...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How I Survived the Forties

I am 50! The book of Deuteronomy calls Moses the greatest prophet in all of Israel. He received his true vocation from God around age 80 while also a fugitive from justice. On the age front, that should be encouraging to those who seem to be passed over for that promotion because younger people will be hired for alot less. Moses' destiny would not to hang around the Egyptian court as an advisor to the king like Joseph did generations before. His vocation literally saved him.

Most churches are drawn to the young and energetic clergy thinking that they will in turn attract younger generations, as if age and energy alone will guarantee meaningful connections and ministry with unreached, unchurched younger adults. Because churches have budgets and are cost conscious, entry level clergy (not often very young anymore) sometimes fill this function, whether or not their spiritual gifts and abiltities fit this role.

I was the youngest of three brothers, so I have naturally have been drawn to older people all of my life. Because of their wisdom or knowledge or experience, I learn when I am with chosen mentors. I remember front porch visits with my neighbor's grandfather when I was around 5 yrs. old. Dr. John Lennon, my youth minister (Minister of Christian Education in those days), was the one who served as my spiritual director before I knew what one was. Under his guidance, I was confirmed and explored vocation. I could always count on getting an honest answer from him and I trusted him as a person and friend. John retired at 65, the same year I graduated from High School! We had one of the more dynamic youth ministries around. His retiremment was an active one; for example, he consulted in Christian Education in Australia, and held church staff positions in retirement.

I was chaplain at a retirement community for several years. This ministry, which I dearly loved, required dealing honestly with the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional onslaughts of aging. The frequent question in spiritual counseling seemed to be: "Why am I still alive?" It was a question of vocation, purpose: " What am I now here for?" The search for and the fulfilling of that purpose is a holy one at any age; it also saved my life by bringing a continuity, a sense of wholeness that God is never finished with us.

My mother, Judy Endress, turned 85 this past January 24, and also just "retired" from teaching hospital-sponsored childbirth and grandparenting classes for the last 20+ years. After being an R.N. during W.W. II, Mom went back to college when I was in High School, graduated with the R.N. when I was in college, then started work in a free clinic before working for the hospital. When she was in grade school, her church had a vocation day and the children were asked to wear the clothing of whatever their chosen vocation would have been at the time. They processed down the church, as if to offer these dreams to God and to declare themselves to the world. She dressed as a nurse.

How did I survive the forties? I did it by the grace that God is not finished. Purpose and usefulness saved me.

1 comment:

Blog Archive

Follow by Email

Why Clergyspirit?

My photo
Houston, Texas, United States
Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

Try Gratitude

If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

Making Good Decisions