Is it half time already?

Do you know your life’s passion and work with a determination to live it out?

I believe it’s wise to build life on principle. In my early 20’s I came across a survey of 90 year olds. They were asked, “If you had your life again, what would you do differently?” Two themes emerged:
• That they wished they had taken more risks in their lives; and
• They wished they had done something that lasted beyond themselves. (This links to what God wrote that ‘he has put eternity in the hearts of men’.)

It took me a while to adopt this approach, but I live a life with no regrets over life direction and renewed passion each day. My life’s two enduring passions, undergirded by my Christian faith, are:
• I am about enabling the world’s poorest to receive and make the most of an opportunity; and
• I want to challenge the middle-aged to ask themselves the question, “What gives my life meaning?”
I have set up a couple of Christian Missions delivering the first, which I will write about and save for another time.

The second passion I have is this: I believe that at some point, often between 35 and 50, we all wake up one day and say, “Is this all there is?”

A chap called Bob Buford wrote a book called ‘Halftime’ which resonated with me. I have lost count of the number of copies I have given away!
He uses the football analogy that in the first half of life we concentrate on education, career, family and then suddenly it seems empty and meaningless. At that point, he says it’s like going into half time in a football match. We ask the question, “How do I go from success (or difficulty) to significance?”

I was interested to hear Eddie Jones, the England Rugby manager, announcing his team before the New Zealand World Cup semi-final. He started by stating who would be on the pitch at the end. He noted that the game is won in the last 20 minutes, not the first. You can be 10-0 down at half time, but the game is won in the second half.

Whatever your age, perhaps this is a moment to ask the “So what” question in your own life?
We realise we have all these gifts and talents, often wealth too. So, let’s discover how best to use the talents and resources God has given us. It’s a moment to realise where, as someone wrote, “No one said on their deathbed “I wish I had spent more time in the office”” and another, “I was climbing the ladder of success only to realise it was leaning against the wrong wall”.
To live this out, part of my work has been to enable thousands to go on short term missions and Corporate Social Responsibility programmes for the corporate world. Along the way I noticed how many of those who came to help the poorest, changed. Whatever is going on in life comes to the surface. Many made themselves vulnerable, returning home, knowing team members better than their next-door neighbours.

Helping the poorest accelerates half time questions. The ripple effects were clearly seen from those who said time and again, “I thought I was going to help but they gave me so much more”. Enabling participation brings ownership, buy-in to your vision and inspires people to do what they thought was impossible.

Ironically, when we help others, we find we help ourselves.
I am so aware of the verse in Haggai that says ‘And this is what the Lord Almighty says – “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but you never have enough.You drink but never have your fill. You put on clothes but are not warm. You earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes in it”’.

To understand God’s calling, just think what those around you will write on your tombstone. I would like to see written ‘100-fold’ on mine. Remember the parable of the sower. 75% of seed fell on bad soil. Of the 25% on good soil it delivered a crop 30, 60 and 100 times. I want the hundred-fold life.

So, let’s be clear on the why of our lives. People are inspired by why we are involved in something far more than what we are doing. A life of no regrets when asked the 90 year olds’ question.

In closing, my hope and prayer for us is that we gain fresh insight and urgency for our life’s purpose. That we become like the people of Issachar who “understood the signs of the times and knew what they should do”.

Nigel Hyde