top of page
7-Essentials.png

SEVEN essentials
STUDY GUIDE

CONTENTS

Quick Links

Introduction

Overview

Essential  ONE

Essential TWO

Essential THREE

Essential FOUR

Essential FIVE

Essential SIX

Essential SEVEN

Postscript

About the Author

Other Options

SevenEssentialsCover
Screen Shot 2020-11-03 at 9.29.05 AM.png

SEVEN ESSENTIALS FOR FINISHING WELL

“Fulfilling God’s Plan for Our Aging Years”

 

By Dr. Hal Habecker, DMin

FWM aims to encourage every retired Christian and every Christian thinking about retirement to “fulfill God’s plan and purposes for our aging years.”

 

FWM is an important initiative that aims to change the narrative of aging people in life along with our churches and communities. We see the presence of aging followers of Christ as a growing convoy/peloton of saints purposing to make a greater difference for Christ throughout their aging years. That legacy will strengthen the work of Christ for future generations. 

God has a mission for us as we age. The mission of FWM is to strengthen the ways Christians think about and livein retirement. Culturally speaking, retirement means one stops working at a certain age and then begins receiving Social Security. Most seem to understand that this new season means that one steps back, embraces a quieter life, certainly more leisurely pace of life, investing more time with family, travel at will, and/or see the world. At that point life changes. Purpose changes. But it is precisely at this point we must ask, what is our purpose now?

As in all of life, we would look to the Scriptures for guidance at this point. Thinking biblically we discover that God’s plan and purposes for His people do not change at the age of retirement. As followers of Christ, we are called to keep growing spiritually, to keep being conformed to the image of Christ, to keep building the church, to keep sharing the Gospel, to keep on being ambassadors for Christ, to keep using our giftedness, to keep being filled with the Spirit, and to keep on making disciples in every one of our retirement years. Mobilizing seniors throughout their retirement years for His purposes is the purpose for Finishing Well Ministries and for the purpose of this discipleship project.

How to Use This Project

To encourage this biblical mindset in retirement is the purpose of this discipleship project. FWM has developed this video series/workbook to focus on seven (7) essentials in life that will help us live well and finish well. It is particularly designed with retired and aging people in mind. We believe God has an incredible mission for us as we age. We have a compelling mission. The workbook follows the video series. The two are designed for personal use or small group use. We encourage its use as a church educational elective, in a Sunday School group, a home group, or a Bible study group (men, women, or couples).

We also believe that this curriculum can be helpful for those beginning to think about retirement. Thinking through these important issues will give this age group a “head start” in thinking about how God views the value of the retirement season of life.

Some day in the not-to-far-distant-future, all Christians, particularly aging Christians, will contemplate the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4.6-8. Paul teaches the importance of living life with eternity in view.    

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Stephen R, Covey, author of his classic work, The Seven Habit of Highly Effective People, notes the importance of this point in his second habit - “Begin with the End in Mind.” Covey invites you to imagine your funeral. He asks you to think how you would like your loved ones to remember you, what you would like them to acknowledge as your achievements, and to consider what a difference you made in their lives. Engaging in this thought experiment helps you identify some of your key values that should underpin your behavior. 

That’s called living with the end in view. Life goes all too fast. Let’s purpose to finish well so that our life, with the Apostle Paul, will bear witness to our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12.1,2). To live that way is the purpose of this video series and workbook.

Consider these words.  Dr. J. I. Packer (1926–2020) said it this way, “Runners in a distance race… always try to keep something in reserve for a final sprint. And my contention is that, so far as our bodily health allows, we should aim to be found running the last lap of the race of our Christian life, as we would say, flat out. The final sprint, so I urge, should be a sprint indeed” (Finishing Our Course with Joy, pp. 21,22).

Note: All Scriptural references are from the NASB Updated Version of the Bible (1995). For clarity, we have also italicized all Scripture quotes. @ Copywrite by Finishing Well Ministries, 2023.

The Focus of This Project

 

To zero in on the focus of the curriculum on which you are about to embark, consider this verse that puts it in perspective - the value of our aging years.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2.10).

The impact of this verse is that God has a purpose and a mission for us. By His grace, we are His creation as believers (Ephesians 2.8,9), and now He has a purpose for us – even in our aging years.

  • Why did He create the aging years? 

  • Why has He given us life into these aging years?

