When I started seminary classes at age 46, I set a goal of finishing by age 50, and I graduated four months before my 50th birthday.
Fifty is a milestone birthday. It’s celebrated with sentiments such as ‘halfway home to heaven’ (my creative theme for my hubby’s 50th), ‘nifty,’ or, unfortunately, ‘over the hill.’
But ‘over’ it isn’t.
By the time I was 50, I had left my business career to start the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church. Other churches wanted to know how they, too, could start a mentoring ministry.
What now? Dare I become an author and write books to guide them? Who becomes an author this late in life?
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Doubts and Struggles Can Inspire Courage
As I wrestled with doubts, I came across articles about famous authors who hadn’t started writing until they were 50, 60, 70...even 80! I felt the Lord was intervening to assure me:
You’re never too old for a new start.
That was 23 years and 20 books ago. It was a brave and bold move since I had never taken writing classes or aspired to be an author. Friends and family thought I was crazy...except for my husband who was (and always has been) my greatest cheerleader.
Circumstances were not ideal back then. My husband was part of a corporate downsizing and out of work for 18 months. He never returned to corporate America. Our income and lifestyle downsized and the logical thing would’ve been for me to return to ‘standard employment’ work. But as my husband told anyone who questioned us, “Janet is working. She’s about the Lord’s work!” My writing and speaking ministry soon became About His Work Ministries.
How did we both have peace and assurance with me attempting a new career at 50 in the midst of our dramatic and abrupt life disruption?
Here are 6 considerations that could help you decide to do something brave and out-of-the-box after 50:
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1. Dream a Little!
Give your mind free rein to explore things you’ve always wanted to do, but something always held you back. Maybe your focus and energy was on raising a family, pursuing your career, daily chores, and responsibilities, or even fear.
What is it you’ve dreamed about doing if the time was right? What do you now have the luxury of failing at if you try and it just doesn’t work out?
What are you passionate about? What would fulfill God’s purpose for the rest of your life on earth? What is a worthy reason to be brave even when you’re hesitant or uncomfortable?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. – Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
2. Embrace the Timing
In our later years, we’re usually empty-nesters. Perhaps you’ve downsized so there’s minimal household upkeep. Maybe you’ve retired, gone through menopause, and you’re ready to spend your extra time and energy on a hobby, ministry, returning to school, or learning a new skill.
What’s stopping you? Sometimes it’s the fear of failure, but really what do you have to lose? You’ll never know if you could succeed if you don’t start. If not now, then when?
Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ – Isaiah 41:13 MSG
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3. Enjoy Growing in Maturity
When we’re younger, we tend to worry about what other people think. Their opinions matter to us. Maybe we feel the need to seek approval of our appearance and actions. As we mature, we let go of those concerns. There’s a sense of freedom in doing what we want...when we want.
God is looking for obedient, courageous hearts. It might not mean doing something dramatic. It may simply mean submitting to Him in everyday occurrences. Complete submission to God’s will is brave and bold.
As He watches us grow and mature in our faith, He’ll probably ask us to move out of our comfort zone. And we will because we can.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13
4. Experience and Expect
The longer we live, the more we experience God’s faithfulness. We’ve tried things on our own and we’ve experienced the difference of letting God work in and through us. Wisdom comes with trying, and sometimes failing, but we’ve experienced God picking us up, dusting us off, and encouraging us to try again. We’re not afraid because we know that God will never leave or forsake us.
We’ve experienced life and God wants us to invest our later years in worthy causes that will honor and glorify Him. All of our life stories are different—some are painful and others spectacular. God has a plan for each of us to use the rich experiences He has allowed into our lives.
He has been preparing you for this very moment. Don’t be afraid. Be eager to hear from God. Expect it! Remember: where God guides, He provides. You’re readier than you think.
You go, girl!
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10
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5. Pray for God’s Will and Walk by Faith Where He Leads
God’s desire is to encourage us to use the gifts and talents He gave us to further His kingdom here on earth. We discover our assignments for each day through prayer—one-on-one conversations and connection with God.
Ask God about your idea, or ask Him to give you an idea, of how He wants you to use the second act of your life. Ask Him to give you the courage to pursue dreams that will bless you and others.
God’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it. – Psalm 145:18 MSG
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t also mention that sometimes, God’s dreams for us are different from our own dreams. I have a good friend, Raini, who was eager to pursue her writing and speaking career when she turned 50. She had raised a family and now it was her time. Or so she thought.
Without warning or preparation, she and her husband soon became foster parents to their son’s five small children ages one to seven when their parents could no longer care for them. That meant completely remodeling her home, court appearances in another state, and eventually adopting these five precious grandchildren.
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6. Bravely Follow God’s Calling
At 50, Raini started raising a family all over again. Her dreams for a speaking and writing ministry were set aside. Following God’s calling to provide a stable and loving family for her grandchildren became the bravest thing she’d ever done.
But after several years of parenting again, God used her new experiences to redirect her dream. She became a trainer for new foster parents and a Resource Peer Mentor for new and upcoming foster parents.
Raini surrendered to God her plans as He engaged her maturity, experience, and fortitude to serve His purposes. Through prayer and faithful dependence on God, she is living out “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NLT).
God is still writing your story. You might be caring for elderly parents, a disabled or discouraged spouse, or even your own grandchildren. You could be on your own, unemployed, or watching your retirement accounts fluctuate with the ever-changing stock market.
Things aren’t going as you hoped at this stage of your life. Nothing seems exciting or worthwhile. But dear one, please know:
If God has allowed this circumstance in your life at this time, He is cheering you on and will help you flourish in your “over 50” brave adventure!
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7
In my book Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As A Woman of Faith, I encourage all women of any age...that with Jesus in our hearts and minds, we can courageously face whatever this world hands us. We can face this season not with timidity, trembling, or trepidation, but with faith in Jesus Christ alone. We can do it because God is always there to remind us: we’re braver than we know!
Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14
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Originally published Monday, 04 May 2020.