“How will you flourish in your forties?” My mentor asked me this question last year, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And with my fortieth birthday only days away, it’s on my mind a lot. I’ve thought of this question in terms of my personal life, but also in terms of my pastoral life. I know the two are intricately related, but I’d like to reflect on the question for a moment in the context of pastoral ministry.
So, how will I flourish in the forties as a pastor? At least three things come to mind:
- Get organized. I’m not a “details” person. Indeed, I work hard to remember the details of a Bible text, a conversation, a person’s life. But remembering the details isn’t my strength, nor is being organized. Yes, I keep a close eye on my pastoral schedule. But I couldn’t say the same about my library or hard and electronic files. So, I believe one thing I must do to flourish as a pastor in the forties is become more organized. One can only rely on memory so long! It’s time to put systems in place that will help me stay organized as I grow older.
- Intentional study. Like most pastors, I’m always reading. But I naturally gravitate to certain genres, and perhaps it’s time to broaden my horizons. In particular, I believe I need to read more novels and poetry. And more theology, in particular spiritual theology that will form me as a pastor and spiritual director. To help me become a more intentional student, I also feel called to enroll in a formal program of study at some point during this decade, probably in the area of leadership, which I hope will help me to continue growing as a pastor, so I may finish the “race” well.
- Spiritual Growth. As we all know, spiritual vitality is crucial for pastors. So how do we keep growing spiritually? Solitude and silence are essential. As are Bible study and prayer. And worship. But what about some of the other less commonly practiced but very important spiritual disciplines like fasting, Scripture memorization and spiritual retreating? I’ve practiced these inconsistently in the past, and I feel called to practice them in earnest over the next decade, as I seek to grow spiritually, so that I may continue helping others grow spiritually.
Just a few thoughts! So, how will you flourish in the forties as a pastor? Or perhaps you are beyond your forties, and have some advice to offer. Either way, I’d love to hear from you.