  • What is His purpose for us in these aging years?

  • What is our mission for these aging years?

  • What does His workmanship mean for us now, and what are the “works” God has prepared for us during these retirement years that we should live them out?

It is our prayer that God will use the pages that follow to help define and refine the purposes of God for our lives in the best years of our life, so that the prayer of Moses can be realized in our lives just as God answered his prayer in his own life.

 

So teach us to number our days,

That we may present to You a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90.12).

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;

And confirm for us the work of our hands;

Yes, confirm the work of our hands (Psalm 90.17).

 

“The best is yet to be!”

 

Consider Scripture Throughout This Process

This workbook is rooted in the Word of God. Our goal is that God will use these Scriptures to shape our thinking about how we invest our lives in this all-important season of our lives. Read through each Scripture and ask the following questions. There is a space to after the Scriptures noted to what God wants to teach us and how He desires to lead us.

  • How does the author of each Scripture think about continued growth?

  • What might God want me to know through this Scripture concerning the importance of my continual growth as I follow Christ? 

  • Draw some conclusions as you reflect on each text. Let this study guide become a kind of “journal” for you as you follow Christ in your again years. 

_edited.png

The Seven Essentials Overview​

  1. We will GROW – we will not stay the same. Growth is at the heart of life.

  2. We will CONNECT – we will not live alone – we will continue to build strong friendships.

  3. We will CARE/LOVE OTHERS – we will care for and love others as Christ loved us.

  4. We will INVEST in generations following us, beginning with our families.

  5. We will BE AVAILABLE as God calls us to serve.

  6. We will PLAN AHEAD for when we are gone.

  7. We will ANTICIPATE HEAVEN – eternity with Christ.

Welcome to this discipleship project from Finishing Well Ministries. We’d like to suggest the following thoughts to engage this series.

  • Use this project as your own personal growth project.

  • Work on it as a group project. 

  • Make it a Sunday School series, a home group, or use it as a small group anywhere.

  • For any of the above, the best practice might be to watch the brief introductory video and do the homework by yourself or with your spouse before you meet as a group. Then work through the project as a group, discussing the verses and the ideas as a group. The videos can be found at  https://www.finishingwellministries.org/seven-essentials-study

Our prayer would be that every church community consider this project as a way of encouraging retiring persons in their congregation. It is our conviction that churches in general spend far too little time encouraging retiring and retired communities in maximizing their impact of their best years for the cause of Christ. 

So, let’s launch ahead.

Seven Essentials Table of Contents

 

 

1. We Will Grow 

2.  We Will Connect

3.  We Will Care/Love 

4.  We Will Invest 

5.  We Will Be Available

6.  We Will Plan Ahead for When We Are Gone 

7. We Will Anticipate Heaven

8. Postscript 

9. About the Author 

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in His hand

Who saith "A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!''

Robert Browning (the first stanza of “Rabbi Ben Ezra”)

1. We Will GROW – we will not stay the same. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing the Concept of Growth

We begin with growth. Growth is at the core of life. God calls us to keep growing - even in our aging years.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4.23). Growth comes from the heart. How is your heart growing? How are you growing? Does this ever stop?

We always want to grow – God means for us to grow in every way. Jesus grew (Luke 2.52).  “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5.8).

God’s desire is to keep growing us into the image of Christ (Romans 8.29).

We must be alert and resist things that grow into our lives through pride and sin because those things grow against the work of God within us.

We want those little people in our lives to grow. No parent would want to see their kids or grandkids not grow. Children are born to grow. 

We want to grow in understanding what’s expected in our maturity process in life. Are we growing in wisdom, education, relationships, work, and in the work of life? Are we growing in our relationships, our marriages, our families, or in our community of faith? God wants us to grow.

Having said this, we are surprised that adult education (continued growth) tends to slow and diminish with age. Why is that? Why does the growth curve slow with aging years? 

 

 

God has designed us to grow. He calls us to keep growing.  Our aging years call to us to grow.

 

This simple graphic captures the idea of getting out of bed each morning with a mission in mind to keep growing.

 

 

Basic Biblical Thoughts for Growing 

Disciples of Jesus are learners. 

A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his master (Luke 6.40). 

