“The waiting is the hardest part…” – Tom Petty
It doesn’t matter whether you call it being a late bloomer, a slow starter, or failure to launch. Plenty of guys these days are finding it difficult to establish themselves in life. Formal education is expensive, and the return on investment is questionable. Full-time employment is scarce (see previous point), institutions are in disrepute, and relationships are fraught. Oh, the weather outside is frightful… But if this is your situation, I want to encourage you not to despair.
In the dead of winter, it can be hard to imagine spring.
The examples of our forebears
The Bible is full of stories of men who didn’t come into the fullness of their calling until much later.
Let’s look first at Joseph in the Old Testament book of Genesis. I know I’ve pointed to him before, but look at his life: a)Beloved son of his father’s favorite wife. b) Recipient of an extravagant gift from his father. c) Thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by his jealous older brothers. d) Became chief of his master’s house. e.) Jailed on false accusations
of sexual assault when he thwarts his master’s wife’s advances. f.) Promoted to chief administrator in the jail. g) Seemingly forgotten after interpreting dreams of Pharaoh’s servant. h) Freed and promoted to most powerful position in Egypt — second only to Pharaoh himself. That Chief Operating Officer job came at the end of a process filled with triumphs and setbacks. It wasn’t Joseph’s first job out of school.
Or consider the story of Moses in the Old Testament. Moses, as you know, came to grow up as a prince in the house of Pharaoh – the king of Egypt who was considered a god. Later, when he discovered he was actually the descendent of Hebrew slaves, he fled after taking revenge on one of the oppressors of his people. Yes, Moses was a murderer and a fugitive. He spent 40 years as a shepherd in the Sinai desert wilderness before God – the God — appeared to him in a burning bush and called him to be the liberator of his own people.
If you’ve read the biblical book of Exodus, you know that delivering the Hebrews from captivity in Egypt was just the beginning. After this, Moses led the people for 40 years of wilderness wanderings. This wasn’t because Moses didn’t know how to read a map — it was because God judged His chosen people for their waywardness.
The point that I’m trying to make here is that Moses lived 40 years in the King’s Palace, 40 years as a desert shepherd, and 40 years as a deliver and leader of the children of Israel. If you’re 20, 22, 28, 33, or 40, and you haven’t found your thing yet, it doesn’t mean it can never happen. Therefore, you have no right to quit now.
A more recent example
This weekend, I had the privilege to hear Jack Reed speak. Jack is the founder and leader of MountainChild Ministries and he told the story of how he and a group of friends went to Nepal to have an adventure. As they were trekking in the mountains, they met a group of children accompanied by a couple of men. Jack said that something seemed off, and when he and his friends asked what the men were doing, they explained — quite openly — they were taking the children into India to sell them into prostitution.
Jack said he returned from his vacation and tried to forget what he had seen and heard, but he couldn’t three days after he got back, he resigned from his job and returned to Nepal to combat the spiritual and economic poverty that led to the exploitation of these children.
Elsewhere, I’ve encouraged you to discover your life’s purpose. I’ll stand by that advice, but I will make one slight change. Sometimes, your purpose is seeking you. Jack Reed is one more example.
Make it practical, please
So what should you be doing at this point in your life? I’m so glad you asked! I like it that you’re reading this blog. I mean to make you think, so this is an excellent place to start. Please subscribe if you haven’t already — and keep reading — but don’t stop there.
Remember, what we talk about here is encouraging you to embrace Thriving Authentic Masculinity and to become the best possible version of yourself. So, let’s talk about the various aspects of your life.
How are your relationships? Are you cultivating friendships for their own sake? Are their people in your life whom you love, and who love you without an agenda?
How is your spiritual life? How are you cultivating a more accurate reflection of the imago dei — the image of God — in your desires and your actions? How are you showing gratitude to God for the blessings you have — even as you wait for the ones you want most?
How is your intellectual life? Do you read books? Are they edifying? Does your entertainment cause you to aspire to be more or less noble?
How is your creative life? Do you have a job — or aspects of a job — or a hobby that allows you to express creativity? (Even spreadsheets can be beautiful.)
How is your health? Do you have a consistent workout schedule? Remember, you’re going to need your strength flexibility, and agility to navigate the uncertainty that you will no doubt in counter in the years ahead. And you don’t want your destiny to arrive when you’re too out of shape, too tied, to pursue it. Don’t let this throw you. I’m in my 50s now and I still maintain my fitness — it’s more important than ever.
My purpose in asking these questions is to cause you to examine your life. If you recognize a need to change something, start small. Maybe it’s as simple as picking up your guitar, paintbrush, or pen again. Or maybe it’s finding a new group of guys to hang with who want to encourage you to grow. All I know is, God seems to have an easier time hitting a moving target, so get moving again.
Cultivate God-sized dreams
Going back to Joseph again, is troubles began when he told his brothers he dreamed they would all bow down to him one day. Imagine your kid brother telling you this. The thing was, that dream was too big for Joseph to have come up with it on his own — God gave it to him. And through every adventure and misadventure, God was moving Joseph and preparing him for the fulfillment of this dream. It wasn’t to validate Joseph’s self-esteem. Instead, it was to save Joseph’s brothers — and their father — and the entire land of Egypt from starvation.
Do you have a God-sized dream? Is it a sense of destiny that you can’t put your finger on? Or maybe a picture you can only see a part of? Don’t abandon it. The prophet Habakkuk wrote:
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV)
Even if you’re older like me, don’t think it’s too late for God to fulfill what He has planted in you. He never wastes anything — especially time.
So how about you? What are you waiting for? Add your comments below.