31 Days of Midlife Celebration {...resources for your life's work...}

Work. We all have to do it.  Even ministry is called "the work of the ministry". 

Each of us is intimately acquainted with whatever our work is, whether preacher or plumber or home maker. A Christian can exhibit a genuine love for his or her work, because Christianity is incredibly down-to-earth...incarnational...and has involved a healthy day's work since the garden of Eden.

"It is not only prayer that gives God glory, but work. Smiting an anvil, sawing a beam, white washing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God some glory if, being in His grace you do it. God is so great that all things give Him glory if you mean that they should."  (from the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins - one of my favorite poets in the whole history of ever...)

Look at your fingertips.  They are proof that you were uniquely placed exactly where you are, to make the impact that only you can make, and to say the words that only you can say.  There is no other you, and this life is your one shot at learning the art of losing yourself in bringing God praise. 

In heaven, no one will have to think twice about glory.  Here...only here in this life...do you have the unique opportunity to glorify God in spite of all hindrance.  And to make overcoming obstacles fun.

Where is it you feel His delight?  What are you doing when you know...you just know...the Father is smiling?  The biggest hindrance to you finding your life's work is separating your work from your faith. 

Or, let me put it this way:  only by immersion in the doctrines of grace can you find what it is that makes you come alive, and then be able to fully and freely give yourself to it.

The seed of money is service, and in the words of the inimitable Bob Dylan, "You've got to serve somebody..." 

I have found my life's work in serving others by making.  Just making.  It began as home making. I will never regret those years I invested in that career. 

Typical of most mid-lifers, I am making a career change.  Most 40-somethings do.  I made the change carefully, and only after months of prayer, seeking wise counsel, and examining my own heart and gifts and calling.  Now, in my middle years with this quasi-empty nest of mine, "making" is finding expression in art and design. 

An aside:  I truly feel that our culture does not honor its makers nearly enough.  Whatever you had for breakfast today?  Someone, somewhere made it.  Find the best makers you can afford, and then honor them well.  If you are among the makers of this culture, if you are someone who produces {versus one who consumes or somehow markets a product or idea someone else has made};  if you are someone who creates for a living, whether with food, or paints and canvas, or fabric and thread, or words and ideas - know you are among an elite group -  and honor the gift God has given you, by honoring yourself  and what you make.  Not everyone can do what you do.

My Preacher is a powerful example:  no one can preach the Gospel quite like he preaches it, because there is no other Tim Atchley.  I will tell you with healthy pride that he receives a decent middle-class income for the work of the ministry.  I will also tell you that the exchange of energy (all money is, is an exchange of life's energy) is unequal.  I am not saying he isn't paid enough.  We are well taken care of.  What I am saying is you can't put a price tag on what he does for a living. 

We have to have builders and plumbers, but what they do has zero impact on a human being's eternity, unless they share the Gospel clearly, with accuracy, and with their words, a.k.a. "preaching the Gospel".

How is it we can pay plumbers for saving our homes from a watery destruction and be fine with it....but balk at paying our preachers who work with our intangible but eternal spirits?

Here are just a few resources to help you and inspire you to find and function in your life's work:

Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life  If you haven't read this book, get it, get it, get it.  If you have read this book already, read it again.

48 Days to the Work You Love  by Dan Miller

In conclusion, I want to admonish you to find your strengths - your true, actual strengths.  In my experience, the biggest hindrance to women finding their strengths, is that they insist on laying claim to what they wish they were gifted to do, and not what they are actually gifted to do.  And they work and work and work in that area, and wonder why no one seeks them out to serve in what they wish their gift was.

You can work on your weaknesses if you want.  But I'd rather see you forget about them and play to your strengths.  On a scale of one to ten, research has proven that you can only bring a weakness (some area where you might score a 4 or 5 out of 10) up to a level of  a 5 or a 6.  What can I say?  A weakness is a weakness.  You can make a weakness better, but rarely will you turn a weakness into a true strength and gifting.  If we all could do that, we would not need others in our lives.  But God has created us with strengths and weaknesses to gently force us to consider others as better than ourselves, and to call on others when we need them.

So you work for years to bring your 4 up to a 6.  You are slightly better than average at speaking or singing or administration or computer skill.
Problem is, no one crosses the street for a 5, or a 6, or even a 7.  So everyone misses out on the true you, the real you, your actual gifts you were meant to give to the world.

If you choose an area where you are already gifted - an area where you already operate at a 6 or 7 - and with effort and training you bring the expression of your gift up to an 8 out of 10...then people will start crossing the street for that.  You are sought out to serve in the area of your true gift.  When you hit a 9 or 10, you can easily make a comfortable living out of simply playing to your strengths.

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