The word “disciple” means “learner.” There is a training process – a growing process for every follower of Christ. The verb form means “to learn.” Each day provides an opportunity to learn and grow. In this aging season of our lives, we have countless opportunities to learn how God is calling us to grow and what He wants us to be in this season of life. Each day is a new day. There is an adage about fishing that says, “You never fish in the same river twice.” The river is always changing. That’s true of life as well. Each day is different than the day before. We ourselves are different. With each new day God keeps giving us the opportunity to grow.

Life is about change. Every day and each new season of life brings change – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Generally speaking, we resist change as we age. Growing may seem harder as we age. The aging process, however, does not mean that our growth slows. God calls us to grow at every age.

“Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.”                  Leo Tolstoy 

What is your “training process” for growing through the aging years?

 

Let’s Begin with the Apostle Paul

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press (pursue) on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press(pursue) on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3.12-14).

How did Paul want to keep growing? What made him keep thinking ahead?

How old was he when he wrote theses verses? 

Where was he when he wrote these verses? 

Was he enthusiastic about growing in this season/stage of his life? 

(Note: The word “press” that Paul uses here means “to flee,” to put to flight” or “persecute,” or “to pursue.” While the word generally carries the idea of a desperate action in a negative situation, here the word is used in a positive sense. Paul is deeply intentional and purposeful about growing in his life – pressing on. There is nothing casual about the action. He is desperate about pursuing and growing in Christ. He is desperate about pursuing the mission Jesus has for him. In your own words write how Paul characterizes his life in these 3 verses.)

 

 

 

 

Consider a second verse by the apostle Paul. While there are plenty of potential physical hardships in life as we age, Paul does not see these hardships deterring him from his God-given life mission.

Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4.16-18).

How does our physical body change as we grow older? List some physical hardships as we age. Yet, what happens to the inner man as the physical body weakens and changes?

 

 

 

 

Let’s consider two verses from Paul that speak directly to the truth of being continually conformed to the image of Christ.

In the first verse Paul speaks of being continually conformed to the image of Christ. Our destiny, day by day, is that we are being conformed to the image of Christ. No matter how long we live, God’s desire is that we keep on being transformed - that we keep growing more and more into the image of Christ. How can we keep being conformed to the image of Christ more and more as we age and grow older?

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8.29).

 

 

 

 

This next verse from Paul echoes the above theme of being conformed to the image of Christ.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit               

 (2 Corinthians 3.18).

 

What does this transforming process mean at our age? How are we continuing to grow more and more into the image of Christ?

 

 

 

 

Jesus Himself calls us to keep learning and growing into Him. This verse is one of my favorite verses about growing more to be like Jesus. What does Jesus teach in this next verse about growing and learning from Him?

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learnfrom Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11.28-30).

 

 

 

 

What does it mean to “learn” from Jesus? How are we “learning” from Jesus in our retirement years? What is He teaching us through His Holy Spirit?

 

From his daily devotional series, Alistar Begg comments, “Are we willing to learn and grow from Jesus in every area of our lives? Do you see learning of Jesus as a privilege, and not a burden, to follow His teaching and place ourselves under His authority? Let’s seize every opportunity to learn and grow gospel truth, and may it satisfy our heart’s longings and transform your life day by day.”

 

In this final verse from the apostle Paul, we see that this growth pattern continues to unfold. Paul finds himself moving and growing towards the finish line just as an athlete moves towards the prize. What is it in Paul’s life that compels him forward?

 

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air 

(1 Cor 9.24-27).

 

 

 

 

Note that the word “competes” means that the athlete is caught up in the struggle/expending energy to keep moving towards the finish line. Life for Paul was not a “walk in the park” during the season of retirement. Nothing could have been further from the truth. That’s why he would say at the end of his life race, “I have finished the course” (2 Timothy 4.7).  

 

The athlete does not stop until the competition is completed. Nor does the Christian who follows Christ.

 

Consider the Apostle Peter

In his 60s and in his second and final letter to the scattered tribes, Peter is thinking about growth.

 

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins (2 Peter 1.8-9).

 

In the previous four verses (5-7), Peter had exhorted his readers to diligently add/grow seven quality traits to the believer’s faith. Look at them.

 

Applying all diligence in our faith, add…

  • Moral excellence

  • Knowledge

  • Self-Control

  • Perseverance

  • Godliness

  • Brotherly kindness

  • Love

 

He then says that if these qualities are growing in your faith, you will be “neither useless nor unfruitful.” Rather, you will be growing and bearing fruit. That should be the goal of every Christian in our years of retirement. We want to keep growing and keep bearing fruit.  

