Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal has a feature article on an interesting topic: middle-aged people leaving lucrative careers, entering seminaries or other training institutions, and moving into second careers for the common good.
“After decades of pursuing money, titles and ever more stuff,” Anne Tergesen writes, “baby boomers are coming to a big realization: Success and security just aren’t enough anymore. They want something more fulfilling out of life, something that feeds their spiritual side and connects them to a bigger purpose.”
Tergesen tracks the stories of three individuals who went into faith-based service work. One was a lawyer whose experience helping in post-Katrina New Orleans led him to pursue seminary work. A second walked away from Wall Street to become a hospital chaplain. A third left real estate to pursue ministry.
The author summarizes, “If the greatest use of a life, as the philosopher William James said, is to spend it for something that will outlast it, few paths seem to offer more rewards than joining the clergy and related fields.”
You can read the whole thing here.
This is an important trend that evangelical pastors ought to contemplate in relation to the congregations they serve. While we want to make every effort to equip saints to labor for Christ in their various professions, we also recognize that God calls some to leave their careers to pursue vocational ministry—either stateside or overseas.
According to WSJ, the traditional notion of the American dream (retire young, pursue leisure, etc.) is not what baby boomers envision for their retirement. A third expect to “keep working, as long as I am physically and mentally able” because of the cost of living. But almost as many, thirty-one percent, say they want to begin a “new chapter, in which I can be active and involved, start new activities, and use my skills and experience to help others in a paid or volunteer position.”
To borrow the language of John Piper, nearly a third of people ages 44–70 do not want to live out their days showing off their seashells. They want to serve.
Granted, not all of these people are believers. Maybe most of them aren’t. But a few of them are. And they’re in our churches.
My dad is one of them.
After working for nearly two decades for Ford, with a decade of small-business ownership sandwiched in between, my dad retired, moved to the NE Detroit suburb where his and mom’s factory was, and planted a church. For over a decade they have labored for the glory of Christ and the advancement of the gospel.
Their second act.
Look again at your congregation. Might God call someone there to leave what they’re doing to invest the rest of their working days for kingdom purposes?
Might God call you?