Max Lucado says, "According to Bob Buford, the first half is a quest for success, the second is a quest for significance. Bob should know; he had achieved the first and is showing us the latter. You'll find this book to be unique, inspiring, and practical. Read it and finish strong!" I must admit I was drawn to the book by these words. I wanted to "finish strong."
This year I hit 57, which called for some reflection. So, I read Bob Buford's "Half Time - Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance" and thought back a quarter century ago, when I was a 25-year-old working in Port of Singapore Authority.
I asked myself, "What difference will it make that I have lived?" That question caused me to say to the Lord, "Lord, if You choose to give me another twenty-five years, I would like to invest them in my family and in the community of faith."
Bob would say I had begun to experience some of the symptoms of "Halftime."
I had begun to pay attention to my life and to redefine success in terms of significance. In Buford's view, I had begun the "somewhat haunting thing (of thinking) about your own gravestone while you are vitally alive."
According to the author, the first half of life has to do "with getting and gaining, learning and earning." And then for the second half to "be better than the first, you must make the choice to step outside of the safety of living on autopilot." And he concludes, "the second half of our lives should be the best half---that it can be, in fact, a personal renaissance."
Buford argues that midlife does not have to be a crisis. It can be a time for focusing on genuine fulfillment and drawing specific plans to read it. As he writes, "Halftime is the perfect opportunity to shift from trying to understand God to learning to know him."
The book is clearly addressed to business professionals asking the inevitable questions of midlife. I would recommend that you get a copy and read it. As a pastor, I found it helpful in evaluating my approach to ministry. I realize that I cannot settle into business as usual. The Word of God is full of those who started well and fizzled out. Unfortunately, this is also true of so many Christians today, both the laypersons and the clergy.
But there are those whose second halves had far more impact than the first. There is Moses. There is Paul. The author insists that like sporting events, life and ministry are most often won in the last half.
"Halftime" is not just another melancholic midlife navel gaze book. It is a very encouraging, stimulating and practical book. I found the author warm and personal. He also exposed his heart as he relates the wrenching story of his son's death.
"Halftime" as Peter Drucker says is "a book that will have meaning and message for all who open its pages." Get it and read it. This book is available from the BGST Library (LC 248.842 BUF).
(Review by Dr John Lim)
Last Wednesday, Dr Quek Swee Hwa spoke on "A Teacher Come From God" (John 3:1-12). He began with an answer to the question, "What is Life?" One illustration suggested that:
God created the donkey and told him, "You will work tirelessly from sun up to sun down, carrying heavy bags on your back, you'll eat grass, you will not have intelligence and you will live 50 years. You will be a DONKEY!"
The donkey answered, "I'll be a donkey, but living 50 years is too much, give me only 20 years." And God gave him 20 years.
Then God created the dog and told him, "You will look after the man's house, you will be his best friend, you will eat whatever they give you and you will live 25 years. You will be a DOG!"
The dog answered, "God, living 25 years is too much, give me 10 only." God gave him 10 years.
God created the monkey and told him, "You will jump from branch to branch, you will do silly things, you will be amusing and you will live 20 years."
The monkey answered, "God, living 20 years is too much, give me only 10 years." And God agreed.
Finally, God created man, and told him, "You will be Man, the only rational being on this earth, you will use your intelligence to control other animals, you will dominate the world and you will live for 20 years."
The man answered, "God, I'll be man, but living 20 years is not enough, why don't you give me the 30 years that the donkey refused, the 20 years that the dog did not want and the 10 years that the monkey refused?"
And that was what God did. Since then, Man lives 20 years like a man. Then he enters adulthood and spends 30 years like a donkey, working and carrying the load on his back. And when his children leave home, the man spends 15 years like a dog, looking after the house and eating whatever is given to him. Then he gets into retirement, and spends 10 years like a monkey, jumping from house to house or from child to child, doing silly things to amuse the grandchildren.
Is this the kind of life we have been instructed to live? Certainly not! The Word of God gives us another perspective. But is the Word relevant for us today? And how do we communicate the Word in a relevant manner?
The economic situation dominates the media reports every day. It is distressing and challenging to us. Our faith has been put to a critical test: if we say that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceed from the mouth of the Lord, then we should not let the financial situation worry us excessively.
On the personal side there are also great struggles. It is becoming increasingly difficult to make a stand for Jesus Christ and refuse to conform to the world. Coupled with this we are faced with the wiles of the Devi l. Perhaps this clever parody of the Beatitudes:
If the Devil were to write his Beatitudes, they would probably go something like this:
Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend an hour once a week with their fellow Christians in Church -- they are my best workers.
Blessed are those Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked -- I can use them.
Blessed are the touchy, with a bit of luck they may stop going to church -- they are my missionaries.
Blessed are those who are very religious but get on everyone's nerves -- they are mine forever.
Blessed are the troublemakers -- they shall be called my children.
Blessed are those who have no time to pray -- they are easy prey for me.
Blessed are the gossippers -- for they are my secret agents.
Blessed are those critical of church leadership -- for they shall inherit a place with me in my fate.
Blessed are the complainers -- I'm all ears for them.
Blessed are you when you read this and think it is about other people and not yourself -- I've got you!"
Thus there is a need for those who communicate God's Word to be clear. And the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus has much to instruct us in this.
It began with a Cautious Compliment (3:2) when Nicodemus respectfully addressed Jesus as Rabbi. Jesus' had taught with divine authority. It continued with a Candid Comment (3:10) when Jesus asked, "You are Israel's teacher and do not understand these things?" Our Lord was teaching with faith. It ended with a Compelling Conclusion when our Lord spoke with confidence (3:11). Such were the lessons for those who wish to communicate the Word of God.
Dr Quek closed Chapel with the questions: How are we to effectively communicate the truths of God to others? How can we encourage those who are truly teachers from God? We need to learn from Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus.
Chapel speaker (7 Aug) for this week will be Rev Stephen Siauw, Director of the Gunung Wilis Pioneer Missions, East Java, Indonesia.
Next week's (14 Aug) chapel speaker will be Dr Loo Yeow Hwa, General Secretary of Fellowship of Evangelical Students.