Guest Blogs

Full-time Christian service? On being a Grandfather…

Daniel J Levinson describes ‘Eras in the Male Lifecycle’ with the illustration seen here.

This writer is in the ‘Late Adulthood’ phase and feeling thankful and looking forward…

Our generation has seen a massive change in life expectancy. 50 to 100 years ago, a typical male could hope for a couple of years of life after retiring before going to meet his Maker. Today a further 15/20 years is not unusual, and for most of the earlier part of that he will have significant energy and some wisdom hopefully accumulated, so should have much to look forward to. Indeed, the expectation is that in the next 20 years the numbers of over 85’s will DOUBLE, across the UK. No wonder pensions liabilities, originally designed to be paid out for 2-5 years, result in large pension deficits, as we all expect to draw for longer, and we did not save appropriately in our younger years for our old (and longer) age. Perhaps because our parents expected retiral at 65, we can be in danger of having the same expectation.

Faith in Later Life, is a new movement widely supported by church groups across the UK, and launched in the House of Lords on Tuesday 10 October at an event hosted by Lord MacKay of Clashfern that speaks to the potential growing usefulness of the ‘retirees’ in the gospel mission, and makes available resources for the church in the UK.

At all stages of life, this writer has had to be clear on what God’s calling was on his life.

CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE were spent in a loving family that promoted a habit of church attendance and morning and evening family worship, singing, Bible reading, and prayer. Rugby was an idol. Conversion came at the end of this period.

EARLY ADULTHOOD was spent in the busyness of marriage, babies, business and church, and what was my calling… I became satisfied I was called to full-time Christian service in the marketplace, while being an active church member and occasional lay preacher. But also, responsibility, with my wife, for 5 children. As my parents had seen all their 4 children become believers, now the challenge for us was to fulfil all our duty as parents of 5, and do all to encourage them in following Jesus. Regular worship twice on a Sunday, and a similar pattern of twice daily family worship was the norm. Tears followed as each child made a significant profession of faith.

MIDDLE ADULTHOOD was challenging and fulfilling and a time for growth. A personal significant cancer, with ongoing treatment, the death of my wife from cancer, business challenges, church changes, and seeing our 5 children all marry believers and some start to produce grandchildren, made for a rich and busy period. A preacher friend challenged me to start to follow a bible reading plan that would have me read the scriptures systematically the Old Testament once per annum, the New Testament and Psalms twice per annum. When cancer hit twice, it seemed like the Lord had designed his Word and this adopted pattern of Bible reading to continually carry me through.

LATE ADULTHOOD has now arrived, so what is God calling me to do? Well, much the same as before. I got married again. I learn from mentors. My friends of older age, some in their late 80’s show me some great examples. Those that stepped back at 60/65 and laid down their life work, have faded, too much golf, holidays, coffees, relaxing, have visibly slowed their faculties. Those that have an attitude of lifelong learning, a hunger for knowledge and service to their fellow man, are visibly enthused. Sure, health is needed, and will be available as God plans, but meantime more service is surely simple obedience and a response to His love for us. My mother had the joy of seeing her 17 grandchildren all profess faith before she went to her eternal rest. Her witness and prayer to and for them was significant… will this grandfather match up?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, is part of what my parents taught me. Sounds like full-time Christian service… so no retiring for me for a good while. I love God’s calling on my life. An old Bishop who was eventually persuaded to retire in his later 80’s was invited by some dear friends to rise a little later in the morning, and spend a little less time on his devotions, now that he had reached that stage of Late Adulthood. His response: ‘Shall I not run with all my might, now that I have the finishing line in sight’.