What is God’s purpose for me now that I’m older and don’t feel as needed as I once did?
When we are younger it seems a bit easier to relate to God’s purpose for our lives. We readily find meaning in our role as a parent, in social relationships, in work, and in church activity.
As we age this can change. Our sense of purpose and the many relationships we had while working may decline after retirement. The clear sense of direction and fulfilment we had when raising our children can dissolve once they leave the nest. Even church responsibilities we once held are passed to the next generation.
The world’s message seems to be the older you get the less valuable you become. In stark contrast, God’s kingdom places a premium on those who are further along in life. While youth is not to be despised those who are older are valued because they usually have wisdom, maturity, and experience.
In one sense our purpose never changes or diminishes with age. It is always to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). But how this is worked out changes. It’s different than it was. Certainly physical infirmities may limit what we can do but only death can stop us from doing what we can.
Psalm 92:14 says of believers, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…” (NIV). Consider this: Many Bible characters repurposed their lives in their later years. Moses and Aaron were 80 and 83 when chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Joshua, who lived to be 110, led the conquest of Canaan during the last 30 years of his life. And Caleb was involved in the conquest of Canaan in his eighties. And it doesn’t end there. Daniel, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, and even Paul, who referred to himself as aged (Philemon 1:9), made significant contributions in old age.
However, we don’t need to be older or retired to desire a greater sense of God’s purpose for our lives. Here are a few ways to repurpose at any age.
- Know the Lord and have a vital relationship with Him. “That I may know him…” (Philippians 3:10 NASB) was Paul’s stated life-purpose. This is also our ultimate purpose and it provides the foundation for truly seeking His will for our life. One key to continuing to bear fruit at any age is a willingness to serve the Lord and be used by Him however He sees fit. We must continue to be surrendered to Him and prayerfully seek Him and ask for wisdom through the process of repurposing.
- Know yourself. God has given us spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, experiences, interests, and passions. Understanding our nature provides good clues on how we can purposefully serve Him. While we may not be able to do what we did before, perhaps there are things related to these tasks we can do.
- Know the opportunities. Beyond the ongoing need in churches for elders, older people who will teach younger people, prayer warriors, hospitality, mentoring, and evangelism, there are abundant opportunities outside churches to serve using the skills and life experience we already have. Many older Christians find themselves free to serve in other capacities without the restrictions of work or younger children.
- Know it is possible to find a new sense of purpose. By adopting a positive attitude and being open to new things and willing to adapt we can find new purpose. When we ask God to help us find new opportunities He often places people in our paths who can help us take the next steps.
All believers have ultimate purpose in daily walking with the Lord. That never changes. Expressing that in service never stops either, it’s just different as we go through life. And always needed.
I hope this helps.