin with an illustration that I experienced years ago, I taught a Sunday school class. This back 40 years, 40 plus years ago, there was a retired Green Bay Packer linebacker named Bill Forrester, who is in my class that I got to know about I heard all the stories, you know, he played with Ray nitch GI and all those people we remember, you know, from 4045 years ago, and he said that Vince Lombardi would always start the football season, the summer season, when they go to practice, he get everybody at the center of the field, and he'd hold up a football and he'd say, gentlemen, this is a football. And they would always begin on the basics of every aspect of the game. So I think about that, and you know the basics for me, I remember the first time I spoke on finishing well, ministries, I use the text out of Philippians three, where Paul writing from jail, in Rome to the church at Philippi said his vision for his life at in his early 60s in prison, was to press on. I'm going to press on for that which God has for me, I'm going to press towards the goal for the prize of God in Christ Jesus for me. So when Paul was embraced, confronted by God in the road to Damascus, he gave him a mission. So the 3035 years have passed now, and Paul is still pressing for that mission in his aging years. And I go, what are the what is? What am I learning? Well, and in our lives, I think I learned that we must continually press for the agenda that God has for us. There's a lot of aspects we could talk about, but you know, it's kind of like Vince Lombardi starting every summer football season. Gentlemen, this is a football. You know how this is God's plan for you. Are you pressing on in your life now to achieve that, and what does it mean for you at your age? Paul was in his early 60s when he wrote it for himself. What are you writing at age 72 That God is doing in your life and his purpose for you? It means I have to have a vision for what it is that God is calling me to Press for beginning with the fundamentals of my spiritual life. So I'm learning that the basics are always the basics. There are a lot of things I continue to learn, and we relearn and finish our ministries. But the fundamental thing for me is that God has a plan for our life. And our mission and finishing well is fulfilling God's plan for our aging years, our elder years. What is it? And we need to press for it? Does that make sense? Does it resonate with you, Randy?
Randy Hess: 5:27
Well, of course it does with me how because you were I was there when you were? First, I think putting that in sort of nailing it down putting into concrete that kind of thinking, as it didn't, as I've shared with you before, in all honesty, it didn't clarify itself to me until later. But I, I heard it, and I understood where you wanted to go with it. And I thought it was a marvelous idea. Tremendous idea. And I thought there was a needle in my heart at that time. But I have to say that my first I don't know that. I don't necessarily say that it's my monumentally biggest lesson about this, but it's an important one. And that is that. Since you voiced that belief, that, that that statement of truth, since you've wasted to me and other people, about seven years ago, and we started in with this search, we started that, and in the aftermath of that, with the people, we bumped into that, that I've heard the message, people we've talked with, and you've talked with 1000s. My conclusion is that most American Christians are still on a retirement track. I'll just frame it that way. Maybe other ways to, to label it, but a retirement track for their for their finishing years, their fourth quarter years. And so to me, it's a bit of a clarion call how your message that really is a very significant Aha. To many people, when they hear it, it, it's a simple message. It goes in easily. But when it clicks, and registers, there is an Aha, I believe, that many find then it's like a wake up call, that I've sort of been asleep, and I didn't even realize it. So for those who get it, you know, for those who see that our purpose in this life, and there is ice in this? Well, I shouldn't say that. But I think in a vast majority of senior people, there is a consideration for what is the purpose of my life? What is it been? What is it still the purpose? I think that for those who see that our purpose in this life hasn't diminished. But as critical as really any other point in our life. Any other season in our life, that that is an important Aha. But with it goes a feeling almost, you could call it a comforting feeling, a nurturing a feeling of being of heartwarming, blessing to know and understand that I can still do stuff. That is exactly what the Lord expects me to do, wants me to do, hopes that I will do, guides me to do supports me to do and as I prepare for my very, you know, prepare for the day, that I'll be with him, I know then that I am on a track that he appreciates in my life. And that that is my purpose. So for me how that was the AHA that I that I'm talking about there clicked. And that was at the same time. As I figured out that i i can fulfill that, that that plan in many different ways pretty easily. Some might be harder, but I can I can fulfill it. That really became a comforting and nurturing blessing to me. So that's my first I guess you'd say lesson if you want We're calling that out.