 

 

 

 

It is of special note to me that the final verse of Peter’s 2nd epistle speaks of “growing.” Growing in “the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” must have been a way of life for him even in his aging and final years. 

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3.18).

How does Peter think about continued growth? 

How old was Peter when he penned these verses? 

How significant is it that Peter emphasizes the significance of continued GROWTH as the final words of his 2ndletter?

 

 

 

 

How might God be wanting to use our aging years to keep conforming each of us to the image of Christ? Isn’t consistent growth necessary to becoming more mature in our faith?

 

Consider Moses

 

Moses, perhaps the oldest of all the Psalm-writers, thinks about the learning and growing process of each day that God entrusts to us. What is it that God wants him/us to learn? What do we think God desires to teach us in our aging years?

 

So teach (help us learn/grow) us to number our days,

That we may present to You a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90.12).

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s conclude this biblical section with one final verse from the Apostle Paul.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing

(2 Timothy 4.7-8).

Paul saw the finishing line of his life drawing close. I see him as pointing his life towards his appointed day of standing in the presence of God. I see him growing towards his desired destination in life. How do you see this strategic verse relating to growth, and what ought we to be learning as we near the end of life?  

 

 

 

 

Applying These Truths to Life

I love what John Stott, the late Anglican pastor/scholar, says about needing a healthy appetite to keep growing – even in our aging years.

 

 “There is perhaps no greater secret of progress in Christian living than in healthy, hearty spiritual appetite. Again and again Scripture addresses its promises to the hungry. God 'satisfied him who is thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things' (Psalm 107.9). If we are conscious of slow growth, is the reason that we have a jaded appetite? It is not enough to mourn over past sin; we must also hunger for future righteousness” (Authentic Christianity, # 481, “A Hearty Appetite”).  

 

Do you and I have a healthy appetite about growing? Yes? No? Maybe? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

Living This Mission in the Midst of Our Culture

The above Scriptures and the theme of growth seem to go against the drift of our culture. “To retire” literally means “to stop” or “to disengage.” When one “retires,” we stop going to work. Our economic productivity stops. When we “retire” for the day, we usually go to sleep.

When well-known athletes retire from the game, they stop playing and the # they wore may be retired to the rafters or walls of the arena. Therefore, we will resist and reject our culture’s understanding of aging. Most of us grew up in an age-graded culture that essentially says this -we go to school, then we go to work, and then we retire.  We argue that we go to school our entire lives, we work our entire lives, and, if we are wise, we learn to take respites along the way. 

To the contrary of our cultural pattern, we continue to grow in Christ every day of our lives. We are continually ambitious to keep serving Him. We advocate a different perspective. We as believers will not become conformed to this world of retirement (Romans 12.2), but our views on the retirement season of life ought to be along the lines of Robert Browning and the first stanza of his epic poem, Rabbi Ben Ezra;

Grow old along with me                                                                                                                        

The best is yet to be,                                                                                                                    

The last of life, for which the first was made:                                                                          

Our times are in His hand                                                                                                            

Who saith, “A whole I planned,                                                                                              

Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid.”                                                                                                                                                                     

In all of life, we believe it is very empowering to recognize that we have some control of what we eat, how we choose to exercise, what we believe spiritually, how we exercise our faith, and how socially engaged we are in helping others and living life courageously. We want to keep growing.

We also want to keep growing in becoming more self-aware as persons. Growing in self-awareness is a life-long process. Understanding my giftedness, weaknesses, and personal tendencies is a never-ending growth process. Can you list some areas of your life and relationships in your life in which you sense God is calling you to grow?

 

 

 

 

Personal growth is critical for spiritual growth for older people in the church. Approximately 80% of older persons belong to congregations, and their involvement in these congregations helps to buffer many of the negative aspects of aging. The church needs to rigorously encourage these 80% of seniors to keep growing as never before. Even in the church, these seniors may be busy with trips and activities, but the church often falls short of encouraging seniors to make these aging years the most productive years of their lives. Why is this?

 

 

 

Consider the lament and challenge of the late Dr. Howard G. Hendricks;

“Old age is as important and meaningful a part of God’s perfect will as youth. He is interested in both the waxing and waning of life. Just as potential is locked up in young people, and often never developed, so the full possibilities of old age often remain dormant and die with the person. The work of God will be greatly enriched when more attention is given to releasing and utilizing this hidden resource. Older people represent the greatest potential resource and labor pool within our churches, though consistently ignored.

