Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Tag: calling

Learning in retirement
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Lifelong Learning in Retirement

We are continuing our blog series on finishing well, focusing particularly on retirement after a life of missionary service. Finishing well does not mean that we finish learning. Lifelong learning ought to continue in retirement. After all, we are still alive!

Interestingly, opportunities for learning in retirement have grown as more baby boomers retire. In fact, my Google search for “learning in retirement” produced 332 million results. Many of these were courses offered by colleges and universities. There were also travel packages with onsite lectures covering secular and biblical history. Indeed, continuing lifelong learning in retirement is popular today. Yet, why should it be a priority for a retiring missionary?

Lifelong Learning is a Christian Calling

J. I Packer writes,

Lifelong learning, both of the truths by which Christians are to live and of the way to live by them – also of how these things are taught in Scripture and how they are misstated, misunderstood, and misapplied in the modern world – is every Christian’s calling.

-J. I. Packer, Finishing Our Course with Joy, p. 65.

Likewise, Paul D. Stanley and J. Robert Clinton note that one of the characteristics of leaders who finish well is “they maintain a positive learning attitude all their lives.” 1Stanley and Clinton, Connecting: the Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed in Life, Nav Press, 1992, p. 215.

Packer identifies neglecting to learn in retirement as worldliness,

retirement sabbatical
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Retirement Sabbatical: Identity and Calling

In a previous post, I mentioned starting retirement with a sabbatical. In this post and the next, I will explore the benefits a sabbatical brings at the start of retirement. Specifically, I want to describe the anatomy of a sabbatical resulting in discerning identity and calling in retirement. Then, the following post will explore coaching and mentoring in retirement. In other words, this post deals with our self-awareness, and the next post our relationship to others.

Anatomy of a Retirement Sabbatical

I have a confession to make. I’ve never taken a sabbatical. Furthermore, I’m not retired yet (that comes on January 1, 2022). Yet there are helpful guides for taking a sabbatical. In chapter two of An Uncommon Guide to RetirementJeff Haanen outlines nine practices to consider as we plan our retirement sabbatical.

1. Prepare

A retirement sabbatical needs to be intentional. Notably, Haanen suggests taking two to three weeks just to structure our sabbatical (p. 43). Likewise, C. J. Cagle emphasizes planning:

reimagined retirement is one that is planned, structured, lived, and continually reexamined in the light of sound biblical doctrine, principles, and practices. It is a retirement lived for the glory of God, his kingdom, and the good of his people.

C. J. Cagle, Reimagine Retirement, kindle loc. 814.
personal design
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Mentoring In Sync with Personal Design

Editor’s note: We are continuing our blog series on mentoring using the Mentoring Pillars written by the late Jim Feiker, a former member of SEND International. This fifth pillar talks about the need to mentor in such a way as to respect the God-given personal design of each mentee.

In the last pillar of mentoring, we dealt with the significance of working with God. We must partner with God in what He is doing in people’s lives. But we are also to be working with people according to their differences and design. To be most effective in mentoring, both where God is working in their life and how God has designed them must be on our radar screen. To overlook their design and desires is to violate a person’s very personhood and value before God. It is to disregard the principle of differences in the Body.

The animals’ school

The animals had a school.1This fable can be found on the web in a number of places, but here is one example. The version that Jim Feiker used was adapted by Lorne C. Sanny from a speech by Dr. A. R. Broadhurst. The curriculum consisted of running, climbing, flying and swimming. All the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was good in swimming and fair in flying. However, he was terrible in running, so he had to drop his swimming class and stay after school in order to practice his running. He kept this up until he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable. The others (including the teacher) were no longer threatened by the duck’s swimming ability. So, everyone felt more comfortable – except the duck.

Significance of Work

I’ve been asked to give some thoughts on the theology of marketplace ministry. Apparently, some are experiencing a level of frustration balancing marketplace work (whether in education or business) with ministry work. I will share my thoughts in two blog posts. In this first post, we will identify the significance of work for a Christian. In the second we explore the implications for marketplace ministry. I hope to stimulate your thinking in these areas and do not presume to write as an authority in these areas.

”In the beginning there was work.” So begins the first chapter of Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God. He continues,

Book Review: Well Sent

51xanlIajuL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_I have frequently been asked about resources for local church missions programs. In 2015, Steve Beirn, Global Ministries Pastor at Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA, published Well Sent: Reimaging the Church’s Missionary-Sending Process. Steve served at our sending church in Holland, Michigan before going to Calvary so I know him well. He writes with passion and experience. In the introduction he writes:

This book seeks to elevate the role of the local church in the sending effort. The trend in missions today is to place the individual at the center of the sending process. Sometimes the agency is placed at the center. This book places the local church at the center of the sending process. – Well Sent, p. 17.

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