Monday, September 8, 2008

Breaking the “Boomer Code” – Part 4 of 5

Posted by Leona Bergstrom

Code Breaker #3: Re-Focus

The story is told of a rabbi in a Russian city at the turn of the century. He was disappointed by a lack of direction and purpose. As he aimlessly walked the empty streets he began to question his faith in God, the Scriptures and his call to ministry. The only thing colder than the winter air was the chill in his own heart. In his despair he mistakenly wandered into a Russian military compound, which was off limits to any civilians. Out of the silence a loud voice barked, "Who are you and what are you doing here?" yelled a Russian guard. "Excuse me?" replied the rabbi. "I said, who are you and what are you doing here?" After a moment, the rabbi asked the guard, "How much do you get paid every day?" "What does that have to do with you?" the guard responded. The rabbi responded, "I will pay you the equal sum if you will ask me those same two questions every day: "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

These are pertinent questions for people in the second half of life. They have a unique opportunity to re-examine and re-assess their lives and determine a new direction for their remaining years.

This is probably the most critical code-breaker in ministry with Boomers. We can help create opportunities, whether in a retreat setting or in a series of classes or small groups, that help people make that exploration. Galatians 6:4-5 in The Message says “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

In our ministry we use a basic re-focus process:
• Review Biblical passages that capture one’s unique purpose in life.
• Reflect on one’s own personal life and develop a timeline that reviews critical incidents, times of growth, significant people, decisions, and how God has worked in the past.
• Identify one’s core values, things about which one is passionate.
• Discover one’s gifts and strengths (using Meyers-Briggs, Strengths Finder or other tools)
• Compose a personal mission statement that includes goals, action plans and God-directed vision for the second half of life.

The transitions and changes at this season of life provide the stage upon which one can perform new drama – or, as some would call, an Encore!

We have found that refocusing is equally critical for women as well as men. Boomers are the “I am Woman, I am Exhausted” generation. They’ve tried to do it all – develop a career, parent, care for parents, exercise and stay fit. This is an important time to slow down and refocus our lives and determine how to live out the bonus years.

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