Monday, August 6, 2012

Seasoning Out One's Life

How cool is this photo, BTW?
There’s a man named Gregg Harris who is kind of a grandfather/guru of the homeschool movement.  Somehow, I happened to acquire a set of cassette recordings of presentations he did on homeschooling and Christian family life and so forth.  Pretty radically “right-wing” – I always have to employ a lot of discernment and Berean study when I listen – but they do contain a lot of fascinating insight and teaching.  In one in particular, he discusses the “seasons of life”, which he says break down roughly into approximately 20-year segments.

1) The Preparation season.  This is when we are preparing for adult life – gaining the skills and knowledge we need for what God has laid out for our future.  Birth to the end of our formal education years.
2) The Production season.  When our focus is, essentially, on family – the birthing and raising of children and the establishment of careers to financially support the family.  Up to about the 40s.
Now here’s where it gets interesting, I think.
3) The Provision season.  Up to about what we consider “retirement age”.  You’ve established yourself financially and career-wise and your children are maturing.  Now, your primary responsibility is to the church, as pastor or elder.  To serve as wise servant-leaders to your particular faith community.  He suggests that no one from the “Production” stage of life (20s or 30s) should be trying to shepherd a congregation – they need to focus their energy on shepherding their family.  Examples abound of PKs (pastor’s kids) who have gone off the deep end for lack of guidance from a parent whose attention is focused on a congregation.  I see a lot of wisdom in this.
He also indicates that all men (yes, men – liberal friends, don’t get hung up on the perceived misogyny and miss the point) should expect to take a stint as a church leader in this stage.  They should ALL be doing “seminary study”.  They should ALL have learned how to teach by teaching their children in the Production season and be prepared to teach in their church community.  (I would say that the women should be similarly prepared . . . but I’m not going to squabble today about gender roles in the church.)  “Eldership” or leadership positions are not to be reserved for the handful of folks who are the spiritually mature – ALL are expected to strive for spiritual maturity.  Again, interesting.
4) The Protection season.  These are the city fathers sitting at the city gates in Biblical references.  At this point, children are gone, and time and energy can be spent on the protection of the “least of these” – the widow, the orphan, the underprivileged.  These elders, presumably, are the political leaders, the city council members, the congressmen.  Yes, they are old and probably wouldn’t be able to serve in political office for very many years.  I have no problem with this.  Politics and public service was never meant to be a career path – it’s a stage of life . . . a duty that each citizen takes on for a season.
Now, Harris isn’t implying that these activities are restricted to their particular time of life.  The Preparation season may be focused on education, but you will still be educating yourself until you die.  Similarly, you will have occasion to be involved in the political realm all your life; but at the end of your years, when your familial responsibilities are few and your experiences have given you wisdom and perspective, you are particularly suited to be serving in such a role full-time.
Yep, very interesting.  I’d love to hear what others think.

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