Decade by Decade

I think we all would agree that each one of our life’s journey is specific and unique. Yet I was reading a book lately (Decade by Decade – Life is Surprisingly Predictable, Bobb Biehl) that makes the point that, decade by decade, we generally go through surprisingly similar life stages.

For instance, in our twenties we are discovering what we are good at and how to function as adults. Then in our thirties we are starting to focus on our life’s work and defining what “success” is for us. Our focus in our forties typically changes from being successful to wanting to do something of significance with our lives (hence  mid-life course correction). Typically the forties are the greatest struggle, but by our fifties we begin to hit our stride.

Yet the fifties are also when we begin to have those moments when we feel “old.” This is usually a bit of a shock as only a few years earlier we felt invincible. Biehl continues his overview of each decade by suggesting that the key word for our sixties is strategic. With the wisdom of a lifetime, decades of contacts and experience, this is the decade that has the potential to be our most productive decade…while at the same time we become more aware than ever of our earthly mortality.

He continues describing the seventies as time of focussing on Succession (I would add, the seeds of which should have been planted decades earlier) and further thoughts on our eighties and beyond, which are dependent upon our health.

He is obviously writing from the perspective of a western culture with many generalizations. Yet it no spoiler alert to state that we go through various stages and seasons during our lives. This is also the case for organizations and ministries such as ICM. At every stage along this journey (we started ICM while in our twenties), our desire was to do something of significance for the Kingdom, rather than just trying to look successful (whatever that may be).

This is a challenge for each of us isn’t it? The nagging question as we age, Has my life been significant? Did I leave “my world” in better shape than I found it? The older we get, the more imperative these questions become. Our latest materials that you have been reading about (Finishing the Race) is intended to help leaders work through these very issues.

For as long as he gives us breath, God has a purpose for each of us on this earth (and beyond of course). The good news is that whatever stage of life we may be in and whatever our occupation, our lives can have a lasting significance. And it is this, in spite of all the ups and downs, that gives meaning to our life’s journey.

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