In a recent Q & A, I was asked what advice I would give if I could address my younger self in my 20s; 30s; 40s and 50s. Here is what I said, with an anticipatory comment about the 60s and 70s, recognising that I may change my mind when I reach them!
Remember 1 Corinthians 8:1 – “knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” I cringe at some of the things I was adamant about when I was in my 20s. Beware the arrogance of youth.
Focus on simply discharging all the duties of your ministry (2 Tim 4:5). Preach God’s Word; Pray on your own and with others; love people, both God’s people and the lost. Don’t seek the spectacular. Trust God to do the extraordinary in people’s lives, through what seems very ordinary.
Persevere. Keep going. The 40’s is a decade when ministry can get tough, at a time when other pressures multiply, including responsibilities for children and parents. The grass can always seem greener somewhere else. Remember, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
Equip the next generation to serve our Lord Jesus. Hopefully 2 Timothy 2:2 has already been a vital part of your ministry, butkeep at it. Hezekiah selfishly only thought about his own lifetime. (2 Kings 20:19). We follow a Lord who acted for the eternal good of future generations. Like Paul we are to faithfully pass on the baton.
Be a cheerleader, not a critic of the next generation. Be willing to step aside and assist those we have been privileged to train. Be a Barnabas who sees the evidence of the grace of God and is glad, whose passion is to encourage loyalty to our Lord Jesus, not to a particular way of doing things.
Pray for others at the coal face of ministry. Trust that even with growing weakness each day there are good works planned in advance for us to do. Keep doing the work of evangelist, not least among your own generation, who are all nearing life’s end.