According to Dr. Bobby Clinton, who has researched 1300 leaders from Scripture, church history, and today, only 1 in 3 spiritual leaders finish well.
That’s a sobering statistic which begs the question: how do you finish well?
One thing that will help is recognizing the different seasons of life we go through and the actions that go with each season.
From birth to 18-20 years of age, Clinton calls the season “sovereign foundations.” While you may not have chosen your last name, your eye color, your neighbors, the elementary school you attended, or things like that, there are sovereign things God was doing in your life – people you met, voices that spoke into your life, even bad stuff that God would later redeem.
At 20 to 30 years of age, God is pursuing three things in your life. First and foremost, He wants to develop godly character in your life. He’ll also give you glimpses of your calling to keep you motivated even though character-wise you aren’t ready for it yet. And there also may be a leadership committal where you declare yourself to be all in to what God wants.
Around 30-40 years of age, you discover how God uniquely moves in and through your life to touch others, and He gives you a more clear life purpose – you start to get a pretty good idea of what He’s called you to.
Then, it’s in your late 40s to mid- to late-50s that you typically step into your “major role.” This is where – even though it may not be accompanied by a title – people recognize the authority and weight of your life in a certain area.
About 2-4 years into that you hit a convergence where there’s a maturing of character, a seasoning of your giftedness, and a specific sphere of influence God has delegated to you. This is where you hit your stride and are doing what you were born to do. This season typically lasts about 15-20 years.
Finally, around the age of 70 you move into the season of serving as a sage or mentor, offering wisdom to those who are younger and in earlier seasons.
The key to finishing well is to recognize the season of life you’re in so you can cooperate with what God is doing in your life in that season. You shouldn’t push for your major role when you’re 25. In fact, when you’re in your 20s and 30s, what God is building in you is way more important than what He’s doing through you.
Look for ways to apply this in your life. Part of finishing well is understanding your season of life and embracing it each step along the way.
To go deeper on this topic, check out “The Making of a Leader,” by Dr. J. Robert Clinton.
Some Things to Consider:
- What season of life are you in? Has God been working in that season as Dr. Clinton suggests He will?
- What are some of the things God has built in you during your 20s?
- What is your calling? How clearly can you see it at this point?
- How can you embrace and thrive in your current season in order to be best prepared for where God is taking you?
- How can you help small group members recognize and embrace the season they are in?
- Who has modeled for you what it looks like to “finish well” as a spiritual leader?