Finishing the Fourth Quarter

So many of the men I work with are in the third or fourth quarter of life. I was recently reading Psalm 90 and came across these words from the Psalmist:

“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, for soon it is gone and we fly away.”

I think we all get to a certain point where we begin to realize that time is running out. Where did my life go?

I believe the best and most effective years of your life are experienced after age 55. You are much wiser than you were when you were 30. You have more time and resources since by then your children are adults and your sphere of influence has grown considerably. The question is, will we squander these years of our lives or will we finish strong?

I delivered the eulogy at my father’s funeral almost fourteen years ago. I read these words from Psalm 92:12-14.

“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green.”

I felt like this described my father at the age of 80. In these verses we are told that while the body is withering away, there is vibrant growth. The word flourish is used twice. Most significantly, “they will still yield fruit in old age, they shall be full of sap and very green.” I don’t know about you, but that is the way I want to finish.

Howard Hendricks shares a story that encourages me whenever I need it. He says:

“Some time ago I lost one of my best friends, a woman eighty-six years old, the most exciting lay teacher I’ve ever been exposed to.

The last time I saw her on planet Earth was at one of those aseptic Christian parties. We were sitting there on eggshells, looking pious, when she walked in and said, “Well, Hendricks, I haven’t seen you for a long time. What are the five best books you’ve read in the past year?”

She had a way of changing a group’s dynamics. Her philosophy was, let’s not bore each other with each other; let’s get into a discussion, and if we can’t find anything to discuss, let’s get into an argument.

She was eighty-three on her last trip to the Holy Land. She went there with a group of NFL football players. One of my most vivid memories of her is seeing her out front yelling back to them, “Come on, men, get with it!”

She died in her sleep at her daughter’s home in Dallas. Her daughter told me that just before she died, she had written out her goals for the next ten years.”

Do you have any goals for the next few years of your life? I remember someone saying: “Most people do not live purposeful lives, because life for them is nothing more than the meaningless passage of time.” I don’t know about you, but I do not want to get to the later years of my life, sitting around looking for ways to kill time. My desire is to be like the man described in Psalm 92.

Several years ago I read of a University of Michigan study that followed 2,700 people for an entire decade, to see how their social relationships affected their health and well-being. Those who gave and invested their lives into the lives of other people showed dramatically increased life expectancy. Those who did not invest in or give to the lives of others had over two times the morbidity rate of those who did.

The great educator Horace Mann said,

“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ones self. By not investing in others, we miss the best part of existence. We do ourselves the most good, doing something for others.”

This is why Solomon said in Proverbs 11:25, “A generous man will prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” This seems to be a principle that God has woven into our earthly existence, we receive in this life when we give to others. This is why Jesus said “Give and it will be given unto you.” (Luke 6:38)

So how do you want to spend the rest of your life? Do you want to finish strong? I leave you with these words from John Maxwell:

“If you want a different outcome for your life, you will have to change what you are doing daily.”

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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