Stanford psychology professor, Dr. Carol Dweck, says this about growth. “She divides the world between learners and non-learners, demonstrating that a fixed mindset will limit your growth while a growth mindset can move you forward.”

 

Applying These Truths in Our Lives

One of the things we can do as a group project is to take some time together to think creatively about growing. On the left section of a white board (if a board is present), think aloud about what GROWING means. List your thoughts. Next, on the right side of the white board make a list of some BARRIERS to growth. What keeps you from growing? (We’ll make this simple exercise a pattern concerning each of the 7 Essentials.) 

                                    GROWTH                                                        BARRIERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Consider Satan

An important question to consider together is this - How does Satan work through the above barriers to keep us from GROWING?

We must remember the aim and work of our enemy - the devil, Satan himself. He aims to destroy us (1 Peter 5.8). His mission is to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10.10). How might he be using these barriers to keep us from growing? The apostle Paul reminds us that we are constantly engaged in a spiritual war with our enemy (Ephesians 6.10-17). If he can keep us from growing, he has a decided advantage in our lives. Think through the above barriers again through the lens of how Satan uses these barriers for his advantage. 

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5.8).

    

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10.10).

 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm (Ephesians 6.10-13).

Satan neither wants us to grow well nor age well. Think out loud or discuss the many ways Satan attempts to fight against the purposes God has for us in our lives.

 

 

 

 

Growing Through Hardships As We Age

We must add one final word concerning our growth. Perhaps our greatest growth may come through the most difficult of challenges, whatever they may be. Whether those challenges come through aging challenges/hardships, or just the general challenges/hardships of life, let’s grow through them. 

Consider the words of James in response to the things (barriers) in life that keep us from growing. How would James’ exhortation make a difference in our hardships as we age?

 

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that athe testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1.2-5).

 

 

 

 

We referred to the following verse previously (page 3) with respect to growing but consider it again with respect to growing through the hardships of aging. The aging of the body will bring new hardships. The apostle Paul recognizes the need to prepare for this season and put it into perspective.  

 

Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4.16-18).

 

 

 

 

Keeping sufferings of all kinds in perspective with eternity is a key biblical concept, especially in light when anticipates the challenges of an aging body.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8.18).

 

 

 

 

I love the insights of the following words.

“Embrace the difficult circumstances you find yourself in, even when you feel they will overwhelm you. Allow God to mold you through the events He allows to enter your life. This will make you flexible toward the will of God. The events of life are like a furnace for the heart. All your impurities are melted and your old ways are lost.  The intrusions that God sends you will no doubt upset your plans and oppose all that you want. But they will chase you towards God.” (Francois Fenelon, The Seeking Heart, Seed Sowers Publishing, p.14 [Quoted also in The Softer Side of Leadership: Essentials Soft Skills That Transform Leaders and the People They Lead, Eugene Habecker, p.100]).

 

 

Learning about Hardships from Jesus

Finally, we must think of Jesus who learned and kept growing through His own difficulties. How can we learn from Jesus and how He encountered His own suffering and hardships?

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings (Hebrews 2.9-10).

 

 

 

 

 

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5.7,8). 

 

 

 

 

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12.1-3).

 

 

 

 

Jesus grew all through His life, even to the very end of His life - His death on the cross. Finishing to the end is our mission. It is the same for us as it was for our Savior. Let’s embrace hardship as growing disciples – whatever our age.

 Consider the late J.I. Packer, who never stopped growing in his faith despite the challenges of aging in his latter years. At the age of 89 he was no longer able to read, travel, or speak because of his failing eyesight, yet at that time he said in an interview,

“God knows what he is doing, and some good, something for his glory, is going to come out of it. I find it more possible to concentrate on God himself and his plans, purposes, and performance than I used to do. I suppose that all these things have rooted themselves more deeply in my mind and heart. And I trust there’s less superficiality than there used to be.”

 

 

Thinking about Our Mission – Is Our Mission Intentional?

 

Now, let’s try pulling together all the above and think towards our mission in life. Think about “growth” through the following assignment. Do you have a life mission statement? Do you have a purpose in life that will keep you growing? How will you keep growing? If you do not have a life mission statement, the following statement might be appropriate to consider. 