Hal Habecker: 10:01
That's great, Randy. So you know, God is working in you personally, along with me, and those who we meet and travel with and is finishing well journey, a journey to remind us that God has a mission for us in our aging years. It's a very clear one. I think, Robert Browning's poem grow just the first couple lines grow old along with me, the best is yet to be God has a plan for these years. And I think that's kind of my second tech take away, there is a plan that God has in my ag years, you know, he has ordained all my years. So what has he ordained for the last decade or two or three that we live in this life, he has a vision for us. He has gifted us, He has given us tools and resources and experiences. So now we need to develop a picture of how we live that out in our aging years without a job, so to speak, or a paying job from which we stop when we retire. But his vision for us hasn't changed at all. He has a vision for his skills, I like to say he actually has set us up for these years with all these experiences and these gifts He's given us. But just like in any point in our lives, we have to listen to God and seek Him. You know, Matthew 633, seek the kingdom of God first, see God's character and his kingdom and everything else will be added. So now we do that in our ag years, we're on a mission of seeking God's leadership in our lives for this age. What do I do with my experiences? What do I do with the relationships I've had? What do I do with the changes that are happening? So God is has actually set me up, that's the way he's ordained the aging process. So I'm more convinced of that now than ever before, and will continue to grow in that. So that's my second thing that I want to bring to the table today. That's
Randy Hess: 12:19
an important is it as people grasp that how that really fortifies the inclination they may have. My second one is about those people though. Looking for something, it's, it's dawned on us, I think you and me and others involved with finishing well, that many Christians out there are currently on what our culture wants them to be doing, which is a retirement track, I call it there is no negativity in that. I'm not saying it's at all negative. It's what we are expected to do as seniors is retire and enjoy ourselves. And Christians on retirement track need kind of a new understanding, they gain about their purpose in life, they want to be happy, and buying things don't really fulfill them. As they pursue this, this suppose a culturally guided or culturally pursued, culturally governed life of a carefree and kind of leisure and leisure time self oriented. Journey. They, I think, many excuse me, many Christians pray and and look for ways to do something more. They they contemplate. What am I doing with my life? How am I managing my days? What am I doing with my days? Well, I'm having fun, I hope. But you know, the things I think are fine, kind of get old after a while if I can use that term, and, and we kind of bump into this wall of Wait a minute, isn't there something else? Many, many, many Christians do. And the message that they can have that fulfillment and can be on a on a different new track, because that's what the Lord planned for us. That's what the Lord prepared for us. That's what the Lord fortified us with or will fortify us as we open that door open our eyes, open our ears. It's a more joyful track to be on. And that's so that my lesson is that there's a need out a big need for it. Because people are searching for something.
Hal Habecker: 15:05
I would concur Randy yet not. But I want to add this to what you've just expressed. Isn't that the way God has wired life in a sense at all of its stages? You know, I think of by, you know, say a midlife burnout. Many people experience midlife, you know, where are we gone? What are we doing? My job's consuming me, I'm doing the same thing all the time. And you have to develop a whole new renewal sense of what your life is about. Otherwise, you get trapped in a lot of things that puts you in a downward downward spiral, lead to depression and pornography and other kinds of addictive behaviors, because of burnout. But that's only in your 40s and 50s, maybe early 60s, you know, I think of a mother who can't wait for her kids to get in school so she can maybe get a second job or enjoy life outside the home. But it seems to me, I love what Ecclesiastes says, I think it's in Ecclesiastes one. What is crooked, cannot be straightened. There's a flaw in life that sin breeds that keeps us from finding ultimate fulfillment in this life. And I think that's what people experience in retirement, you know, your job energizes you and now you're retired. So well, what next? Maybe the initial year or two, or you're looking forward to this, but then a boredom sets in, you might say, and you have to rethink your life. But I think that's what we do at state all sages. You know, I've had to do that, as a pastor, there are stages that are really hard on you, and church leadership, and church experiences. And so many pastors Bale, I think the statistic I have is seven out of 10 pastors bail before they ever reach the age of retirement. And many times, then they're forced out. So there's a lot of frustration built into life. But at every stage, I have to renew my heart to see what it is God has for me. So I'm simply doing that in my retirement years. So I just want to add to your thinking on that. Yeah. So God sets us up, to do the same thing. And I think at all, and really, that's the fundamental of the spiritual growth, spiritual life. You know, we can talk about proverbs three, five, and six, Trust the Lord with all your heart, lean, not in your own understanding, in all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Now I talk about that with my grandkids. I talk about that with my grandkids. I talk about that with myself. It's the fundamental, first essential that God always wants us to be growing in our spiritual life is critically essential. thinking through who God is what he wants from me today and what he wants. From me in this season of my life, I think it's the most critical question we can ask.
