It was an ordinary day. He was working; just doing his job. Consistent. Faithful. Acquiescent. He knew he could pay the bills, keep the kids fed and clothed, and be assured his wife (and her father) were satisfied. It was a good life, not what he expected, but good. And it was simple. Even though the demands of his younger professional years were passed, he would periodically fancy himself managing multiple projects, employees and systems. But the images of his power and prestige were fading fast.
It was an ordinary day and he expected nothing more. Then without warning a strange breeze whipped around his shoulders. He sensed something unusual, yet powerfully familiar. A commanding presence pierced through his solitude and prompted him to spin around. With eyes wide open, he scanned the desert horizon, witnessing a most unusual sight.
Although no one was within earshot, he announced his intentions out loud. “I must go over and look.” 1
What he found changed his life.
He heard his Third Calling.
Most of us know Moses’ story: He was raised in Pharoah’s court and enjoyed all of the privileges and expectations of a Prince of Egypt. He pursued education, was trained in military tactics and prepared himself for positions of leadership and power. He also discovered his roots and heritage and at age 40 was overcome by an undaunted determination to right the injustices done to his people, the Hebrews. His passion led to a hasty action-the murder of an Egyptian. He ran for miles, fleeing for his life. He landed in the desert where he met a Priest, married his daughter and became a shepherd. At age 80, he had resigned himself to walking dusty paths leading mangy sheep to brown grass and thorny scrubs. He was weary and ready to retire.
Many Boomers can relate to Moses’ life-journey. Like him, we spent years preparing for the future, obtaining degrees, training for professions and casting into a world filled with opportunity and potential. We call this our First Calling. Moses enjoyed his in the luxury of a royal palace. He thought he was prepared for anything. Most of us simply went to school, maybe got married, and perhaps established careers.
Somewhere in our 30s or 40s, we began hitting our stride; got comfortable in our jobs, started families and took out home mortgages. We entered what we call our Second Calling. For Moses, things took an abrupt downturn and instead of the palace he spent his Second Calling in a desert surrounded by barren, desolate wasteland. He served faithfully, committed to staying in Midian for the rest of his life, taking care of family and sheep, and trying to overcome deep regret. The backside of the desert was his destiny, and purpose, passion, and meaning was anything but a reality.
Then came the burning bush. Another chance.
A Third Calling.
Here’s where we are tempted to quit comparing our lives to Moses’. We can’t imagine a Third Calling even slightly akin to what God planned for him. Help an entire nation escape the bonds of slavery? Change the course of history? Impact the world? Hardly. So we resign ourselves to live a culturally acceptable retirement. We pursue leisure and rest rather than discover and follow our Third Calling.
How about you? Have you survived the first two callings through adulthood? Have you accomplished family and career goals? Have you experienced a wake-up call that has jolted you from thinking life would last forever? Are you ready to consider what’s next? Do you long for a burning bush experience? If not that dramatic, at do you need something that compels you to announce, “I will go and look.”
If so, you, like millions of other Boomers, are prime for discovering your Third Calling. As a generation, recognized for its size, strength, attitude, and propensity for rebellion, we are standing on the threshold of a new season of life. As individuals, we can consider the opportunities, confront the prevalent assumptions about retirement and aging, and embrace a fresh calling and purpose.
A few years ago we founded Re-Ignite (www.Re-Ignite.net), a ministry designed to encourage our Boomer peers to re-ignite passion and purpose in life, work, ministry–and even retirement. Our aim is to see individuals transformed by discovering what God wants them to do in the next chapter of life. Our hope is that mature Christians, individually and together, will pursue their Third Calling and create an entirely new model for this season and adventure we call aging.
What does it take to re-ignite your passion and purpose and follow your Third Calling? Here are 10 principles we discuss in our book, Third Calling: What are you doing the rest of your life?:
- Believe a long life is a gift from God to be stewarded with wisdom and imagination.
- Listen to the voice of the One who calls. Be still and hear his directions.
- Be willing to move forward, rejecting the dominant paradigm in our culture that says you are done, irrelevant and expendable.
- Discover and embrace your unique design. God has created you with a distinct personality, exceptional strengths, matchless gifts, core values, and motivations. Add your exclusive life story to the facets of your unique design, and you are a one-of-a-kind gem!
- Nurture creative thinking, explore new worlds, consider beginning new enterprises and start taking risks.
- Engage in an activity that meets the needs of others. Tap into your compassion, convictions, and outrage and find ways to serve.
- Embrace the challenges and difficulties in this stage of life; learn the deep lessons and share insights with others.
- Make a plan for how you will see your Third Calling become a reality. Bring people alongside you for help and support. (Even Moses needed Aaron to speak for him!)
- Live a legacy of meaning, compassion, and faith.
- Be a leader. Inform and educate those of all ages and generations about the gift of a long life.
What are you doing the rest of your life? We invite you to “go and look.” Look deep into your life, listen to God’s call and begin the adventure of a lifetime. Discover and follow your Third Calling.
1 Exodus 3:3a HCSB
© Re-Ignite 2019
Images by CanStock