 

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there and it doesn’t matter how long it takes.” - Author Unknown

 

 

 

Growth/Lifelong Learning – we are always the sum total of what we are becoming. Aging years are critically important for all that we are. God’s desire is that we keep learning/growing about who we are and where we are going. Aging provides the opportunity to live out what we are learning/becoming. We are not “vaulted” (locked up) people. This chart and the questions below might help in thinking through and clarifying a mission/purpose statement in this new season of life. Reflect on your passions, abilitties/gifts, others’ needs, and expereinces God has entrusted to you. Trust God to lead you. 

 

 

 

 

  • What am I learning and how am I growing in these years?

  • Who am I becoming?

  • What is my mission? What is my “Why?”

  • With all that I’ve had, in light of how I am growing now, and in light of my unique, God given design, what do I believe is my “highest and best” contribution in advancing the cause of Christ on this earth?

  • Given my gifts and abilities, what type of activity offers the greatest potential for service to the Lord and others?

  • In what direction is God leading me to invest my time, talent and treasure?

  • What are the opportunities in my life now?

  • Am I learning about myself as I age – increasing self-awareness in all areas of my life?

As an example, here is my own personal mission statement written for this season of my life.

“I am trusting God to use my gifts of encouragement and teaching

  • to equip and motivate retiring boomers and those beyond in the prime of their life

  • to deepen their love for Jesus, and

  • to use the talents and gifts God has given them to make their best contributions throughout the remaining years of their lives.”

 

My Mission in My Aging Years

If you have a life mission statement, write it here. If not, see if you can begin to write one for yourself. Use the above questions to help guide your thinking. I believe that writing your personal mission is very important in understanding how God has wired you and how His Spirit desires to work through you.

 

 

 

 

Share your mission statement with the group.

Consider your church and its ministries to a senior generation. What kinds of activities are taking place to encourage you and the aging community of your congregation to make these years the best growing years of life?

 

 

 

 

 

For Further Thinking

This concludes our selection of “core Scriptures” challenging us to GROW. Please feel free to add other verses that God may bring to your attention having considered the importance of “growth.”

What other verses come to your mind as you think about growth? Share them with the group.

 

 

 

If you could thoughtfully combine what we need to grow, much like a greenhouse for Christian growth, what might spur us on to keep growing? 

 

  • Bible reading and study

  • Reflection

  • Accountability

  • A mentor

  • Space for questions

  • Self-discovery

What steps of faith might be needed to keep you on a strong growth path?

 

A Growth Pattern

Here are some thoughts/ideas regarding growth and what “growth” brings to mind.

  • Growth is related to maturity – we’re not just talking about growth but growth in maturity

  • Growing in wisdom through prayer – James 1.2-5

  • Growing in knowledge - 2 Peter 3.18

  • Growing in grace – who He is, who I am – it’s not about performance

  • The need for relationships

  • Growing in knowing the Scriptures

  • Growing softer with age

  • Growing in your marriage

  • Growing in your relations with your family – adult children, grandchildren

  • Importance of disciplines/patterns for spiritual growth

  • Growing in self-awareness

  • Stages of life 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for Continued Growth

.

Lord, teach me to keep growing. Don’t let me become stagnant in any area of my life, especially in my love for you. Just like I love to see my kids grow, and just as I love to see my grandchildren grow, my prayer is that they (and others) would love to see me growing as a person, a parent, a grandparent, and most of all as a child of God just as much at this season of my life. Please help me, Lord. And please forgive me where I have become stagnant. In Jesus name, Amen.

Further Thoughts to Consider

Can you plot out and/or reflect on growth patterns in your life or growth patterns you would like to see in your life? Use this sample chart.

 

 

 

 

“I am 72, and I have determined at that I will keep learning every year for the rest of my life. I never want to stop learning.” President George W. Bush

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”  Henry Ford

 “The future belongs to the learning, not to the learned.”  Mary Louise Rowand

 “In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”  Eric Hoffer

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Albert Einstein

“When you stop studying, you are dead.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, President, Dallas Theological Seminary

“When your memories are more exciting than your dreams, you’ve begun to die.” Howard G. Hendricks

“A man does not grow old, but one becomes old by not growing.” Fred Smith 

Grow-of-7.png
Oveview
Grow
bottom of page