Randy Hess: 18:04
Hal Habecker: 18:05
Let me mention a third one that I haven't I want to put it back to you, then Randy, you know, we're at a stage and finishing well, ministries well, where we've learned the importance of other people passing it on, you know, finding facilitators who will share this message in their own sphere in their own network in their own community in their own local Bible study. In their own church. There's a couple in near Atlanta that contacted me, they have found out about finishing well ministries, and they're leading a Bible study with just a handful of people in their own home, going through the finishing well, six essentials, you know, learning what God has for us. And I think this stage that I'm learning and the importance of the organization, and the importance of spreading the word you might say, is how do you recruit people? How do you recruit facilitators? How do you train them? How do you help them grow and developing their own ministries with their own sphere of people? And it seems to me, that's what making disciples is all about, you know, we're passing the truth on. So God wants us at this season of our lives in this ministry, to change from a speaker you know, message, translated it into people who carry the message on through their own lives. And it seems to me God's calling us to find out how the best way is to do that and to do it so the message can be disseminated more and more.
Randy Hess: 19:37
always challenging is to figure out how to spread the message and take it beyond what we want to do with it. My third one in hell is that I believe this message is going to be best spread if you want to call it that carried out kind of as a as that, as that grassroots movement from maybe just a few churches and a few groups that begin to spread the message and other people hear it, talk about it, talk about it in their own lives, gather what it means, gather the impact that it can have the value it can have on their own lives, as well as those they're serving. And then it just goes in a, really in a in a grassroots way across many, many circles. I think the evangelical circles that we've seen are, the large church populations sometimes are hard to crack on this one, because they have other fish to fry, at least in their own vision of their church. And that this is not their first challenge on their docket to solve. So the senior and retired populations may not find a totally open, and I'll just leave it at that and completely open door in their own church. But I want people not to be dismayed about that. I think there are other options. And that is just to tune in for one thing to us and our websites, and look at what other people are doing. Many people how that we bumped into and you know, that have taken it on in neighborhoods in local Bible study with local men or or other groups. And I think the message is spreading through that. So while the churches will eventually I think, see that senior populations are have been placed in my fate, my term for it is the vault, that that vault needs to be opened. And those people need to be able to let out and put in place in situations encouraged, developed even further to help spread the message. And I think as that happens, there will be more finishing well opportunities in the larger church.
Hal Habecker: 22:31
Well, I think it's absolutely critical that we capture that theme, Randy, and how to spread the word about God's vision for our aging years. You know, as we all know, this, the senior population will nearly double in the next three decades. So you think about that, across America, you think about that in the outreach of the church, a fourth of our country will be aging people. So you know, you're exactly right. We need to spread that word and trust God to develop that. So this has been fun for me thinking about where we're going as an organization where we're going as individuals, where we're going in our marriages, where we're going with our families, you know, where is God taking us we are on a journey. And there is a vision for that journey that God has for us and we need to embrace it, and give ourselves to it with everything we have. Because this is his plan for us. I close with Jeremiah 29 You know where God said through Jeremiah the prophet, to people who were in captivity in Babylon, For I know the plans that I have for you, not for calamity, not for futility, but plans for fulfillment and hope and God's leading us. So this a great time we've had together just to reflect on our ministry, our lives and where God has taken us so Thanks Randy for doing this with me today
Randy Hess: 24:05
and being with you how to
Hal Habecker: 24:06
share this podcast with others as you have opportunity or go to our website finishing well ministries dot o RG forward slash podcast. I think we're up to about 40 now and we've touched on a lot of different topics and I hope you'll take advantage of them and let's keep growing for Christ. God bless you