How To Steward 70 and Beyond By Jon Lewis
Caring for Your Life After 70
Last year I turned 70. It wasn’t as traumatic an event as I thought it might be—at first. But then I started getting questions like, “How are you enjoying life now that you are retired?” or “What are you doing now with all your free time?” Honestly, I came to resent the R-word, as if it somehow defined a seventy-year old as someone whose productive days had ended.
All this motivated me to think carefully about my next ten years—the 70s. In particular, I’ve been wondering about how I should be stewarding this next decade of my life. I certainly am not excited about the new aches and pains age brings, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that we have other assets that younger people do not. Identifying those has helped me think in new ways about how I should be stewarding them during this next season of life. Here are four for your consideration:
No one can argue that living for seventy years adds up to more life experience than someone who hasn’t lived that long. Yet it is easy to let the events of our past slide into the oblivion of distant memory if we are not actively finding ways to retrieve, value, and use them as the true assets they are. Proverbs 16:31 says, Gray hair is crown of splendor. But it certainly is not the hair itself that matters as much as how we use the brain underneath that hair. For me, I’m finding new challenge in looking through old journals and time diaries, even my wife’s beautiful picture scrapbooks, to retrieve some of my forgotten experiences. My hope is that doing so will equip me uniquely to share life lessons, wisdom, or godly counsel in my next mentoring or teaching opportunity.
Dr. Robert (Bobby) Clinton says in The Making of a Leader that someone who has reached the Afterglow season of life (meaning OLD!) should recognize that they are now rich with a lifetime of relationships. He further encourages that those relationships are now opportunities for encouraging and building up younger leaders. Once again, this is something that only happens with intentionality. That, in turn, occurs when we are serious about stewarding those relationships, recognizing that they are gifts of God given to us to cultivate for the Master. Having spent a lifetime career in mission work, I’m finding that a huge number of my relationship contacts are all over the world. That is why I’m so grateful that our current internet tools of WhatsApp, Zoom and email allow me to be as interconnected with them as if I were sitting with them across the table drinking coffee.
I’ve heard a lot of jokes about how good it is to finally arrive at the age where your kids are grown up enough that you don’t have to worry about them anymore. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Never did I expect that at seventy, I would still have such an important role in the life of my children—and, of course, grandchildren too. It certainly is not the same role as when I was thirty-five, nor should it be. But I’ve learned that the presence of a loving, caring, affirming father is something that my three kids still need in all sorts of special and unexpected ways. Stewarding that role is definitely not a trivial pursuit.
Being consistent in sending words of encouragement to my kids or just being available to listen, is something I have to choose to remember to do. By the way, I’m also learning that it is not just my own children who could use a caring father figure in their life. I’m amazed how many younger men I’ve met recently who never had a positive father role model and are still desperately wanting such a relationship.
Intentionality with the ‘T’
We’ve all heard the sermons about stewarding our Time, Talent, and Treasure. I would propose that turning seventy brings a new challenge to that stewardship responsibility. Our interaction with all three of those T-words changes quite a bit with age. We now just may have more discretionary Time and Treasure than in previous years. What are we going to do with them? Those choices are without question a call for careful stewardship. And when it comes to Talent, it’s a great time to review one of those great sermons (like some from John Piper) about the difference between wearing out instead of rusting out. Bottom line: this new season of life for me brings with it increased importance of being rigorously intentional about how I plan to use and steward my own Time, Talent, and Treasure.
I’m less than one year into this new decade of the seventies, but already I can see how it is both a challenge and an opportunity to exercise a new level of commitment in being a faithful steward. I hope this is both an encouragement for my fellow age-peers as well as an incentive to all of you who are younger to hone your own stewarding skills. After all, the season of the seventies will be knocking on your doorstep before you know it!
Jon Lewis is a Senior Associate for Partnership Advancement with OC International and focuses on encouraging global Christian leaders towards greater ministry effectiveness. With over 40-years of experience, he also served as a MAF mission pilot in Africa and CEO of Partners International.
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