On the March 29, 2021, I crossed another milestone in my life. I joined the Seniors’ Club, having reached my 60th year on earth!
It is quite a significant moment and a good time to reflect on issues like life and legacy.
I decided to commemorate this milestone by taking a short staycation with my wife of 33 years at a beachside hotel. It was then that I recalled a reflection I penned entitled “5 Key Lessons in 5 Decades” when I crossed my 50th year in 2011.
Now I am a decade older, I decided to add one more life lesson to this list to make it “6 Key Lessons I Learnt in 6 Decades”. So here goes …
1. My family is my precious cargo
The first key lesson I learnt in this race of life is that my family is the precious cargo that I need to bring me across the finishing line.
It will be tragic if I were to cross the finishing line with all my accomplishments, accumulation and accolades, but my family is not there with me.
What is the point of a ship arriving at the port if the cargo has gone missing?
So, my fellow pilgrims, I encourage you to place priority in cultivating a healthy family life. Make time for your family. Spend time with your children while they are still with you. Before you know it, they will be flying the coop.
Carve out a weekly “dedicated time” to spend with your spouse. Our spouses do not ask us for all our time; they only need a “dedicated time” that is focused and undivided.
This will help keep our marriages delightful and healthy, even after our children have grown and our nest is empty.
2. Posture is paramount
I have also learnt that one can be totally right in principle, but yet totally wrong in our posture of heart. And right principles can be lost in wrong posture.
One can be totally right in principle, but yet totally wrong in our posture of heart.
It is not just about making a right decision but having a right disposition.
That is why it is so important for us to let the Holy Spirit empower us to master our emotions. Then whatever the circumstances, we can respond in godliness rather than to react in carnality. Come what may, master our emotions and guard the posture of our hearts.
I have often said to our staff team that it is totally alright to disagree as a team member. But when we do so, we must always guard the posture of our hearts. This is not because we need to stroke the ego of the leader but because this is good for our own soul.
Posture is paramount!
3. Sow honour to reap honour
Honour must be given where it is due. When we sow honour, we will in turn, reap honour’s rewards.
The litmus test of whether one practises honour from within, is how we act towards those who serve under us. It is possible for one to honour our superiors for our own agenda but to honour those who can give us nothing in return is more challenging.
Jesus honouring the thief hanging next to him at the crucifixion, when that dying desperado could do absolutely nothing for Him, is a wonderful example of what it means to honour someone simply because he is.
The real test of honour is when we eat at the restaurant and the waiter comes around and clears our dishes. Do we take the time to say “thank you” or do we simply ignore him?
The Bible exhorts us to honour the parts of the Body that are weaker. Take time to show honour to those who serve us.
And when we sow honour, we will reap honour!
4. We are all products of our teaching
We are all products of our teaching. What the teacher is like, the student will become.
If the student has not learnt, the teacher has not taught.
Since what we impart is so powerful, we must resolve to be people of the Word.
Get deeper into the Word! Study the Word! Obey the Word! Taste its goodness! Then pass it on to the next generation!
And remember: If the student has not learnt, then the teacher has not taught.
We teach with more than words; we teach with our lives! If our walk is not in sync with our words, the student has not learnt and therefore the teacher has not taught!
5. Think grey before thinking black & white
Another important lesson I have learnt in the last 60 years is the power of thinking grey before we think black and white.
Many of us who are management trained, naturally think black and white. Whenever a situation is presented to us, we are very quick to form a judgment as to who is right and who is wrong.
We must remember that being decisive does not mean being fast; it means being clear.
I have learnt the importance of withholding judgment until I get to hear from all the parties involved. When we take time to hear all sides of the story, we often change our perspective.
I can recall countless occasions when I have had to change my opinion after hearing from all the parties involved.
In order to do this, we have to apply another principle: “Never make a decision today that you can reasonably make tomorrow.” This is to enable us to buy the time we need to “think grey”.
As a Senior Pastor, my staff members would often come into the office asking for a decision to be made. Every decision seems to be an urgent one. I must learn to ask this critical question: “How much time do I have to give you a decision? Is it one minute, one day or one week?”
If it is one minute, I will have to give you a one-minute answer, which may not be as sharp. But if I have one week, then I will take the week to “think grey”, and look at it from all sides before I give an answer.
Management training has taught us that good leadership demands decisiveness. But we must remember that being decisive does not mean being fast; it means being clear.
And clarity is the currency with which leadership transacts.
If we discipline ourselves to think grey before we think black and white, it will help us make clear decisions based on facts and principles, and not emotions and bias.
6. From engaging in ministry to empowering the next generation
Now that I have crossed into my next decade, I felt the urgency to move from engaging in ministry to empowering the next generation. Rather than to keep doing what I am doing, it is time to raise the next generation to do the same.
I need to remind myself: Don’t just teach, but train others to teach. Don’t just lead, but train others to lead. Don’t just mentor, but raise others to mentor. It is time to move from engagement to empowerment.
Instead of teaching another seminar, spend time to invest in 10 other teachers who will be able to do the same. The productivity to the Kingdom of God is ten-fold.
I need to answer the questions: How can I better invest my time to raise the next generation? How can I be more strategic in giving time to the right people? It is not who needs to see me but who do I need to see.
Instead of teaching another seminar, spend time to invest in 10 other teachers who will be able to do the same
What should I be focusing on that will bring the greatest impact to the Kingdom of God for such a time as this? What should I give my time and energy to that will bring the highest return to the agenda of God?
How can I leverage on the trust, the goodwill and the Kingdom relationships built over the years to help the next generation to take us to places we have never been?
How can I be a stepping stone for the next generation to go higher, see further and do more for the Kingdom of God?
It is time to move from engaging in ministry to empowering the next generation.
These are the 6 Life Lessons that I passed on to you on my 60th Birthday!